Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We have arrived!

Our sincere apologies for not posting anything in quite a while. Internet access on the reservation can sometimes be an interesting thing to figure out. So we are typing to you live from the Oneida casino in Oneida, Wisconsin!

We have had emotional, powerful, and life-altering experiences this past week. I started off in Santee Sioux (in Nebraska) doing some workshops for the youth on cultural empowerment and healthy sexuality which was a blast. Got to spend the next few days in Yankton Sioux (South Dakota) doing some easy work that included visiting good friends and hanging with some of the most kick-ass Natives out there! Then moved on to Oneida and I am so very happy to be here with DJ.

We wanted to do this for so many reasons, but now that we are actually here those reasons have shifted. For starters, we have received so much support from people to do this which we are very grateful for. Many of the youth in our communities feel so disconnected from their culture, but it's interesting that when you actually ask the questions, the answers are there. So much of our family have helped in many different ways, whether that was physically preparing food or talking to us about our traditions. DJ's uncle Bruce even made us a HUGE pot of the most delicious corn soup we've ever had! (which you see featured in the picture-he's definitely the favourite in the longhouse for ceremony!)

Our eyes were opened wider while grocery shopping. It was important to us to make sure the food we consumed was not only grown ON Native land, but also PRODUCED by our own people. That was not easy to find, there were several times where we had to question and probe further to see who and where the stuff came from. People would look at us funny or wonder why we "had" to know, and although we do not want to offend any of our other relations whom we love and respect, this was about going back to where we began. We're glad we did it though since it taught us how much we need to advocate for Native farming and make it more accessible. Even that sentence is one to reflect on since our people started the whole concept of food sustainability! And look where we are now!

But we are not going to lie. It has been DIFFICULT to stick to this diet. There have been several events that we had practically no time to cook food in advance for, which meant we'd show up to things and these tummies would start to growl since we knew we couldn't eat any of the yummy food there. (just so you know, these occasions included the big Oneida powwow, a graduation, and birthdays, so lots of scrumptious cake to be had!)

The strength of our people has definitely kept us going. It has been humbling to hear that our commitment to do this has inspired them to find their way back to their traditions. This is one way that neither of us have tried before, and what we know is that YOUTH CAN AND NEED to be part of this struggle to keep our culture going for the next seven generations.

We say nia:wen and yawv?ko to the Creator for all the goodness in our lives, for bringing us together, and for blessing us with life.

But it ain't over yet! We will post more in the coming days so stay tuned!!!

PS. Here's one of our running jokes:

Jessica: "DJ, how do you snag an Iroquois woman?"
DJ: "How?"
Jessica" "Make her some corn mush!"