My belief in my people….in my opinion.

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.

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12 thoughts on “My belief in my people….in my opinion.

  1. Pingback: My belief in my people….in my opinion. « sicanguscribbler

  2. Awesomely written (content, with typos but, nonetheless awesome) niece. I’m happy you can let the blood flow and write what so many never find the words to express in “black & white”.

  3. Good job. The poorest person on the Rez has much more material wealth then Chief Sitting Bull did. The richest person on the Rez couldn’t even come close to the riches of respect and love for Chief Sitting Bull.

  4. So true, what you say !!! while never have I lived on a reservation, and do not know about all the problems you may have, there is a very simple truth, that must be shared within your community ….. a truth that must be transferred, from one person to the next, from mother to child, on a daily basis, ….”pride in your community, pride in yourself, …” my mother was a firm believer of repeating daily, how much she loved us, and how important we were for her, she would take pride in our accomplishments, in reading, studies, hobbies (arts & crafts) sports, etc, etc,

    what you say in your last paragraphs: “….have a deep belief in my people that they will see…..etc….” this has to happen, one person at a time. start by reinforcing daily, how much you love and respect your children, your pride in them,…… remember, how we treat others, is how they will treat us back…. its starts from home, and then onwards.. People can be poor, but still be happy, be loved, be sung to, when a baby is loved, he/she will thrive. the same applies to children and adults.

    many people do envy, a way of simplicity in life, and contentment ! when I see other people, my first thoughts are to see their arts and crafts, to see their “pride” in their accomplishments !, to see their “respect” to their culture and people and traditions. My most favorite meals, have always been the most simple… Homemade soup and bread, or fresh lake trout and fried potatoes !

    I am from Canada, so for me, some of the basic necessities (like health care, etc) are included as a normal part of our lives, Obviously, when people live too far from main centers, health providers are harder to come by. this is the same everywhere, so sadly, we all must find solutions to get our people (or bring them to) these type of services,

    however, I read above, what you wrote…. ” the alcoholism, the illness, the trash, the stray dogs….etc: these issues must be dealt with. Start off with the truth I wrote above…. “pride in your community, pride in yourself” clean up in front of your home, pick up the trash, sweep, etc, these are basics. if you start with yours, you can help your neighbour, who may help you, help another neighbour etc.,…. forming your community pride… Get together with others, and start sharing (or teaching) your talents. If you see children unsupervised, make a homework or reading session after school, show that you are interested in your children, and their friends… help them also,
    one at a time….. builds a stronger and more positive community! Sadly alcoholism,(and other addictions) is very hard to deal with,(and to break out of the cycle) try to enlist, help from others… Some of these actions that can be taken, will take patience, and time, but you will ultimately feel better, and as a group, you will all be stronger.

    i do feel that your writing shows that you do have pride, and I am so happy to see that. ….. And the expression “out of the mouths of babes “””” applies, your son is saying to you the obvious truth…””” it sounds like he loves you very much…. would rather his home, than outside “riches”..

    I am wishing you all the best !!!

  5. I am sorry, if what I wrote above, may appear as a lecture (not my intention), I know problems are deep rooted, and that things are not as simple, as just pride, or love, but it is a firm structure, to rebuild on ! I wish more of your community, would write about the issues, or traditions, so that others may understand. and remember please, that not everyone believes what the “media” portrays ! as the only truths ! I guess, if I was in your shoes, and living where you do, you may feel that the whole world looks down at you, Please don’t think that way. Not everyone believes that ! I do find sometimes, that in rural areas, there seems to be more “prejudices”, etc, I live in a big city, that has more than 75 different nationalities, various languages, religions, traditions, colors, etc, etc. If we were all to espouse being prejudicial, to one another, we would have been at war, long time ago ! I rejoice, in tasting and eating at various tables, love experiencing others traditions, etc, etc, but the common denominator, is the “pride” that is shown by these people in sharing their ways !
    Lastly, thank you for writing your thoughts!

  6. Very well written my friend. So many of usin this country and this world for that matter are so bent on success, whether in be money or things, that we loose sight of what we have right in front of us now to be thankful for. My people were so bent on more land and more gold and we saw those “savages” in the way that we did not even slow down to learn the people, their culture and how they view life and get through life. We as a nation missed out on an opportunity to learn from each other and see those things you mentioned. I vow to help people slow down and see the simply things in life. I agree with you my friend that the Rez is a beautiful and simply place. I hope to someday to get out there and take it into my heart and learn from the spirit of your ancestors as well as the people alive today. Again well written. I myself must stop my bleeding and get back to work. Good day.

