Our Blood Pulses Resistance

By Abaki Beck

My grandmother once told me
she was a class bully
at the government run school
that punished her for being Blackfeet
and buried her classmates
on the school grounds
She told me
she spoke back to teachers
and had to be punished

The same school
trained my uncle to be a butcher
trained him to be a good, assimilated worker
cutting meats that his mother couldn’t afford
They didn’t know they were also training him
to make beautiful rawhide art
They didn’t know he would use this skill
to never forget who he was
and make a little money on the side too

My great-grandmother named
my sister and I
for our ancestors
So that even our racist teachers
have to speak an indigenous language
A subtle reversal
of these boarding school policies
that turned my family
into quiet rebels

is small acts of survival
is daily trickery
is nearly invisible subversion
It is my name rolling off your colonizing tongue
It is my uncle using skills born
from an assimilationist government agenda
to create art
his teachers wouldn’t approve of
It is my grandmother refusing to be silenced
by teachers trying to make her just
Shut up
and accept her subordination

My grandmother told me she was a bully
but she forgot to tell me
that as she spoke,
the blood of colonialism
pulsed through her pursed lips
histories of neglect and pain
rolled off her tongue
generations of survival and resilience
were clenched inside her tight fists
What she didn’t tell me
was how brave she was
and how brave
we always will be