Thursday, October 29, 2009

Metallica, my sister, and privilege

The other night I got to go see Metallica. Twice, actually – they did a two-night stand here in Toronto. They have been one of my favourite bands for a very long time, ever since someone handed me a cassette of “Kill ‘em All” back in 85 and said “This band will change your life.” They are, for me, why people will beg, borrow or steal for the live concert experience, for the high and the exhilaration of being in a huge stadium with thousands of like-minded people getting off on the prowess and sheer performance of excellent musicians.

I love going to see a Metallica show. It’s always fun for me because a lot of onkwehonwe seem to adore Metallica as well. I always see people from my community, sometimes even my extended family. I took my sister to see a show in Pine Knob, Michigan when she was 16 (don’t tell her but it was so I could borrow my parent’s car – that was the condition) and got her hooked on them as bad as any drug. So whenever they come to Toronto we make it a point to try and go. Back in the day I actually used to travel around to see them, in the same vein as roadtripping to see the Grateful Dead, but I haven’t done that in years. I’ve always wondered why I love Metallica so much, but I think it’s the pounding, driving double bass drum -- it sounds like a water drum amplified by a million decibels and double-timed. They are a very Iroquoian band – concerned with democracy and personal power and righteous soul-searching, and also how to wade through this modern world that wants to crush the warrior spirit out of us. But I digress.

Anyway, the first night I took my daughter and turned her into a convert, and then second night I teamed up with my sister, because she has to go – no question. I got her addicted, I have to help feed the monkey. So of course the band is in top-form, thrashing through a beautiful performance that gave me goosebumps and I was headbanging so hard I still have whiplash. Our seats were right below the private boxes in the ACC, in section 118.

Now a word about those damn private boxes – I hate them. I hate that bullshit crap about “If I can afford it, I should lord it over the unwashed masses because I am great and powerful”. Every fiber of my Iroquoian being rebels at elitist shit like that. I don’t give a damn how much money you have – you are still a human being that breathes and farts and sleeps and how is it you get to think you are better than the rest of us? Where the hell do you think you are, ancient Rome in the Coliseum? Dining on canap├ęs while the gladiators fight it out for your amusement?

Anyway, it was during a literally firebreathing version of “Blackened” that I started to notice that the knobs in the private box behind us were flinging beer around. They had first doused a bunch of guys to my left, about two rows down – how they hell they managed that I’ll never know. And then I got sprayed with warm beer. I turned around and yelled, “Hey, why not try being considerate, you fucking jerks??” which may not be the most polite opening salvo, but come on, they had been jerks for the last two songs.. I turned back to the show and it kept happening, upon which I turned around and glared at them for a whole two minutes, maintaining eye contact with the jerkoffs until they looked away. They were all white men (of course) between the ages of 28 to 35, with their prissily dressed girlfriends all looking as bored as shit and huddled off in a corner of the booth.

But by the time the band ripped into a full-throttle rendition of “Enter Sandman” they were back at it again, and this time doused my sister.

I should say a word about my sister. While younger, she has always been tougher, louder, more-opinionated, braver and bolder than I will ever be. I know that freaks out a lot of my non-native friends, who think I am the toughest, loudest, most opinionated, bravest and boldest badass Iroquoian girl out there – but they’ve not met my sister. Or a lot of the other women on the reserve. Iroquoian women are tough. They don’t take shit and woe betide you if you try and get between them and something they feel is right. Why do you think the whole Caledonia resistance thing happened? Or Oka? Or any of the other places where Iroquoian people feel wronged? It’s not the men, it’s the women. I was scared to death of most of them while I was growing up and I’m one of them!!! In full-on battle mode, Iroquoian women are terrifying.

