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Belonging in A Place

It is such a pleasure for me to come home to the Rosebud. Up until I moved away in 2002, it rarely occurred to me that I might live somewhere else. Once when my kids were young, I gave serious thought and put some effort into moving to Lincoln NE for a job. It didn’t work out although I still think Lincoln would be a great place to live. Moving to WA in 2002 was prompted both by Tess living over there and the opportunity to serve as President at Northwest Indian College. When we moved it took me months if not years to feel ‘at home’, and I admit that I never did feel the same type of connection to the people and land that I feel when I come to Rosebud. Now in many ways, I am making fleeting trips here, coming for a week or two and engaging in the semi-whirlwind activity of visiting friends and relatives and taking drives to places.

I am reading a book recommended by a friend, Quiet by Susan Cain and it prompted me to think more deeply about my own way of being. I have long considered myself an introvert in an extrovert’s role and her book has given me some language to describe myself.

I learned many years ago that I am a person who appreciates the quiet of time with myself, through walking, writing and reading. Lately that has included sewing which I especially like because of its creative outcome. I remember when I would find a place off the road and lie down on the prairie grasses or beneath pine or cottonwood trees and I would be silent, listening to the wind and brushing bugs away from my body. I always appreciated the quiet of my own bedroom where I kept my books and wrote in my journal while my kids and their friends watched TV and played in the other rooms.

This recent move to Denver and my years of living up at Lummi, helped me think about my own sense of place and how I create that and bring my own self into it. On the Rosebud, I always felt physically present, in the seasons and with the rhythm of community and cultural events. In my family, I felt that I had to be outgoing to be heard in the “noise” of family matters. When I got older I was surprised when people mentioned how talkative I was because it took such effort. Susan Cain says that there is some evidence that an introvert who feels passionately about a personal cause can learn to be more extroverted. That might be me, I feel so strongly about tribal colleges that I am willing to walk up total strangers and invite their support. I didn’t name it but now I realize that I sought the help of extroverts to make that access happen for me even though I am more than happy, even honored, to tell our story.

When I come home it is those moments when my eyes rest on the horizon, or I am walking in the cool morning air or the hot afternoon sun with the heat pressing against me, when I am writing and sitting quietly, that I am most at peace. I am reminded that all we want for ourselves as Lakota people is right here, all our foods, our medicines, our kinship and our ways of knowing, are inside and on this place. It can be a hard life because of poverty and all of its ramifications, but it is a life of possibility as well.

I am aware that this sense of place, of belonging, is one of the important qualities that all of us as Indigneous people must maintain. We must preserve regardless of whether we are reservation, rural or urban Indians, the place of our belonging.

1 comment to Belonging in A Place

  • beth brownfield

    Sweet Cheryl,
    I too am an introvert but find a voice and power in working for something I am truly committed to. I am so happy you are able to move back and forth between your place of rest and your high intense commitments.

    Going forward with the camas project in honor of Polly Hanson at Lummi. We’ll see where this takes me.


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