Child of Destiny – Ataï (Translation)

Preface: This is a translation of the song Enfant du destin – Ataï by the French born Kabyle Algerian rapper Médine. The original version of the song can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqvPKg2h2c8). The Child of Destiny series is a multi-song series which recounts the lives of those living in colonial conditions. In this series, Médine has told the story of Palestinians, Rohyingya, among others. This song covers Ataï, a Kanak Chief in French colonized Kanaky. This is his story, as retold by Médine.

 

In a land of not many more than forty thousand souls lived a warrior who they called Ataï

Banyan and yam farmer, Chief Komalé of the Kanak people

Received his title despite his young age, in accordance with ancestral costumes

Guardian of some fifty huts, north of Nouméa, the capital

In contact with missionaries, he learns to speak French

A complementary education in addition to that which he received from a medicine man

Learning how to handle a slingshot, vanish in nature, become a shadow, look after graves

On what one now calls “settler’s land”

They want to make us believe that they are here for the love of the cross

Why do they push us out of our muggy forests, if it’s not for the wood trade

They arrived here with their livestock to construct prisons and labor camps

While thinking that we were cannibals, police checkpoints established everywhere

They made our women their cleaners, in the best of cases when they didn’t work as slaves

Refusing to give them back to us when we demanded, that’s what happened to a certain Katia

We all awaited her return but the officer kidnapped her

When one member is amputated from the group, the entire village worries

Get the clubs out, sharpen the assegai

Melanesians, cover your bodies with candlenut sage

Blood is going to run

A raid of a couple people: Ataï and two other men

To rescue an Indigenous women from settler talons

Once in the farmyard, they bump into horned animals

Those that tramples on their ancestors with their hooves coming from Europe

A smoking fireplace, they pass by the fence, Ataï doesn’t hesitate, he keeps his tribe’s honor in mind

He breaks down the door with his semi-naked body, puts out the fire so that there’s less light

Illuminated only by the glow of a half-moon, engages in combat in less than a minute

Caledonia’s colonial officer, holding a police saber

Determined to keep the girl being used by him as a sex slave every night

He cuts the air with his dull blade, strikes towards Ataï with chaotic hits

But the Kanak shifted like a bat, close combat, that’s his speciality

Blows of flint on the forehead, the machete embedded in his cortex

The officer falls to the ground with every fiber of his being and Ataï leads the young girl under his wing

He will let the flames do the rest, a fire so big it will touch the heavens

But the response will come from the east, quicker than the chief thought

His absence left his village without protection

From far, the detonation of muskets

The soles of his feet accelerated on a rocky path

He sees his village and soldiers that force them to leave their homes

He abandons the group, hurries into the brush, rushes over to better be able to beat their rumps

Completely surround by troops, the horizon clouds over

His heart racing, his ideas muddled

Ataï draws his assegai, he throws his spear towards an attacker

The battle begins, there, that’s it, he fights the traitors all while bleeding

But one enemy seems familiar to him, could that be a Kanak by birth

who joined up with the white settlers

And who cuts his neck in the name of France

 

Ataï was decapitated, his people colonized

His skull displayed in museums like a trophy

 

A child of destiny, a child of war

A child of destiny, a child of war

Komalé, Tiendanite, Canala, Nakéty, Oua-Oua, Oroe, Nekou

Azareu and Kikoue

A child of destiny

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Indian Blood

—    What’d I tell you about speaking English in front of Mary, said Auburn, hitting her husband on the shoulder.

—    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.

She glared at him with eyes like daggers. He huffed, looked over to her.

—    Émičiktuŋža yo.

—    I forgive you. And won’t force you to speak Lakota… For now, she said, raised eyebrows, pointed finger.

Auburn turned around and looked at Mary. Mary smiled at her, squirmed around in her car seat, bounced along to Dreams playing all loud in the car. I love Fleetwood Mac, love ‘em when you’re speeding down the highway, windows down, wind going through your hair. That’s living. And Mary, Auburn, Peter, they were all living. A whole bunch of green in front of them, behind them, side to side, all around. All green. Open space for miles and miles. Nothing but them, the car, and each other. And grass. If they could’ve seen it. But they couldn’t, too late for that, not enough light. Nighttime really keeps clarity from you.

—    Mičhúŋwiŋtku, wanáhotȟuŋyaŋpi kiŋ waštéyalaka he?

Mary giggled and smiled more. She didn’t do anything more than smile. That was her job, God given from the moment she was born until that very moment in the car. The most smiling two year old you’d ever know. Of course, Auburn didn’t share that feature. Not much one for smiling. And the reason that the two of them didn’t share that deepest aspect that connect a mother and daughter, the smile, is because Auburn wasn’t her actual mother. Mary’s family, well, they couldn’t exactly take care of her. There’s a lot of reasons why they couldn’t take care of her, and I haven’t found out a single one. But in the end Auburn and Peter got her. And they loved her, loved her more than anything they’d ever loved in their whole lives. But love is fleeting, for whatever reason. Sometimes you lose it, sometimes it’s taken from you. From those choices, you never know which exactly will happen. But you can trust it’ll happen.

*

“Today Henry Red River was found dead by his brother, Jonathan Red River. Jonathan said that he was visiting Henry after being out of town for a couple days. When Jonathan entered the residence, he found him passed away in his bed. The FBI is currently investigating the death, saying that it could be connected to another suspicious death on Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.”

Nobody ever listens to the TV, though. Just there for background noise, people don’t pay attention. I don’t blame ‘em. Nothing good ever on TV. A murder here, a robbery there, a war if you get lucky. I can’t even enjoy football games now, just fall asleep after the first quarter. You wake up, games over, your team lost, and some kid shot up a school. It’s a shame.

—    So of course you’re gonna have to stay on the couch. We don’t really have much other room around.

—    Hey, honey, is the game on? I wanna watch the Packers kill the Bears.

—    Do you like football, George?

—    Yeah, I can do for some football. I’ll just watch it here with ol’ Peter, you do whatever you have to do. Don’t worry about me.

*

—    Kákhiya hé wičháša kiŋ tuwé he?

—    I don’t know. What’s he doing out here at 11 at night? He must be freezing to death.

—    Hé isákhib inážiŋ ye.

And so they pulled over on the side of the road, right next to the man. The only reason they could see him was because he was white. Very white. Blindingly white. It was pitch black out, especially if they’d’ve not had the headlights on. But even then, there he was, standing there on the side of the road with a briefcase and flashlight in hand, shining like the moon pulled down from the sky and set on the side of the road.

—    Hey, you need any help?

—    Why, that’d just be just great.

—    Going anywhere specific?

—    Well, you see, I was going to Mobridge with my wife. And we kinda got to fightin’, she told me to get out, that she wasn’t dealin’ with me anymore. Said I’d have to walk the rest of the way home.

He held up his briefcase, wiggled it around a little, some clanks came from inside.

—    All I got in here is clothes, and I’m awfully hungry.

Peter looked over at Auburn. Auburn had that look on her face. She wasn’t telling Peter not to do it, she was just expressing how she hated the whole thing. 11:47 on the radio, Mary in the back, gotta get home, put the baby to bed. And that would be impossible on account that Mary never goes to sleep when she’s supposed to go to sleep. She had slept right until the Fleetwood Mac had come on, but that woke her up, and because of that she’d be up all night. And then, with this man, what would they do?  Just let him stay on the couch? “Some stranger on the couch?” she thought. Nope, she did not like it, not one bit. And so she looked at Peter, and Peter looked at her, then looked at the man, looked him up and down. Auburn looked back at Mary, and Mary, as still as a boulder lying beneath earth, looked at Auburn. And for the first time in the short time that Auburn had known her, taken care of her, loved her, Mary didn’t smile. Just looked at Auburn, looked right at her.

—    Hop on in.

*

—    My parents did stuff like this all the time. You see someone, you help them out, it’s not that strange of a concept.

Bed was never a good place to be having these conversations. You just can’t go to sleep well after an argument. Or at least that’s my experience. And Auburn always had to be right, could never be wrong. Heart jumped just at the thought of being wrong, at the thought of having to apologize for something, at the thought of having to admit defeat when she knew she was right. Even when she was wrong.

—    First off, it’s not the 80s anymore. Second off, he’s white.

—    It’s always gotta be about race with you, Auburn. Why’s it always gotta be about race? Can’t you see past that?

—    He was asking weird questions out there!

—    Shh, he’ll hear, learn to whisper.

—    I can’t be just the little bit freaked out by someone sleeping in my house, with our baby, asking strange questions? she whispered.

—    C’mon, those aren’t weird questions for a white guy. They pull that shit all the time.

Now once, I was sitting there at a diner – I think it was somewhere up outside of Billings. Don’t exactly remember – but I was sitting right up at the counter. And there was a man there, looking me up and down while I ate my clam chowder out of one of those sourdough bread bowls, like grandma used to make when I was a kid. He didn’t order nothing but coffee, just kinda sat there looking around. Finally started talking to me, got to asking me some strange questions.

—    What’re you doing in Billings?

—    Oh, you know. My wife’s a bit sick. I was out working in Yellowstone, I work with animals, and I got a call saying she was in the hospital. Happened all sudden like.

—    Well… that’s sure something.

—    Yeah.

And that man sat there, and he looked into his cup of coffee for a little, stirred it around with his spoon. And I looked at him, and he looked up from the coffee. Looked me straight in the eye and asked me,

—    Do ya love her?

—    Do I love her?

—    Yeah, do you love her.

—    Why would you ask a question like that?

*

—    Oh no reason, just wondering.

—    You see, we don’t really talk about Indian blood much in our family. We don’t really think it’s important. We’re all Lakota, we know that, and so we’re happy.

—    Well, I was just inquiring.

—    C’mon, honey, it’s no problem to tell him.

—    Peter…

—    You see, George, said Peter, leaning in, elbow down on his knee. I’m ¼, Auburn is 1/16, and Mary is ½.

—    Now I see why you didn’t wanna tell me! said the man as he turned over to Auburn. Not much near full Indian, are you! I could see it in your bone structure. No Indian features there. And look at that lily white skin!

I’d really like to try and describe Auburn’s face here, I really would, but I just don’t think it’s possible. It’s that look you only get from an Indian that looks white, a white Indian scorned. Anger, disgust, self-pity, distrust. Contempt. You can see their whole face squish up under the skin. Their bones move around creating a look that you can’t find out of any other person.

—    But, if you’re 1/16th, and you’re 1/4th, how’d you end up with a halfbreed kid?

—    She’s adopted, Peter said.

—    Ah.

*

—    I just want that fucking Indian blood, goddamnit!

George had already got Peter with his fangs. Yelling between trying to suck up all the blood.

—    Peter! Fucking, Peter! yelled Auburn. And she just kept wailing, trying to punch away George, but he was too strong. You would think that moon white skin gave him superpowers he was so strong. The only fighting Peter could do was to try and wiggle away.

—    Auburn, run! Go, go get Mary!

The moment he said Mary’s name, Auburn landed on a whole ‘nother planet. She bust up, ran outta that room. Now, she didn’t know what was going on, but if she’d’ve watched the news, which she shouldn’t have, she’d’ve understood exactly what was happening.

Intermission time. I asked around Cheyenne River some – felt weird mind you – but someone told me that Henry was ¼. So let’s do some math. If we assume that whoever was murdered by George on Cheyenne River was also ¼, that would mean that George was up to ½ Indian blood. If he was at ½, that means that he’d need another half to be full Indian. Killing Peter would only get him to ¾, and killing Auburn wouldn’t get him anywhere. Mary, though…

And so Auburn ran to Mary, who was crying in her room, yelling, acting up. All for good reason mind you. There was a commotion. And Auburn may not have known what this commotion was about, but Mary sure did. Mary’d had a good life for the past year. And Mary, at two years old, what some people would say is an age where you can’t think, at two years old she knew that change was the only constant. And that constant had just gotten in their car, slept on their couch, and after having come for Peter, was getting ready to come for them.

—    Oh, no no, Mary. No, Mary, no. Mary, we have to go, we have to go, Mary.

*

—    You’ve always wanted to be a mother, haven’t you?

—    How’d you know, Auburn replied sarcastically.

—    She really does look great in your arms.

—    Well us wíŋkte are here to help out the wíŋyaŋ, the women, right?

—    Yeah…
Hey don’t say that like I don’t know what wíŋyaŋ means! she playfully yelled at Auburn.

