Updated: Jan 20
Dominique Daye Hunter
It’s here y’all. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. My first ever book baby Seeds: Stories of Afro Indigenous Resilience was released on July 16th, 2022 and is available for sale now at DDAYEHUNTER.com/shop! Read more about the release event below.
Seeds: Stories of Afro-Indigenous Resilience is a collection of poetry and short stories in which author Dominique Daye Hunter explores the histories, intergenerational and personal trauma, healing, and resilience of the Afro-Indigenous diaspora. With a focus on Afro-Indigenous peoples in the southeastern United States, Dominique explores her process of reclaiming her traditional Yésah / Saponi culture and spirituality as well as her West African roots. Seeds is an ancestrally informed collection which highlights all aspects of being a Black and Native woman: reproductive justice, food sovereignty, water rights, environmental racism, systemic racism, anti-Blackness, colorism, self-love, and healing.
Dominique Daye Hunter, who has been healing through storytelling and poetry for over 17 years, explores the histories, intergenerational and personal trauma, healing, and resilience of the Afro-Indigenous diaspora. With a focus on Afro-Indigenous peoples in the southeastern United States, Dominique explores her process of reclaiming her traditional Yésah / Saponi culture and spirituality as well as her African roots. Seeds is an ancestrally informed collection which highlights all aspects of being a Black and Native woman: reproductive justice, food sovereignty, water rights, environmental racism, systemic racism, anti-Blackness in Indigenous communities, self-love, and healing.
The book press release event for Seeds was held on July 23rd from 4-6pm. Hosted by Franklin Studios in Scottsdale, AZ, this gorgeous photography studio served as our venue for the evening. Featuring palm fronds, antique furniture, birdcage light fixtures, and fashionably styled mannequins in gowns and D. Daye Hunter Designs merch, this stunning space gave both elevated and intimate energy.
For the first half hour, attendees mingled in the front room, browsed and shopped at the merchandise table, and enjoyed refreshments of lemon water and heritage blue, yellow, red, and white corn muffins made my D. Daye herself! V.I.P.'s (Very Involved Persons) enjoyed priority check-in, a DDHD’s tote bag filled with goodies and their Seeds book, as well as front row seating during the reading.
Event coordinator Roc then welcomed guests to enter the back room for the reading. Readers far and wide were able to join virtually by way of a LIVE Zoom feed. The program opened with a beautiful traditional song by Afro-Indigenous (Black / Akimel O’odham / Cuban / Puerto Rican) advocate Tyler Owens. Arizona Commission on the Arts programs advisor Anna Needham (Ojibwey) then provided the organization’s statement of support. This was followed by a moving reading of the poem "Tom" by Roc and an introduction of the author.
Dominique opened with a traditional introduction in Tutelo-Saponi, one of the languages of her ancestors. An Afro Indigenous storyteller, author, and artist, Dominique is African American, Native American (Saponi and Nansemond), Irish, and Polish. She explains her process as the author and illustrator of Seeds and how the intersection of Afro-Indigenous, Black, and Saponi identities, history, cultures, and healing inform the book.
“I wanted to create a body of work which brought honor and healing to the ancestors who came before us while documenting my own healing and reclamation of our power. I hope this book is a beacon of light and nurtures others to heal as it combats colonization, specifically systemic racism, anti-Blackness, micro aggressions, and environmental racism.”
Seeds also discusses food sovereignty, mental health, and neurodiversity. Daye Hunter explains that this collection of short stories and poems was ancestrally informed. “I would think I was almost done, and then I'd have a dream. I’d get a feeling that something was missing. It was as if the ancestor’s were saying, ‘Wait: we have other things we wanna talk about! What about when our people fought off the Klan with baseball bats? What about Aunt Hazel who recently passed? What about corn bread!?’ This was as late as the last week in June! You can only imagine my frustration as I did my best to write these stories as quickly as they came into my stream of consciousness. But I realized that they deserved it: the ancestors were silenced for so long. They had to hide and deny their Blackness, their Indigeneity: anything that would put their lives and livelihoods in danger.
I am honored to be their literal ghost writer. It was a labor of love.” Being neurodivergent, Dominique’s process was also nonlinear. She used a technique she calls “Read, Listen, Write” which helped get her creative juices flowing. “Sometimes trauma caused me to disassociate in the middle of writing; sometimes it was a powerful, spiritual experience. Often, words would pour into my mind, faster than I could type, as an ancestral download or 'remembering'. Other times concepts required research and marination.”
