in Girlhood Studies
Author: Amanda Buffalo1
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  • 1 Independent writer amanda.buffalo@live.ca

Her laugh jingles
As we dance
In waist high sweet grass
Moccasins shuffling in the dirt
Her heart is bigger than her whole territory
That s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s
Coast to coast to coast
She waits
For me to catch up
In the bush
In the teachings
In the language
She tells me stories
Of days gone by
Stories of the old people
Teaching me to hear
To l-i-s-t-e-n
To the wind in the trees
And the northern lights
No, she never strains
To hear the caribou’s song
While she licks
Shake ’n’ bake gopher
Clean from the bone
She carries
The weight of the world
The anguish
Of generations before
L…… O……S……T……
To colonialism
But her blood remembers
The songs of the old people
Hands dexterous as they scrape a hide
Or weave traditions
Like spruce root
Through the community
To strengthen it
To ground it
She teaches me
The ways of the people
Generations of tragedy and
Bringing the spirits
Back to our world for a visit
For a taste
Of singed, sizzling porcupine
Burnt in a plate on the fire
To feed the connection
I see her old soul
Darting behind eyes
That glisten with mischief
And she dances
In a burst of cold sunlight
Cedar hat slipping down
Hair kissed by the wind
In one drum beat
That was nearly lost
She waves to me
As she skips off to fourth grade
Carrying the sovereignty
Of a Nation
In her flower-covered backpack
Her culture sewn like beadwork
Into the soul of a girl not yet of age
Heart bursting with passion
For the teachings that she carries
On to the next
And the next
And the next generation
Never tiring
In her journey
Of a thousand years
And I know
The ancestors
Are proud

Contributor Notes

Amanda Buffalo comes from the Cree and Haudenosaunee nations and is a community activist, an Auntie of many, and a connoisseur of tea, bannock, and dry meat. An advocate at heart, she dedicates her time to supporting both community-based and global approaches to Aboriginal women’s equality in the health, economic, and legal fields.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal