My art concepts are place and memory. Since returning from Indigenous Fashion Week the place is becoming Daniel Hill, an indigenous community in Wilson, North Carolina. Two bloodlines made up the people on “The Hill” Algonquin and West African. I represent the Algonquin bloodlines from Currituck down to Chicamacomico, across to Mattamuskeet, up Contentnea to Toisnot.
I’m walking out my dying Momma’s prayers to share stories, plant dyeing and stitching along with my clay with the world. I can hear my Momma’s voice saying, “If you get, give! Share with the world and the world will share with you! Those that learn, teach!”
So, with Pura Fe’s endorsement, I was invited to participate in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. The experience is transforming me as The Life Event that will define me as an artist. Standing next to Lake Ontario with small puffs of sharp wind pealing away the circumstances of my life, I experienced clarity. The land of our ancient Algonquin Gathering Place is a tonic of illumination for me.
I arrived in Canada carrying the deepest human feelings of my life. Six days after the second anniversary of my Momma’s death on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, which this year was my 50th Darden High School Class Reunion.
I feel embarrassed that after two years, my Momma’s house and mine still have stuff inside of them. I’m paying rent on my house and using it like a storage unit. I feel like I’m homeless under a “Mountain of Things” that’s crushing me. My Lake Ontario experience is helping me understand why seven generations of women in my family have had to walk out The Blues on the black sandy soil on the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina.
I came close to being a no show at my high school Awards and Memorial banquets. High school is on my short list of worse experiences of a lifetime. I had identity issues, attending Darden in grades 7 through 12, knowing that I was Native with a Reservation Indian father aggravated by living with my mother in a home controlled by her mother. Being in the Band, having a few friends and a one-way bus ticket to get me near my Grand in Big Cypress, Florida enabled me to endure. I never knew the majority of students attending Darden with me, and I hadn’t encountered many of them since high school graduation. When classmates remember me in high school they describe me as being pretty with long hair.
It’s only now, 50 years later that I understand and appreciate the values I learned during my troubled adolescence. What doesn’t kill you, does make you stronger! When I review my life as a whole, I’ve had more joy, happiness, creative moments and beauty than pain and disappointment. God is with me and has been since I was baptized. I am a child of promise, conceived in love, born with purpose as a witness to “walking by faith, instead of sight.” I’m humbled by the circumstances of my life and thankful for every precious breath.