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  • My Grandfather died when I was 7 years old. I remember the day my Dad picked me up from summer camp to take me to my Grandparents house. He never used to pick me up because he was always working. So, I knew when I saw him instead of my Mom, something had to be wrong.

    On the way to their house he told me that something had happened to my Grandpa and he was now asleep and wasn't going to wake up. When we arrived I saw that my whole family was there, sitting somberly, some sobbing and wiping tears. That was the first of two times I have ever seen my Mother cry. She had lost her father. My Grandma, who was like my best friend, looked empty. I wanted to comfort her, but didn't know how. So, I just gave her a hug and told her I love her.

    Sometimes I feel like that day I lost much of my connection to my Tribe. I grew up in Southern California, thousands of miles away from Virginia where the Chickahominy Tribe resides. Pop-pop used to take me to pow wows and encourage me to dance in arena in the regalia my Grandmother had made me. I would sit in his lap and he would tell me stories until I fell asleep. He was the best cook and used to make me a great big bowl of oatmeal when I'd spend the weekend with them. He used to tell me how smart and strong I was. He always wanted me to hold my head high (I do) and be proud of my culture (I am).

    Last year, I produced a documentary about my Tribe's fight for federal recognition. It was my way of telling our story and honoring my Grandpa. I hope he is looking down and is proud of me. I hope he understands that though I'm not perfect, I'm really trying to be the best person I can be. I want him to know that I love him and miss him so much. I will continue to keep my head held high. I love you, Pop-pop.
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