Edward S. Curtis
'Mother and Child (Apsaroke Indian)' by Edward S. Curtis

Woman Crush Wednesday (WCW) No. 1: Native Mothers

Gyasi Ross

This is actually my first Woman Crush Wednesday (#WCW) piece, and I know I'm turning it in on Thursday night. I am a proud product of three different reservations (Blackfeet, Nisqually and Suquamish), and on this one occasion I am invoking that privilege -- delivering this to you on not just Indian time, but TRIPLE Indian time.

And my first Woman Crush Wednesday is in honor of Mother’s Day. To paraphrase the HORRIBLE (yet I loved them) 80s group “The Jets,” “Indian moms—I’ve got a crush on you.”

Call me Oedipal; I DID, after all, breastfeed till I was about 8. 

QUICK STORY: Recently, while at a random Subway in rural Montana, my seven-year-old son was munching on a gawdawful Tuna Fish and Salami and Pepperjack cheese sandwich. He likes those. Like me, he’s always looking for something to read while he eats and so he took to reading the side of the beverage cooler and it happened to be a Snapple cooler. The side of the Snapple cooler said, “Made from the best stuff on earth.”

My son quickly turned to me with his brow furrowed, mad. He said, “That thing is lying; that’s not the best stuff on earth.”

I smiled and wondered what was next. I said, “Oh no, what is?”

Still chewing he said, “Mom’s turkey and sweet potato stew.”

It IS pretty good. Still, I smiled broadly and HAD to call his mom immediately. Ambulance chaser that I am, we might have a lawsuit on our hands—sue Snapple for fraud.


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mizzy's picture
Submitted by mizzy on

mizzy's picture
Submitted by mizzy on
I wonder if I might suggest that you take a click trip over to Land of Gadzillion Adoptees for the perspective of adults who have been adopted. I read your blog just on Mother's Day and was deeply saddened by your use of what is a painful subject for many as an opportunity to be thankful that you weren't given up and raised by someone other than your mother. I was equally saddened by your description of women who you believe gave up their children 'for the better'. It was a confusing post: on one hand you say you don't blame mothers who did make the choice to give up children and then in the next you thank your own mother because she didn't make that choice because she and others knew things would be better. I was left wondering why someone would choose to honor their mother for mother's day by saying "Thanks mom for not giving me up for adoption." I suppose it would be odd if it weren't a reality for so many Native people of a certain generation, and so I can only surmise that you thought would get some mileage out of it politically... at least from folks who like you weren't adopted-out. I was doing some reading on Land of Gadzillion Adoptees today and came upon this story titled, Twisted Logic, a phrase which summed up my critique of your Mother's Day blog nicely. The personal reflection that followed was equally enlightening. "Too many times to count, someone has either accused me of being an irresponsible whore or glorified my act of relinquishment as that of a true family-building angel. These are obviously completely opposite points of view that most likely are based upon the speakers’ level of experience with adoption. For the person whose connection with adoption is mostly on a superficial level, his or her understanding is oftentimes based on the sensational: the stories that make the news, the celebrity tabloids, or popular daytime talk shows. As the more publicized stories grab the headlines, “facts” can be based on either true adoption nightmares or saccharinely sweet adoption stories. So a person’s developed viewpoint could be more extreme. Whereas, once in the safety of Adoption Land, the politically correct mode of honoring and respecting the birth mother grows in value. It’s almost like the two varied adoption extremes come closer together but more tightly layered. Both stereotypes are still there, yet only the positive is visible and acted upon openly. Of course, the underlying feelings of shame and judgment exist still, even if no one talks about them. I wonder what is left unsaid. It can feel like people hope the birth mother is a saint, while being afraid she is really a sinner. It is even more confusing when, depending on the timing and the circumstances, birth mothers can be viewed as both saint and sinner at the same time."