DEYANNE

As a Native American woman from the Shinnecock Nation, I know I must listen to that inner drum. I cannot let it stop. It is my spiritual guide. It tells me that sometimes I need to just sit and listen to the wind. When the beat of the drum is gone, that’s when my body will follow.

Sometimes I think the white man has taken everything from us. I ask myself, “What else can he take?” We have only our souls, our spirits and our hearts. When I feel the need to give up the fight, from fear or fatigue, I get up and put on my moccasins and start the walk all over again.

Do you know that a Native American cannot get a mortgage? The land that makes up the reservation belongs to the Nation, and the bank can’t reclaim it. So no bank will loan us money because we don’t have any collateral. When I wanted a house, nothing was going to stop me. I worked long and hard, and I paid for every nut, bolt, and piece of wood, every wire and stone that went into it, all by myself. At first, my house consisted of little more than a counter, a faucet, and a toilet. I had curtains for walls. Each year I added to it until I had built a home that would allow almost all of my family to live in it when they needed to. Once, my brother, his son, and his grandson lived here with me. All of us lived together under my roof.