Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There is no I in Indian

Time is slipping away. I don't know what to do or feel anymore?! I am done. While trying to write my epic tale and searching through the annals of my memories I have found nothing. I have found how little I know about my heritage that I am so proud of.
I am indian. American indian if you prefer to be politically correct, which I don't really care either way about. I don't get caught up in the technicalities of it, dude, I'm indian, no big.

I came to acting to show the world what an indian looks like, but no one really wants to know. Hollywood is still black and white. People just assume that we still wear buckskin, have long dark braided hair and have a direct line to the creator. When casting sends out their casting calls they put ethnic tags onto their character description, but it doesn't matter, every actor out there will submit to it because after all everyone is "indian". Maybe it's because I'm especially sensitive to it, but the conversation does happens a lot, maybe it's just because I'm an ass and enjoy the hypocracy of it all. While in class when someone poses the awkward question ..."so what are you?" as they try to ask in the most p.c. way, my ears perk up! It's always an interesting answer. Why can't you just say American? But now the long list of what some long lost relatives were begins. "Well, I'm French, German, Swedish, Italian, Irish, Scottish, oh yeah, and Choctaw". Then of course I have to look, because I think, oooh a new friend. I think this because obviously since we're both indians we are long lost friends and will realize this the minute we start to talk as our connection to the creator will bring us together. But then I turn around and see my new friend. She has dirty blond hair, is fair complected and her eyes sparkle like sapphires. Really, really I think? Of all the heritages you just mentioned, you talk more about being indian, as if trying to relate to me. I haven't said I was indian yet? You just made the assumption that we are some kindered spirit, because of the color of my skin. Granted I formed some opinion of you by simply looking at you. But my assumptions never jumped to indian.

I feel like such a hypocrite. Here I am passing judgement on this blond bimbo who may know all about her heritage as I sit way up here on my soapbox. Fine you wanna know the truth, I know stuff. I know how to say hello and thank you, and to call someone a pig, I know what my grandmother used to call me when I was small instead of Wanda. I know when I think of my high school boyfriend, Toby and his brothers how much sadness I feel. Toby lived on the rez, he went to the english school, he was in grade 12. I went to the french school and was only in grade 11. Like any tragic teen love story, my father didn't want me to date him, just for the simple fact that he was from the rez and wasn't the stellar student I was, I was going to go to law school after all, while he could barely pass basic math and english. On the weekends, I would meet-up with a friend from work, whose boyfriend was indian too, and we would take a taxi to the rez, since I was still too young to drive and she didn't have her permit either. I'd have to either make sure that the cabby came back for me at a specific time, or make sure I made it to the corner store before it closed so I could use their phone since there was no phone at Toby's. It was only him and his 2 other brothers that lived there. His parents worked in other towns and they were left there alone most of the time. Barely any heat in the winter, somedays they had no power because the bill hadn't been paid. Their uncle, who was maybe 25, was supposed to be the responsible adult in their life. That was a joke. He would come over and sell his drugs out of the house. I know this because I was there one night, and was relegated to reading and listening to music in the bedroom, while they "talked" in the livingroom, Toby coming in periodically to make sure I was ok. At least he cared for me enough to not want to expose me to that world, so I guess I'm thankful for that. But what I can't stop thinking of now when I think of him, was the squalor that they lived in. I feel guilty because I didn't live this empoverished life, I had all the opportunity in the world. So did they though. They got paid to go to school. Every kid that lived on the rez would get a stipend from Indian Affairs. Sure it wasn't much, but I remember being pissed because here they were, always skipping class, having barely passing grades and they got money every month. Fine they needed the money, but they didn't use it for anything useful, it was usually used for beer and drugs.

I want to return to being the eight-year old. Whose whole world was ahead of her, and there was nothing in her way.