Thursday, May 29, 2008

Open Letter To Reservation Border Towns

Dear Border Town,

I have lived amongst all of you for most of my life, even living in two border towns in my life. I admit, it is better than it used to be. For the most part, most of the residents have accepted that we are part of your economy. I no longer get followed in the small drugstores or glared at like I did when I was a child. Now I am greeted as if the owner knows, that yes, my money spends like everyone else's. As if the reservation border towns, for the most part know that they might dry up and blow away without the money that comes from our a tumbleweed. But, there are still some issues I still have with border towns.

Such as:

Slumlords- who know that people that move off the reservation looking to make a home somewhere because the housing situation here is horrible. People that are so desperate for a home of their own, they move into apartments with no windows, trailers with holes in the floor and cockroaches. They move into homes that would never pass a HUD inspection, but these slumlords are allowed to do this because there are no housing inspections in these towns. they are allowed to do this because some people are so desperate to raise their families in their own house but after moving in, their dreams are dashed by by the slumlords and the falling apart dwelling. I was happy to see a former landlord of mine being sued by his former American Indian tenants but disappointed when the complaints were thrown out of court. It brought me back to the day I talked on the phone with a lawyer who encouraged me to sue my landlord, then hastily hung up on me when he realized the landlord I was talking about was his client. Someday, maybe things will change.

Schools- I had a hard time at a few schools that were not on the reservation. My kids will tell you I get fired up too easy. But the worst experience was living in a border town right off the reservation, when DSS would not leave me alone. I was visited at my home and asked if I was homeless. One of my kids splashed in a mud puddle on the way to school, which resulted in another visit from DSS and the sheriff to see if I had a washer and dryer. That was only 2 out of 6 visits in 3 months. I was thankful to leave and move back to the reservation, even if it meant moving away from the friendships I made there. I didn't move away quietly , I did raise hell and get in touch wth state senators about the I was treated. I did get workers in trouble. I was happy with the way I handled it.

History-We share a history with you, bordertowns. Our great chiefs and leaders have probably walked your roads and I am sure many of you have our blood flowing through yours that you may have only been able to admit lately when it became "cool." But to not honor our history draws a clear line of where we all stand. The divide and border is there. Maybe it is because of the shame of your treatment to us over the years, but to not even honor that shared history by putting up your own museums and tourist traps really, without acknowledging the still alive and beautiful culture next door? How could you selll Made in China beadwork and trinkets as if it was made by the local Lakotas? Doyou know how offending that is to those of us who survive off of our arts and crafts? Do you know right next door on the reservation ae some of the most beautiful crafters and artisans in the world, who not only show their pride fiercely in what they do, but survive on it on a daily basis? How could you sell imported stuff, when we are still here?

Those are just some of my rants, admit it border towns, you need us for our cash flow just as much as we still need you for supplies? We need to work on our pure disdain for you in your treatment of us, just as much as you need to work on your pure disdain of us for the fact that we were here first.

Example: Rapid City, South Dakota-May 9th, 2008- My aunt and I pull into The Foothills Innon LaCrosse Street because there was a sign promising rooms for $34.99. I went in. Can I get one on the first floor, my aunt has Rhumetoid Athritis, I ask. No those are the "Deluxe" rooms,she says. What are those?, I ask. Those are a "higher class" of room, she says. I look at the orange and brown carpeting in the lobby, smell the old drafty smell, and say Really, where where are the $34.99 rooms on the sign? She snaps her gum and blows a bubble. Those are on the second floor, she twirls her hair. I sigh, Fine I will take one of those...near the door because like I said my aunt is disabled.

I am gonna need a hundred dollar deposit she says.

WHAT!? Now I know it's because of my skin color! Forget it! Keep you're damn deluxe rooms! I leave. Plus, I knew I didn't have the hundred dollar deposit.

My aunt went in the next hotel and was treated nice as pie. Of course they could have treated me nice there too, but I was too intimidated to go in.


Now that was a rant that has been building up for 36 years!

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