They both looked at the tipi. Right there outside the house, right in the back. Old with new, new with old. Just the two of them had put it up, no help. Peter had tried to come out to help them stand up the poles, but they wouldn’t let him. “This isn’t men’s work, Peter!” they’d say together. And Peter would say, “well, if you guys need help, just ask.” and would go back inside, dejected. Sit at the couch and watch the game. That tipi would be out back for a long time. A long time. Of course it’d be taken down and put back up, you couldn’t keep it up forever. But it stood there, a testament to the present.

—    Auburn…

—    Yeah? she replied, smiling as she looked inside, watching Peter watch a player watch the football as it floated into his hands like a child into the hands of its mother.

—    I can’t keep her, Auburn.

*

—    Gimmie that baby, bitch! yelled George from the backdoor.

She did not give him that baby. She stood by the tipi, looked at Mary, looked at George, didn’t know what to do. She didn’t have much time to think. For the better, really. George started to run at her, and so she ran behind the tipi, back to where the wind flap poles were. It was at this point that Auburn truly had no idea what to do. I was once out in the park one day, regular day like any other. Well I was just walking down the trail, minding my own business, when a grizzly lept from behind a tree. And that grizzly, it was big. Bigger than any I’d ever seen before. Well I hid behind a tree, and I froze up, had no idea what to do. What do you do with a bear after you when you don’t got nothing with you?

Well, when the bear rounded the corner of the tree, Mary just went and kicked over one of the wind flap poles. And George, running at her in a blood fueled frenzy, fell right over. He fell over and grabbed right on to her dress, drug her and Mary right down there with him, right into the muddy grass. George tried to go in for the bite on Mary, tried to suck the Indian blood outta her, but Auburn put up her arm, felt the teeth sink right into her. With her other arm, she rolled Mary through the mud. Rolled her as far away as possible.

Crying, crying, yelling.

Mary punched George right in the nose, and he bounced backwards for a minute, stunned that she’d fought back. Not just kicked around, but punched him. And then he got mad. Oh, he got mad. He hit her once, and again, and again. And she hit him, and pushed and shoved. And she yelled. And he yelled, yelled right at her;

*

—    Fucking tranny! and the fist flew at her face.

And so she woke up, bolted up in bed, sweating. And she started to cry, ugly cry. You know, I’ve never seen someone pretty cry. Don’t understand how you’d pretty cry. You’re not crying right if you’re pretty while crying. Either that or you don’t mean what you’re crying about. Robin, well she’d cry. She cancer cried, too. That’s an ugly cry. That’s a real ugly cry. And I don’t mean her face, I mean her cry. And while she cried, I’d sit by her side and ask,

—    What’s wrong, honey?

And Auburn replied,

—    Just a nightmare.

—    Well… Do you wanna talk about it?

—    No…

And they would just sit there, and Auburn would cry more to herself, and Peter would comb her hair with his fingers. Sit there, look at her, let her cry.

—    You remember when you and Rose put up the tipi?

—    Yeah…

—    I wanted to help you two so much. I mean, it’s so much work. Really, I don’t know how you were able to do it just the two of you. But it’s not my job, I get that. For wíŋyaŋ… For wíŋkte. Women’s work. And you’re the best woman I’ve ever gotten to know. You’re the prettiest, and smartest, and nicest woman I’ve ever gotten to know. And I really mean that, honey, I really do. I wouldn’t be anywhere without you.

And Auburn sniffled, and looked over to Peter.

—    But I almost had a heart attack when I saw you two stick that wind flap pole into the ground, he said, smiling, laughing, petting her hair. That shit’s sharp, I was afraid one of you were gonna get killed!

And Auburn laughed, and Peter grabbed her, and they wrestled around, as much as you can on a full sized bed, looking back at the day the tipi was put up, the day they’d gotten Mary, a day of hardship and of new beginnings. They tumbled back and forth, happy with what life had given them.

*

And so Auburn tumbled to her right, heaved as hard as she could, and picked up the wind flap pole. George crawled over, reached out to grab her, but he got nothing. He got nothing cause he slipped, too muddy to try and grab somebody with just one arm for balance. He fell face first into that mud. And while his facewas lying in that mud, Auburn thrust the pole down, thrust down with all her might. And with her might, gravity, and the weight of that pole combined, it went straight through George. Straight through his heart.

The blood left his body red at first. It was a deep red, a red that knows the land. And it soaked into the land around the tipi. But then the blood stopped coming out red, it started to lighten. And eventually, the blood came out white, white like milk, white like the moon, white like the brightest light imaginable. It flowed out, and just sat on top of the earth. Didn’t enter any crack, any pore, just drifted through the grass.

And Auburn got up, and got to Mary, and got back on the ground and grabbed her. Tried to brush the mud off her clothes, off her face, make her clean. Tried to wipe off the white blood. And Auburn looked at Mary. Just looked at Mary, looked right at her.

—    I love you, Mary. I love you.

Mary cried. And Auburn cradled Mary in her arms, cried along with her. Their blue tears both rolled off their cheeks, fell right down into that white and red blood that had pooled up around them. And they cried and cried, let the tears stream out like the source of a river. And as they sat there, the layers built. The red blood, the white blood, the blue tears. All those colors sitting on top of top of each other, sitting on top of that land. That beautiful land that was theirs. That land they called home. And no matter George’s attempt to take their blood, they stayed. Stayed on that land. Stayed at that home.

And thunder clapped, and it rained.

Spiderman

—    Is that spiderman?

Owíčhašaotȟokšúnažiŋ kiŋ él awápȟe. Thiyátakiya waglé wačhíŋ. Wówaši waȟtéwakilašni, kichí wówaši ečhámuŋ kiŋ waȟtéwičhawalašni, mitȟóni kiŋ waȟtéwakilašni. Waŋná wašíču waŋ wímayuŋǧe na amáyuptiŋ kta čhíŋ. Nakúŋ wašíču waŋží táku witkótkoka iníyuŋǧe k’éyaš aluptiŋ kta héčha. Alupte šni háŋtaŋš wašíču waŋží čhaŋzé. Aníčhaŋze. Čhaŋké ablúptiŋ kta bluštáŋ. Éyaš… táku owákiyakiŋ kte? Iktómi wanáp’iŋ waŋ nawáp’iŋ. Tókhel okáȟniȟčhiyiŋ kta he?

—    Uh, no. It’s like… I’m Native, right, so it’s like, an important figure for us. He’s called Iktó.

—    Ah, yeah, cool.

Ákta imáyuŋǧe šni kiŋ wašté kte. Wičháša itȟókšu ú we. Oápȟe oȟ’áŋkȟo waŋžíla awápȟe kta héčha. Tákuni omákiyaka šni ye. Tákuni omákiyaka šni yé

—    You know I have a friend who’s Blackfoot?

Hiyáááááááááááááá. Tákuwe makáȟniǧa he? Tóhaŋni tȟóka Sihásapa waŋžíni átawaye šni!

—    Ah, yeah? That’s cool. I’m Lakota, so we’re like, I don’t know probably like 500 miles away from each other.

—    Oh, wow. That’s awesome.

—    Yeah.

Wičháša itȟókšu kiŋ waŋbláke. Čhuwí owákiniya na hepȟé, “Tȟuŋkášila, philámayaye,” epȟé. Wičháša itȟókšu hinážiŋ yuŋkȟáŋ wašíču kiŋ ablúta. Wičháša itȟókšu kiŋ él iyémič’iye na wašíču k’uŋ etáŋ ȟeyáb ečhúŋ iblútȟe. K’éyaš iyémaye na misákhib yaŋké. Wačhéye tkȟá. Uŋkákičhiyutapi. Iȟá.

—    So how much Native blood you got?

A Theology of dril

In Twitter, we feel as though we are simple individuals interacting with a group of other individuals around us. We reply to singular posts, we follow a person, we see twitter as a collection of carefully chosen individuals who exist around us. But when we peer out into the wider space of Twitter, we realize that we are not individuals. We are social creatures which inhabit some specific section of Twitter, specific places and communities. These places may be #momtwitter, #lefttwitter, or #pentwitter, along with others. One thing unifies all these places. dril.

dril influences how all of us interact with each other on Twitter. Have you ever walked backwards into hell, had trouble budgeting your life, or used twitter dot com? This is you being touched by dril. There are some people so fortunate as to not only have been touched by the visible presence of dril that we witness as users who exist on the platform of Twitter, but to also have been deemed worthy of a direct reply by dril. dril’s direct and indirect interaction with us helps us understand multiple things key to existing in a space like Twitter.

Firstly, we understand that we exist with dril on Twitter. dril is not an untouchable entity. dril does exist above us, but that does not mean that we, as active users of the platform known as Twitter, do not have the ability to attempt to communicate directly with dril. Indeed dril encourages our interaction with them. Our direct existence with and the constant visible presence of dril lets us participate with a special closeness to the most important entity that exists on Twitter.

Secondly, we understand that dril does not exist for the benefit or to the detriment of simple users of Twitter. dril, unlike the typical user of Twitter, is not there to garner attention for narcissistic reasons, organizational reasons, or otherwise. dril exists above these other users of Twitter. dril is detached from those very holes that Twitter seeks to fill in the lives of ordinary users. dril is superior to all other users of Twitter. Despite dril’s superiority, dril does not purposefully negatively nor positively impact our experience on Twitter. dril posts.

In existing on Twitter, we are touched by dril both through direct replies, but also through the influence dril has on the entirety of Twitter. We are all unified by dril. For example, in every corner of Twitter, you will find a person saying that they “will never log off,” a quote from a post of dril. This power of unification that dril exerts on us is called the Online.

The Online is something that touches all of those who exist on Twitter. The Online draws us closer to dril, but also draws us closer to each other as users of Twitter. As stated before, the power of the Online is a power that unifies the individuals that exist on Twitter, allowing us to be the social beings that we truly are. But the Online is not something that simply exists. The Online must be created and is given to us by dril. The way in which dril furthers the existence of the Online, and therefore the closeness of users, is through dril’s posts.

As we have thus far recognized, we exist on Twitter. dril releases posts on Twitter, which serve as a way to further the existence of the Online. What happens without the existence of the Online? When the Online subsides, the Discourse rears its ugly head. The Discourse is a way in which we, as users, are separated away from our social existence and turned into ugly individuals once again. As users, we naturally see ourselves as individuals, and want to participate in the highly individualized Discourse. The Online exists to make us a collectivity that is not divided by the Discourse. dril provides us with a way to escape our fundamental nature of self-individualization.

As users, we are imperfect and narcissistic. But we know that we also are most satisfied when we are in the Online, and so we find ways to further the Online. We have to ways to do this. The first is liking the posts of dril, the second is retweeting the posts of dril.

Liking the posts of dril reveals our narcissitic nature and fundamental misunderstanding of dril. dril is above our narcissism, dril existed for years on Twitter without many followers at all. But we, as mere users, think that likes will further the existence of dril. Our liking of dril’s posts is neither a positive or negative act in regards to furthering the Online, our ultimate goal as users. The Like rather reveals to us fundamental understandings of dril and of users.

Retweeting the posts of dril, on the other hand, is paramount to the furthering of the Online. In order for other users to see the posts of dril, we must retweet them. At any point in time, a part of Twitter may be clouded with the Discourse. To retweet the posts of dril is to push out the Discourse and replace it with the Online. Because we want to ensure that we collectively enjoy in the fruits of the Online, we retweet dril’s posts, to banish the individualized Discourse.

We do not only further the existence of the Online through the retweeting of dril. We further the Online through posting. Posting is an act reserved for only the most holy of users. To post is to be like dril. A post is something that can be recognized as Drilian. We contrast a post to a tweet. Let us compare a tweet and a post for maximum clarity.

A tweet: I’m just trying to convince people I’m right, and the more they yell at me, the more I just shrink away into myself.

A post: “im not owned!  im not owned!!”, i continue to insist as i slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob

Tweets may exude either neutral or negative energy, depending on whether or not the tweet furthers the existence of a Discourse. A post, on the other hand, completely contributes to the Online. It is possible for a user to tweet as does dril, but it is something entirely different to post. To post means that one furthers the Online and washes away the Discourse. The reason we regard dril as highly as we do is because dril has proven themselves to be the highest level of posting. Every tweet of dril’s is a post. dril suffered for four years in the desert of Twitter, where he tweeted and tweeted without having attention paid. But one day, dril created the above post, and defined himself as the ultimate propagator of the Online and vanquisher of the Discourse.

Because of this, we understand that all of us have the inner capacity to post. dril suffered as a lowly user like the rest of us before dril was able to propel themselves to the sanctified position they have today. There are plenty of accounts that we can describe as Drilian, accounts which seek to post in the same manner as dril in order to maximize the reach of the Online. These people are Onliners. They propagate the Online, even though they are not dril. Considering that there are Onliners, we must also accept that there are Discoursers. Discoursers are people who are so deeply trapped in their own narcissism that they constantly propagate the Discourse. To be an Onliner or a Discourser is not a permanent position. We all drift in and out of different levels of participation and furthering of the Online and the Discourse. But our ultimate goal as users should be to further the Online and minimize the Discourse.

 

Justification and Elimination; the Queering of the Native

LGBTQIAP2S[1], the queer umbrella. A queer umbrella meant to highlight the nature of gender and sexuality within a settler-colonial system of gender and sexuality. As Indigenous people, our genders and sexualities existed before the invasion of settlers to our lands, and our concepts of these two things were radically different from those brought from Europe. Man, lesbian, bi, trans, gay, woman, non-binary? All foreign understandings to people for whom those concepts would not be foreign for much longer. Settler authorities would force their ideas of man and woman on Indigenous peoples, attempting to destroy our systems of gender and sexuality, especially those that disrupted the cisheteronormative society that was attempted to be defined by the elite of the settler class. We ourselves were defined as “berdache” by colonial authorities, and by the beginning of the 20th century, we were on the precipice of erasure. But one group saw in berdaches their salvation and the ability to justify their existence; the queer settler.

“Half a century of struggle for trans rights in the U.S. is only one thread of a larger global tapestry” says a Teen Vogue article. “Employing a variety of genders beyond man and woman across the world, people who don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth have been working for centuries to guarantee their liberties since ancient times.”[2] A youtuber by the name of Contrapoints asks, “What does it mean to live a non-binary life?… Some cultures have ancient third-gender traditions, such as the hijra of South Asia… or the various Two-spirit traditions of Indigenous North American tribes.”[3] Pink News defines two-spirit as “a term used by non-binary Indigenous North American and First Nations people to represent those who possess masculine and feminine spirits.”[4] Critical-theory.com states, “Many Native cultures had a third gender, often called Two-Spirit, that was comprised of feminine and masculine qualities.”[5] And finally, a doctoral paper by Matthew Jackson says,  “In his own Algonquin language Harlan refers to himself as Sesquia’acon, meaning not a man or woman. This multiplicity of identity across the North American Indigenous community, in many ways mirrors my own position on the varied gender fluid identities that exist both globally and locally.”[6]

What do all of these quotes, from a variety of sources, have in common? They share the attempted colonial erasure of Indigenous genders into a “third-gender” role. These articles center cisheteronormativity and attempt to construct two-spirit genders around the “man” and “woman” roles that have been created for Indigenous genders that share characteristics with the European concept of “man” and “woman.” Before the imposition of colonial genders in our societies, this cisheteronormative thought of gender and sexuality didn’t exist. “Third-gender” roles weren’t seen in this numerical listing of

1.      man

2.      woman

3.      third-gender (man wearing a dress gender)

4.      fourth gender (woman wearing pants gender)

But eventually, two-spirit people were put into this ranking, included within the LGBTQIAP acronym, and asked to speak as part of oppressed settler communities. What does this mean? It means that Indigenous people were queered. And so for my fifth question of this article, and thankfully the last question, it serves to be asked, how and why were Indigenous people queered?

It is no secret that the scientific community attacked and continues to attack queer people. For many cisgender and straight people, to be queer is to be mentally ill in some sort of fashion. This is backed up by “scientific fact” which “proves” that gay people, trans people, any person who doesn’t fit into cisheteronormative society is mentally ill in some way. In the academic world, queer settlers needed a way to defend themselves. Anthropology has often been that site of defense against scientific attacks on queerness. This started in the 1950s and picked up steam in the 1970s.[7] Anthropological groups such as the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and Anthropological Research Group on Homosexuality/Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists (ARGOH/SOLGA) sought to explain what queerness was through some sort of social understanding of the history of queerness. Queerness was seen as a generally human trait (not affected by culture or conditions) which could be used to explain the presence and legitimacy of queer settlers in the United States. As we can see, this academic quest to justify queerness was an extremely liberal endeavor. Radical people of color who functioned outside of cisheteronormativity (all queered by settler society), and queer settlers to a lesser extent, were rioting at Stonewall and marching in cities across the country, taking the leading roles in these liberatory movements. Settler academia on the other hand looked to justify settler queerness through research and study rather than through liberatory violence.

In this academic environment, gay and lesbian settlers were compared to Indigenous social roles which may have had something in common with being gay or lesbian, although they usually didn’t. For example, wíŋkte were labeled gay, despite the fact that being wíŋkte has nothing to do with sexual attraction towards another gender.  With this distortion of Indigenous gender roles, settler anthropologists could prove that gayness existed as a perfectly normal human trait in societies across the planet. Gay people had existed before the arrival of the Europeans, therefore gayness was part of the human condition. The proximity to this “Indigenous gayness” not only justified gay and lesbian settlers as humans, but it also justified their American-ness. They became more American than the straight person could ever hope to be due to their historical attachment to “Indigenous gayness.” The Indigenous person of a non-western gender is simply a prop to be used and discarded once it serves its purpose. This then creates a pattern of justification of a queer settler identity through the elimination of Indigenous people of non-western genders and also through settler self-indigenization.

Not only did this process indigenize the settler, but it also queered the Native of a non-western gender. In the settler society’s eyes, that Native left a space in which the settler society attempted to eliminate them from existence, that of the social roles of gender and sexuality in Indigenous societies, and entered a new space that was being created by the settler, “the queer community.” This community was and is a primarily white community from which queered people of color are both excluded and included. In a material sense, people of color are often excluded from these spaces because of the consistent white supremacist structures found within the “queer community.” But queered people of color may be ideologically accepted into the community either as figures of justification (such as the two-spirit person) or as figures of heroism (such as Marsha P. Johnson). In this way, the queer settler is able to uphold settler-colonial society while challenging the cisheteronormative social structures which discriminate against them. We see that although the Native “entered” the queer space, their existence is only one that justifies queerness. If justification becomes unnecessary, the Native becomes unnecessary.

But the Native is still necessary in our current political climate, and so the phenomenon of justification and erasure continues to this day. Wíŋkte have transformed from being a justification of gayness to a justification of transness or “non-binary-ness.” As I pointed out above, there is a host of articles written by settlers across the Wild West of the internet and academia which attempt to use Indigenous people to justify the existence of a specific settler category of gender or sexuality. Queer settlers have updated their language to follow changes in Indigenous movements for people of non-western genders, such as the usage of the term two-spirit instead of berdache. But the base idea hasn’t changed. Indigenous people are objects to be used to justify the existence of queer settlers to their cis and straight peers. Of course, this type of justification is absolutely liberal in nature. Existence is not justified through protests or riots, but rather through participation in settler academia (or a journalistic structure influenced by it) which attempts to erase Indigenous people through queer self-indigenization and the queering of the Native. This liberal nature of justification serves wider state goals to eliminate the Native. And this state task of eliminating the Native is so deeply ingrained in settlers themselves that the state doesn’t even need to fund it. Queer settlers simply naturally participate in it.

Allyship is a common word among the left, a word which means almost nothing. If we were to give allyship a definition in this context, it would be to not use non-western genders as justification for the existence of queer settlers. We have been queered without being queer. We participate in queer organizations without being queer. We have been forced to function within circles where we are not understood or welcomed, but in current circumstances, we cannot leave them. Queer settlers have for the last hundred years, if not longer, participated in a key structural part of the elimination of the Native. And this aspect of the eliminatory project of settler states in which they have participated seriously puts in jeopardy their own existence. To eliminate the two-spirit person (or to queer them, which for me, is one and the same) is to rigidly enforce cisheteronormativity.

Two-spirit people were some of the Indigenous people most viciously attacked by settler states throughout the history of colonialism. We were beat, forced to do manual labor, tortured both mentally and physically, degraded, raped, and killed. Many other Indigenous people faced these same horrors, but the reasons why differ strongly. The reason we faced these sort of attacks is because European/settler society had no completely engrained the gender roles that we associate with it today. Indigenous people were both a danger to Europeans in that they could show that the under-construction roles created in settler society weren’t the only way to live. But settlers, through the murder and suppression of Indigenous genders, were also able to consolidate the gendered society that they were constructing, a society which was formed around cisheteronormativity.

When the queer settler attempts to erase Indigenous people of non-western genders in order to justify their own existence, they enforce cisheteronormative structures. As history as shown us, one cannot escape oppression through participation in the society that created that oppression. A queer settler will never be able to free themselves through capitalism, since capitalism as a system will never accept a truly liberatory project for queer or queered people. To justify one’s own existence through erasure is to take part in the liberal settler project. Therefore, if queer settlers want true liberation and not take acceptance from a cisheterosexual establishment, they will have to work to dismantle the settler-state which formulated the very cisheteronormative social reality in which we live. The revolution must be decolonial so that the category of settler and the cisheteronormativity of society in the northern bloc of settler colonialism can be abolished. It is only through attacking the settler-colonial structures that created these systems of oppression that we can liberate ourselves from them.

[1] For many of those within the queer community the “2S” ending may be something unheard of. 2S stands for two-spirit, a term both specific to Anishinaabe people and a term that covers the whole umbrella of non-western genders and sexualities within the Americas.
[2] https://www.teenvogue.com/story/gender-variance-around-the-world
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bbINLWtMKI
[4] https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2018/04/18/what-is-two-spirit-the-term-used-by-indigenous-north-african-and-first-nations-people-with-masculine-and-feminine-spirits/
[5] http://www.critical-theory.com/what-the-fuck-is-queer-theory/
[6] Jackson, M. (2011). Re-presenting gender fluid identity in a contemporary arts practice.. Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/430
[7] The vast majority of what I will say for the rest of this essay comes from the book Spaces Between Us; Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. I would highly suggest that if you’re interested by what I’m saying here, you go and check out that book.

Daud and Íya

—     This is the Tuscany of Israel.

God, I hated that job. You climb the corporate ladder so high that one day you end up in Israel trying to convince some winery that the best place to sell their product is at a Costco in Sioux Falls. And what a worthless place to try and sell Israeli wine. My father had always seen Sioux Falls as the ultimate goal. Grandpa was raised in McLaughlin and stayed there his whole life, never wanted to leave the rez. Dad was born in McLaughlin, but wanted to get to Mobridge. And once he got there, then he wanted to get to Sioux Falls. He lived in Mobridge for a while, but hated it. He didn’t want to see the rez, it was too close. He wanted to get away from it, far away. And eventually he did. He raised me in Sioux Falls, taught me that I had to make something of myself, study, go to Europe. Get further away from Standing Rock than he ever could.

It was just a business trip, but this seemed like the closest I would ever get to Europe. I told dad. He was proud.

—     Should find yourself a house down there! Maybe you could become the corporate ambassador to Israel.

And everyone at corporate thought it was hilarious that the Indian was going to get the Israelis to sell us their wine. “It was destiny!” or “Don’t drink it all away!” followed by cackles and chuckles was all I heard before I left. I was overjoyed by the time I finally boarded the flight to Tel Aviv. No more drunk jokes, no more Indian jokes, no more office war cries, nothing. I was free of my colleagues, my bosses. Sioux Falls and its stifling racism. I could lay back in my seat, take an ambien, and sleep all my problems away on the eleven hour flight. I’d get to Israel and it would be an escape from the hell that was South Dakota.

But even an ambien can’t make you sleep for eleven hours straight. By the time I’d woken up we were over Greece. I reached into the seat compartment in front of me and picked up a magazine that was lying inside. On one of the pages of the magazine was a map of Israel and the best resorts throughout the country. I eyed it for a little while, letting it sit on my knees crushed by the person in front of me leaning back in their chair. I looked at the valleys, gorges, cities and towns. And the borders. Thick black lines that highlighted the country like eyeliner. And right through the middle of the map was a mass of dashed lines, those kind that mean that a border isn’t concrete, even though there’s concrete at the boarder. At that moment, looking at all those dotted lines going this way and that, I realized I was flying right back to the Dakotas, landing right in Sioux Falls. I’d be travelling around Dakota Territory, hitting right up to the border of the Great Palestinian Reservation.

