Talkin' NDN by Skyler Kuczaboski

“Why do you talk so white?”
What other way is there to speak?
My tongue trips and slips over words I was never taught
Words I can never learn
Words I was never allowed to say
I can’t fold my lips around the words that were stolen out of my ancestors mouths and replaced with bars of soap or hand shaped welts
It still hurts
I want to scream “Daga noogishka!” but I know that is wrong and will bring more pain so I say “Please stop.”
But somehow, that hurts more.
“English Only” signs plague my mind.
They twist and turn in my DNA
They make themselves at home as emotional and psychological scars disguised as memories
While I’m being asked why I speak like a white woman, people are being told to go back to Mexico for speaking Navajo in supermarkets
We can’t go back to where we came from, there’s nowhere to go back to
Boys in kindergarten are being sent home because their braids are too long
Or with haircuts…
She wanted to walk across stage in her moccasins
Her cap adorned with beads and feathers
But she, was told to walk off
They were all amazed she was even there, because not many of us get that far
Because they called her history and elective credit
Because her language isn’t offered
And the only way she knows how to talk
Is white