Why is it important to see Rez-Humour’s representation in current pop culture?

Valentines cards made by Jheri Jamieson

We asked Jheri Jamieson, a photographer and graphic designer, and she did not disappoint!

Growing up, I was always surrounded by my immediate family, aunts, uncles, both of my grandma’s and countless cousins. If you were sensitive, you had to toughen up real quick and get a sense of humour. My family events are filled with jokes and laughter that neighbours could hear down the road!

I went to elementary school on-reserve, and all of my friends were from my community; although my family travelled often and did a lot of stuff off the reserve, I still didn’t have any friendships with non-natives. 

When I went to Brantford to play softball, I remember being so excited to try out and play ball at a higher level. My mom drove me to the practice, and I had to have been only 11 or so. Before I jumped out of the car to go to the try-out, my mom stopped me and said, 

“Just remember these girls aren’t native. They didn’t grow up like you, and they talk differently than you and they sure as heck don’t have the same sense of humour as we do, so keep that in mind.”

Jheri’s Mom

I went into that practice with the open mind that an 11-year-old has and made friends with no problem.

Fast forward to going to post-secondary, I made the varsity softball team, and up until then, I still had no problem making friends, regardless of their race, gender, age, religion etc. Being on this team was my first experience truly understanding what my mom meant all those years ago.

Photo credit Jheri Jamieson

 The other girls on the team were predominately white, and I came into this team like any other team. I participated and chatted, trying to make some sort of friendship with at least one person on the team, but I couldn’t seem to do that. I couldn’t hold a conversation for the life of me, my jokes heard crickets, and I sat by myself on the bus. I did my best, I came in with an open mind and a smile, and I still couldn’t create a friendship or bond. 

I stopped making jokes so that I wouldn’t hurt any feelings, and I stopped telling stories because either nobody wanted to listen or they just didn’t understand. They weren’t leaving me out to be mean; they just couldn’t connect with me either. I have always embraced where I come from, my heritage, my family; I’ve never been ashamed of any of it. Instead of pretending to be something that I’m not to make friends with, I went back to my community, where my stories and my jokes are appreciated, I went home. I still completed my year at school and am currently in the fourth and final year of my bachelor’s program at Humber College.

My program has taught me so much in the digital communications field, and every chance that I got, I did my project either about a First Nations issue or about Beyonce. Creating these Valentine cards was something I’ve been thinking about since I started my program, but I never had to tools to do it; finally, I taught myself how to make illustrations and designed them with my friends and family in mind. 

Having Kraft dinner and hotdogs for dinner is a classic rez meal that we all had. Some people who are not from our community might think the meal is sad and cheap, but to a couple of rez kids, they wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’ve ever been to a Healers’s dance, you know that the song ‘Come And Get Your Love’ is where you find someone you want to end off your night. 

Photo Credit Jheri Jamieson

These jokes are for our community, and I think it’s vital that we embrace them. Sure other people won’t get it; they might wonder why we believe hot-dog’s and Kraft dinner are the perfect combination, but it’s a part of us, it’s a part of our childhood, adulthood, and it’s something that we all have in common.

During COVID, every family feels that sense of loneliness, not being able to gather with family and friends. I think that’s why, now more than ever, we need to find our sense of humour and connect with not just our families but with our community as well. I hope to keep designing and creating with all of my experiences in mind and hopefully bring laughter and smiles to my community.

Contributor: Jheri Jamieson is a Kanyenke: haka, Wolf clan member. Her home community is Six Nations of the Grand River. She is a full-time student at Humber College in the digital communication program and somehow finds the time to share her gift of humour in the formats mentioned above. I found her on her Facebook, but she has Instagram; follow her here for her work  @jjamiesoncreative .

Where is it essential for you to see your representation? I’d like to hear from you, subscribe and reach out.

CORNBACK: A cornbread reclamation story

Facebook: Ionte’s Cornbread

Thanks to Ionte’s cornbread, I was reminded of how good our cornbread taste. The Hominy flour cornbread is one of my all-time favourites, and it truly has stood the test of time. This superfood is all Onkwehon:we have had little colonial interference, making it an ideal staple that is one-hundred-percent made for us!

Although hominy cornbread is not to be confused with cornbread, Toni Tipton-Martin notes had been adopted by early slaves due to its likeness to the traditional dish called Kush. Cornmeal (right) shared a similar consistency to an Indigenous African super-grain called Fonio (left); It reminded the early human trafficking victims of their home. (Left is Fonio, Right is Cornmeal)

Corn is found worldwide, but its origins are North American, specifically to Guerrero and Oaxaca’s modern states in Mexico, over 9,000ys ago or perhaps even longer. 