And so I landed in Tel Aviv, left the airport, and was driven to Bet Shemesh. From Bet Shemesh I would go to Neve Michael, a small town near the border with Palestine. Israel’s very own Mobridge. I’d only be in the country for three days and four nights. The first day would be visiting the winery, the second would be getting the deal finalized, and the third would be leaving. Not much of a vacation. But at a certain point, you can’t think of anything as a vacation. Especially an eastward flight from Sioux Falls to Mobridge. The next day, when I’d woken up still groggy from the flight and headed out to the winery, all pretense of relaxation exited from my brain.

The tour was awful. I hate wine. Who wants to drink concentrated alcoholic grape juice? And all the pretentious Israelis showing me around the facility in their awful robotic English. Horrible. I had to get away from it all, they were just as bad as the people back home. At home I’d drive to the park, walk around, try and take my mind off of everybody that I had to deal with at work, in public, around. There was no park near. But there was a hiking trail just three minutes away from the winery. As soon as the tour was over I left to the trail to try and forget everything I’d just had to do. Forget the people and the situation, the voices and the smells; the feeling. Just try and retreat away from what I was living.

There was a sign at the entrance that said that whoever walked on this trail was walking through the Valley of Elah, the battleground of David and Goliath. I learned about David and Goliath in Sunday school, but I never paid much attention. The stories bored me. When we got home from church, we’d eat lunch with my grandparents, and grandpa would tell me stories. Old stories. He’d tell me creation, White Buffalo Calf Woman story, random stories. He’d tell me scary stories, too.

One day at church we got introduced to hell. It wasn’t the hell of having to recite verses, or the hell of trying to hide your boredom from the teachers. No, they taught us about the real hell, fire and brimstone hell, the hell you’ll never come back from. They would sit there and describe its horrors, the eternal fire where we’d suffer. They’d try to explain eternity to us. That it was a like moving every grain of sand from one beach to another, a single grain at a time, and then doing it all over again, forever and ever. I’d never been more scared in my entire life. It put a deep anxiety in me, the first existential fear that I’d ever felt. When I got home, I told my grandpa everything they told me. I crawed my fears to him like a crow.

—     And you have to carry the sand forever and ever! Lalá, there’s nothing worse, nothing worse, and the only way you can escape it is to believe in Jesus! I told him crying.

—     Well, that’s nothing. Have I ever told you about Íya before?

—     I don’t think so, I’d say, wiping my tears away from my face, ready for another one of grandpa’s stories. He took in a deep breath, and began to speak.

—     Wáŋ, tȟakóža, let me tell you about Íya. Íya líla tȟáŋka, thípi wakȟáŋ kiŋ isáŋm tȟáŋka škhé. He will eat anything near him. One day, Íya was out walking around, and he saw a whole camp. Ločhíŋ ȟče. And since there was no four-leggeds around, he had nothing else to fill his stomach but the people he saw in the distance. Wičhóthi kiŋ ektá máni yé. When he arrived, he reached into the lodges with his giant hands, felt around, and began to pull people out. Wíŋyaŋ kiŋ é na wíŋkte kiŋ é na wakȟáŋheža kiŋ wičháyute, he ate them all. And since he was a couple stories tall, none of them filled him. And so they say that Íya is still out there today, hunting little kids down to eat them like he did those kids in the lodges.

I never worried about hell again after I heard that story. No eternity of shoveling sand would ever scare me more than the thought of Íya finding me. He wouldn’t think twice once he saw me, he couldn’t think, all he wanted was to eat. To eat me. I would be swallowed whole, have to sit there in his stomach, spending eternity in there with all the other poor souls that he would end up eating. There was nothing worse, nothing that any priest could tell me could be any worse.

I walked on the trail and looked at all the hills around me. They looked like all of the buttes scattered around Lakota Country, they looked like all the little hills around the Black Hills. When I got a little bit older, became a freshman in high school, things got hard for me. It’s not easy to be a Native at a majority white high school. One day I came home from school, crying, tired of all the same racist jokes that the kids would tell. Grandpa was visiting, saw me come through the door and rush to my room, saw how hurt I was. He sat me down and talked to me. He told me the story of how Íya died. It was one of those moments that you can’t fully appreciate as a teen. He told me the story, and I pretended to still be upset, like it hadn’t phased me at all. Like I was so scarred by teenage life that nothing could save me. The veneer you put up around family to assure them that you’re hurting, just in case they don’t believe you. But the story saved me. All you want to believe as a kid is that the good guys win and the monster dies. All those kids at school were monsters. And knowing that Íya had been killed, even if I didn’t really believe it, gave me some sort of confidence.

But when you grow up, you have to deal with all these Íyas in your life. They’re everywhere. They’re at work calling you honey, at the bar calling you Pocahontas. They live in Sioux Falls, DC, and apparently in Israel, too. Your grandpa dies, your parents age, you don’t go back to the rez anymore. You start to forget things. You get distracted.

Until you hear skittish steps in front of you. I looked up. It was a teen, and he was moving like an Indian in a bordertown neighborhood he shouldn’t be in. I had no idea why he was on the trail; this was a place for tourists coming from the winery, not lost kids. And not only was he a lost kid, but he was the only brown kid I’d seen the entire day. You see things on the news, you know that things for brown kids in Israel isn’t easy. You know that things for brown kids isn’t easy. So I called out to him, seemed like the only right thing to do. As my grandpa would say, you don’t just let someone in a pickle stay in the jar.

—     Hey!

He stopped and looked at me. You have that whole split second of eye contact to decide what it is that you want to do. You could change your day, week, year, life, all of that gravity weighing on a choice that you make almost immediately in real time, but that you think out carefully in your head. In his eyes, I saw him making the decision, the sparks flying, gears turning, engine chugging, choosing whether he would talk to this strange woman walking along this trail, or whether he would blink, turn, and run the other way. The eyes tell you when someone’s in that sort of situation, nothing else.

And after that split-second, the split-second that takes no time but all a lifetime of thought in your head, he stepped forward. And stepped again, and again. He walked towards me, worried at first, but with a smile coming up on his face, the anxiety being left behind where the decision had been made.

