Stone Mother


Aly Mcknight Lady Of The Buffalo
Lady of the Buffalo. / Artwork by Aly McKnight (2020), 9×12”, watercolor on paper.


I was born in the desert
learned to cherish water
like it was created from tears.

I grew up hearing the legend, the lesson
of the Stone Mother who cried
enough cries to make an entire lake
from sadness. From her, we learned
what must be done and that the sacrifices
you make for your people are sacred.
We are all related
and sometimes it takes
a revolution to be awakened.

You see, the power of a single tear lies in the story.
It’s birthed from feeling and following
the pain as it echoes into the canyon of grieving.
It’s the path you stumble and walk
until you push and claw your way through to acceptance.
For us, stories have always been for lessons.


I remember my grandmother was well versed in dirt,
the way the earth clung to her hands as if it were a part of her.
We come from the earth. So she tended the seeds
as living beings, planted her garden full of foods
traditional to the land and handled them with care.
Every tree, plant, or rock has a spirit, she said “hear it.”


I listen.

When my mother says words are seeds
and to be careful
of the words you say, I pray.
For I know each seed carries a story.

My mother taught me that water is the source
of all living things and to honor life like the circle
we sit in for ceremony. From the doorway in
to the doorway out, life is about all our relations.


Before I was born, they tried to silence us,
pierced our tongues with needles then taught
our then-girl-grandmothers how to sew like machines.
You see, colonialism has always been
about them not seeing us as human but as object,
a thing. Conquest meant they saw our bodies as land,
full of resources waiting to be extracted and exploited.

Our land was stolen.
Our language. Our grandmothers, grandfathers,
fathers, sisters, mothers, brothers, daughters, sons,
children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and ancestors.

Our Mother Earth holds our histories in her dirt.
But today, she burns not in the traditional ways
once taught,
controlled and deliberate. Today she burns desperate,
for all to resist fossil fuels, the drilling, and the
black snake named
greed that swallows everything.


When you lose something, you hope it will be found.
When something is stolen, you want it returned.
We’ve had our land stolen and we’re losing it again
unless we all take action for the climate to change.


Land back is a demand, a stand
against the Age of Exploration and Extraction,
a call for the Time of Reconciliation,
the Now of Restoration

Land back is an understanding
that tomorrow isn’t promised, but today we can return
the power to the earth and her stewards.

And those who wish to stand with us
must take action beyond the performative
where Indigenous consulting
isn’t just a costume of free
and informed consent,
where consulting with tribal nations
isn’t just a box one checks without due diligence,
where co-management isn’t co-opted
just for the optics of equity, diversity, and justice.

Stand with us as accomplices.
Follow our lead for we have always been well
versed in survival.

We were shaped by fire, made from lightning and
dirt-covered hands that know when to ignite healing.
Now is the time.
Let us not drown in Mother Earth’s tears.
Mother Earth has a spirit and she’s asking us to listen.