So my sister tells them to quit fucking around and behave, and of course they don’t, and more beer flies around, this time getting the guys in the row in front of us, and my sister picked up a three-quarter full cup of whatever they had lying around on the ledge in front of their private box and heaved it at them, catching three of them full on in the face!!! She soaked them! It was totally awesome. You should have seen their faces – it was like never in a million years did they ever expect to get their shit thrown back at them, much less by a woman. They got all huffy and my sister is like, “You wanna go? Let’s go, you fucking assholes!!!” and then the dudes in the row in front of us, two of whom looked like bikers, got behind her and they completely backed down. It was totally cool. They were completely deflated. By the time the song ended, they were gone. Talk about getting the eff out of Dodge – the damn Indians are coming!!

At the end of the show my sister looked around and said, “Hey, where did they go?” I told her they probably had to leave to get the last GO train to whatever suburban shithole they had climbed out of and we started to laugh, and one of the biker-like dudes tapped my sister on the shoulder and told her that she was awesome, that he was glad she had stood up to those assholes and that he had her back anytime, and we left the show laughing hysterically, and couldn’t stop, being all exhilarated from the show and the adrenalin rush of battle.

But of course the whole thing made me think about privilege, and the sense of entitlement that comes with it. Why do people behave like assholes? Because they think they have the right. They don’t see that living among other people, living in a city or in a community means you have to live WITH them, not against them, and that it doesn’t do anybody any good to behave like an asshole, to put yourself at the head of the line and constantly take without giving. But they keep trying to do it, and because there’s no one to shut them down, they are successful. It’s like there’s this whole myth in this culture that rugged individualism will see you through, and to hell with everyone else. This is why I despise the political process that I see at play in this country – it’s just the elites battling it out. My pork barrel party is better than your pork barrel party, and meanwhile everyone else is going hungry and looking elsewhere for sustenance. And the other thing that drives me crazy is that these overprivileged and overbored people believe inherently that they have the right to tell you how you should live.

Coming from an onkwehonwe background means you never think you are better than anyone else. In fact, most of our cultural myths and stories make sure you don’t get a big head and think of yourself as better. But hey -- we know that all Haudenosaunee are the toughest, loudest, most-opinionated, bravest and boldest people out there, and together we will collectively kick your ass.

Monday, October 26, 2009


When I look out my (new) office window, I can see a sliver of the lake, Lake Ontario, and observe its many moods. Today it looks cold and metallic, silver blue and wave-capped in the wind. I think about the lake a lot. It’s a focal point to my people, part of the territory that we have always considered ours. Skanadariio, beautiful shining water, some days as calm and placid as a mirror, other days dark green and angry, surging and powerfully mean. Due south of Toronto is Rochester, originally a Seneca town, launching point of our northward trading and warring ventures. We used to control the waterways in our part of Anowara (Turtle Island) in giant war canoes made of elm bark, massive and menacing. The Ojibway had those sleek little birch bark canoes that were fast and agile, but we had elm bark canoes, made to hold war parties and transport goods and people over long distances.

I think a lot about the military tradition of my people. I read once that to observe the Iroquois in battle was to observe the course of a hurricane, powerful and devastating. Yet our traditions from the Gayanashagowa, the Great Law, make it very clear we were interested in peace. We call it the White Roots of Peace, the Great Peace, the Tree of Peace. Everything relates back to living in harmony with each other and with the earth. Even our greeting – “se:koh, skennenkowa” essentially means “How’s your peace?” We call our great cultural hero, the architect of the Great Peace, the Peacemaker, who lived by three principles: peace within individuals and between groups that comes from a healthy body and a sane mind; secondly, justice that comes from correct actions, thought, and speech. And lastly, spiritual power that comes from physical strength and civil authority (meaning the power of the chiefs to make the decisions and the authority of the women who appoint the chiefs). These were the overriding principles that governed our nations and our Confederacy.

However, contact with Cartier at Hochelaga in 1534 and then the subsequent disaster with Champlain firing on the Mohawk at Ticonderoga in 1609 – suddenly this seems to turn the Haudenosaunee into a lean mean fighting machine, a Spartan-style military society that suddenly ruled over the territory with a fiery fist, intent on ruling the territory and controlling the beaver trade. In fact, subsequent reading of history tells us that the Iroquois are responsible for eradicating or absorbing up to at least 30 different nations to rule over a wilderness empire from north of the St Lawrence in the East, the Mississippi Valley in the West, and down through to the edge of the Cherokee territory in North Carolina.