“I wanted the words to be easily digestible to the minds those words and concepts belong to,” Daye Hunter explains. “The use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and southwestern regional Native American Vernacular English (NAVE), along with visually and auditorily repetitive poems, make these poems not only more accessible, but they fall in line with Black southern and Southeastern Afro -Indigenous oral folk tradition such as "call and response."
There are even poems which have been adapted from original folk-inspired songs written by Dominique. Esoteric and abstract poems are also present, but the author intentionally kept these and academic terminology to a minimum. "It's not because I think our people wouldn't understand, though some, to whom these concepts are foreign, may struggle with them at first. I wanted this to be a beautiful and soulful experience; for the reader to be soothed even when reading about historical trauma. I wanted it to speak to grandparents and professors alike. I wanted to speak to the people.”
The undertone of Seeds asks the reader, sometimes subtly and sometimes boldly: what if we gave more authority to the Indigenous (whether African or Native American)
pedagogy than western academia? These stories challenge the notion that Black and Indigenous perspectives are only expert and academically valid when relayed or seen in a colonial lens.
The Seeds press release event wrapped up with a question and answer discussion with the audience facilitated by Anna Needham. Questions included how Dominique’s neurodivergence informs her process, and who was her greatest muse?: her grandmother and fellow writer, Velma. The event concluded with a book signing and photo opportunities in front of the D. Daye Hunter Designs backdrop. A few attendees joined the post-event “Dinner with the Artist” at Vicino’s Local Italian Restaurant.
Fellow artists, writers, and topic experts share their thoughts on Seeds:
“This phenomenal work speaks directly to the struggles of Afro-Indigenous women seeking to exist as their full selves despite having had people, traditions, and expression stolen from them for generations."
-Shereá D. Burnett, J.D., Creator of ThisWomansWords, Social Worker, Writer, & Advocate
“Dominique navigates living in two worlds when society demands conformity. Powerfully reclaiming her space through the narration of these moving experiences, she allows you to bear witness to the ultimate rebirth: her rightful and planted place as an Afro-Indigenous woman."
-Roc, Poet, Friend
“Seeds expresses that our common connection to Mother Earth transcends colonial constructs of race and blood quantum that continue to divide Indigenous peoples, and encourages self love, self acceptance, and Afro-Indigenous pride."
-Mimi Sané Ghaffar, Good Medicine Woman LLC Founder & Advocate
Bilahe’k gidé: Special thank you’s to:
Creator and ancestors for guiding me throughout this process
Me for self-publishing and putting in all this hard work! For pushing forward and taking care of myself when opportunities for healing intergenerational trauma surfaced
My family and close friends who’ve always edified the storyteller within me
Those who bought the first Seeds booklet in 2018, to those who pre-ordered this full version
My editor Kelly Butterfly Smith @kgpla_mixedmedia
Occaneechi Saponi, Afro-Indigenous writer and community leader Shereá Denise Burnett, J.D., for allowing me to feature you
Shereá D. Burnett, Roc, and Mimi Sané Ghaffar for reviewing Seeds
Everyone who attended the book release press event
Arizona Commission on the Arts for sponsoring this event including my awesome advisors Kesha Bruce and Anna Needham
Roc for being such an amazing event coordinator
Tyler Owens for her beautiful O’odham song
Monica Spencer for the photography
Shelly Benally for the videography
Franklin Studios for providing the event space
📕 You can order Seeds: Stories of Afro-Indigenous Resilience now at DDAYEHUNTER.com
Dominique Daye Hunter is a storyteller, advocate, and multi-disciplinary artist of Black/ Saponi/ Nansemond /Irish/ Polish descent. She is the CEO of D. Daye Hunter Designs and has a B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Management, emphasis in American Indian Studies. Hunter's work explores the complex connections between historical trauma and healing in Black and Indigenous communities. She creates safe spaces for BIWOC, children, neurodivergent individuals, and chronic illness warriors. The author of “Seeds: Stories of Afro-Indigenous Resilience,” Hunter is a sophomore cohort member of the Artist Investment Program, (Arizona Commission on the Arts) and lives between Arizona and North Carolina. Follow her journey on Instagram @ddayehunter and @ddayehunterdesigns.