Wanda bursts through the door.
Victor my good man your best bottle of champagne. It's a day to celebrate!
No, it's not my birthday, you should know that. Less talk, more moving! (beat) I have had a break-through today. I do not know how to describe this feeling. I HAVE FOUND MYSELF.
I wasn't aware you were lost.
Nice Vic, haha, I was lost in the metaphorical sense. Now pour. You call that champagne? Hmmph! That'll have to do.
Standing and raising her glass to the whole bar.
(Clearing her throat)
I would like to propose a toast. To all my brethren out there who are searching for something bigger than themselves. To family, to genetics, to history. To the internet and the world wide web. To finding yourself. Cheers.
(takes a drink and makes a face because it is horrible tasting, takes a seat)
Cough, cough. This stuff is disgusting. (pause) You would not believe what I have found out today. It is such an exciting find. (beat) Ok, so remember when my grandmother died last year, all these relatives that I had never met before showed up at the funeral home. They were introducing themselves as aunts and uncles, that I had no clue about. I mean, my family isn't big on holiday gatherings, it was usually just my parents and my grandmother. I barely knew that my parents had brothers and sisters, and that I had cousins out there? Look, I lived in the same town as these people and had no clue I was related to them. Until one of my friends would refer to someone as my cousin. I mean seriously, with a name like Big Canoe, you know you're gonna be related. I would just give a nod, like I knew that. And up until that point it didn't matter that I was clueless, not until the funeral and all this new family. So I signed up for one of those online geneology crap thingies. So now, I'm combing through decades of old church documents and finding these people. These ghosts of my past. It made me sad since the only connection I have to these people is in name alone. So I am filling in blanks of my family that realistically can only go back so far, right? I mean I'm indian after all, and from what I know, they weren't big on pen and paper. (pause) Hey Vic! Will you pour the usual? Yeah, rye, straight up?
Lights up on a solitary figure, dressed in traditional regalia (sad, looking around), we hear drums in the background.
Boozhoo! Eyota Ndishnikaaz (Greetings, my name is Eyota). Aanii!? Oh! (forgets that Wanda cannot understand her) I mean hello, it's me Eyota. Is anyone there? Wanda? Can you hear me? Maybe she's forgotten about me. Sad. I remember when we were little, we were the best of friends, we would go everywhere together. The best though, was the summer just before we turned 8. School had just let out and her parents had planned on the family spending the summer traveling around to pow wows so they could sell their art. Her dad was an artist, his latest artsy kick was pottery and sculpture. They packed up the van with blankets and clothes and food amoungst the art, and stuffed me and Wanda and her brother on the makeshift bed in back. There was this one pow wow, that was on an island, and the only way you could get there was by rickety raft looking thing that would only take one car at a time. I remember the guy was telling her dad to back up, but we were on the barge and it moving forward already. He forgot this and we almost back right off the barge. Her brother was just tiny at the time, still in diapers. Wanda and I would help set up the booth, unpacking and unwrapping all the different sized pots and vases. Once the gates had opened, and people started to file into the grounds, we would take her brother and walk around, looking at all the other vendor booths. By now it was usually around lunch time and you could smell the grease in the air from the frybread. If we timed it just right, we would walk by just as they were sprinkling the powdered sugar on top and we would stop and let the waft of sugar cover us. We always tried to see who could lick the sugar off the tip of our nose first. Around this time, we'd hear the thump of the drums as they started to warm up for grand entry. Next came the shoosh and dinging of the jingle dresses. When they started dancing, if you closed your eyes, it almost sounded like Santa was coming. We'd eventually make it back to the booth, just in time for her dad to pull out the paints. Wanda pulled out the flat rocks that we had found on the beach and started painting on them. We painted goldfish, and trees and dog looking creatures. She put them on the display table for them to dry and she ended up selling a few for a quarter each. Her mom was mortified though, when another mom came and demanded her son's quarter back.
Looks over to Wanda at the bar.
The best thing she liked about going to pow wows was the food, though. Her mom used to try and make corn soup and she could never quite manage the fluffiness of the frybread. I know we were only 8 and all, but she really thought that was the worst summer, but I'm sure that sometimes whenever she sees a soap stone sculpture or a really flat rock, she remembers her indian summer.
But that doesn't make someone indian! Anyone can spin a pottery wheel and read a book about it. (awoken from her day dream) Have you ever used one of these online databases? You enter some information, a name, a date of birth and up pops hundreds of results. Ok, maybe not hundreds in my case, but still. You click on the name and up pops this document from the turn of the 20th century and you realize that you existed way beyond your thoughts, there are others out there like you, you have a place in the world. These hand written church records that hold this key to your past. The kids they had, the legible name the church authorities converted your name to. But what’s really weird is the way I found these old names, because trust me, my initial search stopped at about 1954. I was going through my mail and reading the latest newsletter from the Rez. Some gibberish about treaty talks, that have been going on for as long as I can remember. But because I don’t want to waste paper, I started thumbing through the pages and there it was. A listing of the people who actually signed the treaty way back in 1850 The names, mostly unrecognizable, and unpronouncible like Ahbehabonwaishkum and Paibouewaiteutung or Baibahmakswahe. In the next column lists names of people who still lived on the reservation in 1905, now names are starting to look more legible and “normal”, I see a name that looks somewhat familiar. But in 1937, I see it. My last name. This means that my people, my family signed the document, they were important enough to sign this treaty, that I am actually a real Indian. I can make grandiose statements now of being a fucking Indian princess. I mean, my aunt did tell me we were from the crane clan, those who were the leaders and chiefs of the tribe, but this confirms it. I have a link to this greatness that I had always dreamed that I was a part of, right. My relatives were important enough to sign this treaty. Right? (beat) That’s what I thought too, but not really. They were sell-outs! Sure it's cool to find out they signed the treaty, but when you think about it, what the hell is a treaty? It's an agreement where indians agreed to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for "payments and promises" from Crown officials. They gave up everything...for what? A few shiny beads and a bottle of fire water. Fuck. Fuck.
