This is my sister, Kaye*. She would have been 60 today. We lost Kaye some two decades ago to a random murder. (If you want a little background, you can read a bit here.)
But today is not about sorrow, but about celebrating her life. And I can think of no better way to do that today than to promote a little universal healing for our people. Join me over the jump to help elect Native American Democrats to office, and get a chance at a piece of healing for yourself: Sara R's powerful star quilt, and for today's donors only, Mr. Aji's newest work, in honor of Kaye - a silver butterfly pendant/pin.
Kaye was terribly, terribly shy - so shy that we affectionately nicknamed her "Mouse." She continually compared herself to our other sister and me, and somehow always found herself wanting, although I never understood that. She was a beautiful person, inside and out, who never gave herself enough credit.
Some years back, I'd brought home a packet of old family photos. Mr. Aji began to sort through them, and he came upon the photo above. "Who is that?" he exclaimed. "She's absolutely beautiful!" And I swear that I felt Kaye over my shoulder, turning red[der], giggling and holding her hand over her nose as she always did when embarrassed, and nearly bursting with pride that he would call her "beautiful."
So when I committed to writing today's diary as a sort of tribute to her, Mr. Aji promptly volunteered to create a piece of Indian silverwork to donate to the cause: "I'm thinking of a butterfly," he said.
And I started to cry. Because . . . a butterfly! It was so right, so perfect for her. She always regarded herself as the plain caterpillar; because her shyness, her illness, and the insecurity it brought her, she regularly retreated to the safety of her cocoon. But what others saw - what she was - was a shining, beautiful butterfly, soaring on fragile wings, alighting on the shoulders of her loved ones to share love and comfort whenever it was most needed.
Our traditional names are not always set in stone; they may change with age and/or circumstance. Now, I will always think of Kaye as Memengwenh - Butterfly. And by creating this piece to honor her by helping to elect more of our people to positions of leadership, Mr. Aji has given me an incredible gift: one that exemplifies her spirit, and goes some way toward healing a bit of the void her loss left in my heart.
Now, you're going to get to see something that virtually no one (but me) ever gets to see: a work in progress. Real life has prevented Mr. Aji from finishing the piece before today, so I had him take a photo of the sketch, with stones placed accordingly. (He's going to try to get it completed today; if he does, I'll post a photo of the finished piece.) It will look something like this:
The top cabochon is coral; the one that forms the body is a piece of turquoise from a Nevada mine. The black lines on the upper wings will be replaced by some form of accent; if all goes as he currently envisions it, each will be covered by an abalone-shell triangle. He's designing it to serve as either pendant or pin; on the back, in addition to the pin itself, will be a small bail to allow it to hang from a chain. ordinarily, the value would be in neighborhood of $350. Every person who makes a minimum donation of $10 to INDN's List today - or who writes an essay, as per details below - has a chance of winning this piece.
We are currently at $4970. Our goal is $10,000, and we have only today, tomorrow, and Sunday to raise it. The cause is unquestionably worthy, and the money will be put to good use; as noted below, INDN's List has an excellent track record. I'd like to see us reach $7,500 by midnight EDT. We can do, this, folks - ten bucks at a time! So please, dig deep. Forgo a couple of Starbucks coffees, a couple of packs of smokes, a trip to the pizza joint, just for today. And help me honor Kaye in the process.
Note: This is the link to donate to INDN's List and to be entered in the drawing for the star quilt. Details accompany the quilt photos below. If you wish to donate directly to Chris Deschene, you may do so via the link at his site, above; however, only donations via INDN's List are eligible for entry in the star quilt and photo drawings.
Why does this matter? Here's why:
If you're unable to view the embed, here's a message from INDN's List founder Kalyn Free:
Since 2005, INDN's List has helped elect 45 American Indian candidates in 16 states. We have won 70% of our races and have brought about an unprecedented wave of electoral victories in Indian Country.
This November, all of that progress is at risk!
The Republican Party believes 2010 will be the year they retake legislative chambers across the country. They are spending record amounts of money on legislative races. And their money is targeting several candidates we worked so hard in the past to elect. They are also using Karl Rove style tactics to attack our elected officials and lie about their records.
The only way we can fight this attack is through your donations! Every single donation is vital. Please take a moment to donate $25, $50, $200, or whatever amount you can possibly spare.
INDN's List not only directly contributes to the campaigns of American Indian candidates across the country, but we also provide strategic guidance and tactical advice that allows American Indian candidates to run the smartest campaigns possible. That is how we have achieved so much success in the past. This year, with the proper resources, we can make sure our candidates are not overrun by Republican lies and Republican money.
We need your help today! Your contribution will be put to work immediately to ensure our candidates have the resources they need to fight back.
In fact, if we are able to raise enough money, we have a plan to actually win new seats this November. INDN's List has identified several races where Indian candidates have a real opportunity to win new seats. With your help, we can win legislative seats in states that have never had an Indian representative, like Wisconsin and Kansas. We have targeted a candidate running statewide in Arizona, which has never elected an Indian statewide!
Please donate now to help us not only defend our elected officials who are being targeted by the GOP but actually pick up additional seats! Let's continue the progress of electing American Indian candidates throughout America.
President, INDN's List
PS: This is the most important time for donations! We are making important targeting decisions and your donations will help us expand our map to protect our incumbents and challenge new seats where there is a great opportunity to pick them up! Please donate today to help make 2010 our best year yet.
*"Thank You," in Choctaw.
NOW, WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT A STAR QUILT?
My relations, you really have to get in on this.
All My Relations, a traditional star quilt hand-crafted by Kossack Sara R.
My relations, I have had the privilege of seeing a couple of Sara R's quilts firsthand, and I can attest to their healing properties. And while I have only seen this one in photos, I have a feeling that those properties are going to be unusually powerful. I also have a feeling that it's going to find its way to someone with a particular need for what it can offer. So please, give yourself a shot at winning it!
* (Her family's politics are not mine, so to preserve their anonymity, I'm referring to her here as Kaye.)
The Community Quilt Project Supports INDN's List
"All My Relations"
It is with great pleasure that I announce a drawing for a quilt. The above pictured star quilt, "All My Relations", was made from 200 diamond shaped patches signed at the 2008 Netroots Nation in Austin, TX. An additional four signatures of prominent bloggers were appliqued in the four corners: Meteor Blades, Speaks Lightning (known as Ojibwa on Daily Kos), Winter Rabbit, and Dengre. A full list of signatories may be found here. My own design, I machined pieced and hand quilted this piece.
I made the quilt in a promise to navajo to make something to support Native American people. She chose the beneficiary INDN's List, an organization supporting the election of Native Americans to public office. Please visit the INDN's List website and learn more about them!
Every contribution of $10 or more per day on this Act Blue page between now and August 15, 2010 will represent one chance in a drawing for the quilt on the last day of August.
The quilt measures 65" x 67", is made of cotton fabrics, cotton batting, and is decorated with Austrian crystals, Czech beads, and a piece of rutilated quartz at the center. The quilt is sleeved for hanging.
The quilt in a hoop for hand quilting
The quilt could be yours.
If you cannot donate, you may also enter by writing an essay of 50 words or less on this subject: "INDN's List's Mission -- Why it Benefits Everybody". Put the title in the subject line and email your essay on or before August 15, 2010 to communityquilts (at) yahoo (dot) com. If we find your essay to be topical, we will enter you for one chance in the drawing; one essay per person.
Thank you in advance for your support of INDN's List.