Remembering Auntie Out Loud

By Terra Trevor

Great Aunt Josephine sits in her wheelchair. At eighty her hair is still mostly black, but she is too despondent to do more than sigh. Names and questions won’t stick in her mind.
I still have Aunt Lydia. Wrinkled, shrunken, ten years older than her sister Jo, dark black eyes gone yellow, but with a memory bank of a mind. Without pausing she tells me stories, a web of words, the same ones I remember from childhood.

After we fill up on pies and cakes, cameras are brought out. But I don’t have any pictures of my dad’s side of the family. The film was overexposed the day we all lined up according to our generation.

For the first photograph the great aunts and uncles are grouped together. These are my grandpa’s siblings, and the line doesn’t hold a white face.

The next group is my dad, my auntie Joan and all of their cousins—the first half-blood generation in our family. It gives eyes of blue, hazel, wavy or straight brown hair.

My brother, sister, and I stand with the largest group of mixed blood Cherokee, Delaware, Seneca cousins. We are not full bloods or even half, and yet we’re not white and never will be. And soon enough we will become the Elders.

Last night when the host drum played a song for the Elders, and all of the Elders got up out of their seats and went up to the front to be honored, I noticed my friend Michael was up there with them, and I wondered why.

Then when it was time for the rest of us to go shake the Elders hands and thank them, when I neared my friend I said, “Michael you’re the same age as I am, why are you standing?”

“Get up here.” He replied. And he tugged on my arm pulling me in the line. “But I’m not an Elder.” I gasped. Everyone laughed. “You’re close enough.” An Elder said. “It begins to happen before you know it.”

–Remembering Auntie Out Loud, first published in Yukhika-latuhse Literary Journal, Oneida Nation Arts Program  

Copyright © Terra Trevor. All rights reserved.

ABOUT THE AUTHORTerra Trevormixed blood Cherokee, Delaware and Seneca, is a widely published writer of a diverse body of work, educator, activist and storyteller. She collaborates with other authors across genres and is a contributing author of 10 books, including The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal (The University of Oklahoma Press) Birthed From Scorched Hearts: Women Respond To War (Fulcrum Publishing). Her writing is published in The Huffington Post, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics and Voices: Confronting Pediatric Brain Tumors (Johns Hopkins University Press). 

Excerpts from her memoir Pushing up the Skya mother’s story (KAAN 2006) are published in landmark anthologies including Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices On Child Custody and Education, the first anthology to document the struggle for Native American cultural survival on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border (The University of Arizona Press).

Born in 1953, and raised in southeast Los Angeles, with roots in Colorado and Oklahoma, her life was divided into two seasons; winter and camping and the home she carries within is mountains and pine trees. 

In addition to writing she has worked as a Project Director with American Indian Health, administering a SPINS Grant offering spiritual and cultural connection and Indian doctoring for Native Americans living with AIDS. As a coordinator in South Korea with a family exchange program. As a Program Director with Hospice and We Can Pediatric Brain Tumor Network, at a youth crisis shelter, with CASA as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with at-risk and foster youth in transition, at schools and with American Indian Education Projects. 

Terra gives readings, leads workshops, sits on panels and speaks on a multitude of topics, including multi-racial and multi-cultural identification, race and adoption, racism and white privilege discussions, and on topics that deal with American Indian and Native American experiences.

Kimberly L. Becker, Poet

In the Purple and Blue of It
—From Words Facing East By Kimberly L. Becker

Walking the property
In the late afternoon
In the purple and blue of it
The stand of pines
Fairytale deepness
Past the reservoir
Crunching hulls of black walnuts
This is sacred ground
My eyes devour the view
That I like to claim as mine
But know it’s not, despite the deed
When I return to the anxiety
Of the city
I will long for this land
As a lover for the body of the beloved
I will recall its voice
The trickle of creek
       call of hawks
       rain as it comes up the valley
I have seen mesas
Great red tables
Altars for sacrifice
But it is these mountains
I hold against the bruise of my heart
The purple and blue 
Of their mothering forms

Purple       and       blue

Words Facing East (WordTech Editions, 2011)

Copyright © Kimberly L. Becker. All rights reserved. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Georgia, raised in North Carolina, Kimberly L. Becker is a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and is of Cherokee/Celtic/Teutonic descent. She is the author of two poetry collections, Words Facing East (WordTech Editions, 2011) and The Dividings (WordTech Editions, 2014). Individual poems appear widely in journals and anthologies.  Other published writing includes fiction, essays, reviews, and a series of interviews with other Native writers. Current projects include adapting traditional Cherokee stories into plays for the Cherokee Youth in Radio Project at the Cherokee Youth Center in Cherokee, North Carolina. Kimberly has been awarded grants from the New Jersey State Arts Council, the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council (Maryland), as well as a fellowship to the Hambidge Artist Residency Program in the North Georgia mountains. She has held an Individual Artist Award in Poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council and been Writer-in-Residence at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities (North Carolina).  She has been a featured reader at many venues, including "Native Writers in DC" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. She is happiest within sight of the mountains.

Manufactured Stress and Prayers for Peace

by Alice Rose Crow~Maar’aq 

Manufactured Stress

Manufactured stress creates false anxiety
to do their work

They watch through one-way glass
as you tire on the exercise wheel
first patented generations ago (on mice)

Add enticers to help you
Concede you prefer their bidding

Soon I hear you blubber
it was your idea all along

Your iluraq say they inherited positions
on the grind from our ancestors
long to believe you carry Tradition
when proudly raising an Indigene flag

If history began today
what would those anthropologists observe of you?
What do our children see?

Smile for their cameras

Back then I mopped floors
tried scrubbing away the old stain
of muddy feet trekking to the mouse room
a kind of one-way mirror

They didn’t see me

I saw them emerge from their watch room
one paid the other for a bet made over you

He cashed in
when she said they could make you spin fastest
to the beat of their drum

Prayers for Peace

The wind carries prayers for peace

in winter prayers sting like the biting north wind
meet exposed tear-stained cheeks

Tears freeze and are wiped away

Prayers are heard

After the cold we go to our river
where prayers do not meet deaf ears

Alone we cannot send the ice to sea

Our faith is measured when every spring
what’s frozen becomes dangerous
and is sent away

Copyright © Alice Rose Crow~Maar’aq. All rights reserved.
“Manufactured Stress,” “Prayers for Peace,” “Ilumun No. 1” first appeared in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies (Volume 23, Number 2, Special Issue: Indigenous Women, University of Nebraska Press). 2002.

Alice Rose Crow~Maar’aq was born and raised on the Kusquqvak insouthwest Alaska and nests in Spenard. Her work appears in the Brevity blog, Camas, Yellow Medicine Review, River, Blood and Corn, Retort, Frontiers, and Standards. Her book-length collection, An Offering of Words, is well-underway. Crow works with Chip Livingston and Elissa Washuta to earn a seat as a member of the inaugural class of the Institute of American Indi(genous)an Arts low-rez MFA in Creative Writing Program. She is a member of the Orutsararmuit Native Council and is an original Calista and Bethel Native Corporation shareholder.

Popular Posts

A Community of Voices

Look behind you. See your sons and your daughters. They are your future. Look farther, and see your sons’ and your daughters’ children, and their childrens’children, even unto the Seventh Generation. That’s the way we were taught.

—Leon Shenandoah (1915-1996) Leader of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy