Single, Female, and Native American

When I think about why I am single, my first thought is still, “Because I am Native American.”

I am Native raised white. My mother is first-generation raised off the Lakota reservation, but she was raised on Lakota territory. I am first-generation raised off Lakota territory. I grew up hiding my Lakota identity. My mother worked hard and frantically to help me “fit in” to white culture.

Being single is attached to the isolation of having been raised white off of Lakota territory. Violence, sexual abuse, and disabilities have gone along with it. For most of my years in RC, I was barely able to identify as female. I felt that women’s workshops were not for me. They always felt like a liberation project for white people.

After twenty-two years in RC, at a women’s workshop led by Tokumbo Bodunde, I finally was able to feel the terror of identifying as female and claim a home in women’s liberation. Being female and Native means you are at great risk of being murdered. Since that workshop I’ve been able to more honestly face being female. This has allowed me to move mountains in my own life and in the lives of Native women around me.

My life as a Native female has, in part, been about “saving” the lives of and caring for the women around me. Being single has given me the space and time to discharge each day, when I wake up and before I go to bed, so that I can think about the liberation of Native peoples, as well as all people.

I have spent most of my life wanting a man—to save me, protect me, hold me, and love me. I have found that many Native women, like most other women, have similar longings. I think for Native females it’s a deep longing for protection and not being forgotten. The more I discharge, the less I want a man to save me and the more I build my life around the unity of women. This has been powerful.

Being single has protected me from my patterns and the oppression that would have had me put my own life at risk in order to respond to male “needs” and “wants.”

Kate Insolia

Urbana, Illinois, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00