[-empyre-] V.

lucian o'connor lucianoconnor7 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 16 07:20:13 AEDT 2019


What right do I have to speak Anishinaabemowin? What right do I have
to actively participate in the Native rituals that survive, against
all odds, in my partner’s family and tribe?

The truth is that I don’t have any inherent right to these things --
and I never will.

But my intimate relationships pressure me to participate nonetheless.

As the one in our family who cares for the plants, who cooks meals for
the people with two and four legs, I am responsible for ensuring that
these relations are good. According to Anishinaabe traditions, this
means saying prayers and giving offerings to the beings we must digest
in order to live.

Would it not be worse to provide my kin with food that is
unidirectionally extractive, or otherwise disrespectful of Anishinaabe

For many years now, I have prayed and made offerings for the ones I love.

For many years now, I have understood the beauty and humility in these
rituals, and I have benefited from the good relations they promote.

Perhaps I have become “superstitious” myself -- realizing that the
trees and other plants began to thrive in stunning ways once I started
performing ritual offerings and speaking to them on a regular basis.

Like the Thunderbirds, the makwa, the mishiike, and the other figures
who gaze at me from the surfaces of our domestic spaces, these rituals
are important parts of my everyday life as a nonbinary Irish person
married to an Anishinaabe man, whose Native family has accepted me
into their world.

Where do they begin and where do I end? How does my identity now
cohere? I cannot answer without worrying that I will sound
inappropriately appropriative.

They claim me.

We are kin.

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