Last evening I was invited to visit a free exposition at a downtown museum. We didn’t know for real what it was, only that it was free, and that it could be a chance to like, hang out and shit. So I took the bus and got my ass there.
Before I go on, please allow me to offer an essential disclaimer:
This post is not intended as a critique of the exposition referred on it. Rather, the words here is based on my feelings, especially regarding my own Native roots, as well as in regards to my experience as a trans woman of color.
When we was in the museum, it particularly called my attention that the exposition was about indigenous peoples, particularly about First Nations in what’s known as Canada. There was on display a bunch of traditional clothes, and other items that would be worn, as “wearing our identity” is the topic of the exposition.
Any chance to learn about different Indigenous peoples is very important to me, of course. But I couldn’t help it, I felt uncomfortable for some reason. So I paid attention to these feelings, and they led to make some interesting questions, as following.
Why should traditional Indigenous culture be in display, available for the white eye, that colonialist gaze that see Native people as something of the past, as something to be displayed in a museum, in the comfort of a building with air conditioning, permanent security, and all that jazz? Why isn’t this stuff in the hands of the peoples it really belong to? The ones who still remain a big target of genocide and white supremacy? How did these items get to the museum in the first place?
Of course, I can’t speak for the specific First Nations peoples whose culture was in display. I was told that they was involved in setting up this exposition, and if that be true, then obviously I think that’s important. And certainly, I recognize the value of teaching about Indigenous peoples, about the pain, about the struggles, about the wonderful things too that I believe is part of being Native.
But none of that appeared to ease my discomfort, which grew on, as I remembered visits, in the past, to other museums, where the creations of my own ancestors was in display, while I can’t even be allowed to learn they languages, or even they names, for they been erased by the malditos conquistadores, the ones responsible as well for super toxic transmisogyny that almost took my life.
One cool thing I guess, I was able to discuss my feelings with the people I was with, and I appreciated their listening and understanding. But I couldn’t ignore the feeling, and I couldn’t stop holding in my hand a little piece of jade, one that I was recently given as a birthday gift, one that make me feel at least a little closer to my Indigenous roots.
For whatever reason, I feel like sharing these thoughts. I don’t really understand why, but anyways, I feel like I should do it, so here they be I guess.