Monday, April 23, 2007

On being A Skin Part 1

The following blog contains the opinions of one They do not reflect the opinions of all skins everywhere. It is also a repost from my old 360 blog, so some of the hyperlinks may not work, that is if anyone really does click on those, lol.


as an Indian, ad-libbing during a Thanksgiving play]

Wednesday: "Wait, we can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h'ors d'ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground."

That was from the movie The Addams Family Values. I remember when I first saw that I was like, should I be offended? Then I was like, why? It's the truth.

"Dana, my lonehill from the west. I think you're a wonderful blogger who has open your doors with a peek into your "western" world. You have done a great deal of shedding away my stereotypes of the West and the American Indians. Before, I had grand Bonanza images and Roy Rogers wonderments which have all been diminished. Thanks. *grin*"

That was a comment from Eddo the other day in this blog. It is amazing that some people do have these stereotypes still to this day. Once when I worked mail order for a native arts and crafts store, The Sioux Trading Post, I had a TV show from Japan call me. The viewer had just saw Dances With Wolves and they had a few questions for me. The standard, "How is it to live in a Teepee?" "Do you still ride horses?" "Do you hunt buffalo" If any of you are wondering the answer for all of those is NO.

I see people that do beadwork, sell their native crafts and have a story for every piece. It is always so romantic in a way, "oh I had a dream or vision of this design." or "The little triangle here represent a mountain by a lake and where the eagles live"

People eat that up. I wish I could say I dream up designs. I think them up. I don't sit on a hill and dream of them. Actually as much as beading strains my eyes the last thing I want to do is dream of it.

I once had a friend who was a pothead and would go to work stoned. He would bullshit the tourists for everything he sold, like holding a dreamcatcher above a pregnant womens belly and telling her she was going to have a boy because it spun to the west. Man, did he have the sales.

We are Indian, some like to be called Native, which to me can mean you are from anywhere. Everyone is Native to somewhere. I don't care for the term Native American because some people get all upset and say "well I was born here too." I know the whole deal with the word Indian, but I don't mind it. We call ourselves "Skins." It is one of those words only a true skin, born and raised on the reservation knows. Only real skins call each other skin. It is like a test you pass. Once when I was bartending, the most handsome skin (I thought) came up to me. He had that slow, warm, wonderful Oklahoma accent, that reminds me of honey pouring. He asked for a Budweiser, I was like "Yeah he could be a skin?" Then he leaned over and said in that sexy drawl, "You a skin?" I was like "Yes." then I knew he was a skin. He smiled at me with the most wonderful teeth that any IHS dental clinic would be proud of. That is what I mean by skins identifying each other. We always have people coming up to us and say "Well my great great grandma on my moms side was a Cherokee princess." I always respond in my smart ass way, "Well my great great grandma on my moms side was from France." When they say "So" I am like "Exactly." Just a note for anyone who may have heard that story about their relatives being princesses. Indians didn't have royalty....still don't. The government of the people in North America was democratic, much like the one today. A chief was not a king. His son didn't automatically step up unless elected.

You have the city skins who are always trying to identify with that side of them. They hang blankets and pictures of chiefs on their walls. Then you have the rez skins who hang blankets for curtains and maybe sold their pics of chiefs to their relatives from the city.

Being a skin in this day and age is just like being anyone else, regardless of what people think, we pay taxes, we watch football, we bet, we have our gay and lesbians, we have whores, we have saints, we have virgins, (huh?)we have smokers and non smokers, we have alcoholism and sobriety, smartasses and dumbasses, we have social drinkers and non drinkers, we have athletes and diabetics, we have bitches and we have good people. Really being a skin is like being any other people. So we may be a bit more spiritual, yes we are. But that doesn't mean we are saints. Or we see the future. Or we can tell you what to do with your life. (I mean I can, I can totally bullshit and make people believe me, but that would get old and boring after awhile.) Then you wouldn't know the real me.

I have titled this blog "On Being a Skin" I will continue it someday, so you all know what it is really like to be a skin...especially when I get moved back to the reservation.

