As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Lisa King—Nonfiction

Making Ceremony Out of Darkness: Walking With Our Sisters, Ziibiwing Center


Handle these watchwords with love—make a healing space for families and loved ones in pain.
These are the teachings.

We remembered the lost with
designs in white ribbon on a red floor,

cedar branches in spreading green,
vamps of buckskin, felt,
velvet, birchbark, paper
a rainbow of patterns,
a multitude.


Overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of what I had witnessed, I left the first night singing to myself—so glad to be alive and to be able to help with such a project. But as soon as I sat down in my car I was halted, pierced by a single thought. I was reminded: We should not have to do this.

—————We should not have to do this.
——————————We should not have to do this.
———————————————We should not have to do this.

We should not have to set out tissues.

We should not have to wrap the grieving in blankets.

We should not have to hold these precious vamps in our hands
—————each one a story of a life missing or lost.

2,000 pairs.

We should not have to make a ceremony to keep them close.

We should not have to look at our friends, mothers, sisters, daughters, relatives, ourselves
—————and wonder who might be next?

We should not have to fight a legal system that does not care
—————that does not even count the missing.


We should not have to do this.
—————There is not enough sage in the world to clear the grief.

I wiped my face clear of tears—
—————kept the tissue for the tear bag at the memorial.


Everyone came back the next day and we opened the installation, the ceremonial lodge, with good words and love of the community—even if we didn’t have to
—————even if the rage and frustration were there
—————even if we cannot undo those losses.

We answer the violence with love and gentleness—beauty,
—————the work of a thousand hands.

Lisa King is a teacher and scholar of rhetoric, writing, and Native American studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her research and teaching blend interests in cultural rhetorics with an emphasis in contemporary Native American and Indigenous rhetorics, visual rhetorics, and material rhetorics. Her specific areas of focus are Indigenous museums and the support of Indigenous self-representation for multiple audiences, and how that cross-cultural education can happen in both academic and public spaces. She is of European and Delaware descent.
Walking With Our Sisters is a commemorative art installation to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous Women of Canada and the United States; to acknowledge the grief and torment families of these women continue to suffer; and to raise awareness of this issue and create opportunity for broad community-based dialogue on the issue” (“The Project”). For more information, visit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 17, 2017 by .

Countdown to Launch

Issue 3February 14, 2014
Online version of Issue 3 goes live!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 505 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: