Emily Bowen Cohen’s recent mini-comic An American Indian Guide to the Day of Atonement recounts her reunion with her long-lost Native American family and her reflection on the trip over the following Yom Kippur. Emily will be guest blogging for the Jewish Book Council all week as part of the Visiting Scribe series here on The ProsenPeople.
Throughout the fall, I closely followed the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. I followed the protests in the media, as well as in my personal life. As a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, I have family and friends who were water protectors. Their stories dominated my social media feed.
The frenzy ceased, however, when I put on my “Jewish” hat. When I was immersed in Jewish life, the protest at Standing Rock, North Dakota was not a trending topic. I don’t stop being Native American when I walk into synagogue. The hashtag #NoDAPL flashed before my eyes as I prayed in shul, or set my Shabbat table, or ate in a sukkah. I was surprised by how many times I encountered something in my Jewish life that reminded me of the Sioux fighting for their rights at Standing Rock.
In that spirit, I do what I do: I drew a comic about the weird and wonderful experience of being a Native American Jew.
Emily Bowen Cohen writes memoir-style comics about being Native American and Jewish. She grew up in a small town in rural Oklahoma. Emily received a 2016 Word Artist Grant, a project of American Jewish University’s Institute for Jewish Creativity, to create An American Indian Guide to the Day of Atonement.
Emily Bowen Cohen creates comics that explore intersectional identity. She is Jewish and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She uses personal experience to tell stories that examine contemporary American and Jewish culture. Emily grew up in rural Oklahoma and spent her teenage years in suburban New Jersey. She graduated from Harvard University and currently lives in Los Angeles, California.