Support for Carol Warrior's Family

$22,802 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 336 people in 2 months
Created July 6, 2018
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.


OBITUARY:
http://www.hollandbonine.com/obituary/carol-warrior?lud=2FCA6D670DB9C0F33161D92C6BC9236F

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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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,
Shaawano
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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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I weeded the front garden spots the other day. It made a big improvement in the appearance of the house. I’ve always hated yard work, and never knew how to garden or really grow anything. I never really learned how to weed. A couple years ago she and I spent three days digging up all the bulbs and plants, laying them out on tarps, keeping them kinda wet, then literally sifting through all the dirt left in the plots before replanting. It looked great, and then the next summer it still looked better than it did. This summer, though, it almost looked like it did when we moved in. That bothered me. So I pulled weeds, or what I was pretty sure were weeds. I chucked them in a pile and one of the kids hauled them to the brush pile in the corner of the yard.

I do think it is important to keep a place looking nice. Not perfect, I mean I think places that look too neat are disturbing. But nice. Maybe a little bit of dirt in places that it belongs, like I’d never pressure wash a sidewalk or whatever. And now, garden spots that don’t look overtaken by tall weeds, but that still give cover to the snakes.

As I was weeding, of course some part of me was thinking she’d like what I was doing, that she’d be happy to see me doing it—and I remember her being happy when I did weed those spots before. But I realized I wasn’t doing it for her. I was doing it for us. I was doing it for the snakes. I was doing it for the plants. I was doing it so that anyone who comes by will feel like we care enough to take care of these things. There is a calmness that comes from places being nice, a calmness that can be undone if a place is kept too clean or orderly, because (and maybe this is just me, but it was also her) that implies an urge to dominate and control.

She liked to keep a cute place, but she hasn’t been able to do any gardening for a long time. When we first lived together, it was student family housing, and she made that little place look great. When we got into a bigger place, we found that our things fit together perfectly, and we had almost the same attitudes towards art and objects. We moved across the country and set up here, with enough land to garden on, with enough space to put up a sweat, with room for our big dog outside. We learned that keeping things nice improved our moods, helped us focus, and we were also taught that all the beings around the place will feel more comfortable, too. We want helpful, friendly beings to feel welcome, and the more chaotic ones to not stick around and bother us.

Gardening, keeping things nice… well, I guess that’s necessary wherever ceremonies are taking place.

Two more of our kids moved to town. One is back in his room, the other will live on campus a few miles away. The other one got back from doing work in the Catskills. I’m glad I’m not alone, I’m glad we have each other. I’m glad we have a nice place, though the inside is a bit messy as we put some of her things away. Her absence, like her presence, is undeniable, and sometimes today with the four of us all in the house, I missed her even more. But we’re taking care of each other, being close, talking, laughing. And, sometimes, just sighing and looking at each other, wondering what the hell we’re gonna do.

We’re going to do our best to take care of each other, to take care of this place, and to take care of our communities.

In love and solidarity,
Shaawano
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I made soft boiled eggs and toast for breakfast today. We just learned how to do this about a year ago, and it became our go-to morning meal. We took several tries to get the timing right, and how to adjust to the size of the eggs. I asked my Samwise kid if he’d like his toast sliced, and if he wanted triangles or rectangles. Since he’s a late addition to the family, he doesn’t know that’s how I talked to my kids from when they were babies; I tried to offer as many choices as possible every day.

He said he didn’t care, and he asked if I care. So I told him about how, while I was in foster care prior to my adoption when I was around 9 months old, my foster mom would make me buttered toast and slice it into quarters. I know this because I have a baby book that they filled out for me. It even had a drawing of how to slice the toast. I told him that for years as a little kid I would self-soothe with quartered toast, and later halved, without really knowing why. I also used to reject toast cut into triangles, because that was something restaurants did. It wasn’t something done by people who knew and loved me as a person.

So he asked why I cut his toast into triangles. I said I did that because that what she did. I didn’t let it bother me or put me off at all. Her acts, her choices, overwrote quite a few of my own memories and preferences with new ones. With better ones. With acts that we shared. With choices she made that were made out of love. With her offerings to me and our kids and everyone, so that’s what mattered to me. Not the shape. Or, I guess, the shape wasn’t a matter of geometry, it was a matter of intent. Her intent.

Now, as I cut toast into triangles, it’s because she did that. I think there are a lot of little choices and little acts I will do from here on out that will be because of her. In honor of her. Little things that prolly no one else will notice, but that I will always think of her as I do them. And some big ones, because she also made some huge offerings to the people and places she loves.

I am in awe of how many people there are in this world who are also thinking of her as they do big and small things for the people and places they love.

In love and solidarity,
Shaawano
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Raised by 336 people in 2 months
Created July 6, 2018
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