By Florcy Romero
The calling of mother Earth to stand with my people, to protect (y)our sacred waters was something that could no longer be ignored or “put off” for another day. While most of Amerika chose to celebrate the slaughter of my ancestors on thanksgiving, I had just arrived at Standing Rock, a 26-hour drive from NYC. My stay in North Dakota had forced me to put this concept of healing at the forefront of any move towards liberation and the recreation of a new world. This call that I was receiving from Mother Earth was a call to heal not only myself but her as well. Reconnecting with Earth is crucial to this new world we envision for ourselves and the 7 generations after us. This is what separates indigenous feminism from any other type of feminism. We believe to be directly connected to the Earth through our wombs, even the way in which we pray. We pray with our skirts on, this is in no way for modesty purposes either, it is so that our wombs are directly in line with the Earth, it is all intentional. Our wombs are directly connected to the Earth. Indigenous feminism sees the Earth and women as inextricably linked. The harm done to Earth reflects the current harms done to women, especially indigenous women. Reservation land is rich in natural resources and is seen as profit paradise for corporate greed.
It’s almost as though you can see the reflections of Earth and indigenous women- the givers of life, the nurturers, the missing & the murdered, the pillaged, the resilience.
On my last day, this all pieced together organically and I was reminded why I was there. This concept of healing is necessary for our own liberation as a people who have faced consistent terrorism, degradation, and genocide at the hands of white AmericaAmerika. The events at Standing Rock go beyond the protests that recently gained attention from non-native communities. This sacred land tracing as far back (and even further) as the assassination of Chief Sitting Bull who was shot in the head by police on the Standing Rock Indian reservation on December 15th, 1890. The sacred indian burial grounds that house the bodies of our ancestors are also found on these lands. So, when we heal ourselves, you have to understand that we are healing our mother Earth as well as our ancestors.
In my last full day, I had found myself coming down with a respiratory infection. That particular day I could feel the weight of my ancestors in each walk I took, in each breath that I struggled to catch, in each aching muscle in my temple. It was all felt and I knew that pain was not only of mine immediately, but of those who came before me 500+ years back. My anxiety had kicked in full force and I found myself with tears streaming down my face, asking Spirit to guide me and redirect this pain that I had been feeling. I went to the herbal yurt in hopes that I could be healed from this respiratory infection and the anxieties that I wanted to immediately alleviate. The sisters in the yurt were so warm. I was given a tea for my sinuses and cough. In addition, the sister was making me oils, droplets, and tea concoctions from natural herbs for my depression and PTSD. I was grateful for these genuine acts of love and healing.
My steps still felt heavy, it was still difficult to breathe, and my body was still yearning for a different type of healing. As I was about to leave back to media hill, Spirit kept guiding me towards the yurt next door. In this yurt, the sisters offered body work in the form of Reiki, body massages, acupuncture and other indigenous styles of physical healing. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by this old woman with the deepest eyes I have ever met. She looked at me and asked, “where does it hurt, my dear?” The tears just began to flow from my face, and I could feel mother Earth catching them, as she catches everything else that we have ever produced; our tears, our blood, our joy, our offerings.
I responded, “Everywhere. My pain comes from my trauma. My pain comes from generations of genocide, terror, brutality, forced erasure, forgotten souls, abuse. My pain is ancestral and it's being amplified by physically being in a place where I know my ancestors were buried beneath the steps I take.” She responded, “I understand. I can feel you. Lay down” I laid and she began to heal. She placed her hands throughout my entire body. I could feel every touch transfer magnetic healing energies. Her hands were holding parts of my body that had been neglected; gently and warmly. Every part that was touched suddenly became softer and so did Mother Earth. They felt like home, and I’ve never felt that prior to Standing Rock. At some point, I do not know how or when, but I knocked out. When I woke up, I felt light in the heart, the weight carried on my shoulders traveled outwards, I was a little freer, and the breathing became easier. The swelling in my bones went down. I felt mother Earth hugging me tighter and longer. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “Welcome home. How do you feel?” I said, “It feels like I came back home to myself.” My roots had been watered, nurtured and loved or they have been neglected for such a long time.
I know that healing is not linear. I also know that my healing journey had taken a new dimension. We began to talk about the importance of healing. When we heal ourselves, we have the power within us to heal the generations before us and the ones after us. It’s a magnetic force that can travel and transcend beyond us. When we heal ourselves, we heal our mother, Earth. We must continue to find ways to heal her. For she has endured so much pain throughout this self-proclaimed era of “civilization.” She is directly connected to us. We are in her, and her in us.
Florcy is a Salvadorian & Native woman del barrio. She is co-founder of a collective Women of Color in Solidarity- a global movement that seeks to heal and organize women of color towards liberation. This collective places healing and solidarity at the forefront. We believe that as a collective, women of color have the ability to navigate systems of oppression in a way that seeks to not only dismantle them but to recreate new systems that honor the Earth, love and freedom. In addition, she is also a social justice educator and focuses on bringing decolonized curriculums and ancestral practices to youth of color from urban communities like her own.