Resistance & Resilience: Witnessing Transformation
More and more I realize that Momma’s dying prayers are wisdom gained from her living a life with a broken heart. My healing is jump-started by my hands in a warm indigo vat massaging color into cloth. Witnessing transformation through the indigo dye process gives me the strength to know that I can overcome my circumstances. Some people think it’s the beautiful blue color that’s mesmerizing about indigo. But, the suffering and deaths of indigenous people in the pursuit of Blue Gold take the shine off the indigo blue color. From a South Carolina plantation to the rice fields of India, colonizers have exploited indigenous people of color for a cash crop. The spirit of “owning” indigo to create a beautiful color remains with us today. However, as a Kokum I’m focused on sharing and celebrating plant-based indigo as cultural survivance.
Hemp for weaving, indigo for body markings, and sleeping mats, along with black walnut hulls were part of the North Carolina Skaru’re (Tuscarora) Confederacy before the Spanish and English arrived. All three are part of the Neuse, Tar, Roanoke, and Contentnea river lands of the Coastal Plains. Reconnecting with the creative hands of our ancestors grounds us to the land beneath our feet, which promotes self-healing. Once we learn to heal ourselves, we can teach others and begin the process of sharing healing within our community. The Niitsitapi concept of Poo’mikapii is an ancient Algonquin way of knowing with powerful benefits if practiced. In order to survive, we must learn to share with people hurting who are lashing out and hurting others.
We live in a “Follow Me” world but to self-heal we need to sojourn the road less traveled. It’s a lonely road but to heal oneself you need to travel fast, at warp speed. Grandpa (Howell Woodard) taught me how to avoid the snares and traps of the slavers by moving alone in silence through the negative space. So, I’ll continue to practice textiles as healing, as I walk out my dying momma’s prayers of wisdom for healing a broken heart. I love you and I like you, Doris Lee Woodard (Haskins) Jones. My goal is for my actions to honor your suffering and to share the lessons I’m learning. RIP Momma.