Home is where the heart is
Monday, November 07 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Home is where the heart is. Yes. This month, I want to talk about home. Itís that time of year that the holiday season begins and there are some of us who long for a home. Some of us hold onto a time in our life that represents home. Some of us have created a home, but we have to defend it against the ravages of trauma. Some of us are searching for home. Some of us are lost.
When I left the reservation in 1990 for college, I was devastated. I didnít know who I was. I yearned for home. Like many other people, poverty, addiction, abuse, and trauma, was a part of my upbringing. It was my familiar.

I was lucky to have parents who were supportive of me in my transition away from that life. Each time and every time I tried to whine or talk about coming home, they intervened. They brushed away these lies I told myself. They reminded me of the desperate circumstances that still exist. They would encourage me to try a little bit harder to make it better. They would come to visit me. They helped me.

My parents understood the limitations of where they raised me. They loved me, but they wanted more for me. That is something every parent wants for their children.

I know for myself, I want my children to go further than I have. I want them to do better than I have. Iím thinking itís instinctual. It is about survival of our species.

Ultimately, my pursuit for education and my experience have provided opportunities for my siblings to follow. Itís amazing how this worked. I have siblings who came to live with me off the reservation to attend school or pursue work. Many of them are doing quite well for themselves now. Our parents would be proud.

Yet, there is a sickness that festers in our community. Addiction. Addiction is ugly. I hate meth. I hate alcohol. I hate pills. I hate that some of us sedate ourselves to the beauty of living.

ďWhen you allow the wrong people in your house stuff will come up missing like: Joy, Peace, Love, Hope, FaithÖ(Yes, people steal those things) Ė Peace & BlessingsĒ online meme.

Our family has dealt with addiction. We are no different than many families. As this country was colonized, alcohol was fed to us freely and some got caught up in that cycle. Many of us had a front row seat in watching addiction destroy the lives of the people we love. We had to create healthy boundaries with them. Yet, we want to embody our Native values of kinship and family. Itís hard loving someone from a distance. Discerning enabling an addict, and disabling an addict, is difficult. But, we must do it for the safety of our family.

Home still calls to me. I yearn for it. I visit as often as I am able now. Both of my parents have passed and many of my siblings live away from the reservation, so going home is different. I have many first cousins, aunts, and uncles who remain, but they are all living their lives.

A few years back, my son wanted to spend some time on the reservation, so I let him. It was an experience I wanted him to have. I wanted him to bask in the warmth of family everywhere. I wanted him to experience our language being spoken. I wanted him to see people who looked like him, people who thought like him, and people who believed like him. It was an incredible year for him. He also saw the limitations of living on the reservation. He understood why some of us left.

We suffocate our children. We keep them so close they donít grow. They donít learn the skills to be adults. They donít fail. They donít learn how to be adults in America. Itís important that we allow our children to do this. One day we will not be here. I know for myself, I want to be there for my kids to help them through adult experiences. Iíd hate for them to do it when Iím dead and gone. Preparing them to be adults is essential.

Home now is Minnesota. The land of the Dakota and the Anishinabe. Iím in my third decade here and I still love it. But I still yearn for the vast prairies of South Dakota. The rolling hills of golden wheat. The ability to see far. When I can, I go visit. Home is where the heart is. My heart has the ability to stretch across hundreds of miles and distant places. Home is where my family is. My blood family and my family of choice.

Home is a safe place where I can grow. Iím nurtured. My kids grow. And, they are nurtured. Thatís what home is for me.

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