NIDA Contest Entry

Jade, Picuris Pueblo, Age 17, New Mexico

Another One Through

It comes in pings of pain,
in aches of fury
and dislodged thought.
It’s a breeze,
through violent banters
of sweet corn and beans.
With muddy tears
and soggy soil.

I walk.

Many days I softly whine,
My feet hurt.
I don’t see any path.
But most days I never catch a breather,
only a shout of empty air
with no further remarks.

It continues,
through the thickened weeds of thorns
sparking my bare soles with sharp whispers
of slurred excuses and hollow apologies.
The ground almost ‘tsks’,
“Bad Livers.”
“Bruised Skin.”
I have to step over,
past the detritus of lumpen hearts,
foreign, forgotten.

It all seems so foolish,
there’s no real end in sight.
But I continue,
and soon,
and soon.

Through the silent stares of beautiful flowers
too far to touch.
Through the blades of broken bottles
and needle points.
Through to the last of my endeavors,
a cliff.

As if I couldn’t be more inconvenienced,
with my battered bones, dirty skin, and achy feet.
It presents a question: Should you?

Inside, I thought,
I’ve been walking for years,
with no different outcome.
Who am I to my father?
What have I become to cope?
I’m alone, I-

A hum of a sweet tune,
quiet and distant.
I see a chocolate eyed woman,
a grandmother, perhaps.
And I run.
I run,
and I run,
and I run, so fast.

Far from the gripping shadows of my journey,
far from the acrid smell of laundry nights,
and straight into the palms of hers.

Her safety, her warmth.
So warm.
So comfy.
So nice.
Till I can’t hold back my tears,
I’m so thankful.

“You made it, my dear.”
She whispers lovingly,
it’s over.

We look back to the cliff,
where I notice now I’m at the other side.
Far into the darkness
we hear howling souls.
Lost people,
my ancestors,
my family.

But yet another one
has come through.

Hello, my name is Jade Rael and I’m from Picuris Pueblo. For six years now, I’ve been attending the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS), where I’ve lived, eaten, and cried with many indigenous people from various communities. As an urban native born in Las Vegas, Nevada, it was almost a culture shock being entirely enveloped into indigenous culture after missing it for the first six years of my life. But through my roommates from Santa Clara, my suitemates from Santo Domingo, and my best friend from the Apache lands, I learned what other indigenous people valued and became closely integrated with all the colors of each tribe. It was beautiful, learning how to make pottery through the hands of a San Ildefonso woman, laughing with the songs of a Navajo classmate, and feeling connected again to my own tribe of Picuris.

The SFIS takes culture into heart and values love and learning into the campus through the blessed dorms, to the traditional dances on SFIS’s feast day. I stepped inside of the campus borders unknowing much of my culture, afraid of my own ignorance, and slightly excited for the new experiences to come. And when I step out into the world. I’ll be well informed of the tragedies that plague our histories, the need our communities have for our youth, and the importance my future degree holds not only to me, but my people and all indigenous people.

As an artist, art is my weapon towards education. I seek to inform indigenous communities and those who gawk at us outside, to create meaning in our lives and demonstrate action for change. I first started this my freshman year, where I began collecting data on historical trauma and the mental health of native students. Four years later, I’ve finished my Senior’s Honors Project, where I hoped to stimulate questions with my SFIS and pueblo community. This will be the first of many to come, and as you might know now from the SHP, I’ve suffered greatly in the hands of substance misuse through my parents.

This piece is the walk I took from those harsh years to the point where I am now. It is my resiliency throughout the years, and it comes from the blood of my ancestors who’ve taken similar walks through hard, difficult times. As natural born runners, as persistence hunters, and as indigenous people, we’ve crossed many avenues of choice and made it. We persevere as a people, one by one, in our own challenges and experiences. It is our value of community, and the rejoice that comes when we meet another on the other side that bonds us. My experience is shared in hopes that another young person facing intense difficulty understands we’re rooting for them behind the leaves of the forest. Tucked in the sky our family prays they’ll see us overcome our demons. In my journey, I present to you, “Another One Through”.


I recently found out, that I’m Apache. Is there a lost history in Mexico?

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