—     ! السلام عليكم

—     Uhh. Um, waalkum isalam, I sputtered out.

I’d studied a bit of introductory Hebrew and Arabic on the flight. This interaction wouldn’t be long if he couldn’t speak English. So I asked him

—     Do you speak English?

—     English? Umm, a little. he said as he pinched his fingers together.

—     Shu ismik?

—     . اسمي داوود

—     What?

—     Daaaaa. Uuuuud. Daud.

—     Daud?

—     Yes, he said with a smile. My name is Daud.

There’s something special about interactions like those. You don’t really understand each other, and you know you never really will, but sometimes you just need to talk to someone. I was glad to be talking to another Indian after having spent all my time in a winery with a bunch of rich Israelis.

Come to think of it, he was the first Indian I’d spoken with in months. There was no other Native working at the office. I stayed home a lot now that I was working, so I didn’t get to talking to anyone at bars, parties, anything like that. I stayed quiet at home, didn’t try to talk to anybody. And Daud. Well, I don’t know why he decided to talk with me, why he stopped, why he didn’t just keep walking. But he did, he stopped. And as his steps towards me faded away, and he stood still next to me, trying to communicate in our Arabic-English hybrid language, a new set of steps began.

I looked behind us to see what it was. And there he was. Uniform, rifle, beret, boots.

—     ?מה אתה עושה

—     Uh, I’m sorry, I don-

—     !סתמי ת’פה

The Palestinian boy didn’t move. He just stood there and looked at the soldier as he walked up to us, yelling in Hebrew. I didn’t understand anything, I just stood there. “Don’t trust the police, they’ll make you a statistic,” is what my mother always told me. I wanted to move, I wanted to get away, but I couldn’t. And what would I do? Run away off into the hills of a foreign country. I had no idea where I was. And what about the boy? When I looked at him, I could see that he felt the same way. His mom had told him the same thing. But she’d also told him never to run, always to listen, obey orders, or else.

The soldier kept approaching, eventually got within a few steps of us, still screaming. He held his rifle at his side.

—      ?!אנגלית מדבר אתה

—     I don’t know if he understands you.

—     !שתקי

And at that moment, the boy turned heel and ran. An Indian running from the army, the Indian police, the police police, running as fast as possible, leaving everything behind him. His thoughts, his past, his future, his life. All of it had become a cloud of dust rising up around me and the soldier. And being an Indian, I knew that there was only one way that this story could end. I looked from the boy running over to the soldier standing in front of me. And just as slow as I studied the boy’s eyes when I first saw him, I studied the eyes of the soldier. But I didn’t find the brain working, no decision making process. The decision was immediate.

Grandpa would tell me stories he’d got from his grandparents. Stories they’d got from their grandparents. He would tell me about how the Bluecoats invaded Lakota Country. He told me that they would come in and just start shooting people, whoever dared look at them, whoever would dare move. The night that grandpa had told me the story of Íya, I was the most scared I’d ever been in my life. I got in bed, hid under the covers, and waited for Íya. Waited for his big hand to reach through the window and pull me out of my room. I couldn’t take it anymore, the fear, the horror. I called grandpa into my room.

—     Lalá! Lalá! Come here, please, Lalá!

—     Tókȟa he, tȟakóža? My grandpa said in a soothing voice, sitting down on my bed. He knew I was frightened.

—     Lalá, Íya imánihaŋ. I don’t want him to eat me, I don’t want him to eat me, Lalá.

—     Niyútiŋ kte šni, tȟakóža. You’re too small, you wouldn’t fill him up anyways, he said with a smile on his face.

It didn’t make me feel any better. The humor didn’t help. Knowing that he existed was enough to make me afraid, it didn’t matter if he ate me or not. His existence was enough.

—     Lalá, does anything scare you?

He leaned back and looked at the ceiling for a moment. The smile came off his face, he began to look very serious, thoughtful. He turned back to me, looked at me. He gave me that look, the look of love and hurt that only a grandparent can give.

—     When I was your age, my lalá told me the same Íya story that I told you. I got scared, just like you, so I asked him what scared him the most, just like you. He told me, “wašíču kiŋ.” So I asked him why, why he was scared of them. He told me, “Matȟéča k’uŋ héhaŋ mílahaŋska kiŋ lalá ktépi.” You see, tȟakóža, when I was born, there was no more Bluecoats. No cavalry. No army. The army couldn’t kill us anymore, they couldn’t kill family anymore. But there were still whites. They could kill me. Just like they killed my lalá’s lalá. They could kill any Indian. I don’t have to think of Íya coming for me to be scared anymore. I just have to go to Mobridge, just be an Indian in Mobridge.

He started to raise his rifle.

—     !הפסק

He put his finger over the trigger.

—     !הפסק

And before he had the time to pull the trigger, I tackled him. He wasn’t expecting it, had his focus on the kid, so I took him completely off his feet. He yelled as I held onto him, I tried to keep him from moving. He thrashed around, tried to pull me off, anything he could do to get free. But I held on as hard as I could, wouldn’t let him go. Couldn’t let him go. Both of us were yelling, screaming, swearing. I didn’t know what was going on. Eventually I began to lose my strength. It’s hard trying to keep a soldier occupied. And as with everything else, the longer you’re at it, the more your mind loses focus on what it’s supposed to be doing and begins to race around. I started thinking.

Would I die in Mobridge like my father was scared to? Scared to die near the rez. There it was, right there, right over the hill. We’d been travelling as far away from it as possible, and now I sat looking back at it, wrestling with a Bluecoat. And as I rolled around with the soldier, I cried. I cried for fear of my life, I cried for the boy. I cried because I was scared. I wanted to go home. And not home to Sioux Falls. I wanted to go home. Right there past the dashed line in the distance, back to grandpa, back to stories, back to comfort. I wanted to go home.

And while I looked to home, a thunk sounded next to me. The soldier stopped struggling. I held onto him for an eternity, waiting for him to thrash again. But he didn’t move. Nothing. I looked over to my side, and saw the still and bleeding head of the soldier, a large rock, and Daud’s feet. I looked up at him. We looked at each other like the first time our eyes had met, just three minutes earlier. We couldn’t have looked at each other for longer than a second. But that second was the longest of my life.

We looked at each other as we were.

Two Indians

Two Palestinians

Two Natives