This was a blog I wrote a while back that offended, of all people, one of my best friends. Jase, I am not re-posting this to piss you off. I am only re-posting it because I still feel this way. As for the mascot issue, I feel there are many, many more pressing issues to do with Indian Country today, than worry about some mascot that offends me. Like I said I don't care. In fact, I wore my Cleveland Indians jersey because of the fact that it said Indians. And like I said about the North Dakota Fightin Sioux, it is better than being called the Docile Sioux. The following is a blog from last March.

Ok, so I am putting this out there, I hope nobody gets offended or pissed off, if you do then thats your fault for letting me control your emotions. Yes I am Native American/Indian...whatever. The tribe is Oglala Lakota Sioux, I do beadwork, I sell it wholesale in bulk to retail shops. I do NOT make gold chains, 18KT, I don't even own one. I cannot make a dress, I don't even wear them. I hardly ever do special orders because I have so many orders backed up right now that I will not stop, take time out to make one pair of earrings and send them to Spain and wait for a check, (I still think that was a prank, didn't work) I am from a spiritual and cultural people, that doesn't mean I know why the wind blows in the trees, or why eagles fly. I don't know why you hear drums....maybe there's a Jumanji board around somewhere. I don't care if Kansas City calls its team Chiefs or Atlanta call thier team the Braves. I am not even a fan of either anyway, I like the Vikings and don't see anybody complaining about that. I am actually kind of evil minded and come from a long line of evil minded women. I am not Pocahontas and don't run around with a racoon and sing to the Blue Corn Moon, though that would be damn funny if I did. I am just me, I embrace my culture, am proud of my heritage, do my beadwork, and am evil minded, so don't ask why the sun looked red today, I will tell you it's because your eyes are bloodshot. By the way, as I am typing this it looks like I am pissed off, I just want you all to know I am smiling.ImageImage
Here are some skins from South Dakota, a family that form a band called Indigenous. Check them out, they ROCK!


Josie said...

An excellent piece! This is a reality check that should be mandatory reading!

Dana Dane said...

so i am thinking of submitting it...of course with some editing...what do you think?

Dorid said...

I think there are quite a few things in here that you could make whole columns out of.

...and BTW,Pocahontas had blue eyes. There's something you'll never learn watching TV indians.

Josie said...

Definitely submit it!

JohnB said...

dana, you shed much on a perspective that is very much a silent insight I think that needs to be shared much more than is, especially one as essential as yours

Yardy said...

Dana, as long as you keep sharing things like this more and more people will begin to understand.
Miss ya! xoxo

Wild Oglala said...

On the mascot issue: I know your Indian and you know your Indian, so why even support a racist organization? I'll make you a shirt that says Indian. whatcha think?

Dana Dane said...

not all Cleveland Indians are racist...thats what I am saying! You know I submitted this and i am sure the hate mail will roll.

Wild Oglala said...

Yeah, mascots is one of those issues. Touchy. The hate mail will probably come in, but as a writer it means your blowin up! Keep up the good writings. I like the ones that get me goin (as you may have noticed) And as for the mascot issue, Most people don't even think it's a big deal (and that's the problem) And, with you at least, I'm putting it to rest. We know where each other stands. choose to write about mascots in particular. Then I may have to weigh in with my Opin! And when I get my Wild Oglala shirts in I'll send you one (what size?) HOLLA! PS & dont be hatin' in our Baseball league ;P

Gina said...

YOU are a trip~!

I had no idea you were a 'skin'. Never heard the word applied to native american/indians. I am on the east coast and out of that loop. Although we have Indian names for towns, I don't know of any rez around here. I think they've got somekind of gambling operation up in the mountains of Conn? Foxglove or Foxmore or Foxtons? I don't know. I am so ignorant in these things. I thought that 'black' was the acceptable term for African American and offended a friend who told me she wasn't Black. She wanted to be recognized as African American. Within minutes she is arguing with another chick who is offended by the words African American and swears she's Black.
I hate those kind of arguments.

I admire your expressive ability and sense of humor relating to your forefather's Skinness.