Writing, Reading and Living

Welcome and thank you for dropping by. I'm an essayist, memoirist, a contributor to fifteen books, the author of two memoirs, and essays in numerous publications. My stories illuminate our humanity, remind us to be open, to connect, to hope, to question—or bring change. 

For me, writing is a way of reaching out to others, to people I don't know. I sit alone, in silence, but all that time I’m out there, connecting with whoever reads my words. Some of my essays included here are serious/substantial and are balanced with lighter topics. Most of all, my writing is timeless (vs timely). 

High Tide in the Redwoods: Memoir, Migration and This Wilderness in My Blood

My bags were packed, boxes stacked, and escrow was closing. We were downsizing, and moving from the city where we lived for the past forty-three years. We didn’t have a new house to move into, not yet. While we searched for another home we would live in a (luxurious) 26-foot travel trailer on land a family member owned in the redwoods in Northern California. 

The morning our belongings were loaded onto the moving van, I walked through the empty house thanking the space, saying goodbye to the home that sheltered my family for three decades. And before I got into my car to make the long drive, I checked my email. 
An editor at the University of Nebraska Press sent an email saying she liked the manuscript for my new memoir. The press was interested in publishing, and asked for revisions. 

Oh, for joy. Happiness. And crazy-making. Take on the task of revising my book manuscript when I was in the process of uprooting my life? 

Recently the editor of Women Writers, Women’s Books invited me to write an essay about writing my new memoir, We Who Walk the Seven WaysI greatly enjoyed wandering back over the years writing and remembering. 

Read my essay High Tide in the Redwoods: Memoir, Migration and This Wilderness in My Blood

Race, Ethnicity and My Face

As a woman of Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, German descent, I came of age understanding that I'm not totally Native nor am I totally white. I'm a border woman dwelling between the boundaries. 

I have light skin, light enough that some people think I’m a white person. My dad, a Native man, and my mother, a white woman, had me when they were teenagers in 1953. 

I grew up in Compton, California, a mixed race suburb of Los Angeles. The family next door was Bolivian and they loved me like a daughter. My best friend was Japanese and Mexican. Still, when I was 10 years-old, my dad sat me down to have “the talk” with me about race. He told me about how to navigate the streets, about how to stay safe. He also wanted to make sure I understood that in order to be accepted by certain white people it mattered who your friends were. 

By that point, however, I already knew. 


WE WHO WALK THE SEVEN WAYS is Terra Trevor’s memoir about seeking healing and finding belonging. After she endured a difficult loss, a circle of Native women elder friends embraced and guided Trevor (mixed-blood Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, German) through the seven cycles of life in their Indigenous ways. Over three decades, these women lifted her from grief, instructed her in living, and showed her how to age from youth into beauty. 
With tender honesty, Trevor explores how the end is always a beginning. Her reflections on the deep power of women’s friendship, losing a child, reconciling complicated roots, and finding richness in every stage of life show that being an American Indian with a complex lineage is not about being part something, but about being part of something. 

University of Nebraska Press
COMING MAY 1, 2023. Pre-order

It would take me a long time to reach the good place where I am now, but that afternoon was a beginning

It was 1999, and I was doing laundry. I walked past my son's bedroom, a room that was immortalized with everything in place exactly as it had been six months earlier, when he was alive. I felt a tiny wave of strength surface, a glimmer of faith bringing me to understand I was ready to begin the process of letting go of his things. But I needed to do it in baby steps.

I cleared out a stack of his outgrown clothes. It was the only way my mother’s heart could manage the task. 

He was fifteen years old when he left this earth, and I let go first of what no longer would have fit him. Slowly, over a period of time, I gave away all of my son’s clothes, keeping only his sweatshirt for me to breath in the scent of him, to bury my face in long nights of remembering.

Next I began tossing things from my own well-stocked closet, giving away good quality items I seldom wore—clothing that no longer fit the newly evolving me. Each month I eyeballed my closet and convinced myself to part with more and more. At the time it didn’t occur to me that I was beginning to walk toward a stress-free lifestyle of owning less. Read more

Unpapered: Writers Consider Native American Identity and Cultural Belonging

Edited by Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez 

I'm honored to have my work included.
Unpapered is a collection of personal narratives by Indigenous writers exploring the meaning and limits of Native American identity beyond its legal margins. Native heritage is neither simple nor always clearly documented, and citizenship is a legal and political matter of sovereign nations determined by such criteria as blood quantum, tribal rolls, or community involvement. Those who claim a Native cultural identity often have family stories of tenuous ties dating back several generations. Given that tribal enrollment was part of a string of government programs and agreements calculated to quantify and dismiss Native populations, many writers who identify culturally and are recognized as Native Americans do not hold tribal citizenship. 
Unpapered charts how current exclusionary tactics began as a response to “pretendians”—non-indigenous people assuming a Native identity for job benefits—and have expanded to an intense patrolling of identity that divides Native communities and has resulted in attacks on peoples’ professional, spiritual, emotional, and physical states. An essential addition to Native discourse, Unpapered shows how social and political ideologies have created barriers for Native people truthfully claiming identities while simultaneously upholding stereotypes.

