Two days in and already my first blog is haunting me. My friend's suggestion that I am apt to be leapt on by someone no matter what I say is swirling around the inside of my skull like greasy dishwater circling the drain. I find myself second guessing every possible blog topic that comes to mind, even a simple introductory post, but as usual I have decided to toss caution from the window of a moving car and breeze past the highway patrol, waving.
I am an enrolled Native tribal person, colloquially referred to as an Indian, or a Native American, or a Red Indian, or a Heathen Savage or... or... or...
Sometimes on the internet with a wide variety of English readers trying to discuss being Native can feel like a recreation of the Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" sketch.
When I say I am an enrolled Native American tribal person that means I am a recognized member of one of one of the 566 federally recognized Native tribes in the U.S. am well aware of my history and culture (though not all enrolled Natives are), I can and do vote in tribal elections, and have what essentially amounts to dual citizenship in The Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and the U.S. I grew up with a different culture not just from mainstream America but also from the other 565 recognized tribes in the U.S. I was in 6th grade when I realized most people in the world weren't Comanches. It was a heavy blow and I'm still not sure I've gotten over it.
I started writing every day and carrying a notebook with me everywhere I went. I discovered punk rock and boys. For years I was primarily a poet, although not an academic one. I dislike academia for a host of reasons, some rational, some not. But still I was doing fairly well. In my 20's I published individual poems and two collections with two different miniscule presses.
Then tragedy struck, my grandfather had a heart attack. Afterwards he was discovered to have colon cancer. Bit by bit I realized something else was wrong. he and my grandmother were both suffering from different forms of dementia.
For over a decade my writing "career" took a backseat to caring for the elderly grandparents who raised me. Not that I stopped writing during this period, not at all, writing is a long time habit for me; if I wanted to quit I would have to replace it with something similar, like smoking. No, I stopped promoting my work, only publishing a few things in those years, another book of poems, a bit of ghostwriting for my grandmother, and handful of screenplays that were made into independent films, some narration for documentaries.
It's not the usual writer's timeline in mainstream America but as a Comanche woman, spending my 20's and 30's caring for children and elders, collecting experiences, honing my craft, my 40's seems like the ideal time to come into my own and put everything I have learned into my work. I don't know about you but I was a know-it-all hothead in my 20's.
It's a pattern I have seen in all the Comanche women I admire, from my Aunt Juanita Pahdopony to educator Delores Twohatchet. We're just getting started in our 40's. When my grandmother was my age she was just beginning her career as a sculptor, a cultural educator, and a tribal court judge. In the 4 years since she passed away I have finished 4 novels, so I seem to be doing alright. Soon most of them should be available on this site. My current projects; a sequel to Monster Bride featuring an uncolonized steampunk Native America and a play about my Great Great Grandparents Quanah Parker and Weckeah OldBear, will, I hope, be even better. With any luck I will only be getting smarter, stronger, better at what I do from here on out.