(Sah-wahn-wah Nee-lah) I am Shawnee!
I’ve struggled with identifying myself for the longest time; Christian, American, overweight…but I’ve come to realize that Shawnee is who I am. (I’m overweight, too)
I will, for the rest of my life, identify as a Shawnee, even if I never know what my ancestors believed in or how they kept that belief alive for thousands of years.
I am learning the language and teaching my son, and I am proud of the blood that runs through my veins.
I’ve learned in the last few years that I’m descended from a prominent chief of the Shawnee; Chief Blackhoof. He was a chief who focused on peace with encroaching Americans in order to prevent the decimation of the Shawnee people and opposed the policies of Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet.
A few family members did the hard work of tracing our lineage back to Chief Blackhoof, and we have since created our annual Blackhoof family reunion.
So, when it comes to painting, digital art, pencil drawing, etc., I want to start incorporating “Shawnee style” designs. I still don’t know much about what those designs are, though I know floral designs were prominent in their clothing and beading, as it was with many woodland tribes.
I still have a lot of research to do.
Until then, I’m trying to create some kind of art that incorporates a feeling of who I am as a Shawnee person.
These art prints and more can be found at my online store on Society6.
I hope to add more photography to my portfolio in the future. It’s mostly nature and wildlife right now, but I hope to move up to shooting portraits of Indigenous people in my area; leaders, dancers, singers, children, etc.
If I had to give one major flaw that I hope to shake myself of, it would be self-censorship. There are a lot of paintings, writings, and drawings that I didn’t do because of the fear of what my family would think. So, I censored myself.
But, no more.
I AM SHAWNEE!
And I will not be ashamed of it. If you ask me today if I’m proud to be an American, I will answer honestly…that I am only proud of being Shawnee.
Well…a husband and father, too.
I don’t think there’s anything that can beat that.
Neyiwa! Thank you!