Aunties are #1

Exciting news: The Auntie Way: Stories Celebrating Kindness, Fierceness, and Creativity is ranked #1 in new releases on Amazon for Native American Demographic Studies! The paperback version is #1 and the Kindle version is #15. The Auntie Way is a book that celebrates the love and lessons we learn from our Aunties. Yay for Aunties!

Thank you, everyone, for all of the love you show to Aunties and The Auntie Way.

Happy Earth Day!

Mother Earth nurtures us, and so do Aunties!

Thank you, everyone, for all of the positive feedback about The Auntie Way! The book was just published and it is perhaps the perfect time for it–we need our Aunties now more than ever.

Here is some Auntie logic to help brighten your day:

Problem: stress and challenges during this difficult time

Solution: fun and loving Auntie stories!

Take good care of yourself and those around you on this special day, and always.

Wisdom and Voice

When asked what message I would give to my younger self, I see and hear so clearly the exact message: You have wisdom and a voice that is unique and important. Find a way to use it. How special and sacred is this message. I can imagine myself as a young child, my hair neatly in two braids, the work of my mother each morning; I’m wearing “comfy” clothes like sweatsuits and t-shirts so I was free to play and run as I saw fit, usually trying to keep up with my older brothers. I can see my childhood bedroom, and my bed, at times overflowing with teddy bears. I remember sometimes having to sleep on my side, making myself take as little room as possible on the far edge of the bed, so my beloved bears could fit. How lovely. These were the same teddy bears I would place in neat rows while I played teacher, providing the bears (and more importantly, myself,) with lessons on the alphabet, or reading, or geography (with the pamphlets my mom got for me in town from the travel agent). How the bears and I loved to look at those tall furry hats the guards in London wore, with their bright red jackets and shiny gold buttons. Someday, my bears and I dreamed, we would go see them in person. We can hear the chimes of Big Ben, right before I dismissed the teddy bears for recess and I, as the teacher, tidied my notes or their homework (which I had assisted them with). Now as an adult, I would tell that young educator-child that she has a special wisdom and voice, as all people do, to share with the world. That is my biggest dream for her, and for everyone. To get comfortable, and courageous, to share their wisdom of love and hope and promise with the world. It is my greatest wish that my readers find this when they interact with my writings. I would tell that little girl to keep dreaming and writing and teaching–to find her way to the work and the world that she wishes for, dreams of, imagines.

When we realize and share our visions and voices–that is magic.

Perhaps as magical as a room for of teddy bears, a small chalkboard, and a girl with dusty chalky hands imagining their way across Turtle Island and the Atlantic Ocean, to hear the chimes of an old clock and see shiny gold buttons and tall fur hats.

Childhood Memories and the Heart

As a child, I remember feeling a burning sense of injustice, although I didn’t have the words for that then. But I had the feeling. Do you know the feeling? When someone or many ones whom you love are being treated unjustly by a system that you know is not meant to help them? That is the feeling I’m talking about. The feeling–and circumstances I wish I could change as quickly as a snap of a crayon in my 6-year old hands.

Basketball was practically a religion in my family. We would often load up into the family station wagon and trek to gym after gym for my three older brothers. Practices always took place on our Indian reservation. Games always took place off the reservation, as the other (white) teams would not step foot onto our reservation. So we never had home court advantage.

Usually, games were played in the city of Yakima; ironically the town is named after our Indigenous Tribe, the Yakama Nation. I felt such pride and love for my brothers, as they and their friends dedicated themselves to their craft: playing ball, shooting hoops. My dad coached my brothers’ teams. He would always dress up for games, wearing his finest jeans ironed neatly with a pleat down the front of each leg, a western-style dress jacket, and a bolo tie, usually beaded with colorful beads; our people are famous for beautiful beadwork. And he always wore cowboy boots, with their fine stitching and those loud heels that he would bang against the wooden bleachers periodically during the games. Sometimes his frustration was with the boys who would fail to block out, or they might run a play incorrectly. And many a time it would be in frustration with the bad calls made by referees.

I didn’t have the language then, but I see now, as a trained sociologist, how I witnessed racialized and class-based inequities; structural inequalities that were mapped onto our lives. We inherited a long legacy of injustice, having to do with the more wealthier city’s name (Yakima); our homeland that was stolen by the U.S. Government in the Treaty making process from the mid-1800s, and how even in my late-20th Century childhood, I saw, and felt, and cursed the slanted, unequal, and damaging processes all of that history set into motion. How I yearned to wave my hand and make the playing field level. How I still yearn to do so.