Using art, language, and traditional foods as a way of healing

By: Elizabeth Sate Day

During this time, I find I am more aware of my surroundings and being stuck at home is a blessing in disguise.

At this time, I am close to my loved ones and it is a great opportunity to hear their stories and learn more about where you come from.

It is the perfect time to sit and do the things you have always wanted to do, from beading to learning your language, even practice some of your dance moves.  

I was able to really talk to my grandparents and my mother, listening to their adventures when they were young, hearing their stories of when “Indian City” here in Oklahoma was the place to be, or when my family was traveling overseas miles away from home.

We as a family sat down and looked at our family tree from old documents. We were able to build it up for the future generation to know where they come from. 

With this pandemic hitting so close to home, and essentials being scarce at the grocery, I have researched and harvested traditional foods my ancestors ate, for example: rabbit, acorns, sand plums, and water crest.

When the weather is nice, I go out and I dig into the earth and plant vegetables. I am so glad I live in the countryside. If I want to go for a walk or have a breath of fresh air, I am able to do so.  

When I am inside and tired of watching Netflix, I paint. My creations are of my people’s folklore and even happy memories I have growing up. (More of Elizabeth’s artwork can be found here.)

I have also live streamed a small art class through my instagram platform. We created a simple ledger piece of a Kiowa women in her cloth dress. I also provided a step-by-step process of how I create my artwork, and the history behind it all.

If I am tired of painting, I learn my language. I have no excuse to not learn it. Each day I speak with my teacher and fellow artist in Kiowa and I am able to carry a full conversation with him. In a sense it is healing to me, even from this sickness.

Those are things that keep me going and keep me grounded. Practicing these each and every day makes me happy, and keeps me safe and healhty.

Elizabeth Sate Day is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Apache tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Yakima, Washington, she has travelled extensively with her family and has lived in Oklahoma since 2010. She was born into a family that is well known for their traditional artistic talents and has long been exposed to the traditional Kiowa art of Ledger drawings. Her great grandfather is the highly esteemed Stephen Mopope of the Kiowa Five.Elizabeth has long practiced Ledger Art since childhood, coming into her own success by creating logos and custom designs for private clientele and a New York Literary Magazine. She’s currently taking a break from the University of Arts and Science and focusing on her artistic endeavors, while being a job and independent living coach working for the mentally challenged. To find more of her work, visit here.