Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Life hands you cherries and you eat them even if sour
Life gives you love in all forms
Life gives you dreams attainable at the greatest heights
Life gives you heart to move on
Life gives you hope every spring
Life gives you me to read
Life gives you a Coke and a smile
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
You can hear the waves hit against the rocks by the shore. The cattails do a slow dance with each other in the wind. The sun teases your bare shoulders. A fish jumps at a waterbug in the middle of the lake. A piece of driftwood sits smooth and gray from time spent in the water. Rocks are round and colorful just under the surface. A speedboat pulls a laughing water skier by. Oh how I miss you, summertime, if only my youth would visit too.
(from the creative writing challenge group)
Monday, March 23, 2009
There is something most people don't know about me. I'm shy. I really am, you probably can't tell from my writing. I have to get really comfortable around someone and then they say "Geez, when we met you was so shy now you don't shut up." I admit, after I am comfy I talk, get sarcastic and say dumb things for self entertainment. My aunt once said, "I never knew you was funny."
I was like "What? You grew up around me and never knew the charm??" Just teasing, but for real, I am shy. I used to know answers at school and never raised my hand, never turned in my paper first, I was just always shy and didn't like to show off, writing is easier. In fact I used to always be picked to go to the spelling contest at Porcupine School every year and I always chose written, until one year my 4th grade teacher who hated me and was so mean said I had to enter the oral division. I was so mad. I hate speaking publicly but I made it to second place. I will forever hate the 3 letter word that took me out to that little witch that smiled when I spelled gem;J-E-M. My shyness and fear of public speaking followed me in college when I had to give a presentation in a classroom of like 40. The presentation was on what was important in our lives and it was a women's college, and every girl there cried when speaking about boyfriends at home and whatnot. I was 30 years old amongst all these 18 and 19 year old chicks, so I let them think that my presentation made me cry when really I cried over the fear of speaking publicly. (I was shaking, yo.)
Anyway I only meant to write about how it is to be Lakota and just confessed what a wuss I am, although if it icomes down to the written word, I am Jedi-like. I just thought of these thoughts the other day after a conversation with one of my inspirations for writing. My mom. She was saying she had watched the Crusaders on SDPBS website, since she is in Oklahoma, and she had mentioned hearing one of the broadcasters talk about our reservation and what a basketball oriented area the reservation is. We then went to talk about how kids around here will play in their backyards, on the streets and anywhere they can put up a basketball goal. Many times there will be no net, but these little kids will all be playing and talking about the local high school players as if they are NBA players, pretending to be them. I remembered that when I was younger, not that I was ever at all athletic (Although I have an outstanding record at rock,paper,scissors.) I remembered other kids on the playground pretending they were high school players from the early 80's and then when I was in high school, I remembered them pretending to be some of my classmates. Basketball is not only a passion here but it also teaches our youth a way of life as a Lakota.
That's what it comes down to. My mom reminded me of that when she mentioned that about the broadcaster saying that our reservation was basketball oriented. She said, " It's not just basketball, it's our way of life. It always has been."
We discussed it further and she had mentioned a familiar scenario with me. She said that when she used to go to Parent Teacher conferences with my younger brothers and sisters the teachers used to tell her "Your kids are quiet, well behaved, but they never raise their hand, yet if I call on them, they always know the answer. Why do you think they won't raise their hand?" I had heard that before at the various schools my kids had gone to off the reservations. My mom simply told her "Even though my kid didn't grow up on the reservation and around their people, they still carry the values. They are not about excelling as an individual, they are more into helping each every individual out as one team."
We discussed how this affected us today and back in the day. Even though it seems that as parents, we don't pass this down, it must be instilled in us from generations before. Our lives are like long ago, we support one another, or we know that we are supposed to. We had to help each other, work together, as a people to even survive. This trait has somehow survived throughout the generations, we are not about ourselves as an individual, but we are about us as a people...as Lakota.
And that is why all the legendary basketball teams in the state are from the Pine Ridge Reservation.
