We call it Wannabe

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The whole Rachel Dolezal incident blew up over the internet and social media these past few days.  A white girl who tanned herself, permed her hair, and claimed African American heritage so far as to use that status to get jobs.  The country is fascinated with this story, fascinated with how it could happen, and fascinated with the black community’s reaction.  Some people are forgiving and compassionate, comparing her to transexual Caitlyn Jenner a/k/a Bruce Jenner.  They are saying she is “transracial.”  Which many are arguing, does exist.  My only argument is it becomes the term of 2015 like YOLO was back in 2011.  Or was that 2012?

Anyway, in Indian country we have already dealt with these situations, many times.  So many people are fascinated with our culture, they claim our heritage, even without being hunka-ed into someone’s already huge tiyospaye.  There was the chick who got her 15 minutes of fame on Fox and Friends by saying she was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and speaking on behalf of us saying she was honored to be called a redskin, although she looked like she never saw the light of day.  Until the tribe gave her the big shaft and came out saying she was never a member.  To which point she turned it around saying they rejected her membership.  Apparently her grandfather was a Chief, which must be the new improved version of your grandmother being an Indian princess.  Which is crazy, if they really knew Indian grandmothers, they are queens who rule and can rock the world.

There are also people who assume one person throwing a star quilt on them makes them an honorary member of our tribe, like that Little White Bird chick who tried to get rich quick off writing a book on how horrible our reservation is, how horrible she was treated there, all the while how much she loves our reservation and even has the nerve to go around to small colleges on the East Coast lecturing about our way of life and how it is to be Indian, when she was there for only six months.

There are others whose stars have risen as they were the faces and voices of Indian America, like Ol’ Iron Eyes Cody.  Who could forget his one tear drop as he sees trash blowing on his Hollywood reservation.  Yet, he never once gets off that high horse to pick any of that trash, just lets one tear drop fall in the dramatic fashion of some intoxicated relative who is going away for the night to sit 8 hours in jail.  Then it comes out he was Italian!!  If his needed to shed tears for anything it should be the fact that his Italian homie ol Christopher Columbus is the reason this land is trashed!

Either way, mis-appropriation of Natives is nothing new, there is never national shock over it.  In fact people are shocked at us when we get mad at people portraying to be us.  It happens on a daily basis to us.  Our heritage is by our ancestry, not because we want to suffer or be victims.  Our ancestry is documented and Native Americans are the only ones who can tell you their family tree going over a hundred years back.  We have to because of the rights set in place by our treaties.  This is why we must continue the fight for our treaty rights, so no one can claim what is rightfully ours.  It is not called being selfish, it is hanging onto what we have left in a government that took everything else from us.  Stole everything from us.  So when we are upset by false claims of our culture, it is because it is all we have left.
See in Indian Country, it was never called “transracial”, we call it “wannabe”


Unless you have tasted it

I have never eaten key lime pie.  I probably never will.  I have seen it made on tv, it has a weird testure to me, is it lime?  Is it pudding?  Or like a cheesecake?  I don’t know.  I have seen the recipe but never took the time to notice how it is made to give it that strange texture.  I have seen people order it but I look away because honestly, key lime pie makes me uncomfortable.  So I can honestly say, I have never “experienced” key lime pie.  It may be a flavor of yogurt I buy for my daughter and even though the picture on the front depicts key lime pie, it is in fact, not key lime pie.  The funny thing is I have nothing against limes.  They are great for seasoning and I even like limeade, just not the pie.

So in saying that and admitting that, I can only tell you what I do know.

You can not really talk to people about racism if you never experienced it.  You can not preach to people on how to handle racism if you have only read about it.  There are people, like me, like my children, like my family, like my friends, and relatives, and relatives of relatives who experience racism sometimes on a daily basis, to the point where we get jaded to it.  Where a cashier will throw the change at us instead of handing it to us, or a salesperson will follow us around, or we will be waited on last in a restaurant and being jaded, we will think “Oh that person doesn’t like Indians.”  And we will hold our heads high and walk away knowing that we didn’t steal, we didn’t react, we didn’t give the best tip we could’ve because in the state of South Dakota racism against Native Americans is rampant.

I no longer read the hateful comments on social media pages that add fuel to the fire of racism.  I don’t need to be affected because someone called us “those people” or put our people down because I know how wonderful of people we are.

However racism against our children is another thing and I will speak out, or write about it for that matter.  And when someone living in Hidden Valley Ranch (fictional place), California wants to tell me how racism affects the white people around her because “blacks attack them” or tell me how I should humbly and quietly fight racism by loving everyone, then I will tell her in her blue eyes that she should live a day in the life of a Lakota person in South Dakota.

Do not talk to a people who are being affected by racism, who are looking for solutions, who are hoping for change, who won’t be quiet about it because children were assaulted like you know what is best for them and their people.  We don’t like “crying racism” we do what we can to fight it.

If you even experienced racism once, you have a small, tiny few seconds of a view into our lives.

We will never be quiet about it because South Dakota is Lakota land and we are not going anywhere except up in population and up in doing great things to make lives better for our children.

I don’t even like pie, I love cheesecake though.


My grandma was a warrior.

There is always an uproar when a scantily clad model, celebrity, or even our own women wear war bonnets.  There is always an outcry and I have even stood my ground against this:  You can not do this.  It is wrong.  Women do not traditionally wear headdresses like men, etc.

There have been attacks on fashion shows, Gwen Stefani, Victoria’s Secret,  Halloween costumes, and these social media attacks have been successful.  There re always strong women behind them, giving the reasons why our women don’t wear warbonnets.  Most of the time, because they are nearly naked, the main reason is stereotyping Native women that way.   As if all native women hyper sexual vamps when the rate of sexual violence against native women is higher than the national rate.  The number of missing and murdered Native women is off the charts and rarely does each case see justice.

I have stated these facts as I learned them.

Then I learned that my very own great great great grandmother wore a warbonnet.

She never placed it on her head and it was there but for a brief moment.  It was while posing for a picture.  The warbonnet was placed on her head by Chief Sitting Bull and it belonged to him.  She is wearing an elk tooth dress in the picture and the warbonnet.  He put it on her because he said she earned to wear it.  She fought alongside her sons and husband in the battle at Greasy Grass.  She was a part of a women’s society who made sure, there were no survivors.

My unci, my grandmother was a warrior.   And she wasn’t a warrior only because she fought in battle as a freedom fighter.  She was a warrior because no matter what she did in life she did it as a means for survival.

She walked back from Canada to South Dakota carrying her 10 month old son, Lone Hill.  All the way back she followed a wolf, she could understand him.  He led her to her people.  She walked back from Canada because Lone Hill’s father hit her and she left.  She had no help, no domestic violence rights, no police to protect her, no shelter to go to.  She walked back because she knew she wasn’t going to be treated like that.  Because she missed her family, and because she wasn’t going to raise her son like that.

She found her family and went on to have more children and become a great warrior.

So see, when women wear warbonnets because they think it is sexy or cute, or because they think it is the cool, hipster thing to do, I take offense, on a personal level.  My grandma was a warrior, she lived her life as such and as a woman of strength.  She didn’t even have the nerve to honor herself with a warbonnet, but a great chief did.

Because she earned it.

And I know that whatever I do in this lifetime, my struggle or accomplishments will never live up to or even be half as close as her- but I will try to live my life as I hope she would be proud.  A warbonnet is for those who deserve it.  Warriors, and hardly anyone I see wearing them are.  And that is a damn shame.

My great great great grandmother Susie Shot in the Eye

My great great great grandmother Susie Shot in the Eye

I don’t care

To all the those one Indians who don’t care and think we need to calm down.  To all those Indians that don’t realize part of who we are is caring about the future.  We will always have that fight in us.  Don’t you care?

I don’t care if you don’t care about the KXL pipeline, I won’t bother telling you how much I do.  If you think it will bring so many jobs here, then I hope you get one and I won’t care when they lay you off after they use you up.  I will remember you when the pipeline poisons the only water that we have had since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  I will remember you when the wells run dry and chaos breaks loose.  I will remember you when everyone is fighting over water and I will remember how you had money while people were sleeping in cars protesting the pipeline and going to prison for it.  I will remember you wanted that job when there are no jobs.  I will remember you when wildlife starts to die from people messing with and disrespecting Earth.  I will remember…you didn’t care when you are thirsty.

I don’t care if you are Indian and you don’t care if you are called redskin or you don’t see anything wrong with it. I won’t try to explain to you, if you won’t listen. I do care, however, that my future grandchildren will never know this word.  I will remember you when you act shocked at the rudeness of a people who came to the land we belong to and dishonored us from the beginning by putting our people through hundred of years of genocide.  I will remember that you don’t care when you learn what they did to your grandmother and grandfather in boarding school..  I will remember you when you finally see the shame our people were put through and I will remember that you do not care if they call you a redskin, because most likely one of your ancestors was scalped for a reward.  And you not caring is like Dan Snyder carrying your scalp in his greedy grubby paw like a reward.  Yes, Dan Snyder has your scalp, because you don’t care.

I don’t care that you get ashamed of angry Indians.  It is not my fault you can not see blatant truths and harsh realities when it comes to our sacred women, instead you only see Indians protesting and you are more shamed by angry Indians than by our women being disrespected.  I will remember you when you ignore the statistics of our women being murdered and raped at an alarmingly higher rate than any other culture in America.  I will remember you see nothing wrong with the hyper sexualization of Native women in the land they originate from.  I will remember that you saw nothing wrong with the Pocahontas hottie costume celebrities and models seem to like.  I will remember you didn’t think it was a big deal and we are just a bunch of angry natives who like to fight all the time.  I will remember you because you have a grandmother and mother and more than likely will have daughters.  I will remember that you forgot who builds our nations and who are the hearts of our nations.