It’s actually interesting to figure out how swiftly and intensely the entire culture threw its weight behind such a military venture. Suddenly women spend all of their energy raising children and growing the corn to fuel these military expeditions; the men train from a very early age to become warriors and walk the warrior’s path, wasase. I admire the discipline of a people who can just switch direction like that and pour all of their energy into a common, united purpose. I salute my ancestors for their ferocity and discipline... and I utterly grieve the reality that colonization has completely fractured us today, perhaps fatally. I can’t imagine us getting so completely behind a cultural program that designed us for dominance, to spread the White Roots of Peace beyond our borders even if it had to be done by flint and fire. So many of us would rather not bother thinking collectively, living instead with our flatscreen tvs and our SUVs and contentedly bickering over the tobacco trade that while lucrative does not fund our communities adequately. Sometimes I wonder if we are broken to the point of disintegration.

But then I think of some of the people I know from my community and how vibrant and alive and amazing they are, and figure maybe it’s just different now, that our wasase, our personal war dance, has to be different. Maybe we spread our Haudenosaunee-ness outward like a virus, infecting subtly at a cellular level. Maybe it’s enough that I can sit here in an office tower overlooking my little sliver of Skanadariio, and simply by my being here and working at my job can influence a culture that tried to forget about us and thinks we have gone away, but here we are.

Maybe that’s enough.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Federal reserves

One of the things that makes me happiest in life is when I see another onkwehonwe person, regardless of their nation, looking healthy and happy and bustling around the city in the same inimitable fashion as me, just going about their business, going to work or getting a latte or grocery shopping or just going about their day the same way as everyone else here does. Because let’s face it, we’re a minority in this city that sits sprawled over our territory, all concrete and steel and glass shining on the edge of the lake like a spaceport city from a fever dream. I always want to run up to the Indians I see and go, sekoh innit! We’re so cool, we’re so plugged in and progressive and we flew away from our reserves like a supersonic jet engine, aren’t we awesome…

Because it’s hard to leave the Rez. I don’t care where or what kind of Rez you come from, that little patch of earth has become the last of our territory and the tie that binds us there is like chains of unbreakable steel. The land that we cling to, our feet planted firmly into the earth with roots that run so deep it physically hurts to tear yourself away… and even so, every so often you have to go back to breathe its air and replenish your soul.

How did that happen? My own people were refugees before we settled on our reserve, refugees in our own homeland. We were the broken survivors of a genocidal war that forced us out of the lush lands of the Haudenosaunee, burned out by the Town Destroyer and the violent birth pangs of a new nation whose Manifest Destiny spelled out the end for all indigenous people. The weight of that, when I contemplate it fully, hurts so much it’s like a wound that lacerates down into the muscle and how could I possibly still feel it? I was born seven generations after we put down roots along the Grand River, but dammit, I still feel that pain. And the land that we have left, so crowded with our burgeoning population and tangled with weeds and the hulks of rotting cars… How did it happen that this is all that is left of the territory that we once ruled over with a fist forged from flint and fire?

I recently read a new book for young adults (I vetted it for my daughter) by Sherman Alexie, the Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian (god I love that title) and he writes that reserves are like concentration camps, where they put the last of the Indians. They didn’t have to use gas, they just gave us residential schools and alcohol and bad food. They were hoping we would all die there and then the camp would grow over and they could put up a shopping mall over our bones. But it didn’t happen. We survived that too.

