Bead-maker, Sea-shell people

The Chumash tribe

Dear Inhabitants of this Land,

This is me at this time: a 57 year old white woman living far away from my ancestors (primarily Southern Italian, Syrian, a smattering of Scotch and English) on your land. I know only a small bit of how I got here and what twists of fate and circumstance and stardust and love brought me, but at present I feel lost and broken and confused and overwhelmed. I feel obligation to my family — obligation so heavy that you — inhabitants of this land — are just shadows on the periphery. I might see you waving or perhaps you’re holding up your hands to warn me to go away. We are currently driving around living on this land after having exhausted it, our plots worth obscene amounts of money, roots growing into pipes, sewage straight to the sea. The pandemic is ravaging the people of this city. The homeless pile up outside of stores that sell meat in plastic, Advent calendars for dogs. I am rooted, not in nature, but in cities and in people. Teeming masses of people. This is who I am. Then, I think of Yosemite, that holy place. Its thin air that lends lassitude, the pines, the grasses, the cold, clear water. How to live with, as, both? Why am I seduced by the material? Is this the legacy of my ancestors who in taking this land from you neglected as well our tiny selves of the future, selves souls impoverished? How do I access what has been denied or restore what has been taken? I make a small bundle of greens and flowers and pods that I find on the land outside my door, place it on the altar I call winter. There’s a crescent moon rising over the roof next door and it looks as if I could climb a ladder and hang from it. I want.