I’m just nervy to be writing this. I am on a deadline to write for my only paying writing job, but as a writer sometimes something gets you in the gut and the heart. Makes you start feeling around for that pen, or for your phone with the handy WordPress app. Someone once asked me how I can write. They said they can relate to what I say but they can’t put it down like that. I told them- If you have a heart and a pen you can write. Or like Hemingway said, Open a vein and start typing, or whatever. I mean J.K. Rowling brought Harry Potter to life with an ink pen and a napkin.
But there are certain things I will write about at the drop of a dime, no matter.
One of these things I feel that passionately about are my people. I live in America. I see the negativity that IS well and alive on our reservation, not only in those struggling on a day by day basis, but by those who look down on them because they might be a little bit higher up on the income bracket. I see the negativity that exists, the poverty, the alcoholism, the illness, the trash, the stray dogs, blah! You would have to be blind to not see that and indifferent and uncaring to not be shocked by the poverty. Oprah finally decides to look our way and shows the despair, as well as Diane Sawyer. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love how they also showed the hope that does exist. That was cho. I don’t want to be all somehow about any opportunity to put a spotlight on my rez. Even if it shows how bad of a place it is to live.
Except it isn’t that bad. See, I used to concentrate on our statistics. I used to hang my head like the End of the Trail or act like Eeyore on Winnie the Pooh. I had this “Oh Woe is me” attitude about my very own reservation.
And of course I did. I grew up learning about how poor we were. How horrible of a place it is to live. How we have no chance basically at the American Dream like the rest of the country because we were screwed and cheated out of it. I don’t ever remember hearing, well you can do this or that. Maybe I did, but I choose to concentrate and hang onto the negative and become a statistic. Because I have plenty of friends from high school who sought a higher education and are very successful in life. But here is the difference, I never believed in myself.
See, I let myself get dragged through the mud with those statistics until I believed I was just another statistic from my rez. I did everything wrong for a long time. Trying to get right and falling back to a stat. Until, even lately.
I even still wrote with that attitude for quiet awhile, even not too long ago.
Then my youngest son said something that struck a chord. “How come life on the rez is normal until reporters come along, and then everyone gets sad faces to tell them how bad it sucks here?”
I said “Well it does suck. We are poor.”
He said “I would rather be poor, than live somewhere else.”
And I thought about it. He was right.
We do have horrible statistics, but there is a beautiful simplicity in our lives on the rez. When you can sit with your father around a fire while he cooks a pot of soup over the fire, eat the soup and be content with just soup and talk into the night while the stars twinkle on the prairie sky and your laughter echoes around you, that is what life is about right there.
Not what the rest of the world sees us as, reports us as, and puts us in categories as. The media focusing on our negative and the youth constantly hearing it, is another way of beating our people down, I think. Life is about being content and happy.
Mot everyone on the rez has that. not every one found that place. but you see I have a deep belief in my people that they will realize life isn’t about living on finance but being happy with what you have. I have a deep belief in my people that they will see, the world is wrong about us and we are capable of going back to this place of “content” and being there will make life easier. Sure we need help, treatment, etc, but to learn that we are ok, will be a big step.
My belief in my people is far stronger than my belief that the media will ever love us for more than they see us.
We have the whole world right on our rez, we need to see it through our own eyes and not the medias.