So now we love our reserves. I think it’s really hard for non-indigenous people to understand that. Take the crisis in Kashechewan, when their water system completely broke down and there was flooding… Pundits and ordinary people were saying, For Godsakes, get the eff out of dodge already, just move. Easy for them to say. That is what a culture for which it’s all about real estate and not about the land says. Take the easy way out, buy a new place and you can start over again. But this is not what indigenous people do. This was the last of this peoples’ territory, where the bones of their ancestors lay buried beneath their feet and the heartbeat of the earth was felt for them in that place. They had no choice but to stay there, inasmuch as a nomadic people is forced to be in one place for all eternity, but that’s another story.

For myself, there were things about the reserve that drove me nuts, nuts enough to leave it behind me at the age of 17... but I also love it. I always go back. It’s in my heart, a place that I know is there for me, where the bones of my ancestors are buried and where I know I can go and hear the heartbeat of the earth channeled through the rhythm of rattle and water drum at a longhouse social. And that's not something to be given up lightly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Being Invisible

I had a massage today and spent the whole time on the table explaining about being Mohawk to a young beautiful woman who, while good at her job, knew nothing about the fact that yes, there are still Mohawks in the world and yes, we function well in the city and get massages from time to time.

Side note – I’m a vain creature and so devote a lot of my time to getting my hair cut and dyed, and manicures, and pedicures, and facials and massages, and doing yoga and looking for fabulous handbags and shoes, and the coolest ensembles. Because I’m just that way. But also, I contemplate a lot what my friend the glorious Audra Simpson, Kanienkaha’keh scholar and thinker and fellow-girl-about-town says: Sovereignty begins with the self, and that self should be presented stylishly.

But why is it that every time I go somewhere, I have to explain myself? I guess people are curious, and I suppose if I was Irish, or Australian, or Burundian, or Tibetan I'd be explaining myself as well. But in this city there’s an expectation, an acceptance, of the exotic, the newly-emigrated, the multi-cultural and the differently skinned, and people want to hear their story. But this is my city, this is my territory. Why do I have to explain all the time about being an indigenous person? And more than that, a functioning, funky downtown denizen?

It’s interesting to me that even casual encounters like this one mean I have to educate. I spend a lot of my time in this culture educating people. It’s alternately fascinating and infuriating. I mean, why should I end up being a freaking ambassador for all indigenous people? What are we, invisible? And this lovely young woman was from Cambridge, of all places, up the Grand River a ways and you’d think she at least would have the faintest idea of the fact that we’re still here and not some freakish museum artefact.

Guess not.

I’m fascinated as to why that is. But I think about something my kids have complained about, something which they raise vehement objection to and which means they have to educate and explain. In the course of learning their curriculum at various points in their schooling, indigenous people are looked at as a part of history, a people that are essentially extinct, that exist only in the dry pages of history and as preserved and as artificial to them as a museum exhibit. My daughter was especially vocal about it. She feels that this has the effect of diminishing her entire vibrant and beloved Kanienkaha’keh family and the reserve, the community that she is completely aware of as she and her brother grew up with a foothold there, a knowledge of the place and their family’s history and by extension, the story of the Kanienkaha’keh at Six Nations. Both her and her brother raise the objection that they are here, not extinct, that they are indigenous and that they and their family thrive.

Indigenous people have to be invisible to the rest of the culture. It has to be that way. How else can you be comfortable about the fact that the very land upon which you stand was stolen, cheated, and made a commodity? It suits the dominant culture to pretend this. Then you don’t have to deal with the very messy reality of land claims/reclamations/residential schools/teen suicides and all the other dirty secrets of the colonial corporate franchise. Then those “aboriginal” people are an abstract and invisible. Extinct. Or if you do encounter them, it’s the drunken relic on a street corner, the empty-eyed drug-addicted prostitute whoring for her fix. Or those filthy people living on those god-forsaken hellholes up north and we may as well send them body bags when the pandemic erupts because what else is there to do? They are already dead.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I refuse to be invisible. And so it comes down to this: being plugged into this culture means that yes, I have to be the freaking ambassador, at least in my little corner of Tkaronto, for the Kanienkaha’keh nation. Maybe I’m not the best one my people could ask for, but at least I know something of my culture and our ways, and can explain it. At least the colonial corporate franchise couldn’t take that away.

