I want to write, I want my words to flow out of my heart in prose and take your breath away. But my words are stifled. My skin has been so leathered by the sun that my feelings can’t seem to seep out in positive ways. I’ve been moody.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m learning so much new information about things I thought I knew. Things I thought were old news. I was wrong. Very wrong.
I’m at a place in my life where I should know the next step. I should have a plan, an idea, a singular passion I can craft to be my own prize. Nah.
I’m at a point in my life where caffeine doesn’t work for me. It just makes me anxious and stresses me out. I already stress out way too much. It’s truly disheartening for my future. Grey clouds.
But no,I know there’s good in the world.
I know that not every piece of clothing is made in a sweat shop.
I know that not every crop is controlled by the government, that not every crop is infused with chemicals and pesticides.
I know that not every piece of land will be ruined for greed.
I know that not every cow stands in its own shit for the entirety of its life.
I know that not every person on food stamps drives a nice car and has their nails done.
I know that not every human is selfish, is racist, is egotistical, hates.
I know that there are people, many people, who wish to see positive healthy change in our culture and are compassionately working towards this future.
I spent the last three weeks on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation working with an organization called Earth Tipi. While plastering an eco friendly home, building a garden fence gate, and researching and building a grey water filtration system was rewarding, speaking and sharing was the most important. I was able to listen and share with very passionate compassionate people. I’ve learned some very dreadful things.
The Native Americans are a completely ignored group of people living in the United States today. They are heavily taken advantage of and misunderstood. Our grade school history classes don’t teach students the truth. The truth is that Native American populations were almost completely destroyed, whipped out, erased. There were MILLIONS of people living all over this land before Europeans got here. (notice I didn’t say “discovered”) These individuals were literally hunted like animals. They were TORTURED. The government paid US citizens to kill men, women, and children. Armies massacred whole tribes and were given honorable metals for it. Native American’s were forced to WALK for MILES away from their land and thrown into unfamiliar territory. This territory that was promised to them was then taken away, again and again. They were lied to and betrayed. Their children were taken away and sent to the equivalent of concentration camps to be white-er-ized, only HALF of these children survived. These children were beat for speaking their native language. “Kill the Indian, Save the man.” Native American spiritual beliefs and practices were made ILLEGAL by the US government. Native Americans were forced to practice Christianity. In the Plains, the population of bison was almost completely decimated by early Americans, rendering those Native American’s way of life impossible. The US tried to force the Natives into the foreign practice of being agriculturalists; this was aided by the Dawes Act, which separated the reservations into plots of land by the government and then systematically taken away little by little. Today, a Native American has to LEASE (pay the government) to live on his OWN land. A non-native can out pay a Native and have the rights to the Native American’s own land. Many people have to live in reservation housing communities because their own land is tied up legal battles making it ILLEGAL for them to build and inhabit their own land. Many reservations are considered the equivalent to THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES. I saw NO grocery stores on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, only glorified gas stations. There’s no public transportation or way for people without transportation (which there is little) to get their basic needs met. Many of the homes have no running water, contain black mold, and have multiple generations of a family living in a one or two bedroom home. Suicide rate is FOUR times the national average…especially among YOUNG CHILDREN. Unemployment is at 85%. There’s a staggeringly high rate of alcoholism and diabetes on reservations. The US is still chipping away at their land and their rights day by day while the rest of the world is too busy watching the Kardashians get fat with babies. This culture is disenfranchised and misunderstood. It’s popular to wear moccasins, head bands, decorate our things with tribal prints, and dress up as Pocahontas for Halloween, but how much do we really know or care about this culture? Who’s trying to UNDERSTAND, whose ears are OPEN? Where’s the compassion?
There are Native American’s doing great for themselves. Staying true to their spirituality, practicing their traditions, and teaching their children THE TRUTH no matter how brutal it may be. Acting to continually help their people thrive. Staying humble. Staying kind. Respecting the Earth. Opening their homes to the grandchildren of the people who destroyed theirs.
I’m not exactly sure what we can DO besides LISTEN. Show compassion and try to realize what ACTUALLY happened when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue….Help to fight the government for Native rights and Native land. There are also many non-religious non-profits working to help people on the reservations. Go to the reservations. Listen to the people. You will be accepted by some, but not by all, but why would you be?