You ever notice when someone is fighting for something in Indian country, there are always those who say, “We have more important issues to worry about, like diabetes, alcoholism, etc.”
I call these people “the Other Issues tribe”. They get angry that people want to protect our water, saying the world is full of water. They do not stop to think of the water restrictions California is going through or how much water people buy. Not even thinking is the mni wiconi water that is piped in actually safe to drink with all the fracking going on in North Dakota.
It angers the Other Issues tribe when people are against the Redskins mascot, we have other things to worry about. People are homeless. This is true, people are homeless. We have homeless people in Whiteclay, Rapid City, and on the rez. These homeless people have feelings though. They appreciate a warm meal and a hello. They do not like to be talked down to, stereotyped, or disrespected. They are human, they had dreams as youth too, something just went wrong in their lives to get them where they are. I can bet you not one homeless person would take being called a redskins in stride. It would anger them too. If we allow ourselves to be characterized and stereotyped as a cartoon and thing of the past, how can we get respect for all of us now?
The Other Issues tribe also don’t like anyone fighting about costumes or women dressing up in skanky fake leather dresses and chicken feather war bonnets. We have other issues to worry about, children are being abused and our women raped. This is true, at a higher rate per capita than any other culture. If we don’t let the world know our women and children are sacred how do we expect them to respect us with these costumes out there? This needs to be taught at home also, our own males need to be taught not to rape, instead we teach the women how not to get raped. If costumes are not a big deal, then I suggest you take your child to that section of the store, see how looking at them makes them feel. It’s an uncomfortable, ugly feeling.
There are many things we are fighting for in Indian Country. Many issues, too many to list here. We are clearly a people powerful enough to fight these. To say we should focus on one thing is insulting to our intelligence and strength as a people. We should encourage anyone who takes a stand for something. I’m starting to think the ones with issues are the Other Issues tribe.
Be good to each other, we’re all related. And when a Lakota says that, we mean it.