Friday, July 5, 2013

...And She Came to a Screeching Halt.

:Blog about Blogging and other issues I'm running into as a Native who writes.

Blogging has been very interesting and addicting.  If you've been following my blog, you might understand why I've even found it a bit exciting at times.   

I don't know what I was expecting to come from starting a blog.  Maybe I thought only some of my Facebook friends would want to read it, maybe nobody.  The point was to push myself to try to become comfortable with other people reading and criticizing my writing, so I can improve.  I don't know what my end goal is, I'm a fan of baby steps.  I just wanted to get words on paper.   

I've never been a fully confident writer.  I can't have anyone read over my shoulder when I write, and I hate showing people my rough drafts.  Writing opens the door for misinterpretation, misunderstanding and criticism. Writing makes one vulnerable and is a deeply personal, intimate process.  I'm always worried someone will find errors in my writing, or find my ideas offensive or just dumb.  I'm a classic overthinker.  Even now as I write this, in the back of my mind I'm semi-wondering who I'll offend with today's blog.  Don't get me wrong, I'm okay being offensive.  When push comes to shove, I'm always going to choose to express myself, but I do take it into consideration before I gain the courage to click "Publish".   

I didn't expect to get such a wide audience.  On my end of the blog you can see how many people visit my blog each day, how they connect to my page (from facebook.com or tucsonweekly.com, etc.) and what country they're from.  There's a huge section on Blogger.com devoted just to statistics and I find it completely fascinating. 

The country statistics have been my favorite thing to see.  I have no idea how people from other countries are finding my blog, or why on earth they're (you're) choosing to read my blog, but they (you) are and I seem to have a rather large following (other than U.S.) from Russia and Germany. ::Waving to Russia and Germany:: Blogger.com counts the number of clicks on my page, so I either have one person in Russia who has clicked on my blog 60 times, or 60 people who have clicked on it once, or some variation in between.  The same with Germany and other countries. 

I've had a couple of people request specific topics for me to cover.  I was asked by friends to share my opinion regarding Johnny Depp's portrayal of Tonto ::rolling my eyes:: and my opinions and experiences dealing with Border Patrol Agents on or just outside of my reservation. 

The topics were already things that I had an opinion on, but after posting the blog about the Freeway Images  (Unintentionally) Disrespectful Art and after a couple of news reporters, other bloggers (ones who have an ACTUAL audience) and a local newspaper contacted me or referenced my post in their own blogs (Thank you, by the way), I suddenly realized that I had to be a little more careful for the following reasons:

#1. I'm Native.  Shocker, I know.  Yes, I realize you probably knew that before you even found this page.  Maybe you were even looking for a female, Native, amateur writer's blog to check out, I don't know.  Maybe you're just reading this because I'm one of your cousins and you like hearing how your Auntie, my Mom is doing.  Ps. What the heck are you doing in Russia? Send me a postcard! 

Anyway, I realize I have to be more careful about what I decide to post for the world to see because sometimes, people who aren't accustomed to Natives sometimes forget that ONE Native does not represent the entire Native American population.  I am an individual, and although I may write things that other Natives can identify with, I am not a spokesperson for my community, my Tribe, the greater Native American Population of the United States nor the Indigenous peoples of the world.  There are going to be MANY people who disagree with me, my ideas and what I choose to share or not share on the Internet. 

#2. ::deep breath:: I'm a woman.  I chose to begin this blog after a friend of mine strongly encouraged me to participate in a Native Women's writing challenge on Facebook.  She felt that Native American Women weren't sharing their stories and that no matter how well meaning any male was, the Native Women's story was NOT actually coming from a woman.  She made me realize that by not sharing my own stories, I'm allowing others to speak on my behalf.  She and I discussed violence against women and how it impacts the women in our community and I was forced to think about my first experience feeling fear due to my gender.  I wrote They Were Maybe Five Years Old, a story based on a real experience that I had as a young girl.  I pushed myself to write about that intimate subject, and as I've been finding my footing as a "writer" and a "blogger", I've returned to the form that I'm most comfortable with, which tends to be a combination of prose/essay, written in a silly/whimsical tone. 

So, although I tend to be a whimsical and a mostly silly writer, I do take my writing very seriously.  As both a Native American and a Woman, I feel that I'm very much underrepresented in the writing community.  As a Tohono O'odham, there is even less representation.  Unless you have access to private collections of O'odham writing,  doctoral dissertations or recordings of oral histories, you will not find many books/essays/etc. written by Tohono O'odham.  Therefore, I'm sure you can imagine the sinking feeling I had in my belly as I read the following comment, left on my The Casa On The Rez (About) page:

"Cool! Thank you. I'm writing a second mystery novel, using Ajo, Highway 85, the TO rez, and Tucson. I've been looking for TO expressions. " - Clark Lohr
 
Although I appreciate that you've taken the time to check out my blog, I'm sorry, but my "expressions" are not for you to take and they are certainly not for you to profit from. 

As a side note, it particularly bugs me that a non-Native writer is "sharing the richness" of MY culture while at the same time, romanticizing the real life dangers of the illegal drug business which is threatening the lives of my family, friends and loved ones and the Tohono O'odham way of life.
 
Finally, the last thing I want to share is that I'm Tohono O'odham.  I am a Desert Person.  I do not call myself a "T.O."  When I hear someone say, "T.O.", unless they're talking about a high school, a college, or some other institution that is socially acceptable to refer to through the use of acronyms, such as TOHS (Tohono O'odham High School), TOCC (Tohono O'odham Community College), TOCA (Tohono O'odham Community Action), all I hear is, "I don't care enough to learn how to pronounce the name of your Tribe."

I take the time to teach the pronunciation to anyone who asks.  I will not laugh at you, I will not judge you.  I will respect you for taking the time to learn.  But if you call me, "T.O." I will consider you either lazy or ignorant or both.   

When I choose to shorten my tribal affiliation, I refer to myself as an O'odham.  O'odham translates to
person or people.  Tohono means desert.  I am not a desert.  I am a person.

Don't steal from me.  Don't discourage me. Don't underestimate me.   

I'm O'odham. I'm a Woman. I'm writing.



Brown fingers typing. 
*Photo op. My kid took this picture. 





*Native Women's Challenge page referenced is: On The Warpath Women Poetry.  

2 comments:

  1. Romanticize the drug trade. I hope that's not what's happening. Take it from a product of that lifestyle, there is nothing to romanticize. But anyhoo, awesome blogs G.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, James. I REALLY appreciate the comment. And I wholeheartedly agree.

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