Sometimes, I worry that I am overly critical. That I’m using my powers for evil rather than for good. But in my defense, there is so much in the world to criticize. Critical awareness is just the first step towards repairing, restoration and reconciliation. I strive to balance the criticism with the praise. The celebration with the lament. The complaints with the kudos.
I confess that I’ve always been highly suspect of “inspirational culture.” I find satire to be a much more fulfilling use of my energy than the world of inspirational messaging. Inspirational memes make me hostile. “Live, Love, Laugh” induces the opposite result of its intention. My preferred message is “Live, Love, Laugh at the Patriarchy.”
Believe it or not, there is a whole demographic of people who live on inspirational messages. And I guess that’s fine for them, but I’ve come to depend on zingers and well-timed barbs. If there were decorative signs of my choosing for sale in home décor departments or Michaels, they would say “I hate myself so good.” Or “your beauty is your ugly.” Or maybe “babies are annoying.” Anti-inspirational messages. I’m the kind of person who would hire Matt Foley, motivational speaker — you know, that big guy who lives in a van down by the river — for my corporate retreat. Because that guy is hilarious.
This is what goes through my mind when I consider the Thanksgiving holiday. Because Thanksgiving represents a fraught and tragic history and is the harbinger of many misunderstandings and messages, I have come to consider the season as one of “count your blessings,” and “being thankful.” This seems a safe perspective, where no one can fault me or get offended. Oh sure, even if I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, per se, it never hurts to observe one’s gratitude. Even if it seems a little bit cliché. A little bit treacle-y. It’s good for the spirit to count one’s blessings. Despite … well, everything.
There’s still cornucopia-plenty to be grateful for.
Yesterday for example, I saw that the Indigenous berry syrup wojapi was featured on Al Roker’s new podcast. The indigenous foods author and chef, Sean Sherman, swapped out the chokecherries for cranberries. While that seemed verboten against my grandmas’ sauce, it was still pretty amazing to see wojapi receiving a national platform.
I am deeply grateful for Indigenous sitcoms, particularly “Rutherford Falls” on NBC’s Peacock. And I’m grateful for Hulu’s “Reservation Dogs.” And looking forward to more Indigenous created programs in development. Oh, sure, “Longmire” and “Yellowstone” have been cool and everything, but despite those shows casting of Indigenous actors, the shows aren’t written by or directed by Indigenous creators. And it makes a remarkably huge difference.
On that note, I’m grateful for Indigenous humor and comedy. I’m grateful for the people who soldier on, who create content, write and perform comedy. And for the people who include me in their lists and writers and entertainers of note. This is what rocks my world and brings light to my days. I’m grateful and I appreciate you, Joey Clift @joeytainment, Charlotte Flyte @CharleyFlyte, Adrianne Chalepah @AdrianneComedy, Kaitlyn Jeffers @jeffernaut, Lea McCormick @LeaMcCormick19 and Lucas Brown Eyes @LucasBrownEyes.
I’m grateful for all the new books by Indigenous writers, and for there being more opportunities for Indigenous writers than ever before. Some of my favorite books include the anthology of poetry edited by Joy Harjo, our current U.S. poet laureate, “When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through.” The thriller/mystery novels “The Hatak Witches” by Devon Mihesuah, and Marcie R. Rendon’s “Girl Gone Missing.” I’m grateful for so many great books. “Crooked Hallelujah” by Kelli Jo Ford, “The Mason House” by T. Marie Bertineau, “Dog Flowers” by Danielle Geller, and “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee” by David Treuer. I’m grateful for children’s and young adult titles like “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley, “Apple in the Middle” by Dawn Quigley, and “The Lesser Blessed” by Richard Van Camp.
I’m grateful for the Ojibway word for blueberry pie: miini-baashkiminasigani-biitoosijigani-bakwezhigan. And I hope to see a children’s picture book published soon!
I’m grateful for cats, sisters, cheese and Jason Momoa, not necessarily in that order.
Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book of essays Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s was a finalist for a Washington State Book Award. She enjoys composting and frisky walks through dewy meadows. Midge lives in Moscow.