Vic! Pour me the usual, and make it a double.
You still want the champagne?
Of course I still want the champagne. I just need something to rinse the bitter taste from my mouth.
We hear drum music in the background. Fade out to introduce Pooley.
At the other end of the bar, we see an older gentleman slumped over his drink. He wears a weathered baseball cap and plaid button up shirt.
Hey Victor, what's her problem?
Oh, not much, her whole world has just been shattered.
How can her whole world be shattered? Reckons to me, that she just found out where she comes from, eh?
Hey Vic, you have kids? Good looking guy like you must have some little ones out there. Hehehe.
What about you ol' timer?
Me? (sobering up, tapping his glass as if to signal another one) Yeah, I've got some out there. Yeah I do. (reminiscing). I left my family years ago because I had to. I couldn’t take looking into those faces anymore. You know, my wife, my little girl. I was letting ‘em down. I had always told my little Nova that she could be whatever she wanted to be. She changed her mind like the seasons, that one. She’s a smart one though. When she was little, she was always reading I hated going to the mall with her, because we would be in the bookstore for hours. I think she was hiding from me though. I’m not saying I wasn’t the best father in the world, but I coulda been better. She did all these things at school, you know. She played sports, she sang in the choir, or there was always some recital or show to go to. Back then, I couldn’t be bothered with that. I went, but I resented the shit out of it. I had to leave my friends and the bar to go to those damn things, and there were a lot. So I started carrying around a little flask with me, wherever I went. I made it to all her events; I just wasn’t the most sober one there.
Looks at accusatorally at Pooley.
Don’t look at me like that, Victor; I know that some parents would’ve taken a swig had I offered. Those damn things are boring, there are only so many you could go to and just sit there and be quiet. Me, I would stand up and cheer for her when she was done. I would whoop and holler her name. She was my little super Nova. She certainly blew my world up. I miss her. I miss her so much. But that’s why I left, I could see how much I hurt her. Sure her Dad was there, but was he really? I sat and talked to everyone around me, making sure they knew who my little girl was. I would talk loud and point and yell to her? When she was 10, that’s when I knew I had to go. We were at her district basketball game, she was running up and down the court and I stood up in the bleachers, waving my camera in my hand for her to look my way so I could take a picture. “Nova, Nova this way, I need a picture to send to your grandma". But, by that time, my flask was empty and I was a little woozy. It was the middle of the game, her team was winning and, and I just fell off the bleachers. She didn’t rush to me to see if I was ok. She just sat on the bench, trying to pretend she didn’t know me. That’s when I knew to make her life better, I had to leave. She’s a doctor now you know.
Tapping his glass on the counter, to indicate he needed a refill. We hear the beat of drums again.
When the day was done we would go back to the campsite. There, we would run around collecting small twigs and branches so her Mom could start the fire. I have never eaten so many hotdogs in my life. Wanda loved hotdogs that were cooked over the campfire and that's all she would eat. When it would get dark, her Dad would tell us stories. We would sit by the fire and start roasting marshmellows for the smores. Our favorite is the one about the serpent. Long ago,
Vic did you hear that? (looking around, holding her chest, as if feeling the drum beat...shaking it off) Never mind. You know I never felt a need "to be Indian", I just was. It is kinda funny though, when you look at my school pictures, I was the really tan kid in all the pics. My friends and classmates didn't treat me differently, everyone loved my parents. Even in college I wasn't different. I never felt any different than the people I call my friends, none of which were indian. It's weird, ya know. When you're little, you're spending all this time figuring out who you want to be in the world, not a care, no worries. And it's not until you become an adult, fully over your adolescent fears do you realize how different you are.
It’s a lazy summer afternoon, my cousin Jeremy (the white one, not the brown one) who was visiting for the next week have nothing to do. We’re 8 or 9. Memere has kicked us out, relating us to the outdoors. In an effort to amuse themselves they played dress up. They found these Halloween costumes that her other grandmother had brought over. They picked out their tops and Jeremy found a head dress that had she had gotten from some tourist trap, they painted their faces and headed for the front yard. The yard abutted the highway, so there was a constanct stream of tourists driving by. Jeremy and her stood stoically at the top of the grassy knoll waving to the passersby. At first no one really paid attention, but they got the occasional honking horn or a big toot from a transport.
I was the really tan kid in all the school photos. my friends and classmates didn't treat me differently, everyone loved my parents. even in college i wasn't different. i never felt any different than the people i call my friends, none of which were indian. it's weird, ya know. when you're little, you're spending all this time figuring out who you want to be in the world, not a care, no worries. and it's not until you become an adult, fully over your adolescent fears do you realize how different you are. ?
Wanda sits at the bar talking to Pooley's family who came in for the funeral. Victor's hosted the wake.
You know, I remember the day I met him. I just started coming here once a week, because they played cool music and it was on my way home from work. From the outside you'd never guess it was this nice inside. And there is just something about going to a bar and after a while the people in the bar start talking to you, you know there name, what time they come into the bar, where they sit, what they drink.
