Support for Carol Warrior's Family

$22,927 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 339 people in 4 months
Created July 6, 2018
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Shaawano Chad Uran
Carol Edelman Warrior was an Indigenous literature scholar, fighter for Indigenous rights, and lover of family, community and students whose great heart stopped on July 4 while she was within her beloved Sundance community in Montana.

Carol was enrolled with the Ninilchik Village Tribe and of Alutiiq (Sugpiaq), Dena'ina Athabascan, and A'aniiih (Gros Ventre) descent. As an Assistant Professor at Cornell University in the Department of English and Affiliate Faculty in American Studies and the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, she focused on Native American, First Nations, and Alaska Native literatures, Indigenous philosophies, Indigenous futurisms, and Indigenous land-based practices.

Friends of Carol and her extended family have asked how they can help support the family as they deal with their unexpected great loss. In the midst of deep grief, her partner and children are in Montana and must make their way back to Ithaca, NY; her funeral costs must be paid for, and a financial cushion is needed to help with finding new housing and bridging the loss of their financial stability. Your love and prayers are essential, and if you can contribute materially, your donations would be greatly appreciated.


Carol Edelman Warrior
March 19, 1962 - July 4, 2018

Carol Edelman Warrior joined her ancestors on July 4, 2018 surrounded by the beautiful family that she created. There are no words for the loss we feel as we move into a world without her. Carol was our mother. She was our family, our grandmother, our teacher, caretaker, wife, and friend. Carol is deeply missed by her husband Shaawano Chad Uran, her children; Bryce (Christy) Stevenson, Lacey Stevenson Warrior, Brett Stevenson Warrior, Sage (Mika) Warrior, Cleo Keahna, Della Keahna Uran, Ike Keahna Uran and Smokii Sumac.

Carol carried the name Warrior in every aspect of her life. There was nothing she couldn’t do, including earning her PhD from the University of Washington in 2015. She fought hard for the lives of her children, and was most proud of all of our accomplishments; our graduations, performances, writing, singing, flute and drum-making, beading, gardening, and our babies. Carol loved her grandchildren Lily, Daphne, and the one on the way, with her whole heart and worked tirelessly to change this world to make it better for them, and for all her grandchildren yet to come. Carol taught us how to love. She was medicine, and we will honour her love as we move forward together as a family.

The wake will be held starting at 7pm Saturday, July 7 at the Agency Community Centre in Fort Belknap, and there will be a funeral service to follow at 11am Sunday July 8.

We thank you for joining us in grief at this time and ask, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support the family.
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Today I brought our dog Smudge in to the vet for the first time since June. We began him on a round of vaccinations that required boosters after some weeks, which I didn’t bring in him for because grief and chaos and chaotic grief. Having to tell the staff to change the contact info for his records from hers to mine was surprisingly emotional.

The nurse was appropriately sympathetic and shared her own recent loss of a parent. I said, “Yeah, everything is different,” but even as I said it that felt wrong, or inaccurate. Not everything is different. Some things can’t change, like certain responsibilities to pets and kids and family and students and work. Some things won’t change because I still love my kids and my dog and my grandkids and so many others who have been a part of my life.

But all of those things have changed in that I can’t say “our” in the same way anymore. It feels wrong to say “my,” though, and I usually don’t. But then saying “our” is that ongoing reminder (as if I need reminding) that she isn’t here with me like that anymore.

So maybe it’s more accurate to say that “everything is different, and those things that haven’t changed somehow feel wrong.”

Wrong is a helluva word, though. I guess I mean awkward. Uncomfortable. Plus, when I find something that feels unchanged, I get a little angry. Like, how dare this thing not change? She was, and is, a part of my everything, after all. I see our lives reflected all over, in places and things and people we’ve touched.

I’m not really comfortable with either “my” or “our” anymore. And as I think about that feeling, I can recognize that some of that discomfort is fueled by a measure of not feeling like I can rightly claim either “my” or “our.” “My” is just too singular in its possessiveness, and too much like claiming of both responsibility (which is something I am still struggling to uphold) and credit, when I can proudly say that my kids have certainly warriored up as best they can and that has at least as much to do with her teaching them as my teaching them.

