PAULA

When the Shinnecock nation sent me for public speaking training, I learned that what I thought would be the ending of my speech is often best used as my beginning—otherwise your audience is not listening and instead is planning their dinner. I didn’t know I would love politics until I got there. Why do I do the things I do? It’s because it’s who I am. If you go bold, mighty forces will come to your aid.

I am not a religious person, but I am spiritual. I write down things to remind myself of how much is unknown. A lot of who I am—how I think and feel and my philosophy of life—I got from meeting elders all over the country. There is a lot in the unseen world. It’s out there. People shouldn’t be afraid to tap into it. I can look at a tree and sometimes see faces. So I know I will never really leave this world. I will change, and my shape will shift.

I took a photo of a fire in a fire pit. There was a face of a man in that fire. We called him fire dancer. We believe it was my daughter’s fiancé who was killed when she was three weeks pregnant. He had come to tell us that he was happy that my daughter had met a good man and that she was getting married.

Another time there was an incident in our cemetery. A car caught fire, and I went to make sure that no damage had been done to the gravesites. I took a picture to document the accident. When I developed the picture I saw a lot of people walking—people that weren’t actually there.

Things like this show me that there is another dimension that is bigger than I am. Some people have the ability to see, and others don’t. I want to pass this ability on. My daughter has it. My son is coming back to it.