By Jessenia Nozzolillo
I'm about to get raw here for you all and share something that truly pains my heart. Something I have struggled with since being a “public face” on social media. I’ve been told by many family members that we are part Taino Natives. We have some stories passed down and shared through time. Very few that have survived. The culture, connection, ceremonies, for the most part have been lost — repressed and hidden. One of my first gift trainers was a Taino Shaman Spirit who came to remind me of what I had learned in the past; this was the closest I have ever been able to get to reclaim my roots. I since then checked my genealogy and found we had more Native ancestors than we were told. Some were clearly lost down the line. Unfortunately, we lost our heritage. Like many other Natives, our story was altered when the Spaniards came and violated the islands. My ancestors were raped, deluding our heritage, we know that now. We have evidence of this. Like so many other Natives, the history and genocide has been exposed! Now, I have light skin, my kids have hazel eyes, and I was born with blond hair. This is not natural for my ancestors, and is a clear imprint of the rape and abuse endured on that island so long ago. We carry it in our DNA, and they repeated the wounds onto their children, and many of those wounds I have had to work very hard to heal so they would not touch my own children. I carried the true definition of a generational curse — generations of rape, abuse, control, power struggles, addiction patterns — they all followed me into this body. I was exposed to it all and had to overcome it all, breaking generational curses for the babies I brought into this world and freeing them. Imagine telling someone their heritage was less valuable because it was stolen from them and lost due to rape and abuse? This is a reality many Natives share today. “How Native are you, prove it.” Prove that my heritage has been deluded through rape and abuse? Share with you many generations of pain!? Why are we exposing people’s pain this way? Why are we continuing the abuse by oppressing Native expression and attacking those who have yet to fully expose their pain to the world wide internet? Who on Earth thinks they have that right? This is a clear indication the abuse is still valid and raw. Every time I try to share something Indigenous related, I get attacked. I might think, “It’s important to support Indigenous pages, art, and music.” I always tag the creator. I often think, “This should be out there more. We should share more of this. I would love to learn more about my heritage. This is powerful and important.” Many times the public backlash is so awful that I have to delete it. The issue is a lot of our heritage has been completely lost, and I am left to piece it together from the stories and posts others have the courage to share. But then the internet attacks. “You are White. How dare you. You are exploiting Indigenous people and arts. You have no right.” It’s shocking. They know nothing about me, my family, my heritage, my genealogy, the pain we’ve endured, the things we’ve had to heal… yet assumptions are made that continue to damage my identity. Imagine? Imagine for a minute that in the “defense” of Indigenous culture, you are actually repressing the expression and memory of it and calling it a mission for salvation? For who exactly? I understand it is a very triggering subject; I KNOW BECAUSE I HAVE PERSONALLY HAD TO HEAL THROUGH IT. Maybe, just maybe, we support the sharing of Indigenous art for the sake of it finally being able to live on in our stories so we CAN remember who we are, bringing honor and compassion to those who lost their identity. Maybe, repressing, shaming and attacking those who appreciate and support Indigenous art, culture and beliefs isn’t the best way to heal old wounds.
Art by one of my favorite indigenous artists on Instagram @eloybida
Copyright Protected Jessenia Nozzolillo 2022