In these books, both Native men and women are portrayed as sex objects more than human beings.
I am Red Lake Anishinaabe, and I create stories foremost for our Anishinaabe people, as well as all Natives and nations who might enjoy and relate to them.
As an Anishinaabe author & illustrator, I know firsthand how hard it is to find a publisher for work that's intended for a Native-first audience; non-Native publishers don't often understand our work and have no idea how to sell it (and that's what's important to them).
One of the projects I'm working on in 2021, is producing a Romantic Comedy novel that is influenced by my own adventures as a wild foods harvester, my time spent as a cook at Indigenous Food Summits, and growing up eating wild foods with the seasons.
My intention with this project is to help change the narrative and take back our portrayals of love, body, and romance in literature.
For the last two+ years I have been putting my own time and money into producing Native made--Anishinaabe made!--literature.
The first book I wrote, illustrated and published myself is the middle grade book Gidjie and the Wolves, which won the 2020 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Gold Medal in the Historical/Cultural category.
I only mention this to convey my dedication to creating literature.
I had some financial help for Gidjie from the Arrowhead Regional Art Council in 2019, but in large, I produced the book mostly from funds I made from selling the birch bark and beaded jewelry I create--it should be said that most of the purchasers of my jewelry are from Anishinaabe communities.
I am influenced greatly in all of my creative practices by what my Anishinaabe & other Native relatives tell me they want and need. This is what is important to me. This is why I do what I do. For my people.
I'll get to the point. It's hard psychologically, not knowing if I will make enough money with my jewelry to help pay bills and afterwards, hopefully earn some time creating literature (and more recently, producing read along videos for kids) with our Native communities in mind.
It will take me about 5 months of work to finish writing, editing, formatting, and creating any illustrations for this book. I might opt to hire an editor.
$9,000 is a modest estimate for what I need to make this project something people can really love and appreciate sooner than later. Without funding, it might take me another two years to bring this work to completion. With funding, it's possible to have the book ready for publication by the end of the year (2021).
When the work is done, I will publish the book myself, and make it available to our communities by sending copies to tribal libraries, women's shelters, Native-run bookstores, as well as making it available for order through independent sellers and online retailers.
Will you help me change the narrative of Native Love?
Note: the image used for the fundraiser is one of the illustrations from the book Peggy Flanagan: Ogimaa Kwe, Lieutenant Governor (Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 2020) by Jessica Engelking (Author), Tashia Hart (Illustrator).
The floral pattern on the blanket is by Sarah Agaton Howes, who gave her permission for the use of her design for the image. Miigwech!
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