its 2017 and i have not blogged in forever it seems.
since i last posted i’ve been on a whirl of a journey. diligent and ever persistent, i accomplished what i set out to do and here we are. i say we because i did not do this alone.
dr. john tippeconic (comanche/cherokee) once stated in an acceptance speech after receiving an award for educator of the year award at the annual NIEA convention,”When one succeeds, we all succeed. When one graduates, we all graduate.” dearest family and closest friends helped me many times throughout the seven years it took me to complete this degree.
i even had to take a semester off, twice, in totality. it adds up to a year for a program and fortunately, i had people to talk to. otherwise i think i would have left completely. the reality of a phd program is this, it’s not meant for everyone. it’s one of the biggest walls we can breech as Indigenous people. i am well aware that i am not the first and i won’t be the last. the work continues and it requires sacrifice(s).
consequently, i originally created this blog to journal about my education journey. anything and everything that was Indigenous education related to any work i would do or was doing. while i began my doctoral program in the fall of 2009, i did not start this blog until my second year into program. in that space i was also voted on to the NIEA board of directors. recently, re-elected to the NIEA board, i am viewing this part of my journey and previous work i did much differently. schooling has a way of shielding people. today, the view is broader.
it’s been a journey indeed.
for the last five months i’ve been processing and ruminating over my program. the cuts and bruises (to my ego), the humility of learning and unlearning (what i thought i knew which is now not much), the happiness and joys of just being able to say i finished one more semester (each one was unique), to the wonderment and question of how did I ever get here?
the last year really tried me. i don’t know if i felt as much self doubt and heartache as i did about a goal as i did in my final year of completing this degree. there were many moments when i questioned if this was even worth the time? crazy, right? i mean after journeying all that way, could i just give up? i could not.
in the end, after many tears, several pounds and banana cream pies later, and much cheering on and support from family and closest friends, i did it.
the road has now become a post-doctoral journey and since a successful explanation (my preference rather than a defense), it has been one of healing.
healing from the previously mentioned cuts and bruises, these are proverbial of course, but the rigor of academia is tough. i was humbled in so many moments i lost count. as an Indigenous woman, this place is NOT meant for us. for the patriarchy, yes. for Indigenous women? not so much. it’s an incredibly difficult place to begin at when you’re a first generation woman who is Indigenous and without first hand points of references or immediate family to talk to about an event/occurrence.
it’s isolating. in fact, i was isolated many times. it was lonely and many times i became a recluse because talking to people about social theory papers, issues, concerns, and critical consciousness is like making crazy. it is not easy to walk through.
when in a doctoral program, one finds there are few people who do this effortlessly. it comes with great sacrifices and challenges. what i did learn is that encouraging support from people who have or had been through the rigors (or were going through it) understood the systemic and internalized oppression and racism that occurs.
i learned to rely on friends who became family who been through this journey. the program was not easy and i do wish to state and acknowledge, i did not do this alone. i have many people to thank and have been continuously sending my thanks and gratitude to. i don’t think that i can send enough cards, text messages, phone calls, or give enough hugs to send my deep appreciation.
i am realizing that post-doctoral life has also been a journey. the key word for me is healing. since completion of this goal that i set back in 1999, when i graduated from undergrad, it’s now time to get to the next phase and goals in life.
as we begin the gregorian calendar year, i thought it prudent to post my first blog post program. i will be changing up what this blog was intended for. while education is still a significant part of my life journey (and blog purpose) i will be adding to this blog and sharing more of what i will be doing outside of academia.
i will need to update my bio (no brainer), adding and doing more with social media as indigenista, more creative works which is what I’ve been wanting to do for a while. with a dissertation, my chair and committee recommendations were to put those on hold and set them down until i finished.
looking back, i think that was the one of toughest parts of being in the academy come to think of it? to not write as i think and feel as much, but to write as we are being trained to use critical academic discourse, critiquing the critique if you will and without Rezbonics. the feelings of stifled dreams, ugh… the academy can be tough on creativity like that.
as i look within after some deep interrogation, today, i am well aware that i also have a responsibility to create scholarly publications. the fact that i love and enjoy doing community work, this has weighed on me for a while. community advocacy and working with youth is service, however, with an advanced degree, i am also in that space where i know my work is needed in the area of scholarly research. so this is also one of the next spaces i will be working through.
my love and world of writing will continue and i’m looking forward to this next phase and time in my life. more than that, i look forward to helping others. after all, it’s always been for the love of the people. for those who have been following me, y’all know the impetus for this blog is grounded there.
as i close out, i think it so important to share my dad who raised me taught me so much. i will forever cherish his teachings regarding love of the people, and dedicate much of what i do to the values and cultural ways of knowing to my Diné family who helped build me up with the foundations of ké.
my late grandparents instilled much of our culture into us, i am certain, it was their teachings and prayers that carried me through those doubtful times in my formal education journey. as my anishnaabeg sister rhonda, from lake of the woods, ontario shared… “you went all the way to the top.” i did indeed go all the way to the academic mountain top. the famous words of Drake.. “started from the bottom now we here” is literal.
as i look back, i cringe at the thought of who i was becoming when i used to be ashamed of my culture and shamed for being Native. my formal education process began when i was sent to a public school. they tried to erase my memory. today i am thankful that i went to a boarding school for a period in my life. who knows where i would be if i did not have that experience?
what i have come to learn is this, colonization did a number on us non-white people. colonization taught us to hate ourselves. colonization tried to strip us of our humanity. in some communities colonization was completely successful. for others it did not erode the language to extinction, ceremonially there is much happening, and land wise… we still have sacred sites that we visit. those ways of knowing and life must continue to be protected.
as i look back now, my grandparents teachings that were passed down is the glue that binds us to our ancestors. for that i am forever grateful. to resist and uphold our culture and reclaim our humanity, our spirits, our hearts, our minds, and our souls is a significant step towards anti-colonial ways of being as Indigenous people.
i end with this, it truly is a blessing to be born Indigenous. ❤️
A’hee’eeh tah’nol’tsoh and qeci’yew’yew oykalo, thank you for reading everyone.