Terese Marie Mailhot

Terese Mailhot: We don't tell Native women how brilliant they really are

Writer Terese Marie Mailhot (Seabird Island Band) offers a tribute to Native women, starting with her mother:
My mother spoke herself into the world. I can’t speak her story, but I can say I witnessed how she declared her own brilliance and conjured a new life—the new terms in which she would live after the turmoil she suffered. When she fell asleep with a book in her hand, or came out of her bedroom with a new manuscript, I wish someone had told her she was brilliant for everything she had done. What she was doing was exceptional, and I guess I wish someone had told her about the small stuff, too, how she made salmon patties that tasted like heaven, and god knows that takes Gordon Ramsey talent, and how she kept the house, which was, just architecturally designed to look and feel like depression, and she made it beautiful and made smell like sweetgrass and tea—so that when we came home we felt whole again. I wish I could tell her now, as a grown woman. Native women are not told they’re brilliant—not nearly enough. I’d like to say that you all, as I know you, confound me.

I see Native women I grew up with, who are now mothers, married to men who do or do not appreciate them, women who seem to, like myself, move through the day to day without much reflection or concern for their own autonomy. It’s what you do when you’re a mother, or a workingwoman, or a woman working for something better, or all of the above. This may sound general, but I’m speaking specifically to the Native women I know.

Read More on the Story:
Terese Mailhot: Native Women Brilliance: Let’s Start With My Mother (Indian Country Media Network 6/15)