These statement earrings, beaded patches and elegant rings helped me reclaim my identity and understand my culture
This article was originally published in June 2019.
I was born and raised on Six Nations, Canada’s largest First Nations reserve. Yet, I don’t speak the languages of my ancestors. Unlike many of the friends I grew up with, I can’t pow wow dance, I don’t practice the Longhouse religion and I don’t have the “rez accent.” My ancestors made choices—both conscious and unconscious, willing and unwilling—not to pass down the Mohawk and Cayuga languages and traditions. So there was no one to teach me, and instead I gravitated toward what urban-centre teens were into: movies, fashion and hip hop.
During those teenage years and into my early twenties, I felt uneasy about the divide between how Indigenous I looked (dark hair, dark…