June 19th Readings
6/18/2014 04:51:12 am
6/18/2014 09:50:50 am
“Doubleweaving” introduced me to a completely new concept of “Two-Spirit” (69). Driskill explains how the term “indicates the presence of both a feminine and a masculine spirit in one person” (72). I take this to mean that the two genders are double woven into a single being like the double weave baskets often made by Native American women. I like how Driskill includes Scott Richard Lyons idea of rhetorical sovereignty to further situate the reader’s understanding of how the term “Two-Spirit” is used within the Native GLBTQ community. My familiarity with Lyons’s piece helps me to better understand how Native Americans are using rhetorical sovereignty to create the term “Two-Spirit” as a broad descriptor of the various sexual orientations amongst the tribal communities. Instead of allowing ‘outsiders’ to label GLBTQ Native Americans, Natives are using their voice to make a term more specific to the needs of Indigenous culture. The author’s argument that “Two-Spirit critiques are part of ongoing weavings to resist colonialism” is very interesting (87). Driskill wants to take back some of what was lost during America’s colonization. He wants a Native voice to be heard within the GLBTQ community and he is actively demanding a place in the organization. A great deal of support comes from being an acknowledged member of a group and Driskill seeks that support on behalf of all GLBTQ people who also happen to be Native American.
6/18/2014 10:38:26 am
The reading “Doubleweaving Two-Spirit Critiques: Building Alliances between Native and Queer Studies” introduced me to a very interesting concept of “two-spirit”. This is a term used to describe Native GLBTQ people. I found this term very interesting because it seems to embody multiple things. One thing the term embodies is the struggle of a GLBTQ person with their identity and the fact that they may feel as if they have two different spirits. The other is the connection between a native person and the earth. Driskill writes: “Two-spirit is a word that itself is a critique. It is a challenge not only to the field of anthropology…but also to the white-dominated GLBTQ community’s labels and taxonomies. It claims Native traditions as precedents for understanding gender and sexuality” (72-3). This is a very interesting point because it suggests that Two-Spirit is a way in which Native GLBTQ people can define themselves but also a way to understand gender and sexuality issues as a whole. Driskill goes on to say that, “This is not an essentialist move but an assertion that Indigenous gender and sexual identities are intimately connected to land, community, and history” (73). Driskill is trying to get the point across that Native people struggle with gender and sexual identities just as much as white or black people and that more attention needs to be paid to that. In order to fully understand GLBTQ people, all races need to be studied and the Native people have the same issues in the GLBTQ community as any other race. “Doubleweaving” was another interesting term used in the essay because it serves to weave together many different viewpoints in order to create a more rounded critique. Driskill writes: “the weaving process also creates something else: a story much more complex and durable than its original and isolated splints, a story both unique and rooted in an ancient and enduring form” (74). This term can also be seen a way to weave cultures together in a way that is more durable so that they can become one and be fully integrated with one another.
6/18/2014 12:32:54 pm
Prior to reading “Doubleweaving,” I presumed that the article was simply going to be discussing the art of weaving-- which it did, but with an additional topic: queer studies. Qwo-Li Driskill discusses the term “two-spirit,” and explains how the “intentionally complex” (73) expression refers to someone who is both of Native American decent and one who considers themselves to be ‘queer’ (or part of the GLBTQ community). She then goes on to use Cherokee double woven baskets as a parallel with the term two-spirit. Doubleweaving it when two completed baskets (two complete aspects, being indigenous and being queer), are combined into one basket (an individual). “Doublewoven baskets can have two independent designs as a result of the weave, one on the outside and one on the inside” (74).
6/18/2014 08:57:47 pm
It was nice to read the “Driscoll Poems” because I feel that in terms of Literature I have read a lot from whites, African Americans, and people of other cultures, but none written by, or concerning Native Americans. The poem, “Map of the Americas” incorporated the reality of how the Natives experienced many deaths among their people. I like how the author includes many aspects of the land such as borders, rivers, smell of cedar, and of course, America. I found the last line interesting; “Honor mistaken for surrender.” It sounds like the author wanted to clarify that the Natives did not surrender, but made their decision based off of honor. “For Marsha P.” shows the Natives as a people with how the author wrote “the knowing that each death is our own.” This indicates how it takes only one death to affect their people, every person is important. Their strength and bravery is shown in lines 9-11; “I will be the one that dangles from the side but does not let go.” The piece “What You Must Do” was more depressing to read because it mentions how they must give up their flesh because the English wanted to wipe them out and it does not end with any type of closure; instead it ends with “they come for us in the morning.” This displays how they live in fear and must always be aware of their surroundings. What I got from “Letter to Tsi-ge-yu” is the story of what the author or Natives in general experienced and continue to suffer from. Avery vivid image of a violent scene is when the author writes, “We are still trying to escape soldiers, hide our babies, hold on to cods of earth as they drag us away by our feet, screaming and bloodied.” “Grandmother Spider’s Lesson for an Urban Queer” contained a lot of poetic devices such as personification, imagery, and hyperbole. It was an interesting poem with how the writer incorporates the land of Seattle, demonstrating the importance of land and the moral being how life will fall into place, one must “keep weaving.”
