Creating handmade functional and decorative goods for trade is rooted in the cultural commonalities of Mesoamerican cultures. It dates back to the origins and development of Mesoamerican urban planning in the pyramid-plaza architecture at Teotihuacan. Eastern Carolina Algonquin oral stories say that, “we came up from the land.” I asked Pa (Bud Harris) once “up from what land?” He said “way down yonder pass ya’ daddy’s people.” So, it’s ironic that I found myself by going up North as so many Southern people of color have done.
After participating in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto I understand me. Backside vision is illuminating all my “why me” questions and tears. I see God’s plan manifesting in my life to bring me to this moment in time and to this place. Standing beside Lake Ontario on the sacred land of the historical Algonquin Place of Gathering, I gained clarity. It’s not about me as a person, it’s about the event that “made the people scatter” when Ancestors were burned alive and those escaping were enslaved and forced to the Low County Slave Market at Charleston.
Algonquin people are uniting in spite of outsiders who mean to tear us apart with negative energy. It’s about the land, the dirt beneath our feet. Our planet is being brutally raped and is crying out to us. We need to pay attention to our oceans by protecting coral reef and to the waters in our lakes and rivers. Water is scared because it brings life and takes life away. “How the water goes, we go,” I hear Minnie Haskins saying as she read the signs in the wind, birds and trees. Mama was in tune with the land. The birds and the wind gave her knowledge of events for times when she said, “we (women folk) had to cloak ourselves and be invisible.”
The women in my bloodline survived and protected ourselves as we hid out in plain sight for 300 years. I’m born as a seventh generation Gatekeeper where X marks the spot runners went out with the news of Fort Neyuheru:ke. My blood memory is about the geographical area from Toisnot Swamp to Contentnea Creek, under the now paved over Algonquin Trail under Highway 301 Business.
We survived by being quiet, calm and still while making goods with our creative hands. The men did the fishing and hunting, and everyone helped with farming. We kept to ourselves and we kept out of sight. I always remember the Moon Lodge Women describing two camps of women, those with creative hands and the busy bodies with idle hands. The busy bodies needed male attention all the time. They never seemed satisfied or content, but were active buzzing around like bees searching outside themselves for what was internal.
I’m thankful for the journey of my life. It’s been a broken road with side detours along the scenic route. But, oh what a creative and adventures journey that’s not over yet. Warm hugs and abundant blessings to everyone I met at Indigenous Fashion Week.
The featured artwork today is some of the last clay sculpture that I made while teaching pottery at the Arts Council of Wilson. The flowers are from a rose bush in my BFF’s yard in Piney Woods. I miss my faithful pottery ladies and spending quality time with my BFF. Next month I’m reconnecting with clay by rejoining Dan Finch’s Studio.