I can’t even pretend to know anything at all about DNA except that it is like a blueprint to who we are, who we come from, and the future generations we leave here on Earth to show we were here.
I read a little bit about it on Wikipedia and my eyes crossed after two sentences, and though I wasn’t reading out loud, I felt tongue-tied and like I was stuttering so instead I just found a way to add this cool graphic of DNA from the Wikipedia page. (Haha, all mad she couldn’t understand so she took the graphic.) I was a bit mesmerized watching it spin and thinking, whoa-we all have that. That is what makes us and breaks us, but it goes deeper than the color of your eyes.
I wrote of our fight-plight-whatever you want to call it before, being embedded in our DNA. But I think I have just come to a full circle in realizing a few things about who we are…as Indians and the role our DNA plays.
It kind of started with Earth Day and my last post and just thinking, wow-I hope the grandchildren I won’t ever meet have a planet to respect and they better know enough to respect this planet. (Hence, the post about Grandmother Earth.) It also made me think of my Great Great Grandpa fighting at Greasy Grass when he was so young, just a boy really but chasing Reno off. He did that because of his DNA, he had come from a people who would do anything to protect their families. And he also did it for my children and I, takojas-(grandchildren) he would never meet but knew he would have. Fighting to preserve our way of life. A fight many Indigenous people are carrying on for Grandmother Earth on this Turtle Island against Big Oil and the governments. Our ways have changed, the way we fight is different, but the DNA in us still wants to fight for our way of life and for future generations.
Now, I know there are people out there that get sick and tired of the past. Especially an Indian’s past, even other Indians, which sometimes shocks me. I have heard other Indians say such things as “Don’t talk of the past, it makes you look like a victim.” Or “I was able to live and be successful without bringing up the past, I did it, so just forget the past and be like me”. Which is fine, they all can live their life the best they see fit, but why condescend others for the way they want to live or even for choosing to remember. We are not all here on the same journey.
And of course there are the non-Indians who always have to say “Get over it”. Yet they have memorials all over, history books and history buffs, history classes and even a History channel. If they can learn from their history, so can we. As my Grandma Dod would say “The nerve!”
I do however, believe there is a way to move forward without forgetting our history. I believe there is a way to honor the memory of our people while always “keeping our eyes on the perimeter.” I don’t believe that history was meant to be erased, forgotten, pushed aside, or used as an excuse to be a victim. We are not victims, we are survivors, that is why we are here today. Our ancestors were not victims, they were fighters, that is why we are still here. So this is why I choose to remember them and what they had endured. And I believe all future generations can remember and honor their memory while also being successful in life. As long as they know that their life is here and now in this moment that they are living and are able to separate remembering the past from dwelling in the past.
I read this article by Mike Taylor titled “Why Do You Indians Always Live In The Past?” where he states “When we speak about our dying languages, our high rates of diabetes and cancers, alcoholism or the poverty on our reservations, it reiterates to them that this country was built on deceit and lies and their ancestors did something horribly wrong.”
While I think this is true, especially to whomever may be insensitive enough to tell us to get over it, I also think there are not that many people out there connected with their ancestors the way we Indians are. I feel we are fortunate to be who we are because of them. The way we know they fought for us in the name of our ways and our people. The way we know they still watch out for us. It was and is, in our DNA. And we know this by what is in our hearts and from the stories and songs passed down.
I also believe that in each and every one of us, our DNA carries the hope for our future generations, hope to move forward, eyes on the perimeter, while not forgetting but looking forward. And instill that hope to the youth that will carry this ability to adapt and survive on, to make the changes necessary for a better life. Eyes on the perimeter, remember that. Always looking out, because there are more of us coming.
Many things inspired me to write this post, including Earth Day, Mr. Taylor’s column from Indian Country Today, commenting with an old friend, and a couple of videos, the first is a song by BJ Rainbow singing a song for the generations at an event that Chase Iron Eyes from Lastrealindians.com was speaking at over the weekend. The second was a video made and posted by Dalton Buckman, a 19 year old from the Pine Ridge Reservation (my home) wanting you to know the youth do honor the memory of the past but want to move forward for the future generations. Instead of waiting for things to change they make a video in the hopes of change. In the youth of Pine Ridge’s words “How can I be the rose that grew from concrete”.
Eyes on the perimeter.
Please watch and share both.
Dalton Buckman’s video