I may not know everything, but I know this. I can tell you a story, a story about a people, with a strong, intensely democratic political system, an emotional tie to the earth, an oral tradition that has survived, and a dynamic culture that exists despite the attempt of the dominant culture to silence us, to make us invisible. And that counts for something, damn straight.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Forgiveness? Maybe not

The Buddha taught that all suffering arises from the aversion to pain and the pursuit of pleasure, and that because we have been born into this sentient, sensitive body, we are doomed to suffer. The way forward and freedom from suffering is to learn equanimity, or the Middle Way.

I’ve always been extremely interested in Buddhism. There is something beautiful and truthful in its austere discipline, free from the worry about sin and God and all manner of dogma that has always bugged me about Christianity. And because I am always interested in learning about spiritual pursuits I have been investigating Buddhism, off and on, for about five years now, actually before I got serious about a yoga practice.

A side note – I have rejected Christianity pretty utterly. I was raised an Anglican but what is any form of colonizer’s religion to indigenous people but a capitulation, a recognition that if we didn’t convert it was completely over? That’s why I’ve always admired the people who stayed in the Longhouse. That was resistance to the max. My parents dragged us to church every Sunday from the time I can remember until I was about 13 and started to raise objections about it. But when I think about it, my parents were probably bored with the whole deal by that point anyway – it was 1975 and I think the zeitgeist got to them. However, I knew I couldn’t seriously follow any religion that couldn’t reconcile all that shit about Adam and Eve with the evidence of the fossil record and Darwinism – when I was 6 years old. I got married at Mohawk Chapel though but that was mostly to please my dad, not because I was actually believing in it.

I went to a meditation workshop yesterday taught by Noah Levine, who is my total idea of a hot teacher. He’s one of those American Buddhists, a nominally Jewish dude who overcame youthful addictions and criminality to become a tattooed, thoroughly cool follower of the Buddha. I could listen to him in a guided meditation for days.

However, it was during the metta meditation – the practice of sending loving kindness – that I ran into an unforeseen difficulty. In this meditation, you breathe in and then breathe out, May you be happy, may you be at ease, may you be free from suffering. His instruction was to practice this first on yourself because the first person worthy of this is you, because you cannot love others until you love yourself. He spoke of forgiveness and compassion for yourself, and I found myself inexplicably weeping during this. The entire thing made me feel so uncomfortable that it made me weep, that somehow I wasn’t worthy of the kind of compassion that I am completely willing to bestow on other people, on complete strangers. I became a lot happier when we were then to direct this meditation outwards.

In the discussion afterward, I observed to the class that I had found it so much easier to bestow loving kindness to other people than it was to myself. He said that this is common in the West, were the Judeo-Christian tradition of sin, in which you are born out of sin into a sinful world seeps into all of us, part and parcel of the memes we breathe. But in a flash of insight, the kind that happens so rarely that it is like a lightning bolt, I realized that for me, this was an ugly bit of my internalized colonization that I had to rip out by the roots. I am not worthy of self-love, or forgiveness, or loving kindness, because at the essence of myself, I am an onkwehonwe woman trying to pretend to survive in a city in occupied territory.

Surviving in this colonized culture means you have to accept certain ideas as true, even unconsciously. The idea that somehow your birth culture is an inferior one, one that failed in the march to modernity is one of those toxic ideas floating out there that we onkwehonwe unfortunately are forced to breathe in as part of our capitulation to survive in a country that robbed us of our sovereignity, our political power, and our land.

Even though I know intellectually that no culture should be considered inferior, that all of humanity thrives in diversity and difference, it’s one of those pervasive ideas that ooze through the West like poison. And I have drunk this koolaid and now it is a part of me as well.

