First Person by Meg Noori
What am I called?
wiindamaagwaa aanii ezhi-bimaadiziying.
Names are signs of the way we live, the way we laugh,
the places we belong, and the places we have been.
The Creator knows me as
Giiwedinoodin, Northern wind.
Mii sa ezhinikaazoyaanh Anishinaabemong.
I am Maaganiit, Margaret, Meg or Megan.
These names are variations
on a Catholic theme with an Ojibwe twist,
long or short depends on the friend.
But I once wrote a long paper,
a 300 page ticket to another place
a world where women and Indians
came late to the gathering and are
still asked to look like, think like,
act like the ones who built the schools:
schools that sit on Anishinaabe land,
schools that study the bones of our ancestors,
schools where “kill the Indian to save the man” was carved above the door,
schools where teaching a language is less important than writing theory,
schools where the number of Native American students is less each year,
schools where being 1% of the population is considered statistically insignificant,
schools where blood is measured to determine the status of only one ethnic minority,
schools where graduation correlates with an increased tendency to want to die,
schools where I am called Dr. Noori . . .
by those who don’t know me,
or want to keep me in my place, not theirs,
or want to see me through their own light lens
asking if I’m really Indian when I don’t look the way they expect.
I am called Dr. Noori by those who want to remind me
I played the institution’s game,
I have a man’s last name.
But I know my name
I am a Dr. of Nothing and prefer my first name to my last.
Some respect my request to go by just Meg
To see each person in the first person first.
And when the one I know best