Or, "My name is Katherine Elizabeth Marie Price- it comes to me from my Polish, Catholic ancestry. I am a moral human, striving to always be better, zero religious affiliations. I am a proud Minnesotan with a thirst for travel. All of my serious relationships have been of a heterosexual nature but I don't confine myself to the idea of one man, one woman."
I really enjoyed doing these exercises with young woman to help them understand two things. First, that they were in charge of their identity. Embracing the possibilities of who you can become is ultimate empowerment. Being 18 in our culture for a lot of people is the beginning of defining their personal identity. Secondly, I wanted them to understand that these are conversations that adults should have, these are things that you need to be able to talk about.
THIS SHOULD ALSO GO WITHOUT SAYING (but unfortunately does not) - ONE PERSON'S IDENTITY CAN NEVER BE BETTER THAN ANY OTHER PERSON'S IDENTITY. Dominant culture norms are not the right thing or the correct choice. Just because you identify as something trendy in the media doesn't make you more special than someone with a less sensationalized identity. We are all just people, people whose lives look very different, people with lots of choices all just trying to make the best decision for themselves that would ideally result in harmony.
Identity is a very hot topic right now and recently a serendipitous opportunity presented itself. St.Paul based photographer Elle Halls wanted to do a photo shoot with me that was inspired by our shared First Nations culture and flowers. We were energized by 7 different bouquets of flowers, we were so lucky to give these flowers a second life after they were used in a wedding. (Minimal waste when producing creative is another cause dear to my heart.) We kept it super simple, no make up artist, no stylists, just her, her camera, and me playing dress up with flowers.
I loved horses, I went to horse camp every summer, every time we went up to the cabin I would beg to go on trail rides at the local stables. Every book I read had horses, I read the whole Heartland series, First Horse I See, The Saddle Club, etc. I knew that the Native American connection to equine was something that I understood, I cherished my relationship with each horse that I met. I felt that each interaction taught me something about myself and opened me up to a powerful experience. And this is an area of my life that I have recently started reviving and I will definitely be sharing more about that in a later post!
Something felt so much more tangible about the culture that actually developed right on the ground that I walked everyday, that I currently walk everyday. The connection of actually sharing the land felt and feels incredibly strong. Yes when I went to Europe I felt a different wonderment, but living here, growing up here and knowing that the Ho Chunk people of 500 years ago were also living this same land is such a strong relationship.
I am just as proud of my Polish heritage, as the traces of German, as I am of the specs of Native American and whatever else runs through my body. Those are the pieces that came together to result in my being on this earth. One piece of history versus another, or one culture against another will never provide a superior. What we know is that what has happened in history has lead us to the here and now. And if you ask me we are upon a threshold beholding serious potential change.
The PC police are out, mass communication is at least trying to be sensitive, people are taking up causes and trying to understand perspectives outside their own. People are at least attempting to be culturally aware. I hope I am not alone in thinking that real change could happen. So let us start the conversations, let us listen to the identities of our brothers and sisters. We are intelligent enough, caring enough, empathetic and curious enough to talk about identity (whether it be cultural identity, sexual identity, political identity, whatever) without being offensive. We just need to start practicing and allow ourselves the benefit of the doubt.
There was no preparation, there was no high and mighty cause behind the pictures that Elle and I took. We aren't making any political statement, we are just two girls creating beautiful images that shine light on a culture that lights up our hearts.