6/19/2014 01:10:58 am
When thinking of Native Americans, I have never thought of the diverse community that is included in the Native American people. Just like every country and culture has a diverse group of people, so do the Native Americans. That is why Doubleweaving Two-Spirit Critiques is so important to read because it did make me realize that not only are there Indians, but there are GLBTQ Indians among others as well. The idea of a doubleweave basket makes a lot of sense when comparing it to the Two-Spirit people. Native American GLBTQ people are similar to a doubleweave in that they have two separate spirits that make them who they are as a whole. Just like the basket which has two different baskets entwined into one, each with a different look. Doubleweaving is also similar to the actual study of combining Native American studies with GLBTQ studies to create one study that entails both. The trouble with this study is that Native Americans alone are usually left out of critiques and literature simply because they are a minority. To get literature on GLBTQ Native Americans is an even bigger challenge. However, it is cool that Driskill uses Lyons’ idea of rhetorical sovereignty to solidify how Native American GLBTQ members are taking charge of their sexuality and calling themselves Two-Sprit instead of just the usual American terms like gay or lesbian. One of the differences that the term Two-Spirit made me realize is that Americans use terms to label people based off of who they are attracted to. (Lesbians are girls who like girls.) The Native American community uses the term Two-Spirit to describe the individual. The term Two-Spirit, “indicates the presence of both a feminine and a masculine spirit in one person” (72).
6/19/2014 01:58:37 am
“Map of the Americas” by Qwo-Li Driskill was moving. It speaks about the struggles Native Americans went through when the colonials’ arrives and all the difficulties they faced after. She writes, “But this land grows volcanic / with the smoldering hum of bones” (5-6). Here she discusses the loss of life. The world is erupting with unfairness and death. So many have perished since settlement and through the fight their basic rights. The Trail of Tears is a perfect example of this: the Native Americans fought for the rights of the land their forefathers had settled on for hundreds of years. While the Supreme Court sided with their argument, President Jackson did not and exiled them to a land they had never seen. On this trip hundreds died for they were unable to stop the eruption of betrayal and the ashy sky clouded the white people from seeing anything but greed. Driskill’s “body curled and asleep / becomes the map of the Americas” (23-24). Although she “my body”, she really means hear people; and not only her tribe. She means all of the tribes who have suffered in the Americas. By “asleep” she means the fight within some Natives has died. They have simply given up on the hope of ever regaining what was lost. Throughout the poem the connects her body to the land: “My chest the plains / and hills of this land My spine / the continental divide” (27-29). The Native Americans have always felt a deep connection with the land. They embrace and see the beauty of the land rather than only the economic profit it can bring. I thought it was interesting how after line 24 when she said her body “becomes the map of the Americas” she makes her words into the form of what the Americas look like. The last line of the poem was really powerful, “I walk out of genocide to touch you”. She is accusing the colonists rightfully of genocide. They killed the tribes physically and attempted to do it emotionally, as well. Driskill refuses to lie down and allow this to happen to her. Instead, she emerges strong through the ash to bring to light the violence that destroyed her people.
6/19/2014 02:37:32 am
6/19/2014 02:56:38 am
The poetry found in the reading “Walking with Ghosts” is in fact haunting, one assumes that Ghosts represent the past, further a past that haunts the present usually due to it’s “unfinished business.” The uncanny aspect of a haunting is that it disrupts the linear and Gregorian measurements of time, Ghosts are often the result of such horror that they spend eternity in cycles destined to serve as a reminder of how past trauma still is just as real as it was when it initially occurred. “I wish when we touch/ we could transcend history in/ double helixes of dark and light/ on wings we build ourselves,”(9) the poet’s personification of Native American land in “Map of the Americas” is done so to express the resonation that Qwo-Li Driskill possesses with the rhythm of the land. This relationship Driskill has with the land is symbiotic, “Look: my body curled and asleep/ becomes a map of the Americas,” (9) Driskill shares that the pain and suffering that the earth has seen and bore witness herself this creates unified rendition of her, her people and the land. Each poem in this collection confronts the trauma that affects and haunts the Native American people and has done since the beginning of colonization in America. In “Letter to Tsi-ge’-yu” Driskills use of Native American language concisely displays what she expresses is sacred. “sgilu:gi You are my sister/ gvhwanosda whole,”(35) when reading those words I began to cry; there is one word for “you are my sister” not four, what a beautiful word, I have a sister and she makes me feel whole and to lose her would feel like the end of the world. On a larger perspective the severence of that relationship that Driskill shares with her beloved sister due to such horror and violence is a tragedy in itself, this trauma gets exponentially magnified when considering how many families experienced such tragedy as a result of the genocide. In the poem “For Marsha P. (Pay It No Mind!) Johnson” Driskill extrapolates the relationship between survival and despair, building it into a bridge that is equal parts choice as it is confinement for those who stand on it; one can choose either side (survival or despair) in which case they are still subjected to the confinement of colonizing forces, the other choice is to give up and jump into the water but that is the easy choice and those who resist should be commended.
6/19/2014 06:32:43 am
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