The world has changed in the last few months, and the world continues to change. The media has shown us plenty of footage of armed white protestors at state capitols demanding haircuts and gyms, but still largely leaves out the human stories of struggle and survival, the thoughtful, first-person perspectives and reflections that bring a face and voice to the reality that is right now. And as always, Indian Country’s stories are nearly absent. We know Native communities are being hit hard, but we also know there’s much more to the stories than what we’re shown in the news.
I’ve admittedly really struggled during these weeks of staying at home. My reality as a professor shifted dramatically overnight, and like many of you, I suddenly went from seeing my amazing students and colleagues daily to sitting in a cold basement, staring at moving squares on a laptop–a poor substitute for the relationships we all need to thrive. I felt, and feel, like my brain is working at about 1/3 capacity lately. Everything takes much longer and isn’t quite…right. I sleep so much, and am still tired. I miss my family, I worry for my friends, I haven’t gotten to meet my new baby nibling in NYC, and the uncertainty of what’s next causes endless stress.
Yet, I am safe, I am healthy, and there have been so many moments of beauty in this time. This is the longest uninterrupted stretch I’ve been in Providence since I moved here over six years ago. I’ve taken long walks through the quiet and empty city and come to appreciate it deeply. I’ve had to slow down. I’ve had to listen to my brain and my body. I’ve had to think about what matters to me, and what parts of “normal” are worth returning to, and what parts I want to leave behind. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.
I saw that last line on a pencil case on Anthropologie’s website. Or maybe it was Pinterest? Because let’s be real, while I’ve been walking and reflecting and being contemplative over loaves of sourdough, the one thing that has been overwhelmingly true of this time is that I’m spending hours scrolling things on the Internet. What is time but a chance to look at memes and read thousands of awful news stories or imagine alternate realities? For example: a new favorite is looking at Zillow listings, playing “where would I live if I moved to X?,” judging people’s interior decorating, and pretending I could make a downpayment on a $1.2 million dollar house (I can’t).
All of that is to say, there’s lots of stories of this time, especially in our Indigenous communities. Stories that are serious and real and funny and terrifying and everything in between, and I’d love to hear them. I posted this on Twitter and Instagram a few days ago:
This series will be the result. “Indigenous Stories of Uncertain Times” will feature voices of Indigenous people navigating these uncertain, scary, and sometimes beautiful times. The call is open to all Indigenous folks, and I’m open to all types of writing and media–photos, videos, audio, and artwork are welcome and encouraged as well. If it can be put in a blog post, send it over. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be perfect or polished. Youth submissions are encouraged, and if you want to call your grandparents or elders and record what they have to say for a submission, that would make my life complete.
As I was reading through the first submissions I decided I needed and wanted to offer some form of payment for these posts, even if largely symbolic. So I’ll be offering a small gesture of $20 per author, with an accompanying $10 donation to an organization supporting Indian Country’s COVID-19 response. I’ll start with $500 of my own money, but if you would like to sponsor a post, or give a donation to support more authors and charitable donations, my paypal is here, or my venmo is @adrienne-keene. Just put “for stories series” or something similar in the memo.
For folks who would like to submit, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email include:
- A title
- How you would like your name and tribal or community affiliation to appear
- A short 1-2 sentence bio, and if you’d like, links to your work or social media accounts
- A way for me to pay you (paypal, venmo, zelle, cash app…etc). (If you’d like your honorarium to go toward a COVID cause of your choice, that’s totally fine too!)
I’ll plan on posting 1-2 stories a day, depending on the volume, and I’ll share out on Twitter as they go up. You also can subscribe to the blog by email here, if you’d like to receive new posts in your inbox.
So I welcome you to share with me, share with one another, and stay safe and well. I look forward to creating and sharing this space with all of you.
PS- If you would like to support Indian Country during this time, https://indigenouscovidresponse.com/ is a great resource pulling a lot of different links and sources together.