Melissa Horner, 33, Métis and Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe (tribal affiliations,) creative, ancestor, PhD. student of sociology, Columbia, MO (originally from Montana.) 08/18/2020
Words from a Wiisaakodewikwe*
Piled within me are slices of the United States’ complicated, narrativized, racial past.
I come from people who spoke Michif, French, Anishinaabemowin, English, Cree, and German. From people relating across two continents from six nations. I was raised by the Rocky Mountains and am tied to the plains and lakes of the north.
I am the product of migration and relocation. Of settling and colonialism. I come from immigrants of France and Germany. They were teachers, hunters, farmers, and homesteaders. They settled in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and later Montana. As settler-colonists they lent their hands, bodies, and words to a nation building on the exploitation and genocide of Native peoples.
I also come from French trappers, woodspeople, and fur traders who predated colonial powers and meandered back and forth along the then-non-existent boundary dividing the Canadadian from the American plains. I come from the unions between the trappers and the First Nations Nehiyaw and Anishinaabeg.
I come from Anishinaabe who journeyed from the east to the Great Lakes, and then west through the Red River into the Turtle Mountains and on to the plains and woods of Montana. I am the product of rootedness and journey.
I witness skin and eye color, hair texture and tint, body height and shape that vary greatly among my relatives… like the land we appear in many forms
I shape a self-story that half burnt light and cerulean sky made me… and that I exist as a textured knot of privilege and survivance
My stories are those of lands and waters, details and complexities, discomforts and healing, debris and entanglements… they are personal and familial, shadowed and bright, mine… yours…
My stories insist on the inclusion of collective lived experiences, rich with the emotional knowledges of what pain and grief and hope meant or mean, now, in our pasts, as well as in our futures
I feel my stories as well as think them
I understand storying as the birthplace of theories and selves.
*An Anishinaabe word for Métis women. Literal meaning is “half burnt woodswoman,” indicating the lighter skin tone of mixed-race Métis women as compared to the deeper skin tone of many Anishinaabe people.