our fire is hungry and so are we

In Sylvia McAdam’s “Nationhood Interrupted” (Which is amazing I highly recommend it) She discussed the roles of women pre contact. The roles our Nêhiyaw iskwew had were powerful, meaningful roles that upheld our communities. Our iskwew were never complacent, never the object of a mans will – and never subject to demeaning treatment or people who would not allow them to be exactly what they were – iskwew – promising the existence of the future generations. The etymology of women is wife of man. European perspective of a woman is literally the wife of a man, so it’s no wonder european women were treated so terribly and had to fight, and are still fighting, for the rights of being human and to be treated equally.  The nêhiyaw word for women, iskwew, meaning that we promise the future generations life. We are trailblazers, powerful creatures who have the gift to promise the existence of our race…. we were never just the wife of a man. That ideology was brought by the white settlers, and unfortunately due to colonialism and white settler ideologies reigning here on Turtle Island (NOT FOR LONG THOO) that is the way we continue to be treated, like the wife of men. I for one am never taking a mans last name, nor will my children. I am so much more than the wife of a man – in fact I’m everything BUT the wife of a man.

It saddens me that the roles of iskwew before contact with europeans were so powerful and sacred – only to be cheaped down to “Don’t step over boys, wear long skirts to ceremony” That’s what I heard growing up – of course many  other things, but they were so minuscule.(Little disclaimer, I’m not undermining the traditional roles of iskwew in todays day by any means, just trying to shine light on the bullshit truth that we were once so so so much more) To know that before moniyaws came here iskwew were the knowledge keepers, the medicine women, the decision makers, the life givers, the teachers, the feeders, the thinkers, the doers….. and now all I’m told is to stay away from ceremony if I’m on my moon time? Fuck that. Fuck colonialism. Fuck Canada. Before colonialism iskwew were welcomed into ceremony on her moon, because our medicine would only add to the medicine of the ceremony. Colonialism and christianity rubbed off on our core beliefs – actually they were not rubbed on to us, they were scrubbed into us, with jagged razors from the colonial apparatus that likes to call itself canada. AHG. K. *Breaths Deeply* I’m good. Anyways, Sylvia discusses this in detail, so if you want to learn more about this read “Nationhood Interrupted” you won’t regret it, trust this moon child.

There was a part in the book where she talks about the sacred iskwew: okihcitâwiskwêwak – the women who held the knowledge of iskwew sacred ceremony and protocol, the knowledge keepers, the highest medicine iskwew. From this book I gathered there are not any left today… and that broke my fickle colonized heart into fickle colonized little pieces.

I wrote this poem after digesting the feelings… this is me trying to pick up those pieces:

 

i’ve always heard a low hum

and i think it’s always been you

okihcitâwiskwêwak

sylvia said

the nakawê say

iskwew’s love

was so powerful it

brought creation

okihcitâwiskwêwak

i see you in the sun

i can smell you in the grass

i feel your currents in sîpiy

i hear you blow in the four directions

of our Treaty

i wish i could be your

kâ omîkwanisicik iskwew

but

canada pushed you into the

dark

was no place for a knowledge keeper

the sun needs to kiss your face

again

it is time

it is said

and it has been written in the stars

our ceremonies are coming back into kîsikaw

anohc

the stars have had you long enough

i want to kiss your face

in the light of day

you’re not gone

you’re only sleeping

because i can feel you

in my bones

in my blood

in my guts

i think all those voices i heard

were you singing softly

to me

when i was a broken child

i saw the little people

in my nokom’s basement

they were telling me to tell you

waniskahk okihcitawiskwêwak

we’re bringing you the

iskotew

of our eighth generation’s

flame

is burning

waniskahk okihcitawiskwêwak

we need you

our fire is hungry

and so are we

 

 

There are some terms in the poem that would make a lot more sense if you read the book…. so go read the book. PLEASE.

Hope is not lost for okihcitâwiskwêwak … we are reclaiming ourselves daily. In the past five years alone I have seen so many Indigenous women rising up to the challenge of restoring our nationhood and reclaiming our identities decolonizing one day at a time… Women like Cat Pihêsiwiskwew Crane (Her picture shown above) and many other powerful iskwew are burning down the walls that will light up the way.  Best believe we are ready to puke up the colonialism that was tube fed to us and give acid burns to all those who stand in our way. The 8th generation is here, and our fire exhales rebellion.

 

 

 

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