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Growing up as a mixed indigenous person, questioning my identity has been a constant. On my father’s side there is Filipino and French, on my mother’s side there is French, Irish, and Mi’kmaq. I grew up in Auburn, Maine primarily living with my mother and her parents; my grandmother being born and raised on the Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation reserve in Quebec, Canada and she moved to the United States back in the 1950’s. I grew up traveling to the reservation every summer for the annual powwow and to visit family. Not growing up on the reservation and coming from various ethnic backgrounds, I struggled with feeling that I wasn’t ‘native enough’ to identify as so. I’ve always been proud that my Mi’kmaq heritage has been a constant presence in my life even though there is so much about the culture that I still don’t know. Only within the last few years has it really been a catalyst for how I move forward in my life and through my journey with discovering myself.


Marissa Joly will be graduation from the University of Southern Maine in May, 2021 with a BFA in Studio Art, concentrating in Digital Design and Photography and a double minor in Marketing and Holistic and Integrative Health. She enjoys being in the natural world, exploring her spirituality, and creating enjoyable memories with loved ones.

The image included with the essay is an original artwork by Marissa Joly. Mikjikj Turtle. Joly explores traditional Native American styles of art-making to represent the spiritual relationship and interconnectedness that we all share with every living being.



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