costume puddle for black salt performance on wednesday as part of the RADAR reading series, 6 pm
KINAALDA at 27
for our performance on wednesday, i adopted ideas from the Kinaalda ceremony— the puberty ritual for Navajo women. i never had one. growing up one of my grandmothers had a poster of a woman running down a road— in traditional dress and moccasins. there was something like a rainbow in the sky or some sort of glow, it illuminated the photograph and i always wondered why i was never invited to have one but also understood the separation between “urban” indians and those on the reservation so i never asked. living both on and off the reservation as a child, while also spending summers there, i had a lot of obvious cultural confusion. on the rez, it was kind of like it didn’t matter that i was navajo because there are class issues/blood quantum issues. in the city, i was lumped into just another broad category and the saddest thing is now that i think about it not one teacher ever invited me to even try and explore my cultural identity. but here i am
— the thing is kinaalda is all about the preparation for womanhood. her mother is an integral part of the ceremony— her mother is the vessel who pours out her own wisdom into her daughter, she dresses her, she molds her legs and body into something attractive and is also invited to mold the younger children or elders if they wish as she is now equipped to transfer a sense of “good” to those she touches. the girl prepares herself to run in the direction of the sun. her hair is shampooed with yucca and combed. she bakes cornbread. she wraps her legs. there is communal prayer.
but being native is still complicated. i can’t afford a navajo rug or a squashblossom so i guess making the things i have is representational of that and that’s all right. i’m an adult and i’m making the items to understand that little missing piece but also understand the basis of what it means to be a navajo woman. i like to make things anyway. i’m here inviting myself to make things that i need to understand.