Where do strength and creativity come from? Where do vast stores of energy arise from? Where do quick smiles and joyous laughter originate?
For me, these gifts come from my strong and unwavering sense of home.
They come from a loving and unbreakable connection with all lands and waters that feed and are fed by N’chi Wána (Columbia River).
They come from the pride and love of knowing that:
I’ve lovingly, gently, and persistently gathered up beautiful teachings from wisdom carriers, human and more than human alike.
Yes, I’m filled with fault and can make mistakes at a dizzying pace.
But those don’t pull me under.
Rather, I am confident in my buoyancy.
I float on generations and generations of love, care, and a fierce commitment to do our best and be our best.
Like the towel my uncle uses on his makeshift fillet table to soak up the blood of sacred silvery skinned salmon pulled from the precious waters to which we belong–like that towel, I too soak up the generous offerings all around me.
We all bleed at one time or another. Yes, we want you to survive. You need to know when you’re bleeding, and when you’re the towel. Beyond these basics, you need to know why you are there, where you are going, and for what purpose?
Clarity on these questions are key to shifting from merely surviving to thriving.
That’s what we want for you. Who’s the we? Me. Your beloved relations. All your ancestors, past and future. We all sit lovingly, loyally, waiting with hope and anticipation on the edge of the hard bleacher seat of life, some of us yelling, some of us holding our breath, all of us believing in you as you step up to the three-point line and take the shot a mere half second before the end of the game buzzer sounds. In our community, your team is always tied when you take this shot. So no matter what the outcome of that round ball flying toward the metal hoop, you’re always a winner, or headed to overtime. Either way, we’ll cheer for you. Don’t you hear it in our voices? The pride, love, and hope we have for you–not just in this game on a wooden floor, but in your life.
You can learn so many things inside the gym on my reservation.
I love learning, especially if I can eat popcorn while doing so.
Look at all those young people–on the court, on the bench, in the stands–they all matter equally. They are our future.
Do they know it? Do they sense it? Their power and strength? Their sovereignty.
I hope they see it. I hope they understand.
They wear that power, strength, and sovereignty like a great pair of shoes that never slide when you need traction. Shoes that help you feel strong and energetic, and in which you can leap as high as you like.
These sovereignty shoes are real. They’re crafted with the love, care, and teachings of our people.
Maybe the young ones will ask me about my sovereignty shoes. If they do, I might tell them:
I have such a love and care for my people and our teachings. I have such a clear understanding of how I’m sovereign. Not because of an old document that says so in an archive in DC. Not because of an old laminated ID card in my wallet I got at the agency when I was a little girl.
I’m sovereign because of the long and proud history of our people.
For thousands and thousands of years, Since Time Immemorial as our Elders say, our people have been crafting the most beautiful, supportive, comfortable sovereignty shoes.
We can do anything and be anything in our sovereignty shoes.
In fact, they’re so powerful we don’t even need to wear them.
When it comes to the love, care, and strength of our sovereignty:
We just are.
What stories do you want to share with the world? Creative Writing Class begins Thursday, February 3. Join us!