“We write about almost being destroyed, being forced to hide pain like nothing ever happened, and still being able to love.”
If our stories are medicine, than Honouring Indigenous Women – Hearts of Nations Vol. 2 is a trove of healing. The collection of poetry, short prose, and visual art by Indigenous artists from across Turtle Island explores a wide array of themes including Nationhood, identity, relationships, colonialism, and resistance. In the forward, Catherine McCarty, of Nipissing First Nation explains,
“We write about almost being destroyed, being forced to hide pain like nothing ever happened, and still being able to love. We remember our grandmother and our Sisters in Spirit for the debts they paid, because the racism they suffered never knew equality. So, in struggle and solidarity with Indigenous women, we write about legacies, birthrights, honour, persistence, rage and rebellion.”
While it’s difficult to pick out highlights from the substantial collection of work, a few examples of works include Miskwiwi = s/he bleeds (Leanne Simpson, Nishnaabeg) mixing Anishinaabemowin and english word play to tell the story of the colonizing of our bodies, as well as the resistance of Anishinaabegkwe (women) against Methodist/European shaming of moontime/menstruation practices. Visual artist Lana Whiskeyjack’s (Nehiyawiskwew) photography of women and children entitled, Real Home and Land Security: Defending children and families since the beginning of time is a play on the iconic Geronimo image beside three warriors now known in pop culture as, “Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism since 1492”. Heather’ Shillinglaw contributes her painting, “Kookum’s Quilt” Cowboys and Indians Quilt Double Nine patch Quilt: Fishy Story – highlighting the interconnection between cultural and environmental contamination.
Hearts of Nations Vol. 2 includes an impressive collection of contemporary Indigenous writers and artists that highlights the vast talent and rich tapestry of political art which defies the grip of colonialism and moves the reader into a space of strength and sisterhood.
“Aabiding… Once my grandmother held a small baby against the sky Cheek flattened against her palmskin, not knowing how many ikwe will hurt against the earth, but still she prayed her forward, humming sounds Ahki, soil drenched in voices, held together by ikwe singing each other silent honour songs, currenting water-edges and sliding inside of our daughter’s laughter…”
(Excerpt) Lesley Belleau “Ikwewag” Honouring Indigenous Women – Hearts of Nations Vol. 2