But “our,” I just don’t know. She will always be with us, with me, in so many ways. But “our” does some work that I don’t think I understand fully now. I feel like I need to step up, like I always have to do more, those worries about not being enough are still here despite all the work we did to fix that. So “our” feels like an acknowledgement of ongoing connections but also feels like a sidestepping of those same connections, like it’s somehow avoidance of my personal responsibility to those connections, or holding me back from them.

That doesn’t make any sense, written out. But then, I’m learning that grief has its own logic.

This morning I woke up thinking about her as a grandmother. Our ceremonial leader told her a few times, “You’re a grandmother, you don’t have to listen to nobody!” when she would ask about how she should be doing things. He would answer her questions, likely knowing that he was only telling her so that she could teach others, but he’d end with reminding her that she was enough, that she had love and wisdom and knowledge and responsibility enough to make her own way.

He told her about knives.

He told her that, as a grandmother, she could carry a knife. It’s a grandmother’s tool, used for everything. Crafting. Food preparation. Sewing. Basketry. Gathering. Skinning. First aid. Making kindling. Everything. He said that traditional dancers can wear them if they’re grandmothers.

I wish I could have made her an outfit. She would have been beautiful.

We talked about knives. She wondered if she could wear an ulu, because of being Dena’ina.

This morning I woke up and went downstairs to make coffee, and I saw her stand mixer. So much goodness came out of that thing. She really ruined her entire family on the frybread front, and now I don’t think any of us will ever have really good frybread again in our lives.

It made me imagine wearing a stand mixer on her belt as she danced. Grief is sometimes hilarious, even if only after idk how many times of bursting into tears at the sight of it.

That mixer will always be hers. Smudge will always be ours. The rest of us, I guess, are all trying to figure out who and what we are as best we can. Belongingness without possession.

Belongingness without the longing. There it is.
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I have to be honest here. There haven’t been any recent updates because I learned after the last one that these actually get sent out to all the email addresses associated with donations and I found that to be really intimidating.

So I stopped. And felt guilty about that. Which made it even harder to write a new one.

Then I realized that I better write something, anything. Just to get it out there while knowing full well it was going to really be out there in idk how many inboxes.

Plus, we all seemed to hit a massive grief wall around the three month mark. Anyways. This will probably be all dry and factual because I am still feeling weird about possibly bugging a lot of people.

First off, she had life insurance, and I was named beneficiary. But I just got told I had to resubmit forms and affidavits and stuff because we weren’t legally married. I’m not sure exactly how that status changes anything about me being the named beneficiary, but here we are.

I’m sure she would find this kinda funny and infuriating at the same time. I remember one time she called me from a parking garage because she thought her car had been stolen, and my initial reaction was to laugh. She was incensed and even hurt, and I’m not sure she understood how, for me, sometimes things just get so ridiculous and out of control that all I can do is laugh. This was early on in our relationship, and over the years she saw me laugh at some pretty horrible circumstances, but I think she came to appreciate that sort of response to other easily imagined reactions. Like yelling or rage or whatever.

She wanted us to get married. I figured that since everyone already treated us as if we were married, because in our own ways we were married, I didn’t think making it legal really mattered. Our sun dance chief called us husband and wife, and in fact those first couple of years he didn’t use my name, he called me “Gros Ventre’s husband.” He treated us as a unit, and I think in our academic lives we also moved as a unit, and even co-authored some papers. I was resistant to having to make our relationship recognizable to colonial authority, but I also felt like we would eventually make it all legal. Before we left this summer, she told me she wanted to get married at sun dance. I suppose it is funny and infuriating that I was going to ask her on the last day of our sun dance, but I never got the chance to.

I took it for granted that we were going to be together for a good long time. I was really looking forward to getting old together, to hopefully reaching a point when we could just relax into some kind of gently boring existence together, being grandparents and attending ceremony and writing things together that weren’t just academic or activist. I couldn’t imagine life without her.

And, really, I still can’t even though I’ve been having to live without her now for what feels like a thousand years. Still feels unreal, like a dream that I could still wake up from while lying next to her and then holding her close.