  7. I love watching you grow and mature along with your writing, Dana! This piece is excellent. I despise the victim mentality that is played out and reinforced by the media. Strength comes from a sense of surviving and overcoming, not from hiding behind excuses and believing all is lost. I hope people take your powerful message to heart!

  8. life isn’t about living on finance but being happy with what you have

    Exactly. I think you guys have a real opportunity to gain something of deep and lasting value, just like your kiddo says. I’m so glad he gets that.

    Not that I don’t hope for things to be better…

    If I can, later I will direct you to someone who posted something very similar. I will try to do it on FB, but not now. I stayed up too late & it is 1 AM!! Eeep!

    xx
    Karin

  9. Reblogged this on Taliuquelugv's Blog and commented:
    So well written, I wish I could write as well.
    Another speaking up about the reality of things as they see it.

    I agree that it’s so easy to fall into a statistic, and lose sight of what you have around you.
    I love this part the most, little ones and their insights.
    “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. “

  10. Forgiveness…a tough “action” to follow, if you can pull it off.

    I never “got it”, understanding the original peoples, those here before Turtle Island came to be called America, until I really studied the history of my own people, the Irish. A lot in common really, and they, like you, are still nursing the woundedness of their spirit. Can we Irish ever forgive them? To do so- seems weak. We pound our fists and demand vengeance, but then what if we get it, then what? IRA fought a bloody guerila war for years, a lot of people were killed, families messed up, and deeper unseen wounds of betrayal and cowardice that cut to the soul will take generations to heal, if ever. We thought we were taking the hated British to the mattresses- they turned it around on us and used it to divide and conquer us anyway.
    Vengeance isn’t the way to go, and it seems, that Russel isn’t looking for vengeance. But I don’t know for certain because I am not in your loop. What is certain is that when dealing with the corporation, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, est. 1871, you will not ever get a fair shake, no matter who you are. That’s not their business model. It’s so bad, that it might as well be stated right there in their by-laws: Do unto others, well before they do unto you, and then rub salt into the wound. And they’ve gotten pretty good at it- every treaty they ever signed with ANY of the original tribes and peoples they’ve broken.
    They can only lie. If they told the truth about what they do, there would be a lynching, so they don’t- not ever. How can this be forgiven? Or forgotten? That’s going to be tough. But when you make the right move of breaking the toxic and deadly relationship with pathological liars and murderers, the healing can start, and prosperity is encouraged to return, then maybe forgiveness comes along with that?
    The warning is clear though- you cannot ever forget, because the fact they will not cede anything to you means you must be vigilant to their criminal and dirty tricks. The one you call Great Spirit says that only goodness and the right way will last. The deceitful way destroys itself. I think that day will come very soon, and I think that forgiveness seals the victory.

  11. Beautifully said. I read it out loud. It’s like a great monologue. I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve been teaching and learning in rez’s in Canada and the very same kind of media earthquake happened this time last year in Attawapiskat. The same kind of split between content and feeling impoverished exists in my Rez, Indian Brook N.S. It’s through pride in one’s self, traditions, even that horrible history that makes one strong. Our Grandfathers went through hell, and their kids did too. My generation, (in my immediate family – we didn’t live on the Rez) got a lot out of education and exposure to the world at large. It’s up to us and the next seven generations to put it to right. It won’t be without a fight. Every time the media puts the spotlight on the injustice, poverty, bad water, sexual and substance abuse, there has to be something that balances that view. I thank you for your thoughts and thoughtful words.

  12. I do love the comments and responses. I thank you all even though I never have time to check them. I don’t know everything, at all—or like I once said I don’t know shit except a good John Travolta movie can bring me out of any funk. However when I write, I am writing for me, to release something from inside my heart that needs to be let free. After I write it I am ok. When I want to be told how to live my life, I will seek help or go on the Dr. Phil show…..I’m not even on the reservation to do ALL the things suggested in the comment section, but thanks anyway. And thanks for your apologies for telling me what to do…Oprah?

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