Remember Wounded Knee: A rez story

 No, Russell, we won't forget what you did, and have done, for us. But, we also can't condone what you've done to us, to your loved ones, and the cause either.

This is a hard, very fucking hard, post to write. You've likely deduced from some other posts, that I am an enrolled member of an indigenous Amer-Indian tribe.*  And, it is one of the few things in life that I take quite seriously. It is the obligation of history, of consanguinity, of blood and soul and soil.  This is, to put it frankly, our land to hold and our obligation to remember and our traditions to treasure and preserve. It is a racial memory, and -even if you can't remember it, in my family, at least- it is one beaten into everyone's heads, hearts and consciousnesses upon birth.

From my tribe.
Beautiful, but so, so fraught with emotional landmines.

I've done my best by my People that I can: I tell my daughter the stories I learned, and try to learn the old ones supposedly forgotten. I've sweated and danced and cracked nails and busted bones and built fires and shed blood on the Mountain. I endeavor in my professional activities and personal life. In short, I try to find and fight for our family. I fight for our land, and I fight for our sovereignty...not just for "us" but for all of us...not merely the tiwahe, but the tiospaye. We are all family. And, you let us down again...

(pronounced Wa-Shtay)

As though I could ever, ever forget my People? As though there is not some goddamned gene imprinted upon my psyche that makes me scream like an crazed falcon when I reach the open plains? As if there is not a gut-level mistrust of all things Anglo-Saxon? As though there were not a deep-seated sense of oneness with this world, with this life, that Christianity could ever conquer? As if there weren't a deep and wholly spiritual connection with my surroundings? You can kill a people --we are just bodies--  but you can't kill a meme.

As if Sitting Bull could be  killed by a fucking bullet?


And, this, Russ, is what brings me to your newest low. I had grown accustomed to the grand-standing, to the rock-star demands, to selling the movement out, to self-aggrandizement. But, now, really? You're going to advertise your advocacy, your good works, as fucking mysticism to sell to wasichu?

This isn't fucking mysticism, Russ..this is tiospaye.

Remember Wounded Knee? I do, I've been there...maybe more recently than you, perhaps. And, I've seen my ancestors in their ditch, cut down by Hodgkins guns. The dead women and children and wounded and lame and defeated...all butchered in the snow. And, I've met my ancestors there. And I carry their names, chiseled upon the chapel stone, with me. And no, Russell, no cash contribution from hippies, Europeans or guilty liberals is going to ever...fucking ever...make that right.

A new jet, or paying the bills after you beat your latest wife, makes up for this child (my child, our child) being deprived of his legacy? 

Remember Wounded Knee? I do. Every day. It was my great, great grand aunt and uncle who were left to freeze after being shot. You suffered. We all suffered. You've worked. We've all worked. The difference is, some of us don't want to be rock stars, don't want notoriety, don't want to set ourselves up as Tunkasila. We want what's right.

Think, cousin, think. And then shut the fuck up.

It wasn't just Oglala that died there, Russell...

* Proud enrollee, rez dweller and half breed; born and raised. But, you know what?. Ethnic Gaels who touched down after the Civil War go rather well with pissed off fucking Indians. Not only do we know the woods better, fight better, but, by damned, we carry a grudge that lasts centuries...and, we can outdrink you.


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