Sierra Edd and Chanti Jung respond to the zine anthology, “Portals of Indigenous Futurism” edited by Amber McCrary (Abalone Mountain Press, 2021)
Chanti to Sierra
I am squandering. I am dissipating.
Resuscitate me, bring me back on the right path.
I wander without knowing where this path will take me.
I don’t feel pain but only intense eagerness.
Some days I wish there were portals to bring me back to us lying on the boat. We are on our way to Paul’s Island, I can hear the water splashing, hitting the boat. The boat is jumping on the waves, but you are holding me tight, singing me songs in a language I don’t understand. The cool sea breeze smells and tastes like salt, but all I feel is warmth. Did you know the moon creates waves with its gravitational force? Some days I look at the moon and can feel your love, and I hope for a better future. Singing songs that you used to sing to me for future generations to come.
Sierra to Chanti
In space there is no predetermined line of travel, no direct path. Still, there is enduring, unbound motion. Like our molecules, the moon is drawn to the earth’s mass which is drawn to the sun’s mass. All matter is attracted to one another. I’m often in awe of this phenomenon and wonder about the magnetic field around me and the vibration of the universe. In my language I think about hózhó (harmony). It’s impossible that our ancestors' spirits and the lifeforce of earth is not still among us and in the fabric of our reality.
My family resides in the Dibé Nistaa and Tótah areas of the Diné homelands. Although on United States maps these places are identified as “border towns,” we had different ways of relating to this land through our creation stories. I recall my grandmother speaking of her childhood free of television, electricity, or dependency on external services to survive. In her stories, I imagined an unraveling of the systems that caused mass-scale change in the form of relocation, boarding schools, and borders. Our curiosity and radical imagining has been thwarted by the colonial logics attempting to define “our” collective futures.
As I grow older and enter spaces of “professionalism” and “adulthood” I realize the curiosity I had as a child is more and more forgotten, and dismissed in favor of practicality, profit, and efficiency. I’ve had to fight not only to be heard open-mindedly but also to not let my inner-self cease completely in a world of noise. I often try to reconnect with her. With my morning tea and aroma of sweet grass, I recall that part of me who earnestly imagines a time before European settlement and a time after. She knows that all structures at some point in time collapse, deteriorate, and crumble. Like the earth’s tectonic crust, the sidewalks and paved roads are not permanent. The most dense concrete will still crack, never will it be impenetrable to the roots beneath the soil.
Chanti to Sierra
I feel drawn to water and the ocean. The elements are calming and call for home.The journey down to the shore, as my brother wades through the mud. My hair stands up when I hear and feel the crunching of my footsteps on the sand. The sting of the cold water hitting my feet. Funny how it takes me back. We don’t need electricity to survive. The currents will carry us.
We will bloom out of the cracks of the solid ground. Even the littlest dandelion will find a place in the fracture of the concrete that was never meant to be paved. The poppy and the buttercup. The rat and the racoon. Our animal and plant relatives deserve better. We always strive to be perfect, to control, and to abide by the illusion that capitalism and colonialism is necessary and will save us all. We do things to survive in this world, we don’t do them for pleasure. I dream of days where the weeds are called plants, and grow abundantly without hesitation through everything that these settlements have created.
As I sip on my Labrador tea while reading Splitooth by Tanya Tagaq, created by trees that once were, I hear the sweet sound of throat songs and feel loving hands holding my upper arms. Swaying with the sound, creating motion just like the waves. Can you hear the wolf walking on grass as it watches the seagull land?
Sierra to Chanti
Yiizįįh! (Stand up!)
I began learning Diné Bizaad (Navajo) with shí nálí aszdaan (grandmother) last year. I was heartened everytime buried memories would resurface hearing and speaking many of the words we covered. Rather than stumbling over the glottal sounds and tough consonants, several words came to me easily like warm blue corn mush–Tanaashgiizh. A familiar taste and sound. The word I will always remember shizhé’é (dad) saying was “yiizįįh”! It means “stand up.” He would say this aloud, asking me to touch the ceiling as he held me up as a child. My small fingers would stretch up as he applauded.
Bííghah! (We can do it!)
I think about cultural knowledge like language, we never lost it. It’s something we can remember and relearn like my memory with shizhé’é. He would cheerfully say “Bííghah hey!” whenever something good happened. So when I’m struggling, I remember his encouraging voice and know that if I don’t make it the first time, I can stand back up and try again.
— Sierra Edd and Chanti Jung