14 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 97 (2004-2005)
Testimony of a Santa Clara Woman

handle is hein.journals/kjpp14 and id is 113 raw text is: Testimony of a Santa Clara Woman

Rina Swentzell*
I am a woman from Santa Clara Pueblo. I was born there. I lived with my
great-grandmother on the main plaza next to the Winter kiva until she died when I was
thirteen years old. My formal education began there where I went to the Bureau of
Indian Affairs school at the Pueblo through the sixth grade. I was 39 years old when
the Supreme Court ruled on the Santa Clara v. Martinez' case. Even then, I wanted
the courts to rule in favor of the tribe -- to rule for tribal sovereignty. My desire was
not because I was not concerned about my children who would not be considered
members of the Pueblo, because I am a woman married to a non-Santa Clara person. It
was not because I did not know that my cousin would have his children considered
members because he is a man, though he was not born in the Pueblo, did not grow up
there, and was married to a non-Santa Clara person. Of course, I also knew that it did
not make sense; that it was not just or fair. I knew that what was happening in the
community was blatant gender discrimination.
Let me tell you a story, a long time ago (in Tewa, he ha ung kung) the people
(the towa), lived in the dark, warmth of their earth mother's womb. After some time,
they began to get restless. They asked badger, fir tree, raven and others to help them
move from that world, into the next and into the next. When they were ready to enter
this fourth world, the people gathered together and asked one among them to go and
see if this fourth world was ready for them. This person replied that he was not yet
ready, that he was not yet a kwi-sen2 or a woman-man. Only after some time and after
the fourth asking did this person feel like a kwi-sen and could guide the people to this
place between the sky and the earth. Here, they met their father-- in the sun, in the
mountains, in the sky. They would know light and a different kind of warmth, but they
would also know coldness. This was a different world outside the mother's womb.
As these people moved about in this world, however, they did not forget where
they came from. Therefore, in the stories, songs, and dances, which developed over
centuries, we still honor the other creatures who helped our ancestors in their journey
to this world. We still hold, with reverence, the earth -- the mother -- who birthed and
continues to succor us. We still acknowledge the dark experiences, which the light, the
father -- the sun -- illuminates. We know that we are, in Pueblo-terms, children of both
father and mother. As the clouds move out of the mountains and through the sky, the
rain falls, and the mother -- the earth -- is fertilized. It is acknowledged as an
interactive world of male and female, of light and dark, of warm and cold. It is a world

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