In Puo’Winue’L Prayers one of the most significant aspects of life is considered to be “coming home to ourselves, our land, and our people.” The connection the Indigenous people have with life is amongst spirituality and a sense of being, not focused on the outer world but what is part of oneself. In this reading, Louis Esme Cruz discusses the Mi’kmaq Two Spirit knowledge about the culture that is Native to them and how they are still proud of whom they are even if it has changed over the course of the years. There has been a “loss of traditional teachings about the Mi’kmaq queers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transpeople.” This is difficult to understand because with this loss, a person’s identity is practically taken away. People need to be able to understand themselves and part of that understanding comes from traditional teachings of the past. The Mi’kmaq were taught different teaching from Christianity that ruined the perspective they had for the tribes, described by Cruz as “evil and poison.” It is important to note that though Christianity had influenced their teachings, they are still proud of who they are and where they came from (Cruz).
The Indigenous people have been displaced all over the world, especially within North American territory. This brings the loss of self into perspective when trying to bring the rich culture and history a tribe may have for itself. The art of the Two-Spirit people brings a sense of complication and uneasiness considering the people are sharing their deepest thoughts about what happened to them. They are coming back and want to be thought of a stronger and ready to embrace the tradition that has once been lost. This reading foes on to further describe the theories of “wampum belts” and “transtexual” knowledge. Though I am not fully educated on the meaning of “wampum belts” I feel as if they are an extremely important aspect of the Mi’kmaq culture.
The images that are portrayed in this reading allow for the audience to put knowledge to use that the Mi’kmaq Two-Spirit people do not conform to the typical Christian society that is expected of them. According to Cruz, they are “pushed out of families, ceremonies, languages, and histories.” All of which make the culture what it is. Without the Two-Spirit people being allowed to involve themselves, the culture is missing a key aspect of the diversity in life (Cruz).
The images display a sense of power that is felt by the Indigenous people. The first image which says, “We have come back for our tongues,” I believe is discussing having the ability to speak up for oneself and know that the voice is being heard. The next image, “We have come back for each other,” is the most profound for me. The Mi’kmaq Two-Spirit people, in my opinion are wanting to get back together and form the rich culture in which they originated from. The next image is of two nude, what I would assume to be men, however they may be considered to be Two-Spirit, that of which there is no guarantee. This image says, “We come back for our bodies”. Are they trying to make their bodies the focal point for this image? Or is it meant to be something more? Another image is of children, which seem to be infants wrapped up in blankets that states :We come back for our children.” Those children whom were not able to have the life they could have had because of being displaced. The next image is of tombstones that say “We come back for our dead.” We understand that they are coming back for what is rightfully theirs. The final image by Cruz is of a man with a lightning bolt that says, “We have come home.” This is quite significant as well because it makes the viewer feel what the images are trying to portray, sending a strong message that the Mi’kmaq want what is rightfully theirs. The ability to live their own lives with the traditions and teachings of their rich culture (Cruz).
I found this reading to be quite complicated. It has a great deal to do with the spiritual life and the importance of the Two-Spirit person to be able to live their life without having to face any type of discrimination. We saw the knowledge transform to images making it more interesting and meaningful to understand.
cruz_driskill…reading which includes images
Louis Esme Cruz and Qwo-Li Driskill, “Puo’Winue’L Prayers: Readings From NorthAmerica’s First Transtextual Script” in GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16: 1-2(2010), 243-252.