After the class I went and talked to Noah about it, and he told me that for several of his students who come from cultures like mine that survive under a cloak of racism have the same problem, and that it’s almost like they have to do extra time on the cushion to root it out, and that it becomes a part of the practice. He told the story of his father, noted Buddhist scholar Stephen Levine was told by his teacher that part of moving through all of these internalizations is to forgive the people that have oppressed and abused you and yours. He said his father was like, “Forgive Hitler? I can’t forgive Hitler.” But that by looking at Hitler and the Nazis as abused children who were acting out their own internal pain and rage he was able to get through it.

But how the hell do you forgive an entire system, a way of belief that oppressed your people and continues to oppress them? I’m not sure I have the fortitude to push through this, to become a bigger person – an enlightened being that lives in compassion and forgiveness. I’m not sure I can do it.

I think, however, I will continue to investigate my own mind and use the practices of Buddhism as a way to get to know myself better. Maybe this will be my life’s work.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Meditations on why I do yoga

I ended up going to yoga after all. Let me digress a little and explain -- I was a headstanding, Sanskrit-chanting, blissed out yogini chick for about a four-year span of my life -- my late 30's early 40's. Then, for a lot of reasons (which I will not get into here, but suffice to say it had to do with my marriage almost breaking up, being in a funk about my work, changing gears and getting an actual career, and repairing my marriage) I went on a two-year yoga hiatus wherein I didn't even think about it.

But recently a lot of factors brought me back to the mat. Number one, changing jobs and getting an actual career that makes me incredibly happy was the first thing. I am actually in a place where I can get out of my head and back into my body because I'm not all tied up in knots about the fact that I hated my job so much. Number two was my younger brother getting diagnosed with the dreaded-but-sadly-expected diabetes. I always thought I'd be the first one because my brother has always been a bit of jock, what with all his hockey and baseball and golf playing antics, to say nothing of his semi-physical job. But nope, he's 44 and earlier this year -- whammo. Welcome to the blood-taking calorie count for him. So that kind of spurred me to think -- better get active sister or you are next. Number three was the myriad aches and pains I've been having lately. For heaven's sake, no one tells you that being in your middle 40's creates these weird twinges and downright annoying spasms in your feet, knees, hips and back. Plus I was tired all the time and I know that if I get my kapha body up off the couch my pitta soul will thank me for it (digression -- I picked up some Aruyvedic lore and have always thought that "pitta trapped in a kapha body" described us Iroquoian people to a T). So back to yoga I went.

I'm practicing a form of bikram-inspired yoga, a North American hybrid called moksha yoga. I've been taking a bunch of classes at the Moksha downtown studio and it's a beautiful place -- all eco-friendly interiors and clean lines, my kind of space. Of course, there's the lithe 20-something yoga gurls running around in their tight little Lululemon outfits and their neurotic energy, but I just hang out with my shorts and tank top and don't give a fuck about the fact that I'm six inches and probably a 100 lbs bigger than the biggest of them. I stopped caring. After all, I'm 45, I've got a husband and kids and a house and a dog and a car -- all of those things you can literallly feeling them vibrating for -- and I could give a shit what they think when they look at me. Actually in the shower I've been tempted to say, "Yeah, this is what you're going to look like after two pregnancies that put 60 lbs on you, 30 of which you have never lost and then two rounds of breastfeeding!!" but why scare the poor children. After all, yoga is about compassion...

But last night I had a really great teacher who wisely counselled the class that it should be about friendliness, and humour, and compassion, and not about achievement and competition and success, because after all, what are those things really? And it made me smile and even though I sweated probably 20lbs of water out of me -- it lingers with me today.

Which brings me to my main meditation today. My (white)brother-in-law actually asked me this on the weekend -- How do you reconcile that form of belief with your indigenous spirituality?

