Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Foundation

I confirmed my suspicions today, I am not really Indian. Maybe that’s why all those Indians I see at the pow-wows at home are covered in silver and turquoise so it will be easier to be picked out of the crowd and there won’t be any doubt then. Mental note gotta get me some. The really huge pieces too, the ones that look like a huge boulder is on your hand instead of the precious stone carved from hundreds of years in the earth. I am not Indian. I was out shopping and a man with the prettiest hair asked if I needed help. Of course I did, I was buying make-up, does this face look like it comprehends make-up? Anyway, the whole time he is helping me choose foundation, I feel so pale and bland next to his rich, dark skin. He offered two pots of some beige and tawny concoctions and asked if I had planned to get darker. Was this an assault on my indianness? Oh no, he can tell I'm a phony; soon I will hear the whoops of the Indian cops coming to take me away for fraud. I stood in shock for a moment and replied "of course I want to get darker, this is just my winter coloring" I quantified to him.

What I really wanted to do though was ask "so what tribe?” but I didn't. In that single moment I felt like I only image others do when they're curious about my nativeness.

So instead I stared at his ruddy skin, that reminded me of my dad, his roman nose, his flat-ironed hair that was so pretty I wanted to touch it. I tried to catch his eye in the hopes that he would ask, but didn't. I was in there a total of 10 minutes. I feel brushed off and put away by him, I want to feel this kinship with him, but I am embarrassed to ask him, in fear that he finds me out.

The day has finally arrived. I chopped off 8” of my hair, without a thought or a whimper. The stylist place a rubber band at the 8” line and sawed thru my thick mane. I caught a glimpse of the receptionist as she walked by, the look of shock and disbelief on her face as the stylist chopped. I looked at her reflection and smiled. No fear. No thought of what she was doing, or what it signified. I was not Sampson, I now had more power now. I let go of my wanting and needing to be Indian. I can’t recall the last time I cut my hair. Most of my life my hair has been short, never going below my ears, but now here I am in Los Angeles, my hair is the longest it’s ever been, long layers to my mid-back. When I played the Indian in Berlin Blues, my hair braided into to tight tails hanging from either side of me, I dare not cut my hair, I couldn’t play those parts anymore. You always see the Indian maiden in the movies, her long hair tied back with sinew and leather lace, then at night by the fire loose or when she has a fight with her lover, she is running away from him, her black flaxen hair catching the wind and her wildness. My short hair now, will no longer feel that freedom. It now hangs playfully by my ears, not being restrained in a single ponytail. Did hair make me more or less Indian? Most of my counterparts have hair that hangs below their shoulders and it is never tied back, now can they move or see, do they think that long hair is necessary? Even men have longer hair than me, they are always the bare chested loin cloth wearing braves in the movies.

Somedays I wish I were indian. I think t would be really cool.

Long brown hair, carefully tied into two neat braids.

I'm not sure what I was thinking the day I decided to cut my hair. My hair was down to the middle of my back. Most days I wore it up in a pony-tail, or as I recently figured out how to do a bun. Some days as I lazily put my hair up, I wondered when I became a librarian. At first I had grown my hair, or just not cut it because I was on a show, and I braided my hair for each into two neat braids, but after 6 weeks of that and then a traveling show, you've tricked yourself into believing that you are really indian since you've pulled it off for this long and you can't stop the charade now.