GAL'QUOG'/SEVEN: GOING HOME
After the sun rises and we return to our homes, we carry
the power of community with us. Cherokee Two-Spirit
folks are telling each other stories as we weave
ourselves back together. We pull together the strands
that our elders have given us, the traditions that have
ensured our survival, carefully replace the beads that
have become lost or broken, and re-imagine the pattern
of our lives. We carry the memory of who we are, the
memory of our songs and dances, back to our homelands
and throughout the Cherokee diaspora.
Many Cherokee Two-Spirits live away from Cherokee lands,
and many of us are not involved with ceremonial
communities. Further, many Cherokee Two-Spirits (like most
Cherokees) are Christians. And, I've talked to many
Cherokee Two-Spirit people who—while they love our
people and want to remain connected to our
communities—have no desire to live in the conservative
areas of the country where our homelands are located.
Perhaps just as important as being home is to find ways
to honor our traditions away from home. Regardless of
where we are, we can certainly learn our language, learn
our traditional arts, and learn our songs. And we can
work to ensure that we walk duyuktv in our own
lives through intentional and careful work to dismantle
sexism, transphobia, and queerphobia from our psyches
and lives. We can teach other Two-Spirit people how to
come home to themselves and each other, shaking the
shells of resistance and healing in order to repair the
world. We can bring our story back together. Each of us
has a piece.
Crickets. Heartbeats. Healing. Fire. Turtle shell
shackles shake stories.
Wa’do we say as
dawn's light touches the tops of trees. Wa’do we
say to the shell shakers, to each other, to the fire, to
the song leaders, to Creation…
Wa'do to the People of the Three Fires (Ojibwe, Odawa,
Duwamish Nation, and the Nisqually Nation on whose
lands this essay was written.
Wa'do to all of the Two-Spirit folks whose friendships
and love help sustain me.
Wa'do to everyone at the Tulsa Two-Spirit Gathering,
particularly to the Cherokees who are part
of ceremonial communities. You are shell shaking
and singing for all of us.
Wa'do to Robin McBride Scott for teaching me to weave
wampum and for helping me think about re-imagining
ancient patterns through her work with rivercane.
Wa'do to Angela Haas and Malea Powell for their
ongoing scholarship on wampum rhetorics, and to Louis
Esmé Cruz for being my Two-Spirit wampum-nerd buddy.
Wa'do to Colin Kennedy Donovan for hir enormous
assistance in revising this essay, to both Colin
and william maria rain-shadid for helping me think
through this essay aloud and providing ideas and
feedback, and to Trevor Hoppe for his insight and
feedback on various versions of this piece... (continue to reference list)