Where I Come From

Stormy Ogden, Tule River Yokuts & Kashaya Pomo, Ex-prisoner & Survivor
Where I come from
I come from those tears
that my mom shed as she hid in the fields
her belly round with life
As my dad chased after her
to beat her once again
because he was drunk
I come from that anger
that my dad holds in his heart
because he was left behind
to be raised by a white family
because his mother died giving him life
I come from the pain
of these two people that had the cards stacked against them
from the beginning
because she was a white woman
and he was an Indian man
I come from that bitter-sweet love
of these two people
that brought a half-breed child
into this world
Where I come from
I come from that burning
as the first swallow of whiskey
slides down my throat
taking me along with it for 18 years
I come from that shame and fear
as I sit in a bath full of cold water
washing the blood away
from my torn and beaten 12 year old body
after 4 boys raped me
I come from that special place
that I go to as the ones that say
they would always love me
hits, kicks, shoots, and rapes me
one more time
I come from that blood
that runs down my fingers
as I slide that razor blade
across my wrist
one more time
Where I come from
I come from too many bars
and back seats of cars
too many lovers that had no names
and always
not enough whiskey
I come from
jails, prisons, mental institutions
boarding schools
the reservation system, the mission system
extermination, assimilation, relocation, self-determination
all meaning
I come from
I will never forget you my Sisters
as I leave them behind at the gate
Where I come from
I come from
I’m Indian too,
I just do not know what tribe
can you teach me how to be Indian
can you give me an Indian name
can you take me to a sweat lodge
what do you mean that you will not take me
to ceremonies
Where I come from
I come from the water
that travels over the rocks
that my Auntie listens to
because they teach her the songs
that will heal our people
I come from hot acorn soup and dried seaweed
that our women made
to feed the people
I come from the sounds
of the elderberry clapper sticks
that our men play
as the women dance upon the lands
I come from
that pebble that Raven
carried in his mouth
then dropped on the land
to give to my people