Preparing for the future does not come naturally to me. I make lists, and do my best to make plans, but often find myself off the rails of said plans almost as quickly as they are formed. Being told—expected—to plan for seven generations ahead, especially when I can’t even fathom having children, has been a struggle for me as a Native American and a woman. How do you prepare for someone who will live in a different world than you do, who will be seen by the world differently than you are? I knew that if I could speak to this theoretical descendant, explain to them my world and what I’m trying to do for theirs, that would be the closest I could get to preparing them.
And so, I found solace in the epistolary form.
Writing a letter allowed me to address this unlikely, would-be descendant in the way I could best. It also allowed me to tell the rest of the world about my tribal culture, and the world that I am part of. I realized not many people know about blood quantum laws, and that meant that my descendant, no longer part of the tribe, wouldn’t either. An epistle gave me the space to show how the lines are drawn, and explore my complex feeling surrounding those lines. It also gave me the space to live in the liminal, speaking to the Schrödinger’s Descendant who is simultaneously there and not-there because of my decisions. Until I have children or reach a point where I cannot, she both exists to read the letter and doesn’t exist at all.
I also wanted my word choice to make it clear that I am sure of both who I am and who I am not. I know where I’ve come from, and I wanted to leave no room for someone to try and tell me that I should reconsider being a mother. I wanted to make it clear through words and goals that, even though this is an open letter to my descendant, the decision to remain childless despite societal pressures is mine, and the only mind that can change it is my own.
LEAH MYERS is an Urban Native American writer with roots in Georgia, Arizona, and Washington. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the University of New Orleans. Her work has previously appeared in High Shelf Press, Newfound, GASHER, and elsewhere. Leah is a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and can be found on both Instagram and Twitter under @n8v_wordsmith, or at her website: leahmyers.com.