Having never been a ‘half-empty’ kind of gal, I always try to look to the stars and find something good in every situation. Granted it sometimes takes extra looking to find it, but I believe it was geometry that taught me everything has an upside to the downside– ( or maybe it wasn’t geometry, it never was one of my better subjects!!). Anyway, as I am finishing my 11th week of being quarantined, I am past finding pleasure in the amount of money (and WW points) I am saving by eating at home — although I have noticed a huge increase in my grocery bill and dish soap use. AND now that I am not going anywhere, gas is lower than it has been for years!!
So while driving home from the grocery store yesterday, (my one big trip of the week!!)where a masked young lady had carefully put my groceries in the trunk of my car, then stood far away from my window, gave me a wave and said “Receipt in the bag’, I nearly started my very own pity party.
I have only seen my precious grandkids via Zoom for weeks and this does not make me happy! My oldest is living at home in South Sioux again, as he left UNO in Omaha to finish his freshman year of college at home. He is working at HyVee and being one of those helpful smiles in every aisle– but who knows– can’t see past the mask! Even though I didn’t get to see him a lot before, I COULD see him and his smile!! My other four live here in Air Park but due to this Pandemic, it has been decided I should remain safe and not hug, kiss, tease or tickle them during this time!! Now I think all of this is deserving of a big pity party, and just as I was winding up to really take off, a picture that my Ava (oldest granddaughter) had sent me earlier in the week flashed through my mind. It was her in her mask that her mom had made for her. The material was white with black feathers and had a red hand placed across the middle, the mouth area. When I questioned the meaning of this, she said it was for MMIW. I, of course said, “Oh, awesome”, without having much of an idea what MMIW stood for, or why she was sporting this image. (For those of you who do not know, my grand children are Native American). Then I decided to look up MMIW and see what it was all about and my pity party suddently disappeared and was replaced with a huge sense of horror! I would like to share a bit of what I discovered with you.
First — MMIW stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The U.S Department of Justice found that American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 10-24 years of age and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women between 25 and 34 years of age. 4 out of 5 of our Native women are affected by violence today.– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Homicide
To the the Oceti Sakowin — the Great Sioux Nation of Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota — women are sacred and powerful beings. Women are the root, heart and the backbone of their communities. They are to be honored and respected. The Oceti Sakowin were even gifted the Way of the Pipe — the foundation of their belief system, whose smoke carries their prayers to Wakantanka (the Great Mystery) — and the seven sacred rites by a feminine deity, Pte San Win or White Buffalo Calf Woman .
Native American symbols are geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. The hand symbolized human life and this sign was believed to channel energy to the wearer. War paint in the form of various symbols such as the hand symbol were applied to intimidate their enemies when going into battle or during warfare. The hand symbol also represents spiritual power, strength, domination and protection. The red hand across the mouth symbolizes the voices of these murdered and missing women being silenced.The red hand print image has been spread across social media, to not only be used by survivors and family members who have lost loved ones, but to represent violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Red is the official color of the campaign, but it goes deep and has significant value. In various tribes, red is known to be the only color spirits see. It is hoped that by wearing red, they can call back the missing spirits of the women and children so they can be laid them to rest.
So as I continued to research this organization, I continued to find myself flooded with a plethora of feelings ranging from anger and disgust– that this is even an issue (as all prejudices are) in 2020 to fear for my beautiful grand daughters who have to find their way in this world and finally I settled on pride.
Proud of my 2 grand daughters who were chosen from a huge group of Native Americans at Lincoln High to attend a Unity Conference in Arizona in February and came home with a better understanding of their heritage and big plans to re-kindle the Indian Center in Lincoln. They plan to join with other Native Americans in other Lincoln schools to make it a place where Natives can gather to learn and to grow and show their strength through unity. And I think they will do it!
Proud of these young ladies with their masks and their pride in standing up for and supporting a situation that definitely needs more notoriety. Proud of them for being young women who are kind and silly and loving and fun. Proud of them because they have plans for becoming mature and productive adults. Proud of them for caring about their younger siblings and their older grand parents. Proud of them being secure in their beliefs and in themselves!!
Funny how that pride overpowered my pity party and brought me to the realization that in this time of Pandemic Fear, there is a need for Pandemic Pride! I prefer the feeling of pride over the fear that spawned my pity party, so will spend my next few blogs sharing stories of some of the fantastic people I am blessed to know. Can’t tell them all, but want to share a few and encourage you all to look around at those who surround you and make you proud that we are standing tall and strong in these tough times. We can trade some of this Pandemic Fear to find some Pandemic Pride — You know–that geometric thing of the upside to a downside!