By : Debra White Plume
Woke up to hear the news program my husband is listening to on the internet. Palestine. Thinking of how I have been listening to the news and seeing images from TV about Palestine since I was a teenager, all those years ago. Thinking about women there, and what they woke up to this morning. Probably not to a cup of steaming hot, strong coffee, a leisurely morning when the sun is shining on a blanket of fresh snow, melting now from the roof, sliding off in little drops to land in a plop on the watery snow, slushing across our bedroom porch.
I was thinking about the Palestinian women there, the women I saw on the news, crawling over rubble, crying, looking for someone. Thinking about their hearts, and their hands. Women’s hearts are so deep, so big, so strong, and so loving. Women’s hearts can be so broken, time and time again, and yet we live. We feel that big, hard pain in our hearts when our loved ones are hurt or damaged, sometimes the hurt is so bad we can feel the weight of it pulling us down, like our chin is on the floor and we can’t get up. Then from somewhere, that uplifting feeling blooms deep inside, and we rise. We rise up off the floor, that deep hurt changes into energy, into more love, more strength, more energy- and we keep going. We cradle that love for our loved one, and we make it stronger, and it makes us stronger in return. Then we do what we have to do.
We get out of bed, cook, and feed our families with what there is. We make it taste good, the best way we can. We smile, not showing the children that we are worried- there is nothing left in the cupboard but half a bag of oatmeal, six potatoes and a can of peach halves. Nothing left in the fridge except for a tube of hot Italian sausage and one egg. We carry on our day, cleaning, doing dishes, sweeping that old, worn out linoleum, smooth and gray in those worn-out bare spots. Our brains racing, searching for a way to feed our children in the coming days, until money comes in for food.
I am thinking about next steps in the battle to protect our sacred water, ways to keep Fat Taker at bay, away from our families, our ways, our water. Fat Taker is big and strong. And sneaky. He knows no boundaries. Thinking of boundaries that cannot be broken, or split or dissolved. Thinking of Fat Taker culture that has invaded our way, our families, our communities, turning some of the young people into urban gangsters who hurt their own. Thinking of ways to stop Fat Taker from entering our lodge.
I remember my youth, when we fought Fat Taker and refused to be like him. We had to dodge bullets from Fat Taker sell out Indians who fought us for fighting for our right to be Lakota. The fights we had; fist fights, gun fights. Against our own who wanted us to be like them, like Fat Taker. Fighting in the streets, in the tribal offices, in the courts, on the land.
I am thinking of our allies in British Columbia, fighting Fat Taker, too. Fat Taker who wants the land, and the water. Thinking of First Nations women up there- thinking they are enjoying syrup of Juneberries they gathered last summer, those fat ripe Juneberries they brought me are so sweet and so good! I think of their hands, their lovely red hands, reaching into the branches to gather those ripe berries! Fat Taker marches toward the door of their lodge.
Thinking about the women in Palestine. Are they waking up to thoughts of fixing the morning meal? Or are they waking up to search for loved ones, lost in the night? Do they wake up and look around and count heads to make sure everyone is home? Do they wake up in reflex to explosions? To cries of pain and death and I want to live? Do they clear the rubble to get out? Screaming that deep inside your head kind of scream that will surely split the earth in two if we ever dare to let it out? The horror scream of where are my sons? Where are my grandsons? The battle is brought to their doorstep.
Lakota women lived in warfare for decades; our ancestor women, our Unci’s, our Ina’s, our Tunwin’s. Grandmothers. Mothers. Aunts. Times of peace, when Fat Taker was far away. When there was still plenty four-legged to hunt, to eat. When there was still peace to gather berries, and cherries, and plums. When the bright, warm sunshine fell on them like a blessing, when the star filled night sky wrapped them inside, a glittering shawl, like a blessing. When they did not have to run and hide. Or stand and fight. Fight like bear, with clubs, and sticks, and knives, fight to the death to protect the camp, the children. Then, get to safety, and carry on. Change deep inside, to be able to make sure the children eat, to do this after a battle. Strong Lakota mind. Heart. Spirit. How did they do it? Year after year. Decade after decade. Until there was no more no buffalo, elk, deer to hunt. Fat Taker attacks on our camps, our families. We were not safely tucked away in a DMZ. There was no DMZ anywhere in Indian Country. The battle was fought at the door of our tipi.
Women carry the trauma, the terror, the horror. Until we can let it go, and find a way to find happiness each day. Trauma of warfare. Trauma of not enough food. Trauma of facing the violence outside our door. Sometimes, trauma inside our houses, when the Fat Taker way has invaded our men. And they turn on us. Violent to us, like we are the enemy they should be fighting.
Thinking of our Lakota ancestor women, First Nations women, and the women of Palestine. Thinking how I am able to get up out of bed, fix a morning meal. And be happy with my loved ones, no explosions nearby. Not ducking from gunfire. Not counting heads to see who survived the night. Being happy to smile, and say thanks, when he hands me a cup of coffee, like only he can make. Thinking of the women of Palestine, while I watch the snow melt. Thinking of our ancestor women, their strong love. While I listen to the news of Palestine, they are fighting with sticks and rocks. Sending my thoughts to the women there, they have been in this fight my whole life, ever since I can remember. I think of their hard loving hearts, their hard working hands, the women of Palestine.