Monday, June 23, 2008

Joyful Indians

As I've researched this past year, I would sometimes come upon a photograph or painting of Indian people that really moved me. As time went on, I came to cherish representations of California Indians who were happy, smiling, or at peace with themselves.

Once you've done a little of this kind of research, you begin to understand just how rare it is to find a happy Indian. After all, it was the End of the World - there wasn't much to celebrate.

But isn't joy - and our capacity to feel it, celebrate it, spread it - isn't that what all this resistance is about? Not just about surviving, about preserving the bits and pieces we can find and reclaim, and not just mourning those things we've lost. The true devastation of colonization, the profound tragedy of conquest, is when the body survives but the soul is a ragged, thin, embittered ghost that haunts that wounded flesh.

So tonight, to celebrate finishing the first full draft of my book project!, I want to go through my materials and post the images that have carried me through, and have helped me keep my eyes on the prize. It would be so easy to get lost in grief. But grief - although necessary, and normal - is not what is going to save us as human beings.

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