(this piece I originally published on my blogger account, back in July 2015)
This isn’t tape on our mouths.
This is not being able to utilize our voices.
To not teach others what we know.
To tell them who we are and where we came from.
The families we love.
Or the homes we live in.
This is oppression.
This is a tool for what others used to silence those who they chose not to hear.
A band aid to heal, but to heal what though?
There is nothing wrong with us.
We are who we are and these are the voices that were given to us.
Our ability to express love, sadness and to vocalize our fears.
Yesterday many of our ancestors, relatives, parents and grandparents wore similar tape.
They were silenced.
They were oppressed.
The people that supervised them put this tape as band aids over their mouths so they couldn’t communicate to one another.
They did it so that they could heal.
But they were never sick.
Instead of healing the tape became restrictive.
So tight you had to leave who you were behind, in order to breathe through its grasp.
The tape diminished or obliterated their spirits, their bones, and their innocence.
All of it was taken away.
Some died still wearing their tape.
Their native tongues never returning.
They were children.
These children full of life and wonder.
Turned into hallow shells whose names were replaced with designations and ‘new’ names.
But they weren’t the ones who were lost.
The ones who truly became lost were the ones who didn’t know where their home was any more.
Some went to the address or place that began their childhood fantasies.
To repair the healing they once endured.
But many returned only to face realistic nightmares.
Family became strangers and the bruises were revealed.
The damage was done.
Were they really healed?
Many struggled to live.
To discover who they were again.
While others chose to thrive.
They were the ones who got away.
Who were able to remove that imaginary adhesive stripe and were able to use their voices again.
To educate themselves on who they were and what their stories meant.
To reflect on the lives that were enforced upon them.
Of the ones who still wear their tape and never learned to take it off.
Of the people who ran still wearing their band aids that ended up encasing their spirits and identities.
The ones who thrived had to reprogram their motherboards to learn to be themselves again.
They fought for the rights and freedoms of the persons they lost both within themselves and to whom never made it home.
They fought and continue to fight today.
Some even tell their stories with their native languages.
The scars of intergenerational hurt has begun to heal.
Their children, our children and our children’s children are learning their language once more.
They are the ones who talk about what happened.
And of the homes they live in now and the families that they cherish.
It isn’t easy for all, since some are stuck in a whirlpool of confusion and post traumatic stress.
These are the generations who are feeling the impact of cultural loss.
But there is help for them and not in the form of bandages, but of hope.
We need to listen to these stories and educate others of our history.
Of our cultural genocide.
And of our own strengths as the first people of this land.
To build strong allies and bond with each other as brothers and sisters.
Turtle Island is big.
This is our home.
Our native land.
And we need to express ourselves on any platform that we choose to tell our stories past, present and future.
We can do this.
We can work together and learn from yesterday and look forward to tomorrow.
Not with oppression but with hope.
And not with tape but with our voices