FROM THE DEBWE SERIES
by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm
The Stone Collection is an interconnected collection of stories i gathered and polished for more than a decade. In them are glimpses of people I’ve known, places i’ve lived, my homeland, my community, my friends, my lovers, and me. None of the stories are about me although i suppose i have a cameo in “Picking Stones,” which is a story and a preface to welcome readers into the world within the covers of the book. In each story there are small moments, turning points, where the story spins in another direction and characters are caught up in the momentum, sent spiraling.
There is darkness in many of the stories. This is the reality for Indigenous people in this nationstate called Canada. Violence and disease of all kinds surround us. The stories reflect that colonial reality. There is pain, anger, betrayal, death, abuse. There is also beauty, deep friendship, intense loyalty, constant teasing and joking, abundant laughter, and, above all, abiding love.
One of the stories was inspired by a moment i saw flipping through TV channels one day. I lingered, just for a moment, on a daytime talk show and heard a young man speak about his role in a horrifying event, the murder of his grandmother. I didn’t hear his story or any details of what happened, just a few bits of what he said. But what i heard stayed with me. How could anyone do such a thing? i wondered. I was sad and horrified and kept trying, somehow, to make sense of it in a way that I could understand. I can’t really explain why but i wanted, I needed, to understand. I thought a lot about how life could lead a boy in that direction. I thought about grandparents and their roles in Anishinaabek life. I thought about the many grandmothers I know and about my own grandmothers whom i adored. The more I thought about it, the more compassion i felt for both a boy and a grandmother whose lives intersected in such a way. Much later, I wrote “The Stone Eater.”
I’ve gathered these stories, like stones, into this collection, and stories, like stones, hold memory.
Stories, like stones, are alive.