As a Lakota people, let's never lose that.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
(thanks to Amy for the word)
Distance take me far from here
Out of my life and far over there
Take me over the terracotta rooftops in Southern Italy
Take me from the blowing trash of this poverty
Take me to endless sunsets in the Pacific seas
Take me far from social disease
Take me where guns don't exist
And gorillas live in harmony in the mist
Take me over the rainbow in a field of poppies
To the wise talking trees
Where hobbits live and dance all night
Take me away from this fight
Take me from blowing trash
Where statistics thrash
Where homeless are rampant
Pockets full of lint
Heartache on a daily
I turn off the TV
Distance turns to real life
On this rez in it's all glory and strife
Friday, March 20, 2009
Ok this started with a link I put up earlier. It's a local story here about teens shooting at homeless Indians in Rapid City. Rapid is so backwards with racism. You would think after all these years and a city that is pretty much surrounded by nine reservations, they would accept Indians. Many people move off the reservation to the nearest city in the hopes of a better life for their young families. I did this when I was 19 and pregnant. I soon moved to Minnesota because I couldn't get past how I was treated and in turn it was making me racist towards non-Indians.
Anyways, one person amongst the many that think we (Indians) are making too big of a deal over the shootings and piss throwing, is irate over the fact that the newspaper calls us Native Americans. Not mad at the issue of racism, throwing of human waste, or hate crimes, but the fact that the newspaper, not us, called us Indians Native Americans. They say something like "Hey I was born and raised here, I'm a white Native American."
First off let me start by saying the term Native American was created by some noopid twit in the 60's who thought that calling us Native American was supposed to be a "politcally correct" and more polite term of saying "Hey, all you 500 tribes here in America, we have a new label for you."
More and more newspapers and other media outlets are calling us Native Americans. At this point, along with some others, I don't think we really care about the political correctness because as the commenter said "I was born here too." They're right. We are all native to somewhere.
The big deal with the word Indian is some believe that Columbus named us that and some believe it was derived from the word Indios. Well let me quote my mentor columnist Tim Giago here.
~I am a firm believer that most historians are wrong when they credit Christopher Columbus for coining the word "Indian" because he thought he was landing his ships in India. In 1492 there was no country known as India. Instead that country was called Hindustan. I think that is closer to the truth that the Spanish padre that sailed with Columbus was so impressed with the innocence of the Natives he observed that he called them Los Ninos in Dios. My spelling may be wrong on the Spanish words, but the description by the padre means something like "Children of God." ~
Who knows where the word came from, but I like to think that Columbus didn't give it to us, since for centuries it was also believed that he discovered America. It was also believed he was a hero and not a murdering, pillaging, rapist. What do we know.
Screw labels, but if you must, please don't refer to me as a Native American. Call me American Indian if it makes you feel more politically correct, call me Oglala Lakota Sioux if you want to get technical or just Lakota for short. Call me a Skin if you're a skin too. Or call me Dana, if you know me.
Every human being that landed on the shores of America was an immigrant. They came to this land from Europe bringing along their baggage filled with religious strife and racial prejudice. They discovered that this was not an empty land, but a land filled with thousands upon thousands of industrious and spiritual people. They took from the Natives their industriousness in order to survive and crushed the spiritual because it was not only beyond their comprehension, but a challenge to the teachings of their Holy Bible.
~Tim Giago, Indianz.com
Thursday, March 19, 2009
there was a time when i thought the tooth fairy was real and i could catch him
there was a time when i thought i could run barefoot for the rest of my life
there was a time when a blue popsicle made my world ok
there was a time when i thought i would live by an eastern shore
there was a time when sunsets were prettier than sunrises
there was a time when blowing every dandelion seed meant my wishes would come true
there was a time when i thought i would live happily ever after
there was that time
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This pot (Not the pot pictured) was at my house since last summer. I guess when my aunt's were staying with me they borrowed it from my gram without her knowing and then they moved out. I had no idea where it came from but it was nice, copper bottom and really cooked good. So I just assumed it was mine.
After that my grandma passed away. One day my uncle came down here and was talking to me, he seen me making soup in the pot but said nothing until later that night, he called me slightly intoxicated.
I wanted to tell you at your house but do you know where that soup pot came from, with the copperbottom?
Actually, no. I said as I lovingly washed the pot. (I love doing dishes while talking on the phone, it makes the chore seem less so.)
Well when mom was alive she got after me and argued with me about that pot. She loved it and she blamed me for stealing it or never giving it back. It turned into a two week feud. i don't want it now, he said. I just thought I would let you know that. I saw it on your stove and wondered if you knew that. Take care of it.
I put it in the strainer to dry and cried while I watched it dry.
I had no idea it was hers but now that I knew, it made me miss her again. How do I numb the loss of her I thought, everytime I use it I will think of her.
My man lost his grandma almost 3 years ago. He still cries fo her once in awhile. Grandmas are strong women, living longer than everyone and knowing SO much more. The Indian grandma always steps in and raises her grandkids also. Like a protective lion over her young, she makes sure they have enough to eat, a place to sleep and so on.
He went down to his grandma's house whenever we got our big order of porcupine quills in to get the pot his grandma used to dye her quills in. It took us 3 days to dye the quills. The first day we had decided to make chili and cornbread. Chili was one of my gram's specialties. I can't make it like her but I try with alot of tomatoes, onion and seasonings. You could smell it along with the vinegar and dye we had boiling for dying the quills.
I looked at the two pots, both boiling and serving the same purpose they had when the grandmother's were here and alive. The same things, loves, and ways of life our grandmother's passed along to us.
We will probably never get over the loss of our grandmothers but seeing the two pots boiling, well it was a beautiful thing.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Last Saturday night I watched the Lady Thorpes in the State A Championship game. i watched it with nostalgia that took probably many of us 20 years back to the first time the Lady Thorpes brought it back.
I was just a cheerleader then, but I remember the feeling of winning it all. I remember there was never another high like that in my 17 years. I remember after it was over and we went back to the hotel there was a buffet set up for us. We all started grabbing sodas and food, we were treated like queens, but we couldn't understand why there was beer in the ice next to the sodas. Is this because we are off the rez?" We wondered. Then a few uptight ladies came running over and made us put the sodas back informing us that the food was for the girls and fans from Spearfish. So after being burned like that we all just threw each other in the pool. We screamed and war hooped as late as we could and woke up early to take the trophy back home.
nobody on the East River knew who we was, or cared that we just won state. It hit us when we went through Mission, the rival rez, they held signs up congratulating us. A little past Martin there were people lined on the sides of the road, honking and screaming. I think everyone of us in the bus was crying.
That was when it hit me that we weren't just proud to be Thorpes, but we was proud to be Lakota.
See there is this pride inside of us all that maybe stayed there after we were froced on reservations, forced into boarding schools, forced to speak English and cut our hair. Maybe our growth as a nation and people was halted by all this a hundred or so years ago. But that fighting spirit inside of every Lakota you ever meet is and always will be there, whether it be on the basketball court, in education, through art...we live in these conditions forced upon us by the government but each day, the pride of being Lakota makes us fight on to have at least that. Pride.
Thank God everyday for blessing you with being Lakota.
Thanks to the Pine Ridge Lady Thorpes for showing us that pride on Saturday and good luck to the Red Cloud Crusader boys team next week at the State A championship, we believe in you. Good luck to my little tahunsi Kiley.
Friday, March 13, 2009
This is a story that I have to tell, no matter what anyone thinks of me.
Last year when football season started, I bought some ribs and some beer. It was like in September and if you know me I love football. Well to make a long story short, cops busted in my door and took us in to jail for drinking, it's illegal here, if you didn't know that.
The jail here, you do 8 hours in a drunk tank with about 14 other people before they switch you over to the inmate housing. Then after the next shift comes in, you get to make phone calls and get out for $35. So I get out and go on with life.
I have court over the $35 fine coming up and can't get off work to go to court, can't postpone it because about 100 other people have court at the same time, the same day. They usually just drop the charge and give everyone their $35 back, big waste of time and money, in my opinion.
Anyways, so I consult a tribal lawyer, which here a tribal lawyer takes a test, I think and pays $50 for thier license...anyway she tells me if I don't show up for court that I would be forfieting my $35 fine. Fine, I thought, they can have the $35.
Fast forward to Christmas 2008. I have a friend who at the time was only 20. Can you ride with me to Whiteclay and buy me a 6 pack of Smirnoff Ice. Just go to the first bar I tell her, the guys a perv and don't card girls. I tried, he's not working, she said. I'll give you 5 bucks. OK, I say.
I get my shoes on and we leave. We are followed by a cop. He doesn't stop us until we are halfway there. To make another long story short, my fine wasn't forfeited and I had a bench warrant for it. I was non-bondable on Christmas and the next day of court was on New Year's Eve. So I sat for what seemed like forever but it was only 7 days.
And our jail is new, so it's like camp without the outdoors. There are four girls to a pod of two bunks and my bunkmates were all funny as hell. But it's not a cell, just like a big dorm.
I was in there with an older lady named Darlene. "Grandma Backpack" is what they call her because every where she goes she is seen with her camoflauge backpack. She called us all "my girl..." shared her food with us and talked to us.
Most of the time, I see her standing in the border town of Whiteclay, drinking with the rest of the homeless, though she isn't homeless. She always has something in her backpack for you, new shampoo or whatever she can sneak in there in stores. Sometimes she sells those things, sometimes she just give them away. She was the same in jail, giving things to everyone. Helping everyone out.
She was the only one not worried about using her phone calls for bail money, she called looking for her backpack. When she finally located it 2 days and 4 phone calls later, she relaxed and waited for a TR bond. (temporary release)
I was in a funk, it was the holidays and here I was, as if I was this horrid criminal. I read as many books as I could (one a day) and swore when I got out I was never gonna ever gonna watch The Wedding Singer again. See there is a TV and VCR in there and everytime a new load of girls came in, they watched The Wedding Singer as if it was brand new. And now I hate that movie with a passion, in fact when everyone went to church, I hid it.
When Grandma Backpack got a TR bond before the rest of us, she went around giving everyone stuff she had collected, like coffee packets from church, little candybars from church, magazines from the library, when she got to me, all she had was a piece of paper with a Bible verse. I'm not big on church or anything, but I took it to use as a bookmark and gave her a hug.
When I read the piece of paper, I smiled.
It said this.
"I am important. God has a purpose for my life therefore I have hope." Ephesians 2:10
Aftert that I took as many pieces of the Yatzhee scorepad papers as I could and started writing this. You see Grandma Backpack didn't have anything to give me but that piece of paper. But she gave me so much more than that. She gave me hope, and no matter what I do in life, I know there is a purpose. At this point I am still writing, in longhand the book that she finally made me start that day.
I don't know when I will really finish Modern Day Tales from The Rez, but at least I started it.
(translated from the back of 6 pages of Yahtzee scoresheets.)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I did it again last night. Supper was late due to no ride and the air outside froze your nostrils up. so when my cousin James gave us a ride the only place open was the local convenience store, Big Bat's. I bought 12 pieces of chicken and jojo potatoes. I then remembered I was out of ketchup at the house so went to the free condiment table and it was like...
I went for the ketchup but the honey was in the way so I swiped a fistfull of honey, and sweet and sour. There was also barbecue sauce, who knows, my boys might dip their chicken in that. Salt and pepper are always good. I don't use salt but it comes in handy, heck in jail you use it to barter with. I also grabbed some mustard to mix with the honey. i went bonkers.
I love condiments! To me they are the most amazing invention in the modern free world. They are like pre-packaged mini wateca, and when I see them I lose all control. I bet there isn't an Indian woman or woman for that matter that don't have a pkg of salt stashed somewhere, purse, bra, in a corner in her house somewhere. And you know we all have "that drawer" at home, that contains enough condiments to cook with.
I remember being at orientation for a job and there was a brunch table. I was waiting for a co worker to sit down so I could stuff my purse with a bagel and doughnut when I saw it, little flavored cream cheese! I swiftly took a look around and grabbed eight of those suckers.
Behold, you have met a Condiment Queen.
Check this out, they have brown sugar and vinegar too!
A-1 sauce...oh I must have it!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
This story was inspired by many a brother in law, brother, uncle and friends. It was contributed in part by a couple of girls I met in passing. Like the legend of the Wateca Warrior Princess, there is a legendary warrior in every family, the Wachinko Warrior.
