Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting to the heart of the matter

So we've been planning to do this for a little while now. Being long-distance of course means having many late night conversations, and you know, we're still really young so we're taking things one at a time.

What has come out of all these conversations is that our culture is now a big part of both of our lives. It wasn't that way until recently, we both grew up feeling kind of far away and not all that proud of our roots. We hear that continuosly from a lot of youth that we work with, so it means a lot to be at the place that we are now. We are committed to assisting other youth to get to the places they might be trying to get to, using the power of our culture.

This is more than about food. There are health reasons also, but as our talks progressed, it turned into honouring our ancestors, our traditions, and most of all our people. Youth are often left out of the picture of rebuilding community, and what is more, often forgotten in many programming structures of retaining culture. Who do people think is going to carry it on? It is so important to invest in bringing all of our youth back into using our culture, but that means we need to meet youth where THEY are at so they can do it for themselves. It might not always look conventional, it might not even be completely traditional, but at whatever level it happens at, we need to make more of an active effort to ensure the survival of all of this.

We decided the change has to start with us. With our upcoming visit planned in Oneida, we thought, why not only eat traditional foods and do as many cultural/traditional activities as possible? We know that Native people have some of the highest rates of diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease rates and neither of us are good examples of healthy eating! So we aren't about to go out like that!

It's time to take it back, get in touch with some of the ways our ancestors kept themselves healthy and strong, and fight against oppression.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

WHO ARE WE?


She:kon! Sheko:li!

This is the first time either of us is blogging about anything remotely personal, so we're excited to try this out and let you into a cultural journey that's very important to us both.

So who are we anyway?

Kanionke:haka
Jessica Yee hails from Toronto, Ontario. At 22, I'm what some have called a "loud-mouth Mohawk", but I take it as a compliment since I'm extremely proud of our people and I stand up for what I believe in. I can be found in the sexual health world, using our culture to empower our youth, and reminding people that many of the concepts that the Western world takes claim on are actually INDIGENOUS! (like feminism, law, sexual education....) I love to dance traditional and listen to old, Iroquois songs.

Onyota'a:ka
Dennis Danforth Jr. or DJ as I'm typically known, comes straight from Oneida, Wisconsin. Oh sure, they usually call it Green Bay, but that's no where near as interesting as actually acknowledging some of the Indigenous people that live here. I'm almost a quarter of a century as Jessica likes to remind me, and I'm involved in my community on a teaching and mentorship level. I also sing with Elk Soldier and The Tribe.

We met in Yankton Sioux of all places and hooked it up Haudenosaunee styles. For real.
Borders won't stop us. In fact, they've only made our plight to be together stronger.

We're Native, we're youth, and we are so very blessed to be both.

We'll post more thoughts, emotions, and other musings as we get closer to the first day of our traditional diet, which is in.......10 days!!!

We'd love to hear your comments, feedback, and anything else you'd like to share with us along the way so please don't be shy.

All our relations,
Jessica&DJ