Since we have been running the Indiegogo campaign to buy back our sacred land, hundreds of people have suggested to me what we should be doing.
Don’t get me wrong, many people are behind us, encouraging us and donating, spreading the word, doing what they can also. While the four of us, I can speak for and say we have been like that ol’ rez car running on fumes, pumping our brakes at every setback and duct-taping what we need to, to move on, we are sleepless basically in this campaign. That is how much we believe in it.
The main suggestion that is going around and around and around:
1.) Take the Black Hills settlement from the government for a billion dollars and buy your land back. I usually ignore this, but I want to scream “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMED FROM THE TIME I WAS A LITTLE GIRL TO NOT TAKE THE BLACK HILLS SETTLEMENT!” There is a reason for this, we are stronger than the USA for not taking or caring about their paper money they all praise, this proves the Black Hills are ours. Sure they stole them, sure they owe us, the Supreme freakin’ court said so, but why the hell would we give them the satisfaction of owning what is ours. And like Alfred Walking Bull of the Sicangu Lakota Tribe said “”The tribes have not accepted the money on moral grounds and we will never accept the money. To do so, even in a time of crisis, would be admitting defeat.” I guess if you grew up Western or American this wouldn’t make sense to you and you may have cashed out at a million. It could and will go past more than the world can hold in cash and we will still not accept.
Our tribes are some of the poorest in the nation. We are seen as statistics and the media has a field day with us. Maybe, if you have grown up pursuing the dream of golden streets or golden arches you can not see this the same way as almost all of us can. While we have the country by the balls with a billion dollar settlement with a double compound interest, at the same time we have something deeper that that.
Happiness to you might be money, money might equal power, money may make your world spin.
But to our people happiness is know what is ours is ours. Like our beliefs, like our creation story, like our culture, like knowing we can never be bought or owned and knowing all that we are, in essence still belongs to us.
Like the Black Hills.
You see we never struck it rich with casinos, or any other kind of settlement. The Cobell case, supposedly a BIA worker told my grandma that our tribe was riding the coattails of it because we had no minerals to offer. I told her she was lucky I wasn’t there because I would have asked the BIA worker “You took all that gold out of the Black Hills?” And there are stories how our people knew of the gold, but never thought of it the way that it made the invaders crazy. We are poor. We are not proud to be poor, we are proud of not selling out and hanging onto our beliefs. We are proud of individually making a way past the opression and still remembering who we are and where we come from.
I was a little discouraged last weekend when an old friend who is a “rich casino Indian” hired me and my sister to work in her food booth at their pow wow. My sister and I busted our asses for two days while some of the workers stood around and looked at their nails, stirred the sloppy joe mix, headed out all the time, scammed by selling out the back door, etc. We had to leave a day early due to a family emergency and the “friend” who makes a million a year, out of anger paid us $50 each for working hard, so hard we fell asleep immediately each night and didn’t even do one round at the pow wow.
I text her and asked her why only $50 when I spent close to $300 traveling up there and working for her. She wouldn’t answer my text. I finally said “I will pray for you because your life must suck to not know who you can and can’t trust.”
She answered, wired us another $50 each and apologized. She admitted her feelings get hurt alot by not knowing who to trust.
So it made me realize, I live paycheck to paycheck and do beadwork in between to soothe that over, she gets about a million dollars a year to do nothing but she stresses herself out trying to make her life worth the million dollars a year, while never being able to look at a person and knowing if she can trust them or if they even really like her for her or her money. I look at people and think I don’t care if you like me, but cool if you do.
I almost feel sorry for anyone who has to live trying to validate their lives because they get so much money they lost who they are as a person.
Except, I’m a mother and struggling to put one of my kids through college. So he can have a better life, knowing he made something of himself and worked for it and knowing who he is and where he comes from, rather than someone who sits and waits for a lump of money every month so he can not trust the world.
Upon returning from the pow wow the outpouring of donations and stories around the world of people giving up lunch money, having yard sales, auctioning off precious collections, accepting a donation instead of birthday money, all that made my heart right again. It made me believe in humanity again. There are people out there who listened to us tell the world that we NEED to, not want, but NEED to save our sacred lands.
We do need and are asking for donations for our sacred land, and I honestly believe this is only the beginning of Indigenous people of America fighting for their sacred land. And it is only the beginning of us fighting for our sacred land. That is what money is about right now.
The fact that I was burned by a rich Indian who I had thought of as a friend for 16 years, did piss me off for a day. The fact that I lost money, don’t even matter now. What matters to me, is showing the world that after all the oppression the government of the United States put on our people, after all the negative attention the media showers us with, after all the people who try to rewrite our history, we still carry our creation story within us as if it happened yesterday. We still know who we are, what we stand for, and where we come from.
The Center of The Universe.
And even better, we believe in that 100 percent. Money can never buy that. Ever.
Please donate, we are still on a mission.