Monyssha Rose Trujillo 

Cochiti, Santa Clara, Laguna, Jicarilla, Diné

Monyssha Rose Trujillo (Cochiti, Santa Clara, Laguna, Jicarilla, Diné) is an anthropologist and geographer working toward the creation of inclusive spaces for Indigenous people in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). Her work is driven by the desire to expand areas of knowledge through Indigenous teachings and to reclaim narratives of the natural world.


Tribal Affiliations:

Artwork Affiliations:

Monyssha chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:

Mary Trujillo storyteller figure

Mary E. Trujillo | Ohkay Owingeh, Isleta, Cochiti
Storyteller figure
Before 1990
Clay and paint
8½ x 6 x 7½ in. (21.6 x 16.2 x 19.1 cm)
Collection School for Advanced Research

For Sale

Stop. Sit, child. Sit. Listen and learn.

Listen to our ancestors’ stories. They’ve lived more lives than you or I will ever know. Sit with Babah and watch her hands work. Be careful. Stop running around Grandma’s house or you’ll break something else.

It’s OK, Hijita. Mistakes happen. That means we’re alive.

Here. Hold my pop.
Don’t drink that; it’s warm.

Well, when I was a little girl, I got to taste my first [insert Brand Name]. I did not like it. It was too sweet. Too thick. I did not want it. I could not tell my mom; she had paid a nickel for it. I left it outside on the porch in the sun. When your grandma saw it, she was so mad at me. She told me that she was going to watch me finish it unless I had a nickel to pay her back. I took a big gulp and it burned me. I could not stop choking until I spat it all out. When I was done crying, your grandma showed me the wasp she had found in the [Brand Name] puddle I coughed up. The creature had stung my lip. That is what had scared me. My bleeding tongue was my own doing. I do not remember how long it took until I could talk again.

So honey, be careful of your selfishness. You might hurt yourself after you destroy an innocent creature. “Swallow your pride” is what they say.1 We learn our lessons through experiences. Make your stories worth telling. Those are the ones that live the longest. They bring us back home.

We are part of a whole, a part of one another. Pieces of me live on in you, so teach the children to tell stories. We owe one another our lives in eternity because the generations that make ancestors of us author the futures of all our spirits. We are all born into humility. Vanity is a learned trait. A colonial trait. Live for yourself and stay honest through the lessons you learn. Pass on that life through your art and share it with the world. Share it with all who are willing to learn and teach. We have hurt one another and ourselves enough; we all know pain, it is the hardest thing to let go. It is time to heal and forgive, but when you are an ancestor, be wary of what you imbibe. Colonization can no longer sustainably influence a world it created through centuries of theft and exclusion. Their stories lie in the founding documents of the first colonies: a “new world” where we were never meant to survive. True history lives in life created by moments of affliction and joy—that is our magic. We deserve to be here. Our voices need to be here.

I have done you, Reader, an invaluable service by translating for my ancestors.

1 An American-English idiom that originates in the Bible: “How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?” (King James Version, Job 7:19).