Walking on the shoulders of my ancestors

It’s a bit hazy and yet in my humility, there has never been a more salient time on this journey or in my life.

What was once a struggle has now become my armor. “My word is my weapon” and my sword drips with the truth. Any thoughts I had prior to this time about throwing in the proverbial towel are nothing but a memory.

Although not exactly clear of this particular part of the journey, I am almost there. Without being overly confident to the gross extent of arrogance, I have made it this far and actually feel quite humbled. The anticipation I feel in waiting to hear from my committee comes with a reminder of a sticker on my professors door… Criticism… It’s not for the weak

Reflecting on this moment in my life, I am quite aware that the intensity and rigor is really not that bad after one types the first few pages. My view has changed and if there is any way I could describe this time, for those who are embarking on a doctoral journey, exams is a time to shine. This is a time to write to your hearts desire on subject matters that you and your committee have crafted, but more than that… it is a time to show what you have learned. I feel absolute chill and yet also a tremendous respect for those who have trekked on this journey before me.

This shining moment, culminating with hours, semesters, weeks, and months of struggle all come together to create a space which is indeed amazing and most definitely a blessed time. Grueling to say the least, but one well worth it all considering I am a first generation in my family on my Pops side of the family tree.

My program has five options for completing exams and I chose writing three publishable works. It’s somewhat traditional yet for students of the Cultural Studies and Social Thought (CSST) discipline, faculty encouraged me not to be so “traditional” and to use epistemology and pedagogically grounding scholarly works with Indigenous methods and frameworks.

As much as I am excited to share what I’ve written, it’s time to breathe and wait for the next few steps of this process. While professors have shown me scholarly works from the Western world, I was more than aware it was paramount to read and write with works from Indigenous people.

Writing not only to serve my home community but so that my words will be left for generations yet to come. I am calmed by the fact that the right and privilege to be in an advanced degree program is exactly where I am meant to be.

As challenging as this has been, I look back to the inner struggle I had within myself. After my first year, five years later I can not believe how far I’ve come. It was rough, but I have arrived up to this part of the journey and feel incredibly blessed. Granted a doctoral degree is a time of sacrifice, it is also one way to challenge a system that has kept Indigenous people in North and South America oppressed.

My blog thoughts out loud is an acknowledgement to those who have journeyed before me and successfully completed all requirements. Leading a purpose driven life that entails a commitment to completing program requirements and staying the MF’ing course EVEN when it was isolate, lonely, adverse, challenging, and rigorous. I believe it is meant to strengthen a person. Once again, hats off to the many others and the scholarship they have contributed to the academy. Especially regarding the systemic oppression and empathic changes needed concerning Indigenous nations and one that includes the struggles of people of the world against neoliberalism and corporate capitalists interests.

Below is a list of scholars I was inspired by in my readings and towards the end, found absolute peace with during my writing. Although this is not an exhaustive list, but because I love their work and was impressed by their writings for my exams, they also ground me as a community organizer.

1.) Linda T. Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies
2.) Margaret Kovach, Indigenous Methodologies
3.) Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed
4.) Devon Mihesuah, American Indigenous Women: Decolonization, Empowerment, Activism
5.) Vine Deloria, God is Red (Rest in Power)
6.) Bryan Brayboy, Toward a Tribal Critical Race Theory
7.) Taiaiake Alfred, Wasase and Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto, Being Indigenous: Resurgences against contemporary colonialism *co-authored w Jeff Corntassel
8.) Ngūgì Wa Thongo, Decolonising the Mind
9.) Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks (Rest in Power)
10.) Sandy Grande, Red Pedagogy
*Lastly as an education major, Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

If you ever feel inclined to read any of these works and wanna take a swim into the depths of these waters… bring a highlighter, sticky notes, and a pencil/pen to scribble exclamation points (or stars in my case) in the margins. If you love to read and learn, you will find truthbombs.

In closing, I am creating my space as an emerging scholar, even deeper than that, as an Indigenous woman. I realize this journey has kept the vision and dreams of my ancestors alive. There is nothing more empowering for me than to know there was once a prayer spoken and a song sung just for me and no matter what anybody says, I walk on the shoulders of giants in the homelands of my ancestors.

Married to the truth, I remain.

Yox kalo hinuuywat, Imeeqis qeciyewyew.


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1 thought on “Walking on the shoulders of my ancestors

  1. Congratulations, Cynthia! It is good to be walking a road that brings joy to your heart and healing to your community. Thank you for taking us on this journey with you.


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