Image Description: At the top of the image there is text that reads MALI’E’ • TÁTAOTAO, overlayed over an image of a Chamoru woman’s eyes surrounded by trees and leaves. Below that is a zoom screenshot of 13 Matao•Chamoru artists cracking up and enjoying each other’s company. It’s clear someone just made a culturally-specific joke that’s touched the souls of these beautiful artists. On the bottom third of the image, there is three bodies engaged in a chant practice. They stand crouched and leaning towards their right with their hands outstretched from the heart out. At the bottom of the image reads Creative Capital 2022 Awardee. The entire image is overlayed with a guåfak pattern.
Wow So I don’t know if I trust these words are enough. But I think it’s important for our people to know.
Im really honored to be collaborating with a collective of 13 brilliant and powerful Matao•CHamoru artists. We are building a body of work that centers our healing, our imaginations, and our relationships to our families, our lands, our waters, our language, and our indigenous life ways.
Our project was awarded with a Creative Capital grant, which means $50,000 and career development support. This is a big deal because this is a direct investment in indigenous artists healing and living our lives as cultural stewards. Meanwhile, capitalism and colonization is literally trying to steal our time, our land, and our lives.
We are brilliant people with a lot to offer the world, particularly in this time where Indigenous knowledge is desperately needed & wanted, yet too often commodified or instrumentalized for purposes that do not serve the Indigenous communities sharing the medicine. The United States has been trying to pretend we do not exist for the 123 years that they have been in our lands. That’s the reason so few of my friends and family who are not CHamoru know so little about us. It’s not your fault, and I’m not mad at you. I’m acknowledging that’s part of the design of the colonization of Låguas.
They are trying to pretend that we do not exist so that they can get away with stealing and poisoning our lands, waters, and communities. Just last year, the military bulldozed 900 football fields of irreplaceable limestone forest without community consent. They destroyed the village of Måguak, a place where our healers gather medicines, where endangered species called home, where our ancestors have been buried for thousands of years. Not only that, but the firing range they are building there will irreversibly contaminate the Northern Guåhan Lens Aquifer — the source of 85% of our islands fresh drinking water.
This is just the tip of the spear of colonization.
When a reporter asked what it means to me to be awarded a Creative Capital grant this year, I said I hope it means that more Americans learn how to back my people’s leadership as we protect our land and waters from the biggest most powerful military in the world. I’m hoping that this award is a platform for relationship building between my beloved Matao•Chamoru people and all those working towards ináfa’maolek • harmony and balance with all of Creation. To be clear that means, ending anti-Black racism, settler colonization, and all forms of oppression. And, that’s just the start of this liberatory healing work.
Let’s celebrate this moment as we deepen our commitment to being good ancestors.
I want to say a special shout out of congratulations to my friends and inspiring cultural workers Edisa Weeks, Zhalarina H. Sanders, & Christopher K Morgan! I'm so glad to hear that your work is being backed in this way.