I am teaching four classes this year, which means I qualify for employee benefits. I’m not sure what I can do to maintain insurance for next year, or if it is even possible to patch together enough part-time mixed with contract work to be able to buy my own, but I’m trying as best I can.

Adjunct teaching doesn’t pay very much, so I will apply to colleges and universities elsewhere, now but moreso for the year after next. Next year is going to be really difficult, but I feel like if we can manage to squeak by through high school graduation in 2020, then good. I’m doing my best to hold on to your donations to help us next year. 30% went to funeral costs. Some went to getting us to Seattle after the funeral, and then back to NY. And I haven’t yet received any bills from the ambulance and hospital; it is not a good feeling to think about that.

I did go into the back yard. The sweat lodge frame is there, the rocks are in the pit from our last ceremony. I stared at her spot and cried for a long time, and then became happy about all the good work we did together in there. I think I can post a picture with this update, maybe even two, so you can see. After our first summer here, when we got home, we found a tobacco plant growing in the mound. That plant became a few more the next year. This year, the mound is pretty much covered in tobacco plants, and inside the frame there is stinging nettle and sumac and plantain and other medicines growing. We topped the tobacco and gathered the seeds, and soon we have to take the entire plants to dry. I’m hoping these are signs that we can stay here for at least another year, so that the youngest can finish high school at least, and so we can be around to support the ones who have started (or will start soon) at the place I teach. Where she taught.

Teaching her class has been good for me, I think. Reading over her lecture notes and prep materials is like being able to talk to her, especially since I can hear many of our previous conversations in the background. I’m happy that what she brought to this university didn’t just stop, that I can keep some part of her work moving. And, really, rereading the stuff she curated for the syllabus has taken on new meanings with her being gone. These aren’t just Indigenous philosophical writings, or ethnography, or historical criticism. She intended this class to be an intervention into contemporary practice. An encouragement to think differently and act differently, in ways that better respect lands and peoples and each other. These readings are her telling us that we need to take care of each other, and that the things we have to learn to be better relatives are already always available to us, not just on paper, but in practice. In our connections to land and family and spirit and ceremony.

I’ve got all her books, and many of them are full of margin notes, post-its, and even separate sheets of paper full of comments and questions and insights. I hope I can figure out a way to organize them and make them available to her family, her students, and her communities. In a way, I will be able to hear from her for a long time through her writings. And I will continue to learn more about her by reading her books. And we all have our own memories and stories with her that I hope to hear from each of you someday.

In love and solidarity,
Shaawano Chad Uran
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There was an honoring event for her at the university the other day. Several of her colleagues and many of her students were there. Everyone was talking about how much she meant here, to her students especially, but also the impact she had on her colleagues and the curriculum because of her commitments to ethical engagement in her scholarship, teaching, and institutional service.

Her absence on campus is only slightly lessened by my teaching of her course. I am not her, and I couldn’t do everything that she did for her students—though I did learn a lot from her.

One student shared how the Indigenous graduate student association wrote a letter in support of her hiring here. It took them about a dozen drafts to finally arrive at a good balance of what were felt needs, emotional needs, and I guess what we’d call cultural needs, and an academic justification for their advocacy of those needs. These were needs that she fulfilled, needs that she and I recognized as important for the success of Indigenous students, of course, but as I have learned from emails and messages from several students, these are needs that were important for the actual survival of a few students.

I don’t know if any professors got into the field with an eye towards saving the lives of their students. I know plenty of professors who have experienced students in crisis of some form or another. As a former student myself, and someone who has tried to support Indigenous students in particular, I know that many of my peers, my friends, and my family only made it through their degree programs with heartfelt support and hard-won wisdom of professors who could identify in some way with us.

Students have needs that are often beyond the scope of our job descriptions as professors.

This university was incredibly lucky to have found her. The strengths and heart and spirit that she brought to this place showed us all how important those aspects of teaching are, not just for students, but for our departments and programs. Her absence here shows huge gaps that need fulfilling, and these are precisely the gaps that I have only seen a handful of times on job postings, on calls for applicants, or taken up during the interview process for academic gigs—even within Indigenous studies.

