Tag Archives: Denise Emerson

Seedcast: Finding Sweet Water in a Blade of Grass

by Denise Emerson

Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this monthly column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.

I grew up as an artist. My parents made it so. When I was 6 or 7 years old, my teacher would give us what we called “ditto sheets.” They were copies of pictures for us to color on, and we had Christmas ditto sheets, Easter ditto sheets, ditto sheets for seasons, dittos for animals, dittos for everything. We were supposed to color the pictures with crayons or colored pencils, but to me, the pictures on the dittos alone looked so bare. So, I started drawing outside of the lines on my sheets. As my teacher walked around, she saw what I was doing. She bent down and asked me, “Denise, what made you think of doing that?” I couldn’t really explain it to her and said that it was just something I knew needed to be done. She was the first person who noticed that I was different and gave me room to make my art.

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