(holding her drink in her hand, she points to the end of the bar)
He used to sit at the end of the bar, right there on the corner, facing the door. He told me once that he had to sit facing the door, because he was scared someone would come up and rob him. I always wondered about that.
(getting quiet, thinking)
I never thought much of him. He was a nice old man, never mean or rude. Sometimes he’d get really chatty, and start telling all kinds of stories.
He'd get really animated and then he'd spill his beer, or if you were sitting too close, you'd catch a bit of his spit. Whenever I would come into the bar, I'd sit at my spot right by the beer taps and he would nod in my direction as if we shared a secret. I’d smile politely and sit and give my drink order to ‘ol Vic here. One day, Vic and I were talking about this documentary I had just seen. It was from the mid 50s. Some student filmmaker followed around a group of Indians that had just moved to Los Angeles from their respective reservations. It was the worst movie EVER! I was telling Vic about how dreadful the sound dubbing was, since he graduated from film school, I was the technicalities to explain the waste of 2 HOURS of my life.
(point to Pooley's seat at the end of the bar)
I think that’s the day he decided it was ok to talk to me.
Hey little one, what we’re they? the Indians? Navajo, Lakota, Cherokee, or just a bunch of them ther’ urban Indians. hehehe.
(laughs at his own joke)
Me, I’m Mohawk, from upstate New York. Don’t meet many others skins in here much.
(Hailing to Victor with his bottle of beer)
Hey Victor, give my new friend here a drink. Whatever she wants! and while you’re at it, set me up again too, will ya?!
(Looks back to Wanda, in a conspiratorial voice)
My casino money check came in today, so I have a bit of celebrating to do. Casino business was good this month. Best part of the month, I'll tell you that. I was always amazed at the bus loads of people that would come there. Every weekend it was as if a new batch of people had just found out about it. Your rez have a casino? No? Hmm, when I lived back there, I use’ta hang out in one of the lounges there after work, they had a real cool juke box, it had all the greats,
(lost in his memories)
you know Merle, Johnny, Waylon, Conway Twitty, oh and that Tammy Wynette and her Standing by her man...She reminded me of my wife...
(looks up and smiles)
and you, you remind me of my Nova. No, no, my little girl, not the car. She’s off at Med. school now, then she’s gonna go back to the rez and work with the elders there to learn the old ways. I miss her.
So little one, what’s your story?
Eh? My story? I don’t have a story. I don’t know what to tell you?
(Wanda stands and starts pacing. She turns and talks to the audience.)
I’ve lost my mind. Why am I even contemplating answering this man, look at him. He’s slumped over the bar and doesn’t look as if he’s changed his clothes in days, and he smells like a brewery!
(beat, looking in Pooley's direction)
I can't do it. I can't tell that old man about me. Look at him.
(Look back to audience)
I know this, because when you are indian, it’s like a sixth sense and you just know when you’re around another. He looks at me, waiting. His deep set eyes have seen a different world than the one I know. Maybe if we were to chat, I would get a better understanding of being a part of that world, dispel my myths...
(realization hits her)
I don’t want to tell him I’m Indian. Then he’ll ask me questions that I won’t be able to answer.
Tribe? ok, sure I can answer that one. Anishnabe – the original people. Oh my god. I’m a joke already. My people come from the original turtle island and that’s all I know. Ok, maybe my struggle is more with the stories themselves. I read one once and it sounded eerily like the bible. Look, I don’t believe in God, so how can I then believe in the Creator? Some mystical presence that helped form the earth after the flood with just the dirt recovered by a tiny otter, that was then placed upon the back of a turtle, and poof the world. How can I reconcile this in my head? I am a person of science. The big bang theory, Darwin. Not the randomness of stories.
(looking into Pooley's direction)
I can’t talk to the old man. He’ll find out I’m a fraud. A FAKE. Not a real Indian! Do you know what I do when people ask me if I'm indian? I hold my breath.
(take a deep breath, hold)
I hold my breath and I count to 10 before I answer. I'm not sure when I started doing that, but it's involuntary now. And I tell them, yes, yes I'm Indian. Then I wait for what inevitably comes next. "ME TOO! My grandmother's Cherokee"
(DEEP, DEEP EXHALE)
Why? why did you feel the need to share this with me? Because the next thing you says just pisses me off even more and I just want to grab and shake you. "She's like a quarter or something, and she's not registered, so I don't even know what I'd have to do." Have you tried I wonder, but I don't ask.
(turning back to audience)
So how can I tell that total stranger that I am, and not him? How can I be judge and jury to all the wannabee Indians, and in the same breath tell people about how Indian I am, about how Indians live, when I know nothing. This makes me sad. I don't think I am a real Indian because I have not suffered. I think suffering is a large part of being of my people’s history. It's not like other people’s suffering. Their ancestors came here looking for a new opportunity. My people were already here, a life taken away. A hundred years ago, you say? No, not really, this has happened within my lifetime. There was no choice. How can I be Indian? They suffered. My suffering? I had parents who took care of me, warmth at night, food on my table. My life was not filled with alcohol and drug filled days and nights. See no suffering.
