Dear Diary

By: Chael Moore

Tribal affiliation: Diné

Major: English– Creative Writing

Dear Diary,

This past weekend was a weird one for sure! I’ve always heard stories of Native girls experiencing awkward encounters with people who have the AUDACITY to comment on their appearance, long hair, OR have the boldness to call the first NDN girl they meet “Pocahontas.” How does anyone think that’s okay? I suppose they’re just all diigis.

I got to experience some of the above the other night. It was a bit of a wake-up call because I didn’t think my features as a Diné womxn were all that prominent to be quite honest. I tend to think of myself as one of those “no one really knows I’m Native unless I tell them I’m Native” type of Natives, you know? I imagine some people would even say I’m white-passing, but then again when I tan in the sun, my brownness becomes more prominent. Call me a “shade shifter.”

Oof, another story for another time, I guess.

But back to this story. Yáadilah, even getting to the main point of a story runs on Indian time.

It was a Saturday night. I had just arrived in Albuquerque, NM from Tempe, AZ when one of my best friends from ABQ (aka Tewa territory) wanted to “go out.” I hadn’t seen her in months because I was attending ASU so I immediately said yes! We were so excited to get a couple of drinks (yes, NDN’s can casually drink), dance, and have a good time that weekend. We hit up this spot called Anodyne where they had an exclusive drink called a “baby jesus”. She wanted me to try it because it tasted like “juice.” Her words, not mine.

When we arrived, we decided that I’d stand in line for the drinks while she went to snag a table. Oh yeah, I let her do my hair that night too! It was slicked back into this cute pony, not allowing me to hide any of my facial features, which brings me to the next part…

So, I’m standing there in line, right?! MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS when I noticed, at the corner of my eye, a couple glaring at me. I automatically felt attacked. They got closer and I quickly tried to think of a sly comeback in case they said something out of line. To my surprise, they were extremely nice BUT still said some out-of-line shit. The lady casually invaded my personal space and asked, “What are you? Your face is so exotic. I mean look at those cheekbones! You have to be Native or Mexican, right?”

True story.

Did she just say that? I thought. Like honey, I know you thought you were being nice by complimenting me, but just no. Her partner saw that as his cue and said, “Oh yeah, you do have a beautiful face, it’s crazy.” Um, thanks? I was flattered for a second, but it also felt very creepy and invasive. I was simply minding my own business and like I said before, most people don’t know or assume I’m NDN. I know what it feels like now. I have my own story to tell of how I was fetishized, for lack of a better word.

As I write this, I just wonder if I was allowed to be mean about it and respond sarcastically. Should I have been like, “Skoden”? Or was I just supposed to accept what sounded like a compliment and be kind about it? Ugh, I don’t know. I need answers.

Sincerely,

A fed-up NDN girl ❤

Writer bio

Chael Moore is Ts’ahyisk’idnii (Sage Brush Hill People) and born for Honágháanii (One Who Walks Around). She is from the small community of Tónilts’ilí, also known as Crystal, New Mexico. Chael is a senior at Arizona State University where she is pursuing a degree in her passion for creative writing. She is also an honors student enrolled in Barrett, the Honors College, president for the student organization Barrett Indigenous Culture Association, and a member of the inaugural Native Narratives and Graduate School Achievement Track.

Chael is an aspiring writer and poet whose work celebrates and reflects on her family histories, her identity as a contemporary Diné womxn, and uses storytelling as a means to inspire, heal and challenge inaccurate narratives of Indigenous peoples. She currently lives on Tewa territory, also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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