Woman Crush Wednesday (WCW) No. 1: Native Mothers
WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?
Native moms are made from the best stuff on Earth. Period. No disrespect to other moms of ANY other ethnicity—you guys are made from some pretty damn good stuff too. But Indian moms? Fuggedaboutit. We are not worthy.
Whoa—that’s a big statement. Huge. You may reasonably ask: “Is Gyasi simply trying to garner some cheap rhetorical points with Native moms so that he can get some free stew and bannock bread when those Native moms see him?”
And I answer with: “First things first: I really, really like stew and bannock. So under normal circumstances, yeah, I just might exaggerate to get some. But THIS time…no, it’s 100% true: Native moms are the best NOUNS (person, place or thing) in the whole wide world. Let me explain why.”
I think that sometimes, in 2014, we forget how close Native people were to simply not being here. We were almost extinct. At the turn of the 20th century, there were roughly two hundred and fifty thousand of us left within this WHOLE country (down from millions of Natives before contact with Europeans). Moreover, our homelands were torn apart, our economy and food sources INTENTIONALLY ripped to shreds, Native children forcibly removed from our households and the ceremonies that once gave us comfort during times of hardship were outlawed.
Things were looking bleak. And they didn’t seem to be getting any better.
It would have been a perfectly reasonable response for Native moms to say, “Enough. No more. Our people have gone through enough pain—I’m not going to create another generation JUST TO suffer the same pain and indignities.” That’s what Toni Morrison described in her powerful book Beloved—and as gruesome as it sounds, in the throes of hopelessness and helplessness, it makes sense. Why WOULD you want to create another generation of Indian kids to simply get kidnapped and killed off?? A Native Masada against the onslaught of seemingly inevitable genocide made complete sense.
But those amazing Native moms didn’t give up hope against these threats that were unique to Native women—the options were pretty much 1) get your Native children forcibly removed, 2) forceful tubal ligations of Native women, 3) no spiritual comfort because your ceremonies are outlawed.
Even with those horrible “options,” Native mothers kept on through faith.
This was a time, in the very recent past, that the simple act of giving birth to a Native child was an act of rebellion.
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