I can’t be Indian. I am a fraud. My language, my history, I am a blank slate. I know nothing. Sure symbols of it surround me, I have made sure of that. My bookcase is full “History of the Ojibwa People”, “Ojibwa to English Dictionary”, “Island of the Anishnabeg, books by Tompson Highway, Basil Johnston and Joy Harjo, braids of sweetgrass hang from my wall, their tiny charcoal ends brush the wall leaving black marks are reminders of my attempts to be Indian and honor my grandparents death in ceremony every year. My jewelry box if full of an assortment of bone chokers and strands of turquoise, silver rings and bracelets and long dangly beaded earrings. I have purchased them all in an effort to be the Indian I want to be. You know the all knowing one. The one who knows her language, more than saying hello and thank you, every w, z, i and g of it, how they’re pronounced and what they mean. I would be able to quote dates and historical events of my people, to tell you that they were once the most feared and outnumbered even the Sioux. I would be a fancy dancer, or maybe own a jingle dress. I would two step (DANCE) oh, and I would learn to drum and sing (heyya) I would be able to make traditional jewelry and string porcupine quills and bead like nobody’s business, I would be the Frybread Queen.
I just stare at the old man in front of me. “Hey Vic! I’ll have what he’s having”. Not knowing what I was really asking for, Vic slides a very tall glass of amber liquid in front of me. The old man continues to stare at me, waiting for an answer and lifts his class.
Light come up, we see a figure on stage. She pulls something out of her pocket.
0028535, that's me. Oh, my real name? I don't think it really matters. All I need is this number, that's how I know I'm indian, there really is no another way to know how to tell the real ones from the fakes. Hmmm...how do you know you're a real indian? (whisper) that's feather not dot. Well first you'll need a full length mirror. Sit or stand in front of it, get comfortable, you'll be there a while, you'll also need a pen and paper to take notes. Now, stare at the figure in the mirror, what do you see? Take note of hair color, facial features, clothing, skin color, everything superficial you can. It may take a while, but that's ok. Some people take a lot of stock into what an indian looks like, how they dress. But what I get a kick out of the most, is that to be indian, it usually includes leather, beads, maybe a feather or two and don't forget the shiny silver and loads of turquoise.
The crazy white woman had to finish her "indian outfit" as she called it. She was wearing a suede jacket with lovely bone detailing and that looked like a warriors breast plate, a plain velveteen tiered ruffle skirt, and beaded mocassins on her feet. Yo would hthink that was enough, but her outfit was not complete without her leather headband that she tied over her hair, creating an almost mushrrom look as her hair tried to escape the braided adronment that looked more like a choker than a headdress. My conversation continued with her as she shared with me her love of all things native as well as the number of pow wows she had attened. No she was not native by blood, just in her heart.
Entering the grounds of intertribal, I'm feeling pretty secure, no worries. I'm here on assignemnt to observe is my goal. I walk the grounds with a "local" who is friednly and chats with all the vendors, I am not given a second look, but they again there vendors what do they care as long as I guy something from them. It's the other people that concern me. Will I be stopped and found out? I say found out, but not really. I have a card, I can prove it, but still don't feel like I belong. If I were quizzed on my heritage I would fail. It's embarassing when "other" people can tell you more about your heritage than you would have dreamed about. Can't I just walk around and say I'm indian because well...I am. Why do I have to know stuff because hippie chick over there has taken one too many trips to the spiritual vortex and believes, wait no, knows, that in a past life she was an old indian medicine woman. These people threaten me the most. I fear there thirst for knowledge of wanting to take my indianness away from me. Shouldn't I know know how to say more than Aanni and meegwetch?
I get excite getting ready to see the Indians. Once I arrive, I walk around with a friend who works thre, so it’s ok to be Indian. As we walk into one of the rooms, a well-dressed, well coiffed woman clances at me, no smile. I note how helmet like her black hair is, not a strand out of place, lipstick too pink for her light brown, almost white skin. What’s with the look I wonder, I’m brown, where’s the love? It’s not like I’m a stranger, we share this quiet unspoken bond because we’re brown don’t we? Our link to grandmother transcends the ages, my people feel the pain of the earth, so why the glare? I should be greeted with a warm hug.
Native American. Indian. American Indian. I want to be indian. I am, I have papers to prove it. I am a card carrying member of the Mississaugi First Nation. 80% Indian in fact. But what does that mean? To me it means everything and nothing at all. I didn't grow up on the Rez, I really didn't groe up with the traditions then either. I know a few words in Ojibway, enough for me to say "Hello pig!" but what do you want I was only 5. Growing up I didn't think I was different. My parents were young when I was born and my grandmother raised me. She was french canadian, so I went to french school. Looking back at my school pictures I'm the little round brown face in the back. But I was never considered different. As a child I would go to the pow wows, because with my fahter being a new artist, he took advantage of any venue he could to display his wares. This was the only exposure to my culture I had. No I waslk around with a self-rightous chip on my shoulder at anyone proclaiming their indianness to me. "realy, I say?" as I wait for the typical answer "ah yes, Cherokee, oh, but you don't have a card, oh yeah". "Oh, your grandmother was....yeah, uh-huh....", "Yes some of us really rake in that casino money..." I feel like a hypocrite though most days. Walking around passing judgement and flashing my card to all these wannabees. But then when they ask me about my people, I have nothing to say but "Hello Pig"
Look, I don't know anything about being Indian all I do know is that it seems everyone wants to be one. Every time I meet someone new and they ask "so what does your name mean?" "are you Indian?" What do you think? my fucking last name is Chichimon. Yes it means big canoe in my language. No I am not Mexican, Hispanic or whatever the fucking politically correct word of the day is. I am I-N-D-I-A-N. Feather not dot. Casino, not 7-11. I am amazed when people ask the question. "So...um...your tribe?" I pause. Wait for it....Yeah, I'm Ojibwa.....oh here it comes.......Really you're Cherokee, oh your grandmother was. It usually is. WTF, yippee, good for you. So does that make us blood brothers now. I then ask the question, so are you registered? I love that question because you'll weed out the wannabe from the hard core freaks. "Yes, I am registered" I answer. I have papers to prove it. Some people find this offensive, like the one guy who once compared it to being a jew in Nazi Germany, but whatever. I think of it more as commitment. I just didn't want some tribal money to go to school, this is me, who I am and have to walk around like everyday of my life. Unlike you, you pasty white fuck whose Great Great Great Great grandmother was a distant fucking relative of Pocahontas.