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Apr 2002, 99 (9) 6080-6084; DOI:10.1073/pnas.052125199

The source of turning corn into hominy is called nixtamalization, and that process traces to present-day Guatemala to about 1500BCE. Dried corn is cooked with hardwood ashes or lime water to break down the shell to release amino acids and vitamin B that would otherwise not be absorbed. Both are important in maintaining optimal health and wellness. Nixtamalization is the hero that Onkwehonwe needed to break down and assist with proper absorption.  

Corn as a staple has become one of the foods our bodies are both genetically and geographically accustomed.  It makes sense  that the benefits of eating traditional foods that can be appropriately stored throughout the year or, better yet, are in season. 

Hollowed log and wooden pestle

In a large pot, you would have to boil the dried corn. After boiling the dried corn in the ash mixture to remove the hulls, you would strain it in a basket, let it dry, and the real work begins. Unless you have a grain mill, you would need to use a corn mortar and pestle to get the flour consistency. The hominy flour is combined with a little water; add in the beans with meat or even berries if that’s your preference, form it and boil it again.

These little pucks of scrum-diddly-umptious goodness are a powerhouse source of energy for Onkwehonwe throughout all life stages. Historically, during the typical day to day activities, the pot would boil over a concisely monitored fire, and clan members would take as needed as long as everyone could get a share. 

The hearty and well-moulded bread makes a perfect for the on-the-go crowd like hunters or gatherers. It makes me think quite honestly that cornbread was also possibly the first “take out” food. 

But that’s for a different reclamation

Lifting our Minds affirmations

Lifting Our Minds Affirmations by Aseshate:ka’te Grief Services & Project Good Minds

Trust Issues with the Town Destroyer

New USofA president Joe Biden and The first “Town destroyer” George Washington

“Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.”

George Washington Aka Ko-no-to-ka-ri-ous

After ushering a new President into the highest political position within the United States of America’s highest office, Onkwehon:we (original people) everywhere took notice that one of his first acts was to cancel the Keystone pipeline’s permits. A sure shot for Joe Biden, who is already making some other beneficial changes for Onkwehonwe. Is this just smoke and mirrors for another four years of finely controlled care measures for Onkwehon:we? 

Why do we care?

Colonists have never separated Wisk Nyonwhenhtsake, nor by the imaginary lines they have drawn on paper;  Rotinonhsonni can only be separated by force from the clay that makes us. That solely rests with Shonkwaya’tison. The President’s colonial laws directly impact our relatives who do remain on their traditional lands. 

Turtle Island

In Kanyen’keha, the term Konotokarious loosely translates to the idea of a Town Eater or Town destroyer. It was less than an endearing name for a particular type of depraved colonizer and mercenary soldier, and the name itself continued to hang on the neck of every president that was elected since that time. Names are given differently among different Onkwehonwe nations or communities, but our names are our inheritance and passed down within the Rotinonhsonni worldview, and we grow into them. 

How we have come to know Konotokarious

The most famous bearer of this name is George Washington, the first president of the United States. George himself inherited the name long before the Sullivan campaign waged against Onkwehon:we. Given to him by Tanaghrisson, a Seneca Royaner, George was not the first to be given that name. Kanotokarious is a variation of an Algonquin word given to John Washington, a great-grandfather of George Washington. 

George Washington family coat of arms with pedigree

When John Washington had murdered five Chiefs from the Sussquenhannock Nation while negotiating peace with the coward, the name came about. In the form fit for only the privileged, he then shifted blame to a mob of “Marylanders” in his account of events for a deposition.  His punishment was a public shaming by Governor William Berkely, a small token that did nothing compared to what he inflicted on the Nations who had weakened after their leaders’ fall. 

“If they had killed by my father and my mother and all my friends, yet if they had come to treat of peace, they ought to have gone in peace.”

 William Berkely

You had me at #LANDBACK.

To strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship while ensuring the right to vote, Biden must first accept and recognize the Onkwehonwe  Declaration of Independence, subsequently offering dual citizenship to those who can obtain dual citizenship. Our two-row binds Rotinosonni, so we would not be eligible for this option. I would be speculating if I said that this is how Joe Biden intended his mandate interpretation. It implies that the American dream is dependent on this new relationship and includes a landmass loss in their countries portfolio.

