Garbage Baggage

Samantha Marie Nock

I wasn’t going to major in Native Studies.

I just wasn’t going to.

When I came to university, I had decided that I was going to earn a “legitimate” major: economics, political science, anything but Native Studies.  I wasn’t going to major in Native Studies because I didn’t want to be that Native kid.

I came to university with four garbage bags of luggage: two were my clothes and bedding and the two others were my internalized racism and shame.

I struggled so much in my first semester of university.  I felt disconnected from my classmates who seemed to know way more than I did in these topics.  I felt disconnected from home and I desperately clung to any I could that made me feel less away and more at home where I was.  I failed two courses my first semester: French and Economics.  I struggled to grasp and understand the topics…

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Shinli’ Niint’aih

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Well, this is my official stab at blogging. My reason for this blog is that I hope that it will help me on my journey in defining my ‘creativity’ and expressions of who I am. Importantly to interact and share ideas with others. Overtime my posts of self expressions will flow itself through a series of topics and I hope to share inspiring ideas with you.

Let me begin. I am Indigenous and a member of the Teetl’it Gwich’in First Nation and was born and raised in the Western Arctic of Northern Canada.  I love to bead, sew, learn and weave stories of my culture, and had recently discovered the world of gardening & all things diy.  I am currently in my final stages of completing my Masters Degree in Political Science. I have a loving partner/husband Adam and we both live with our Daisy cat on the beautiful prairies of Treaty 6 and Metis homelands in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The title of my blog I named “Shinli’ Nintaii'”. It is a word or expression in my Teetł’it Gwich’in language that translates into English as: ‘Strong Hands’.  I often recollect on this expression because it helps me in a variety of ways both emotionally and spiritually. There is a story that I have of my Great-Grandmother or Jijuu , Mary, who used the expression to show how strong and resilient the woman are in my First Nation.  This story was told to me as a child about the hard work that Moosehide Tanning is. From the raw material of the hide to be transformed into clothing or shoes, the hide tanners in my Nation often would develop strong hands because of this.  Hide tanning is one of the most gifted and prized skills for a woman to have.  This process also changed not just the physical condition of individuals, as they worked hard day in and out to transform it, the spiritual self is also affected.  Moose hide tanning is a spiritual and physical process that occurs between the hide and the tanner.  It is one of the most resilient and form of practice that is still exercised within my family, and luckily, it is a practice that is being revived among individuals of my Nation. So I come from a family of tanners and a line of woman who embody what it means to have strong hands.  This word embodies and carries significant meaning for me.

I hope my blog reaches out far and wide.  I hope to connect with as much like minded individuals to help express and share in ideas of creativity and expressions of Indigeneity. Much LOVE & Light!

Hui Cho. Many Thanks.