I don’t care if you don’t care about our Earth and you don’t care if it gets trashed by trash, by fracking, mining, greed, pure greed.  We need to change, we need to live in this world today you say.  We need to quit hanging onto the past.  The past you are ashamed of is not the shameful past the history books omitted, the shame you feel is for the fight we still have in us.  You are one of those one Indians, colonized.  You are one of those Indians who think colonized means you have an iPhone.

I don’t care because there will be a day, you have to start caring.  There will be a day no one will stand up and fight for you.  I don’t care for your harsh words about angry Indians now, but when you see you have no where else to turn but back to who you are, I will be there because I will care for the future of our people.  And your people will be there waiting for you to come back to who you are.

If I am not there, one of my children will be.  If they are not there, one of my grandchildren will be.

They will know our fights, our rights, our history.  They will care, because all of that time, that is why I care.

I am an Indian Woman

I am an Indian woman

who stands tall and proud

as short as I am

I am an Indian woman

strong and loud

as quiet as I seem

I am an Indian woman

you do not mess with

because you don’t know

I am an Indian woman

wild and restless

in her own land

I am an Indian woman

respectful but mistreated

one too many times

I am an Indian woman

whose never been defeated

so many times

I am an Indian woman

who learned from her grandmother

how to be.

I am an Indian woman

and there is no other

kind of woman I would ‘wannabe.’


Letting our children grow.

Being the mother of three boys and a daughter is not easy. In fact, being a mother is not easy. And watching them grow into adults is a mixed up time in life. You swell with pride watching them become who they need to be in life and at the same time you worry about them and what they are going to do in life. That one point where they become responsible for their actions and you can no longer save them from the evils of the world is a scary time for mothers, well at least for me. I always wanted to be that one they run to when they need me but there were times in their lives when I wasn’t there and other people, friends of mine were. I am and will always forever be grateful to those who were and they know who they are.

I guess I am just at that point in life where you realize your kids will now be adults and maybe it is exciting for them to grow up and become responsible, but I am the one having a hard time adjusting to this new role. I am supposed to be the one who can’t bake a good cookie if her life depended on it for them, the one who chases the monsters away, and the one who makes it all better when they need me. Maybe in a way I still am, I am the one they call when they have a problem, and whether I decide or not to help them with that problem or let them solve it on their own, (as I sit back and hold myself back from jumping in to make it better for them.) I don’t want them to have that victim mentality but rather the warrior/survivor mentality of taking care of yourself and your own.

Yes, it is hard to watch my children grow up. I will still always be that mom that worries about them. At the same time, I am the mother who will let them be adults and learn the ways of the world on their own. That is because, I simply won’t always be here. But I will always be their mom. I will always love them as hard as it is for me to let them learn life’s lessons on their own, and they will always love me. We have a deal, see.

The Rez Hustle

The rez hustle is something we all know how to do and are capable of doing. Especially if we grew up with poverty. Even if we didn’t know we were so poor. I never realized my rez was so poor, because I always saw the hustle going on. People selling a pair of earrings to get something to eat. People picking cans to get their next drink, or people pawning their lamps to go to bingo. I have seen and heard it all.
The worst thing I heard was someone once tried to sell the blue dot cut out from a National Enquirer magazine. I have never confirmed this rumor to be true nor do I want to know. But I think if you go so far as to try and sell the lucky blue dot from a magazine, it obviously does not work because you are just not that lucky.

But we grew up, all us rezzers with the innate ability to hustle. It was something that comes naturally and is learned. It is like when my auntie used to buy cheap leather coats at the thrift stores so she could use the leather to bead on. Or when my grandma saved bacon grease to cook with later. Or one time I bought some artwork from an elderly lady and I noticed the tin cones on the leather looked odd, in a cool way. So I looked on the inside and she had cut up a pepsi can to make the tin cones. You see people selling stuff all the time. Kids gathering the peppermint tea and selling it at the Common Cents store. People selling food, artwork and botanicals they gather. One time someone even sold a rock to a tourist or I remember hearing when I was a little girl that one of my relatives sold those nasty little stickers that get stuck to your socks to a few tourists as porcupine eggs.

Yes, we know how to get along in a poor world. We can definitely talk the talk then, but what happens when we leave?

Do we take our hustle with us? Do we use all of our innate abilities we used to strive in a poor world in another world? A world that is moving too fast and willing to leave whoever isn’t ready behind?

We have been on the reservation for over a hundred years and we have been one of the poorest places in America for over a hundred years. And we survived. So all this struggle we talk of that our ancestors would probably laugh at us for should be used in a way to show the world what we are made of. We have every ability to still be a great people, to be supportive of each other and to move forward. Our destiny is in our hands, we deserve the life we were meant to live and that does not include struggling. It means to use our ability to survive to make a better life for ourselves. Turn your hustle around and use it in a good way. I didn’t write my book to become rich, I honestly wrote it because I knew of my past and my history and I owned up to my mistakes. I wrote the book so I wouldn’t go down as a bad guy, instead I wanted to be known as an author. Getting paid for the book is a bonus.

Use your rez hustle and make your dreams come true. I just crossed a dream off when I saw the Yankees play.