Photo Credit: Starla Myers

After returning control of our lands to us through his restoration mandate, Onkwehonwe can begin the process of returning to our ancient governance systems in their totality and demonstrate how the entire collective held a place of importance in decision making. We can then restore the health of the land according to our understanding of health.

You lost me at Father.

Biden lost me at his paternalistic perspective in his assertions that he will find solutions to problems created due to colonization. From that point on, he seems inconsistent with wanting to develop any type of real relationship truly. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is a direct result of colonization; I’m not trusting to take food from the same system that over-sexualized our women in the first place.

The same way of thinking is in play when Biden mandates strategies to support our health. Health and wellness are the people’s responsibility; for us as Onkwehon:we  it also falls to us how to determine the methods that we address those elements of our being. Yes, it results from colonization, and Yes, we can use some help but on our terms using our traditional medicines and ceremonies.

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Campaign Mandates not Promises

It’s up to the people in that ship to hold Biden to his campaign mandates rather than viewing them as just promises that he could break. He should be held to these standards, as should, every inheritor of that name should until they grow out of it. If Joe Biden truly wants to start that growing process, he will want to stop interfering in Onkwehon:we matters. First, he needs to find all the families that his predecessor separated and free all of the Onkwehon: we IN CAGES. 

What does sharing our gifts within our community look like to you.

Lifting Our Minds Affirmations by Aseshate:ka’te Grief Services & Project Good Minds

Can you be Pro-Government and Anti-Government?


The dichotomy of Onkwehonwe:neha

49 clan title belt

The simple and most obvious answer may appear to be a resounding “No,” however, for many Onkwehonwe… The answer is, “yes.”… Sort of.

While you might be thinking, How is that even a possibility? The answers lie within what we simply refer to as  “Onkwehonwe:neha”; Unfortunately, it can only be loosely translated to “Our way of life,” but includes the language, the beliefs, our matrilineal structure within family and clan and nation, amongst many other influences. There really does need to be a genetic connection to be able to understand.

The elected system was an ill-conceived attempt to remove any remnants of a distinct people finally so that we won’t discuss that much further, but rather the model of governance viewed as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy is poorly understood. In large part, which in part because we have no literal concept translation, in Kanyenkahaka anyway for a singular entity. So what is commonly referred to as the traditional system or Confederacy is more of a colonial translation or perhaps more appropriately and likely a colonial interpretation of what our way was. Throw in the Indian act expectations and colonial demands for concepts to their understanding birthed what we see today. 

“Edge of woods” ceremony referencing Horatio Hale’s Iroquois “Book of rights”. A.C Parker

It’s was way more comfortable for the Canadian government not to have to deal with multiple entities while also reducing the length of time that we took to make our decisions. Twelve chiefs are more manageable than 50, and 50 is more manageable than 99 chiefs and clan mothers and so on. Who wouldn’t want to make things easier for themselves and reduce “Too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” a saying that is direct evidence of their interpretation that it was only chiefs who made the decisions? Having to deal with only one person or speaker made it very easy to accomplish goals and act under the directives of the Indian act. In hindsight, ensuring that many nations completely understand and make decisions is a foreign concept to them. So much so that it continues to this day. 

They are dealing with one entity rather than disclosing that unlike their governance, Ours has multiple arms belonging to separate and distinct nations. All of which have an equal say within our Wisk Niyonwenstake. 

As distinct and autonomous nations, we have our own language within the same language family that allows us to communicate within the Nations, we have our own leadership within individual nations. 

It is not to say everyone has forgotten Onkwehonweneha but perhaps it has been pushed aside for palatable alternatives, albeit with less responsibilities that ultimately result in fewer rights.  

Their system is purely hierarchical.

It is understood as a representative democracy where individuals are elected to represent groups of people. It is also called Indirect democracy, where the participants are never a party to full freedom as democratic people. 

After voting, there is rarely ever another option to participate in the day to day choices that directly affect them with any real or significant impact. It’s not because citizens in that ship are too irresponsible or are unable to articulate on a professional political level, as seen here during a debate in the house of commons, but rather by design, the citizens are only benefactors of the laws that made for them.

Perhaps I am overthinking of a foreign system to me and one that I will never fully understand. I still respect the two-row and the ship’s right to form a government of their own.

I can only understand as an Onkwehonwe who is Pro-Wisk Neyonwenstake and anti-forced foreign government.

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