Berry Picking Blackfoot: An Introduction
Illustration by Lauren Crazybull
Everything changes quickly. Each day, a new part of our collective and individual histories emerge. Capturing our ongoing history has become an astronomically important part of our lives. Documentaries, photos and a constant stream of articles for us to divulge in become available daily. It’s all very exciting, and sometimes anxiety inducing – at least in my experience.
My name is Lauren Crazybull. I am a Blackfoot and Dene Artist and Activist residing in Lethbridge, Alberta. This lies on Blackfoot Territory, so it seems appropriate that the radio podcast I host acknowledges that in its title, “This Is Blackfoot Territory” – and don’t forget it.
I pursue art independently and make a point to create things… constantly. And this column will be yet another. The title of this blog series, “Berry Picking Blackfoot,” comes from the name I was given in ceremony. My full Blackfoot name is Berry Picking Girl, which is “Minaki” in Blackfoot. It means “to initiate.” In traditional ceremony, the person who picked the berries was the person who initiated the ceremony.
I’m inviting you to divulge in what I share with the world through this column. I’m interested in the stories and the issues of indigenous people. I’m eager to know what inter-POC solidarity looks like. I love self-critical allies, as well as talking about activism and the pitfalls and victories that it brings. There’s so much I don’t know, so much I think I know, and a lot of listening to do to open our ears to new wisdom and ongoing information. This column will serve as the journey I’m taking to learn, draw connections and share.
To share a bit of my own personal history, I did not grow up on a reserve. I was raised in foster care, and I did not have any other indigenous people around me in my adolescence. I did not know what a residential school was until I became an adult. I am only now exploring the context that manifested what my version of “indigenous” means.
I think the unlearning and relearning of different information is now a part of our collective identities. Many indigenous people have always had the history and culture ingrained in their identity, but many of us had that taken away and, tragically, too many people have went on completely without it.
Our identities and experiences as indigenous people are deeply complicated and beautiful – to be heard in a way that we decide is a pivotal part of our history. Although I represent only myself, some of my experiences are part of shared histories. Please join me.