I'm not questioning your heritage, I just want to know more because I haven't lived that life.
Well guess what lady, neither have I.
Why are you so angry?
I hate myself for not knowing anything.
sfx Indian music, start dancing
Do you hear the music? The thumping? Is that my heart?
Why does this hurt so much? Why am I so sad? So angry?
Yeah, hi, I'm Stacy, a friend of Roxanne. So cool, you're Indian too right?
uummm, yeah...Cool what are you?
Well my great grandmother used to say she was a fullblood. She married some french guy. So I'm guess I'm Indian and french. I love Native. I wish I lived where there were some. The white ways of life are really sick. Our government is horrible. I give natives all the respect in the world! Ummm? but what I really want to know, is how I can apply so I can get money.
So you belong to a tribe here in California?
Oh no, I'm from back East and they don't have casinos there so I figure I'd apply locally, because, well I don't have a job and I need money.
Oh, well. I wasn't aware you could do that, I thought you had to apply to your reservation? At least thats how it works where I'm from. So anyway -
Really? you mean I just can't apply anywhere?
The music starts again...
I had to stop. Stopping because it's a holiday party, and I've had some wine and had the strangest conversation about the best way to pluck my eyebrows and this is not the place for my soapbox. I just want to reach out and shake her. Really? Did you just say that to me? Look here sweet cheeks, I'm 80%, that's right 80%, I know who my people are, and I'm registered and have the card to prove it, so back the fuck up! Phewff! Take a deep breath. Since when did I become this self appointed better than everyone else expert. Well I am, to white people at least, they don't know the difference. But when I'm in a room (explain why I don't feel apart) full of Indians, I shrink like a sunflower on a cloudy day. They walk around with their bone chokers and huge silver rings, the women oozing with turquoise, which doesn't exist in my part of Indian country, but I wear it like a membership pin to the club (explain why I bought this turquoise) and the men in their leather vests and dark braids. I don't want to talk to the old Indian guy in the cowboy hat, irony again I know, because he'll see me for what I am. A phone, a charlottone. I am so busy keeping everyone else out of a club house (explain what the struggle is) I couldn't even gain access to if I tried.
So really? I have to sign up back east? Wow I wouldn't even know where that is?
Well, the internet is an awesome too if none of your family knows tribes (explain what tribe is) will make you do your research, well some will anyway, depending on the politics of the day, you know how that goes (Drumming gets louder)- DEEP BREATH - WALK AWAY - again I am playing the protective warrior, but really I am in an open field with no tepees around me. My people, I can't say that! That and it sounds so hokey "my people"...My People....Listen....there it is again, can you hear that cry, the low moan of mother earth..
Big Canoe....Big Canoe....come home...we miss you...
Who is it?
It's a stranger's voice to me. I have no home...my people, right sorry, your people (explain who I am talking to). You are a sad lot, you sit and talk about the world around you and how as first people this land is yours, but look at your people, help them move out of their trailers, their unfinished home, where has the money gone. My treaty money (explain what treaty money is) was nothing, a drop in the bucket, and your people (explain who this is) live the life of an instant millionaire, money blown and gone in a year with nothing to show, flushed down the toilet after a tall glass of metamucil. The 20th century has brought us nothing but more heartache if we cannot live among ourselves, how are we to live with the world around us?
It wasn't until I was an adult I realized I was an Indian and what I did not know, why is it I want to regain something that was never mine to begin with?
Well the creator speaks to me in different ways. I hear him most during my sweats. Oh, my how I feel energized and refreshed. It's like all the negative energy is oozing of my pores, then my head clears and I just hear drums and the creator's voice telling me to be more patient. My favorite place to trek to is the vortex. Have you been? It's the most amazing place. There are guides you can hire, but I've been there so much, I know the way in my sleep, or should I say visions (snort laughter)...If you go you should get the first tour out because then you can spend all today there and get the most out of it. You know you're getting close, it's the most exhilarating feeling, the desert is so still and quiet, the only noise you hear is the rock as they crush as you move forward. The air temperature is just starting to warm as the sun rises, then you can hear the quick scurry of the tiny lizards as they wake. When you reach the vortex your heart starts to race an your face gets flush. There is an electricity in the air...