The Wachinko Warrior was probably babied by mom or grandma and knows he has someplace to go if he gets kicked out of his house, like once a week. He has many friends and cousins that will keep him too. Not particularly because he is charming, or maybe he is...and that is why he gets kicked out. He was probably looking at his woman's friend or watching Taylor Swift on TV all "some-how."
Anyway the Wachinko Warrior travels lightly, usually his wachinko bag is a shopping bag, which is good because he is aware of the envirmoent and recycles. It is often referred to as a "go to hell" bag and it's only packed for the moment. I will tell you what everyone thinks is in the wachinko bag and what really is in it.
This is what his mom wants to be in the bag:
A comb, toothbrush, soap,extra roll of toilet paper, condom, because if her baby really does that he needs to be safe, his ID, a phone card to call mom so she can go pick him up, a lunchable, extra change of clothes and clean socks and underwear.
This is what his wia (woman) wants in the bag:
A picture of her, a phone card, no change of clothes because he will be back and her chonies.
This is what his other girlfriend wants in the bag, the one he thinks he is going to be with for a night but she thinks its forever:
His ID, to start a new life with her, a condom, something to drink, his EBT card to wine and dine her, and a coupan for windshield repair.
This is what is actually in the bag:
A clean pair of chonies.
I know this because I had to house many wachinko warriors for the night. And the one that was at the doorstep, with a laundry basket full of his woman's underwear, you know who you are.
Remember the next time you see a man walking, trying to keep his head up proudly but you can see the single tear on one side like Iron Eyes Cody, with the recycled shopping bag in his hand, looking lost, that is, my friends, the Wachinko Warrior.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Certain things in life make you happy. Happy at that moment, happy to be alive and experiencing it.
Like giving birth to a child, a very painful journey in itself but I did it four times, know why. That moment they give you your beautiful baby makes it all worth it. Makes you feel happy to be alive, powerful as a woman that you have just given life, a living, breathing baby that will depend on you forever. Someone that will love you unconditionally and that you will protect fiercely.
Another moment is seeing you kids do something that is unselfish, something as simple as bringing you a dandelion, no matter how many times it happens it makes me tear up and be happy to be alive.
Or it could be something as simple as laying on a comfy couch with a quilt, while it is rainging and you are still kind of in the middle of what is a great book, one of those books that plays in your head like a movie as you read it, you have hot coffee on a table nearby and your cat purring on your lap.
Or it could be going to a bar with your friends and everyone laughs all night.
Or it could be waking up to a clean house, that smells like coffee.
These are all moments to live for...they make life worth it....like fried macaroni and cheese.
Friday, March 6, 2009
At one time this was a happening place. A gas station back in the day of full service, when 3 cute guys would come out at the ring of a bell and service your car before you and your family went down the turnpike to the beach for the day. Old men would go there and sit on their haunches and spit tobacco while talking to the owner about what was happening in their small town, they would talk about things like who won at bridge, who came over for dinner on Sunday, and how their grandkids were getting up there in age, soon being going off to that Bible college. The owner and his family prospered from this full service station. They prospered enough to have a big house that his wife polished every wood thing in it on a daily basis and cooked full meals from recipes handed down to her from her mom and mother in law. They ate meatloaf once a week and thought it was a sin that such a thing as TV dinners were invented and her peach pie was the best in 3 counties and had 2 blue ribbons to prove it. She hemmed clothes while watching their TV and mended socks. She even needlepointed their pillowcases and lovingly ironed everything in their house. She smoked cigarettes and drank vodka when no one was looking. Then one day she was gone, no one ever knew where she went or what happened to her. Rumors were that she ran off with a young man but in truth she ran off with her sisiter in law. Her husband stopped watching the full service garage, their children moved from town when the garage stoppped bringing in money, the woman was happy somewhere on the East Coast with her sister in law. The man drank himself to death and the garage became what it is now, just a red door in the midwest. But the woman, well she never mended another sock again in her life.
(OK that wasn't a true story but I like making things up to my sisters pictures. I call it a sisterly picture challenge.)