A daughter cuts her long hair with a butter knife and places her heart inside a turtle shell. Loaded on vodka she passes out in an alley behind a bar where Trickster plants his seed inside her. She births a daughter, wraps her in burdock leaves and paper beer bottle labels and leaves her at the Indian Health Services doorstep. The young mother washes her face in her tears and wipes them over her baby’s cheeks. As she walks away strawberries sprout and blossom around her daughter. At the edge of the reservation, the mother turns into a monarch butterfly.

Tonya Shenandoah is Oneida (Haudenosaunee, know by some as one of the Iroquois Nations). She is from Upstate New York, where she lives with her husband, four children, a dog, two horses, and too many cats.

Photo Credit: Dave Govoni

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