Call it evolution or enlightenment. Our perspective is broadening. Where we once only had the capacity to see ourselves in strict hyper local terms, now we can access the universal. In fact, both the universal and the hyper local are needed as checks and balances. In the narrow reaches of our identity, people are quick to lock themselves into violent identities–those in need of contention to exist, to be relevant, to matter. It takes a little dialectical thinking to incorporate a universal identity, where we have the intellectual capacity to, simultaneously, know how we are all connected.

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Sometimes I like to say controversial things, like the title to this article: “Being In’din’s a party and everyone’s invited.”  The stodgy conservative Native crowd gets upset with me.  I hear comments like, “You’re undermining sovereignty,” or “Don’t give the wannabes more fuel to misappropriate.”  All this is said with a fervor of control and a need for validation.  Interestingly enough, I always wonder why they need me to validate them.  “Who am I?  I’m nobody,” as my elders say before espousing wisdom.  So let me hand you a little myself.

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I’ve had several people inquire about practices and customs associated with smudging.  I decided to cleanse myself today so I thought I’d make a short video on rituals I’ve learned over the years.  This is by no means anything dogmatic.  These are just methods that I’ve learned over the years.  I’m Kiowa and Cherokee, and I’ve incorporated practices between both cultures and lessons I’ve learned personally through doing this routinely that work for me.

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What I’m about to say is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, especially an older generation who built their identity on the backs of a sovereignty based in contention between governments.  But ultimately a shift occurred while many were sleeping, and this wasn’t something the younger generation brought about.  We were simply swept away in the waters and learned to swim for fear of drowning.

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Exploring culture through foods is nothing new to the literary world.  Likewise, it’s not new to Native American literature.  While we in the literary field know this to be true there is still very little exploration of the topic in thematic terms.  How can traditional food and customs associated with consumption of those foods enhance the greater theme of a piece?

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I’ve been promoting my writing on my Twitter account for a few months now.  Slowly but surely I’m getting more and more engagement and I’m nearing the cusp of 9K followers, and hoping to hit the 10K plus realm within a week or so.  One of my followers, and now a tried a true fan, read through each of my short stories and came up with an interesting descriptor of my writing:  hyperlocal.

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You don’t like to think of yourself as a Girardian cliché.  Neither do I.  But we like to oversimplify.  Living life on the spectrum takes tremendous amounts of consideration (aka compassion) and tremendous amounts of time (aka love).  But we live on a spectrum.  Nothing is black and white.  Not even when it comes to identity politics and exploitation of Native peoples.

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There’s a lot of insecurities in our very small Native world.  Native identity is a funky thing.  And people are people and people love power (even the ones who say they don’t).  We hold things over each other.  Sometimes these are purposeful attacks and sometimes we’re just reaching into the dark for anything we can weaponize.   Unfortunately, identity is a bullet if it’s not a bomb and even when people are kind they’ll still use it to cut you.

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