Take A Stand: Art Against Hate

Take a Stand: Art Against Hate
A Raven Chronicles Anthology

I'm honored to have my work included.

“The poems and stories in this anthology offer necessary anecdotes against hate. They are inscription, instruction, witness, warning, remedy, solution, even solace. This anthology is relief.” —Diane Glancy, winner of an Amerian Book Award and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry 

“We can regard Take a Stand: Art Against Hate as a print-form peace march, an ongoing campaign for justice for all of the struggles embodied in these writings and depicted in the artwork included here.” —Carolyne Wright
co-editor of Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace

Take a Stand: Art Against Hate, contains poems, stories and images from 117 writers, 53 artists, with 69 illustrations, divided into five fluid and intersecting sections: LegaciesWe Are HereWhy?Evidence, and Resistance. We begin with Legacies because the current increased climate of hate in this country didn’t begin with the 2016 election, and to find its roots we must look to U.S. history.

Dancing to Remember

I am gathered with friends and family under a bead blue California sky. Powwow weekend. Santa Ynez Chumash Inter-Tribal. My shawl is folded over my arm. I listen to the wind, spilling through the tree leaves. 

Time merges with timelessness. Memories circle and carry me to a day forty years ago, when I stood on this good land, near the oak tree for the first time, with my young children gathered about. The same tree I am standing under today. 

I lean my back against this oak. This tree, giver of life. She has raised a community with song, dance and prayer. We return to this land, to this tree, in October every year. Laughter, flirting and romance in lives young and old take place all around her. 

She stands sentry. Her autumn softened leaves, swept up from a cool mountain breeze, fall gently on American Indian fathers holding sleeping babies. Mothers trading stories, their shiny cut beads reflecting light while braiding their children’s hair, with feathers in the colors of the earth, trailing. 

There were difficult times too for this oak tree, when she witnessed wild fires raging, drought years with dust rising against the clear sky. The times when her branches sheltered human arguments and angry outbursts, but mostly she is surrounded by love and caring. 

I stand high upon a flat rock, my eyes roaming, taking in the day, the years. Filling my lungs with sweet fragrances of the damp Mother Earth. Feeling my body grow light, like the feathers of the red tail hawk touching the soft clouds. 

For the record I am not California Indian. I am an Indian born in California, mixedblood Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, and for forty-three years I lived in an area that makes up the traditional Chumash homeland. I spent those years walking gently, a guest on this good land and I hold the culture, traditions and history of the Chumash people in my heart. For my Chumash friends this is their landscape of time. 

I remember the words of my aunties and my grandmothers, about how each person is a connection to history and when we gather around the area and form a circle around the drums, singers and dancers we are all connected, and it's our way of saying that American Indian people are still here. This is our celebration of life past, present and future. 

Tomol Evening was first appeared in News from Native California, a quarterly magazine devoted to California's Indian peoples published by Heyday Books. This essay also appears in Terra Trevor's new memoir We Who Walk the Seven Ways.

Copyright © Terra Trevor. All rights reserved. 

At Home on the Mountain

A soft mist fell this morning, the sky looks silver-blue in this light, and the wind has cleared. The redwood trees are still, nothing is moving across the mountain. 

In Writing Motherhood

Before I was a mother, I have always been a writer.
I'm well into grandmotherhood now, leaving a trail of my motherhood footsteps behind with twenty-one of my favorite previously published essays.

The other day a good writer-friend asked me, “Have you considered writing a book about motherhood after the kids are grown?” A sequel to my memoir Pushing up the Sky? Hmmm. I wonder what that book would be about? 
Another writer-friend came up with the perfect title 'Sex and the City Indian' a collection of narratives written by Native women about romance, family and marriage, and you can count me in. 

But kidding aside, I have written a second memoir about love, aging from youth into beauty, with reflections on the deep power of female friendships, and reconciling complicated roots. 

My new memoir, We Who Walk the Seven Ways, will be published by University of Nebraska Press in 2023, and when I was in the early stages of writing the book, I discovered that first I needed to explore how my identity as a mother has grown and changed over the past four decades, and in order to move forward, I had to go back. 

Please join me at In Writing Motherhood. Or, maybe you would rather read 'Sex and the City Indian.'


Writing, Reading and Living

Welcome and thank you for dropping by. I'm an essayist, memoirist, a contributor to fifteen books, the author of two memoirs, and essa...

In Writing Motherhood
In these twenty essays, Terra Trevor explores themes of motherhood, race, ethnicity, identity, foster care, adoption, community and family ties. In sharing her thoughts about the urgent business of being alive, Trevor the essayist is defiant, funny, and courageously honest.
Earth and the Great Sea Journal | Blog
My journal at Earth and the Great Sea is my open field, to explore, tell stories, think out loud, find inspiration, and share updates.