And besides worrying about why he felt he could ask that question, I've actually ruminated on this very topic for a long while. It comes down to this: my culture is about adaptation. This is how we survived. We have a long history of adopting other people into our clans, those persons replacing the ones we lost to war, starvation, disease. I don't think you can actually call those of us who are Iroquoian pure bloodline Iroquois; we are the sum of all of those years of adoption and assimilation of other tribes, other peoples into our own. And even if we call them Iroquois, who can say what those people who were adopted have brought into our culture? Our genius for survival is our ability to adapt. Our genius for resistance and political savvy and powerful people is that we harness all of that internally into our beings and project it outward into the world, onto the Turtle's back. We are a traditional people living a postmodern experience and culture-jam it back. It's a survival technique and it works. Even though there are only about 100,000 Iroquois people (this figure literally made me weep) in the entire world, we are here and we survived, coming back from the brink of extinction, and we continue to prosper. We will continue to survive and adapt. We are Darwinian in the extreme.

This brings me back to my personal belief around meditation/yoga/liberation. In the old days, work was your meditation. Working in the fields, pounding corn, making clothes and weapons and tracking animals, even walking the warpath -- this is all about turning off the mind, getting into your body, and becoming something other than yourself. My dad used to say that when he plowed a field it was like a meditation; hours could pass in the blink of an eye, there was only the earth, the sky, and the hum of the tractor. Now that I live in a city and the work is not physical but mental I need/desire/crave that exercise of the body that shuts off the mind. Even if it's for a little while.

So I'm feeling fairly great today. A little sore, but energized, alert -- happy. And ready for the challenges of the day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Yoga or not to Yoga

I've been having a low-grade headache all day. It feels like a low pressure headache, the kind I'm susceptible too. It makes me grumpy. And being grumpy is not a good thing for me. I tend to direct grumpiness outward. I think it's a Wolf Clan thing. Most Wolf Clan people I know are grumpy just by reflex and we like to let people know it. Just so you can participate in the pain as well. Hey it's a pack thing! I once read a "clan horoscope" thing that talked about the traits of people in the various Haudenosaunee clans and it was actually hilarious, because the two clans I'm most familiar with -- Wolf being my own (and all my mother's family) and Bear (my father's mother's family -- just go along with it) were preternaturally right on. For instance, it said that Wolves are generally kind of arrogant, know what they want and how to get it, and are quite generous even though they will always remind you of just how generous they are -- bang on. And Bears -- jovial, slow to anger, and once you anger them, get out of Dodge. Totally my Dad and his Anderson kin. Weirdness. But hey, being in a Clan is a large genetically-connected family so hey -- you're bound to get some traits that go beyond your family.

Anyway, the reason I got into this is -- I'm prevaricating on the yoga thing. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak in this case. I snitched aspirin from the first aid kit in the kitchen here at work but it wore off and maybe some ibuprofen is needed. I am a firm believer in harnassing the power of chemistry to better your existence. It's always been my excuse for my experimental drug usage.

But yoga is the exact opposite of ingesting. It's all about detoxifying and concentrating -- preparing the body for enlightenment and thus the ultimate liberation. So what to do...

But at least I bought a coat for Winnipeg. That's saying a lot.

Somewhere Along the Line I figured I should do this

I've been musing for quite some time how I want to do this. I think it's simple really -- I can, therefore I should.

I think being a modern indigenous person in occupied territory needs to speak about the experience. And I'm a rock'n'roll kind of gal, I think/feel that I should. It's important. If not me, who else.

About me: 45, wife, mother, daughter, Haudenosaunee of Kanien'kahakeh persuasion. Or for you non-speakers (which compromises probably 99.9% of the population) I'm a full-blooded Mohawk woman from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, the last remaining congregation of all the six Iroquois tribes (and some of our more fortunate allies like the Delaware and the Mississauga) in the entire world. I live for rock'n'roll, indigenous rights, worker's rights, my large and extremely cool Mohawk family, shih tzus, cats, cool books, art, photography, film, and yoga.

And I am, by virtue of being Mohawk, opinionated, stubborn, political, a ravenous consumer of art, and adept at adaptation. So there you go.

Here I plan to rant, rave, explain, educate, pontificate, muse, ruminate, and otherwise bleat out my ramblings to the uncaring universe. All because I can.