Tecumseh was inciting a race war?! "That's what some intellectual scholarly types proclaimed" (H.W. Brands - Andrew Jackson - His Life and Times. That's why I decided to do my dissertation on exactly that. I think it's important, that's why I am currently working on my Masters in American Indian Studies. Terrorist attack today...Massacre of whites by Indians, no mention of the Indian casualties. While watching the history channel's "Andrew Jackson" I noted how differently history is interpreted. Maybe I'm just listening with a keener ear, but these older white historians aren't. We are supposed to learn history in school so we will not repeat it, yet why is it Indian people think they are above it? We were not a united people when this country was taken away from us and this was 100 years ago, why should/would things be different now? Oh, I've been in college for quite a few years now, you might say I'm a professional student. Huh? My name is Emily Montain. For my undergrad I started out as a liberal arts major, but because that seemed so aloof, I decided on Archeology. You see right around that time the town where I lived was excavating for a new water treatment plant and they came upon some artifacts. You couldn't go anywhere without someone having an opinion on it. So I volunteered and got the chance to dig for stuff. It was the coolest. So I switched my major, I really shouldn't say switch because honestly "Liberal Arts" is not a major, I mind as well have been undecided. The next couple of years, my breaks from school included any dig or survey I could participate on. My friends couldn't understand why I wasn't spending Spring Break chugging beer with them. Instead my time was spent interning for BIA. One summer I decided to apply to some bigger reservations across the country to their cultural department. Since I had no clue how tribal government worked, I went into it as if it were just a regular job interview. Culture shock hit me the moment. I drove on the reservation I had heard talk about the poverty, but thought it was highly exaggeratted. That one seemed dead on. The movement of my car kicked up dust from the dirt road. Tiny dirt devil's swirled around pedestrians and the stray dog along the grassy shoulder. (want to create an air that I'm driving into another world thru "clouds" of dust). I continued down the road following signs to the administration building.
What I really need is people to understand me and my people. This is now the 21st century an we are still in buckskin and feathers. We are much more than that. My people suffer with terrible diseases, yet no one cares, people still see us as that stereotype. Why can't you see past these clothes. I no longer wear moccasins or live in a tepee. I drive a car, and ride a horse. Look at me. See me for who I am today, not my ancestors who still carry a great burden.
Today we march down main street. Our goal is to bring holiday travel to a stand still! Are you with me? We are doing this because this is our land. How can these so-called government officials just dictate what happens on our land. According to the treaties our ancestors signed.
I don't, I can't I won't. I can't answer that question. And I don't think I should have to. Yes I am Indian. I am Indian by birth, not by some wanting to be a part of this "mystical" ethnicity. I don't walk around like I own the entire spiritual realm (do I see ppl doing this and how does this make feel, what does that look like). Being Indian to me does not entail a lifestyle, or simply a style. Sometimes I feel like I have to dress like an Indian to be the part, but that's to satisfy the outside world's perceptions of what an Indian is.
((my definition of this, can anyone take away her indianness, this is my dramatic question, or is it that she fears she's not, can she stop being Indian, is it an addiction, complusion.).)
And really am I one anyway? I'm not a rez Indian, because I grew up in town and not anywhere close to my "ancestral" home. I'm not familiar with the colloquialisms, I do not share the lifestyle most have lived. I don't know my own history, or my language. I cannot recite the history of my people to you, our victories, our losses. When someone else tells me their tribal affiliation, I know it in name only, and have only a vague clue of where it is on the map.
I'm not an Urban Indian either because according to The National Urban Indian Family Coalition and Urban Indian are "individuals of American Indian ancestry who may or may not have direct and/or active ties with a particular tribe, but who identify with and are at least somewhat active in the Native community in their urban area." Ok...now define direct ties? I've never lived there, I have relatives whom I don't know who live there, does that count? I've tried to get a job there, even though I knew I would never get hired. My years of schooling and degrees weren't a match to being a relative to someone who worked there. Nepotism at its finest. I wouldn't even qualify if I were to use the definition of Urban. "Urban - relating to or concerned with a city or densely populated area." I grew up in a small town, population 5000 if you were to count all the surrounding farms that are miles out of town. The nearest city was 4 hours away. Maybe I have to come up with another word...what's smaller than urban but bigger than rez.?
But when I think of Indians, I think of them on a grander scale. An entire people that could change the world. Not in individual tribes or first nations or reservations, but as a people who have equally suffered. Who by heritage, have had their continent stolen from them and were reduced to living on a single plot of land instead of roaming freely. When I was little, I wanted to be an activist! I read books and watched programs about the militant Indians (what does a militant Indian do), the protests happening. I wanted to be there! To me that seemed like the greatest expression of being Indian. I was young, so I don't know who was right or wrong (why is this a question and who is right or wrong) on how things were handled. I felt sad that we were portrayed as crazy Indians. I felt sad that the nation, the world was once again being shown what savages we were. The photo from the cover of Macleans or Time magazine was burned into my psyche that day. The blond Canadian Armed Forces soldier, not cracking stood in a staring contest against the hostile native who face was covered with a red bandana. The Oka crisis as it was called. I think that's when my being Indian peeked out. I was mad trying to find an Oka flag so I could stand in solidarity with my captive brothers and sisters. I wanted to drive to Quebec and stand behind the barricades of tossed over cards and mounds of military and news crews. Wanda the warrior was born. I wondered if there was Black Panther like organization existed. At this time I was reading about Malcolm X, I was concerned about Nelson Mandela and how he was imprisoned as a political prisoner (how old is she). It would be only years later after Nelson was released, his ups and downs that I would find my next hero (cause would be the word but not) Leonard Pelletier. Bits of information about his story, his life formed my cheerleader force to be native. This was being Indian, ok, not necessarily the people dying part, but the guns a blazing force of nature camaraderie.
My being Indian is based on news stories on the 5-oclock news, the covers of magazines. There was no mystiscism, no ritual, it was about the blurbs in the Globe and Mail (Details about what I'm talking about, Leonard, the news, the articles, what did I read, the gun toting..). But I think my fight was of being a silent activist. I thought the guns and ammo were a bit too much, and nothing was ever accomplished or resolved. I started a letter writing campaign. I wrote to my local Minister and was so excited when he actually wrote back. (what's the letter)
In history class we were learning about Louis Real, the great Métis (explain what Metis is MORE) leader. I then started to call myself Métis since my mother was white and my dad was Indian, I didn't understand how I could be Indian otherwise. After this discovery I found OMAA, the Ontario Métis and Aboriginal Association (explain the pageant more and why I wanted to be a part of it). They had teen activist groups that would meet and learn stuff and talk about their life. They also had a pageant. You could become Miss OMAA and represent all the Métis nation. How cool was that. Once I was crowned queen, I would then be the Indian thought I should be. This was my first encounter with how political it was. I mailed in my application, I made the hotel reservations and I prepared for the pageant (How old is she now). I thought of what kind of questions they would ask..."Miss Chichimon, if crowned queen what would be the first thing I would do? How does being Métis affect your day-to-day life? ..." (what are her answers, was there beauty involved, is this the most righteous )
I also needed a talent. Ok I thought, I've seen those pageant shows (am I referring to Miss American pageant...which pageant ,what is my reference) , most played an instrument or sang, yeah, no. Not here. I could do neither. I had taken dance classes, but that was years earlier. Having just seen the High School production of fiddler on the roof, I was going to sing the matchmaker song, but in a comedic way, and incorporate my comedy act (did she have one or did she need, this sounds like I already have one). I was going to tell jokes. How's that for pageant queen?
Does it make me feel like I'm the only one. I want this to be my story and no one else) Do the whole story as improve beginning middle end )
I'm a dick. How can I call myself a writer, a journalist, when I am so judgemental of everyone else. I feel so alone in the world. It's as though I am the only true Indian left, sometimes I feel as though I am Kevin Costner's character from Dances with Wolves. I don't, I can't I won't. I can't answer that question. And I don't think I should have to. Yes I am Indian. I am Indian by birth, not by some wanting to be a part of this "mystical" ethnicity. I don't walk around like I own the entire spiritual realm (do I see ppl doing this and how does this make feel, what does that look like). Being Indian to me does not entail a lifestyle, or simply a style. Sometimes I feel like I have to dress like an Indian to be the part, but that's to satisfy the outside world's perceptions of what an Indian is.
I'm a dick. How can I call myself a writer, a journalist, when I am so judgmental of everyone else. I feel so alone in the world. It's as though I am the only true Indian left, kinda like Lieutenant Dunbar from Dances with Wolves but only I am not a soldier. I am alone in my outpost, just outside the Indian encampment. I watch from a safe distance, where I take notes, I observe how they interact, how the men treat the women, how old friends are greeted, how they speak to each other. I listen and try to pick up on what they are saying, what it all means.
I am a Hostess cupcake
That’s right im a hostess cupcake. Ok maybe not that dark but the concept is the same. I’d like to think I’m a mass of airy chocolate cake with fluffy white cream on the inside.
It wasn’t until I moved away from home did I begin to feel like this. I’m sure you noticed, but I’m still dealing with it. I’m beige, in the summer I looks like a tan. My mother never told me I was different and isn’t it weird how kids don’t see in colour, and if they do they just accept it. I wish I could go back to simpler days like that, when all that mattered was how cool you were and you were judged on things like sports and what clubs you were on.
I am Indian. Feather not dot. And I will use the word Indian, because I am so sick and tired of the word changing all the time to suit the whim of political correctness.
Card carrying member of the Mississauga first Nation. I’m not opposed to having to register with the government. I think of it for the greater good. Like we are animals in the zoo that “they” can keep track of. Yet I’m ok with that. I believe that it is a necessary evil for the propagation of the species, my species, our species. Can’t be letting all that riff-raff in?
Being an American indian or whatever the fuck the P.C. TERM is today reaaly truly means nothing. I sit here in the screening of the New World, it is 7:10 and the theatre is at most a quarter full & I walked straight up to the door. There was no line. I usually come to these things and have to show up an hour in advance to get a good seat. Not today. Maybe its because the story of the discovery of the Americas has been so overdone, I mean when Disney makes a cartoon about it, you know its pretty much common knowledge.
Maybe its because there are so many nations within the Indian community. There are way more stories out there than the general public knows about, or even its own tribes knows of.
“A little help Wendy?!” she schreeched. Wendy turned around to see Anoki her arms full of food, the frybread glistening in the afternoon sun. “It’s about time, I’m starving!” Wendy countered as she reached for the box of fried goodness. “I love coming to pow wows, I have tried to make Indian Tacos at home and they never turn out, I can never get the fry-bread fluffy like this”. “I know, mine always turn out like little hockey pucks” chided Anoki. The girls sat on the bleachers watching as the dancers started to gather for grand entry.
“Don’t you wish sometimes that you knew more about who you were and where you come from?” asked Wendy. “No, not really.” Replied Anoki, as she continued to look out over the crowd. She really wasn’t paying attention to Wendy. She’d heard this story before and wasn’t in the mood of getting into this deep philosophical discussion, when she had other pressing issues to worry about. “Where the heck is he?, she thought, I’m sure that was his truck”.
One little, two little, three little Indians…four little, five little, six little…The beat of the drums rings in my ears. My ancestors are calling to me, but I do not answer. It’s not that I don’t, it’s that I can’t. I yell, I scream, but nothing. I am here, please come to me I cry, the quiet response is deafening.
“and then Nanabush turned…” said Ashley. The children’s laughter was a relief to her. Did they understand her? Did they know what it all meant because she barely did?
No, I do not sleep in that. My dad’s just a little strange, and I’m not really sure why he puts it up. Yup, that’s a tee-pee, what else am I supposed to say.
