Cover Photo: Photograph by Kilian Seiler/Unsplash
Photograph by Kilian Seiler/Unsplash

As an Indigenous Writer, I Push and Protect My Readers, My People, and Myself

Redactions can be both silence and explanation. They function purely on my own terms and for my audience, my community.

American

Indian as Myth Talker, Myth MakerYes, stories are very important to my culture, we remember them, we tell them, we honor them

Be silent; it’s been said before.

Native NativesmySay more.

Am I too late? Has my time finally expired? How could I have been so stupid?If my brother is at the table and eating, then there will be no food left for meit

words We already have one of those, why do we need another?

Yeah, you talk about “your culture” A LOT

Oh. Oh. Well. It’s important to me.

Native

Atlas Obscurawhom?

Native

Once the article goes live, however, there is pushback, there is outrage. From the community leaders, the tribe, my   coworker’s sister’s husband. The study is flawed. The study is skewed. The Cherokee Nation works hard to correct the moniker, but it sticks. There are problems—pervasive, societal, systemic, influenced by race, and yes, the places we live—but they can’t be told by just numbers. Strawberry Land is still at the bottom, but not as far as they thought

It’s my turn to tell this story, so you will listen. In this next dream, ................... ................... ................... .

bad

However, this does not mean that my and other Native writers’ writing cannot be playful, fun, or free. It does not mean that we have to sacrifice or give more, causing ourselves more anguish for the sake of being published, recognized. It only means that this is where we are in the present moment, and we deserve to be read and heard and held, just like anyone else. And, until the day comes where structural inequities are undone, are spoken about in ways that aren’t conjecture, and reparations are given, we will keep writing. We will write for our cultures, people, tribes, and the like, but we will also write for ourselves.

Autumn Fourkiller is a Cherokee and Yuchi writer from rural Oklahoma currently at work on a novel about Indigenous ghosts. She is a 2022 Ann Friedman Weekly Fellow. Her work can be found in Scalawag, Atlas Obscura, and Repeller. You can follow her newsletter, "Dream Interpretation for Dummies," on Substack.