The wisdom and experience she brought are inextricably tied together; no one can acquire those skills from academic study alone. They come from struggle, from deep reflection, from hard-won battles, and from outright failures that feel so bad that you wouldn’t want to go through them again. They come from love, from care, from taking the risk of engaging as a fully human being with feelings and spirit—not just thought and information—within the academic community.

She wanted to do more, always. Even though what she did do was already so far above and beyond what professors are expected to do that her own colleagues can barely understand it. Because most academic units are unprepared to even talk about this side of teaching, and instead most institutions dramatically undervalue community and student engagement as only a small part of how they measure “institutional service” and “teaching,” which are two of the three considerations to evaluate the hiring, promotion, and tenure of academics.

Another graduate student gave us a stern warning. We as academics, Indigenous studies as a discipline, and the institution in particular has an obligation to maintain and uphold her impacts on this place. Through example, mentorship, and conversation, she taught many here how to carry out some things that can keep her spirit alive here, and because of our relationship with her, we have a responsibility to put whatever she taught us into action. She taught us how to be better teachers, better scholars, in better relationship to this place, and to be better people. People who can bring more courage and spirit into what we do here. So, we better do it.

One of our teachers back west used to say, “Don’t teach them all the same thing, because then they won’t need each other.” I don’t know how consciously she held that teaching, but when I was looking around the room during her honoring event, I could see that she left a lot of pieces of herself and her wisdom around here, and that put all of us in relationship to each other as well as to her legacy here.

Academic careers are weird things, but I know that I will try my best to uphold her wisdom for as long as I am here. I can also commit to sharing in that work with her colleagues, her friends, and her students for as long as we are here together.

After all, she was always trying to help us see how we do, in fact, need each other.

In love and solidarity,
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We’re starting to rearrange things in the house. The craft room needs to become a bedroom, which means her armoire needs to be made available, and closet space was already filled, and going through my things and her things and our things is just… tiring.

I keep reminding myself: her stuff isn’t her. Some of her things, of course, are full of memories of her. Full of her use and choices and tastes. But they’re not her, and only a few of them are going to be kept by the family. Art, mostly. A couple of ceremonial items that didn’t go with her. Lots of books, of course. Jewelry. A few handmade clothing and bedding items. Useful stuff like cookware and crafting supplies will stay with me, or go to whichever kid is doing specific crafts/cooking/baking.

Beyond that, A few cool T-shirts. Maybe a couple of hoodies. They’d be good for the kids who fit them.

The rest is just things, and for the useful things, we are going to follow our Anishinaabe teachings about them as best we can. That means we give them away after a year. I’m leaving some things around. Left out as reminders, not that I need them. Cues to her presence here, in this house. This is still our house, after all, and to pretend otherwise would get in the way of fully processing our grief, and in a way, keep us from fully appreciating what she was to us. We have to feel her absence even as we are figuring out how to live in the spaces of our home, our community, our university, and our town, not on our own (because we’re never really alone) but without her voice and her touch. Her reassurance and strength and comfort.

These things are not her. I have to keep reminding myself of that, because even thinking about putting them into storage boxes threatens to send me into something like despair. I don’t want to let go of anything, but I know that eventually I will have to be able to let go of things, to let our family and our communities help carry our grief and loss, and to help us carry her choices, her taste, her actions that helped make these things reflections of her spirit and her role. These things are not her, but she did change these things from what they were; she made them hers.

I’m still not sure how to process these things as things. Obviously.

I’m starting to store things that don’t really hold much significance for me, but even that’s hard. I’m not throwing anything away, other than stuff like maybe half-empty tubes of travel toothpaste, but even those remind me of how many trips we’ve shared, how many hotel rooms, how many academic conferences. And, come to think of it, we’re gonna finish those tubes off, thank you very much.

Having to do this with half the kids across the continent makes it worse, in some ways. Maybe better in others. I guess I’m resorting to photographing everything and making some sort of shared online database, just so all of them can see what there is.

And, I suppose, dealing with her tangible things is a lot easier than dealing with her writings.

It’s night. We’re not supposed to cry at night. So.
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$22,927 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 339 people in 4 months
Created July 6, 2018
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Shaawano Chad Uran
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