Monday, February 20, 2012

San Ildefonso Women Elected to Council

             This is my home...or at least a view from my window.  San Ildefonso Pueblo is one of the eight northern pueblos, located in Northern New Mexico.  It has 800 registered members who call it home, as well.  We moved here from Albuquerque almost 6 years ago.  Our reasons for living here, where to bring up our children in a traditional way and to have a life rich in culture.  However, to our dismay, it didn't go quite like that.  However, despite our struggles and disappointments, this day has come, and surprisingly change has brought fourth the voice of women. Granted, they have always been there, but now they count.
              As a Navajo woman who has enjoyed all the benefits of growing up on a matriarchal society, pueblo life is and has been quite different.  The reality of being Navajo (with CIB 100% stamped on it) and living in Pueblo territory (reservation). What kind of rights do I have?  I can't own land, I can't vote, I can't own my house...What are my rights?..This is my reality and I'm okay with it right now.  However, for the women who grew up on this pueblo and have danced Corn Dance every August in the plaza, the right to vote or hold office has never been theirs.  However, this reality has changed for them.
             Many...and if not all tribes are now facing change in how their governments are being run.  Tradition is being challenged on many levels.  Pueblos are being divided and families are being divided by the very act of challenging tradition.  Correct me if I'm wrong here, but culturally Native American tribes are revered for adapting to new living conditions.  This was one of them.  Family structures have changed, there are now more single parent households on the reservations.  Most of these families are made up of only women.  So how are their issues going to be heard or even understood if they don't have a man to represent them on the council?  I'm not implying that these women here are meek, rather most of them are bold and perfectly capable of caring for their families, without the help of men.  Many of them have been doing it for generations.  However, that to it's effect is not the root of traditional life.  The men and women here work together for the health and wellbeing of the community.  In celebration, in death, in ceremony...I have seen the men and women here work together in a way that few communities come together today.  When I go visit my Navajo family, they always ask me..did you learn how to make that oven bread yet?  In all honesty, the famous pueblo oven bread is not a product of one person.  Rather it is the work of "several women." My point is, all this political unrest..which has lead up to this very life changing event for this community, has been the dividing this community for years...and long before we ever moved back.

              This is only the beginning.  Out of the 800 tribal members, only 200-ish voted. Which means, not everyone is on board with this new era of thinking and decision making.  These 3 women may find themselves in challenging positions, not only because they are serving on the council, but their presence is also challenging cultural and traditional roles that have been set in place for thousands of years.  I commend all of them for taking on the responsibility of their families and their community on themselves.  It is nice to here our men say... you are welcome to speak at the family meeting..we want to here what the women have to say.
             Integrity, honesty, love for community are not only female qualities, but rather qualities our grandmothers and elders have been trying to teach us all along.  We may have strayed from that, but hopefully this change will be for the better.  We will just have to wait and see.

My husband tells me...especially when I'm having difficulty being strong and I'm faced with adversity.

"Be strong like a woman...Be strong like a man.."

Link to News on this:
San Ildefonso Women Elected to Counsel

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