VTU Reckoning with The Erasur

Weekly Online Assignment and Reflection (Jan. 25-31)

Boozhoo indinawemaaganag/ Greetings relatives!

First, thank you to all of you for attending to numbering your questions correctly and submitting them onetime. The schedule and format are built for each of you to develop a rhythm that supports your wellness as well as that of me and our wonderful teaching assistant, E. Money. In this class we will explore our relatedness; our responsibility to reciprocate care to all our relatives for the optimization of our collective wellness.

This week, I would like us to look at the Land that our university sets upon. In the teachings that I know, Nature was created—pre-existing—and humans were added later. For this reason, we have needed to work to create viable niches with Nature through learning from, caring for, reciprocating with Her to be a welcome presence. Some of us have inherited those niches and some have come to occupy them. However, our responsibility to continue in co-evolutionary excellence with the Land does not change, regardless of how we arrived in relationship with Land. All Land on this planet had original humans who did the challenging and thoughtful work of coming into relationship with the Land to survive and thrive. Because those people did their work so well, others came to love those same places.

1. In my first thoughts of each day, I thank the original inhabitants of the Land that gifts me the things I need to survive and thrive. When I meet with people throughout the day and they either ask me to introduce myself or how I am, I repeat this thanksgiving. There is a number I use so I can continue to thank the ancestors of the original people of places I am new to when I am not home. Using a cellular phone, text the number (907)312-5085.

  1. In the contents of your text to that number type, “Blacksburg, VA.” What is the response?
  2. Do it again in the same way, but type the city and state you are from. What is the response? Whose ancestral home are you on?
  3. Do it one more time and type, “Oneida, WI” (which is the ‘Reservation’–land designated through treaty, international law,and often as a prisoner of war camp, as belonging to a specific Indigenous nation within the United States–of the Oneida people). What is the response? AND what are your thoughts on this (note: please think carefully as the response you receive reflects levels of Indigenous displacement which gives rise to complex challenges).

2. In this class, you will read the voices of Native people brave enough to share their perspectives. It is important that you open your hearts and minds fully to understanding their perspectives so that we can grow and heal together. Read these articles from our Monacan relatives.

  1. Flash Clark is a friend of mine and has a complex story of identity to tell. He is a wonderful being and I want you to read how he discusses part of how he experiences the world in relation to this place: https://www.100daysinappalachia.com/2018/05/05/one-drop-reckoning-with-the-erasure-of-native-identity-in-appalachia/ What are your thoughts on this?
  2. Chief Branham is also a friend of mine. I want you to read his thoughts on ideas on continued Indigenous presence, identity, and recognition: Monacan tribe reflects on struggle to achieve federal recognition | Local News | newsadvance.com.pdf What are your thoughts on this?

3. Monacan tribal member and scholar, Dr. Karenne Wood, was a friend of mind who has recently passed; you will see that her powerful thoughts still live through the work she did and ideas she bravely shared. Dr. Sam Cook is the director of our American Indian Studies program here at VT. Read their article: To Lead and to Serve.pdf

  1. What are your thoughts on this?

4. Indigenous presence is not easy to see or feel at VT. Recently, many of us here at VT, both Native and non-Native (students, faculty, staff, and community members), initiated and fought for the observation of Indigenous Peoples Day here on campus. This year will mark our 3rd campus honoring of the day. My mom has always told me, “if you don’t celebrate every day, you are missing the point.” For this reason, my family observes all days as an equal gift. I am saying this because, personally and culturally, one day to honor a specific people seems very colonial and not Indigenous to me, but I am only one person from one place who experiences the world in a unique way. For me, the important impact of the establishing of Indigenous Peoples Day here at VT, was not the day itself, but rather the opportunity for Indigenous history and presence to become part of the official written archives of VT. Something to note or think about as you consider this it that Indigenous culture is centered on oral tradition and settler-colonial tradition is written. Begin thinking about our visibility to each other when we place value on different aspects of culture and being. Read the ResolutionToObserveIndigenousPeoplesDayAtVT.docx

  1. What are your thoughts on this document?

5. I sent an announcement to you of the work I do to help visiblize Indigenous presence and to offer Indigenized learning experiences to our community. I will continue send you weekly invitations to this and other events throughout the semester to enrich your experience. I want to familiarize you with the format of my Tuesday gatherings as well as the purpose with the hopes that you will choose to participate. Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmPtQPdtE5Q&feature=youtu.be

  1. What are your thoughts on this?
  2. What are your final thoughts on how this work relates to all the previous questions you answered through this reflection?

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