Honor Thy Mother is the untold story of over 35 Aboriginal women from Canada and Native women from tribes in Washington and Alaska who migrated to Bainbridge Island, the traditional territory of the Suquamish people, in the early 1940s. They came, some still in their teens, to pick berries for Japanese American farmers. Many, just released from the Indian Residential Schools, fell in love in the berry fields and married Filipino immigrants. Despite having left their homeland and possible disenfranchisement from their tribes, they settled on the Island to raise their mixed heritage (Indipino) children. The voices of the Indipinos, now elders, are integral in the storytelling of their mother’s experiences marrying Asian men and settling in a foreign land. They share their confusion of growing up with no sense of belonging in either culture, growing up in poverty as the children of berry farmers, some with no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing, growing up in a post-World War II racist society and educational system. Many grew up in homes burdened with their father and mother’s memory of the 227 Bainbridge Island Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes after President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942. Brought to light, in the oral history interviews of the adult Indipinos, is the effect that historical trauma has on children, more specifically children whose mothers grew up in Indian Residential Schools.
“So everything for us was Filipino. And we didn’t even know that we were Indigenous children as well. Because when my dad had berry pickers come down from Canada, we thought they were Indians, and we were Filipinos. And my sister, one time said, Let’s go play with the Indians. And I said, Okay, let’s go. I think the chief is there. And we laughed because one little boy said, I’m an ancestral chief. We didn’t know anything about our culture. We didn’t know we were Indigenous. We thought that was funny that he said that he was an ancestral chief. So it wasn’t until we were adults that we started seeking out who our mother was, who our relatives were in Canada, and we started constructing our own identity.”
Daughter of Evelyn Williams
Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw Squamish Nation,
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