Working title "in search of the red road and me"
What am I doing, and who am the fuck am I, I really don't know anymore. I walk around with this huge chip on my shoulder, and I've resigned myself to just kicking back and watching people. You know I used to be a real goofball ok maybe I still am but I have some reservations now. I hate the fact that I actually care if people stare at me, b/c then I'm wondering "what are the thinking of me?"
I so want to be someone other than me, anyone, and I'm not sure how this attitude ever came about
"What is wrong with me?" I just don't get it. Maybe it would be different had I grown up there.
Hi, my name is Jennifer Bobiwash, no not Running Deer or Little Elk and yes, I am Native American, American Indian, or whatever the PC word is today. I did not grow up on the rez, so other skins, just looked at me different. I was born shortly after my mom graduated high school.
Other version-RUBY SWIMS TOO SLOW
Hi, my name is ruby swims too slow. That’s right, ruby swims too slow. Growing up I’d always wanted my name to be something like, Michelle brown. Simple, not a lot for people to make fun of, can you imagine my childhood? I’m from northern Canada, and went to an all-French school. You can only imagine how swims too slow came out in a thick French-Canadian accent (say name in a French access) "Mademoiselle Swims too slow"
Native American. Indian. American Indian. I want to be Indian. (describe what the difference is between being indian and not, white people don't get it) I am, I have papers to prove it. I am a card carrying member of the Mississauga first Nation. 80% Indian in fact. But what does that mean? to me it means everything and nothing at all. I didn't grow up on the rez, I really didn't grow up with the traditions then either. I new a few words in Ojibwe, enough for me to say "Hello Pig" but what do you want? I was only 5.
-find the question that I missed, is it my priode or my search, memere's story, how do you choose your identity and what makes you do it, incorporate the song "one little, two little..., the hunter always wins (quote)
I feel like a hypocrit though most days. Walking around passing judgement and flashing my card to all these wannabees. But then when they ask me about my people, I have nothing to say but "hello pig". I want to know who I am and where my people are. Everyone is more indian than me.
Arizona was a little more tolerant than L.A. because they are surrounded by caissons, oh, I mean reservations. It wasn't until I moved to L.A. did I feel this need to be Indian. So away went the smart business suits and polo shirts and khakis, out came the flowy billowy hemp made clothing. No more 3" heels for me, I needed flat leather sandals so I could be closer to mother earth. I needed to do this but yet here in L.A. I was still getting swept away by hippy new age freaks & that's where all the weirdness started. I would meet people with names like Moonbeam and Starfire. Heck my neighbors name was Little Elk. Was this the energy of world coming back to me? Was it spiting me for not knowing anything. Along with these bandwagooners, I did meet people who genuinely belonged to a reservation and knew their language even and here I was no better than Moonbeam over there.
WANDA THE BEST THING SHE LIKED ABOUT GOING TO POW WOWS WAS THE FOOD. HER MOM USED TO TRY AND MAKE CORN SOUP AND SHE COULD NEVER QUITE MANAGE THE FLUFFINESS OF THE FRYBREAD. I KNOW WE WERE ONLY 8 AND ALL, BUT SHE TRULY THOUGHT THAT WAS THE WORST SUMMER, BUT I'M SURE THAT SOMETIMES WHENEVER SHE SEES A SOAP STONE SCULPUTRE OR A REALLY FLAT ROCK, SHE REMEMBERS HER INDIAN SUMMER. BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE SOMEONE INDIAN! ANYONE CAN SPIN A POTTERY WHEEL AND READ A BOOK ABOUT.
but it does fill my head with wonderment about who these people were. you see i had started compiling a family tree and got discouraged because the family line only went so far and i just assumed it was because most of these people would have lived on a reservation. and why in the world would they be keeping paper records of themselves. but then you start to find information about people from the church records. which is kinda cool, because you see in these documents that are from the late 1800 with your last name on it, it kinda makes you feel like you have a place in the world, that you exist. so, i was just sitting at home going through my mail and reading the latest newsletter from the rez. in it, it lists people who signed the treaty in 1850. the names are totally unrecognizable to me, like ahbehabonwaishkum and paibouewaiteutung or baibahmakswahe, a mouthful indeed. but then, the author lists names from 1905 and there's a name on there that looks like mine, and then later again in 1937 another. (excitement is rising). so i'm sitting there in awe looking at this piece of paper that shows a link to this greatness that i had always dreamed that i was a part of, right. my relatives were important enough to sign this treaty. (beat) no! fuck! they were sell-outs! sure it's cool to find out they signed the treaty, but when you think about it, what the hell is a treaty? it's an agreement where indians agreed to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for "payments and promises" from crown officials. they gave up everything...for what? a few shiny beads and a bottle of fire water. fuck.?
Are you sure you don’t hear that, it’s been getting louder all night. (Wanda starts rocking to the drum beat, soft singing can be heard now). Can you feel the bass of it, I can feel it in my chest thumping. (She hears a giggle). No, no. (not believing what ‘s in front of her) Hello little one, where did you come from? What’s your name? Are your parents near? (another giggle, kneeling down to come face to face with this stranger) Do I know you? Were you in one of my dad’s classes? God you look…no…you look like a friend that went away…so long ago…I remember this one time, when her and I were at a pow wow…she really liked walking around and visiting with all the different people who came. She had a ribbon dress and a shawl that had shells on the end of the fringe, so when she hopped around, it made a quiet shooshing sound. I told my mom that I need a dress like that and she made me one. It was a fuschia coloured flowery print, with ribbon that crossed my chest and back, with the ends that were loose and hung down past my elbows. I used to like to twirl around in it, I felt like a little tornado as the ribbon flittered