Friday, August 28, 2009

Cruelity and humour, a weird mix

Wonder why we find things to be funny while others find it cruel? People can be funny but at the expensive of others and even if it is funny, it is cruel. I have never did "time" (jail) like many of my friends and relatives. I find it a waste of time and you cannot grow from dead time. For people there is nothing to do in jail so they entertain themselves and sometimes that entertainment is cruelty. There are some funny stories that come out from guys that have done time. Some of the antics can seem cruel. Like this one young man who was asked to "suitcase" a package out from the yard into the annex. The package he shoved up his arse, was a wrapped breakfast sausage. eewwwwwww! Poor guy. My cousin was telling us about when at lights out, someone would let out a loud fart, and someone else would whistle. That's not cruel it's funny. In the provincial jail there used to be a small farm with livestock. One guy had a calf use him to suckle. Unfortunately when other people came around he couldn't get the calf to stop. Even punching the calf's head had no affect.
My Dad or my brother never told any stories about their time in jail. For my Dad it was like it never happened. My brother had been in there so many times it seemed normal to visit him there.

I think people use humour as they do with language, to turn the hard and ugly into something softer and palatable. In the Reserve, there is a lot of good things but there is also the darker element. I remember the talks about getting "free f**ks". It is called "gemygae"; the taking advantage of someone who is sleeping or passed out. I heard this fellow got charged last week for doing this. It will be interesting to see how he walks around the Reserve. Some people have no shame, while some people are easily forgiven. In this one Reserve up north there is this little guy who is infamous for "muffin diving" when women are sleeping or passed out. He, the creepy crawler, has been caught and has been made to pay by people for his activities. One time this woman woke up and almost smothered him, forcing his head hard against her. People laugh at what happened him when he got a taste of his own medicine. Another time this fellow, who is quite larger than the small creepy crawler, took advantage of the small man at a party. He cried for help but no one came to his rescue. In the Reserve, no one can hide for long.

When we were kids we used to do all sorts of things that got us into trouble. One time we found a wasp nest in this old log in the bush. We could see where the bees went into the tree. We started a fire to burn the bees, cruel I know. We got a gas can and wanted to add gas to the burning log. We got my younger cousin to throw the gas on the fire. He was too small to handle the gas can. He was not able to get out of the way of the flames and burned his face. That was cruel. Today we laugh with him about it, but it was cruel. Kids can be cruel.

A story from my wife's friend. Myrna and her husband are regular buyers of the lottery. One weekend the lotto pot was up in the 30 million dollar range. They started talking about what they would do if they were to win. Myrna is a brown large loud proud Indian mom. She will tell you what she thinks, even if she is wrong. A very happy person generally. Her husband is a quiet White fellow who normally lets Myrna make all the decisions. Myrna said when they won the lotto they would give money to her family members. Her husband, he didn't want to give money to her brothers. He said they would waste it. Myrna and her husband fought for 3 days over how they would spend their winnings from the lottery.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Talking to Strangers and buying them stuff

What would you say if a stranger walked up to you and said I will buy your kid shoes? Well I know, your eyes would go big and your mind would race, what the heck is with this weirdo. I am that stranger, purchased a pair of shoes for this little Indian girl. Let me go back a bit. I go through these kind of obsessions with purchasing certain items. Years ago it was bags and backpacks. Then it was frying pans and brooms. Later years it was shoes. I would buy shoes for my kids. I got a lot of pleasure out of doing that. It was one of the last things I did for my Son. Although my kids with the exception of Chloe, are grown up, I still buy them shoes. I gave my Son a pair of sneakers and a pair of black casual shoes the last day I saw him. When we found him, he still had the sneakers but not the other pair.

My Son's addiction was all consuming. He was like all other young guys, he liked to take care of how he looked. I remember the week before he left, we went out to buy him a hat, one of those baseball caps. He took great care in choosing a hat. It was very sad for him, all of his things went out to feed his addiction, to feed the monster. Even something as personal as fitted hat, was not off limits. The sellers of the monster will take anything you have to trade. The monster, the devil will take your soul. Wow, I sound like a holy roller!

The thing about buying the shoes, this Traditional guy in the Reserve told me to keep on doing that. Keep buying shoes for kids. Find some kid or person and offer to buy them shoes, but make sure to tell them about your Boy. I thought about it and was not really keen to the idea at first. I mean people will think I am rude or nuts. However, when I do see Indian kids I feel like giving them something or saying hi to them. I want to somehow give a little help in their lives. I know it's arrogant of me to think that they need my help. In any case I didn't plan on buying shoes this one day. I was just walking around the downtown mall in Winnipeg. This mall has a lot of Indian people that hang around there. I was just wondering around lost in my thoughts and had no reason to be there. I saw this young girl with her little girl. The little girl must have been around 4 or 5 and the mother was in her twenties. I watched them for a while just walking around and looking at stuff. There was some kind of sale where the shops put out stuff in the walkways, like a sidewalk sale. The girl and her daughter went on their way. I chickened out and didn't talk to them. I regretted it right away. So I walked in their direction and it happened they stopped to look at some clothes. I approached them and ask the girl if I could buy shoes for her daughter. The girl looked at me like I was crazy. I went on to explain about my Boy and so she finally said it was okay. She laughed at me and said that it sounded crazy.

We went into the Shoeware House and I told her to pick any kind of shoes she wanted. The little girl picked out sandals for $19. I tried to get her to pick up sneakers but it was sandals that she wanted. We talked about Fort Alexander Reserve and it turns out she was from the same reserve. I know her grandparents. As we talked she asked my name so I told her. At this time there was another Indian woman walking around close to us. When we went to the till the other Indian lady asked me if I was Jess's Dad. I told her yes, and then she said her mom was Brenda from Red Lake. Before the girl could say anything more I said are you my brothers' daughter. She said she was. She has never met my brother but our family knew of her because her mom had sent a picture from Ontario when she was born. My brother was never sure if he was the Dad. Anyway my Mom accepted it as true right away, but we never got to meet her. She was living in the city now and had met my brothers' oldest daughter and my daughter. She knew of my Son's story from the girls.

It was one strange day, but a good day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Looking in the mirror and it's ugly

Can you think of the most horrible thing you have ever done? Or can you visualize the ugliest thing you have ever witnessed? When is it enough? Having those memories in your head. I see another Indian girl has turned up dead in the outskirts of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba this week. They say there are about 20 girls missing and if you count murdered girls the number goes up to 75 ("The Native Women's Association of Canada estimates there are 520 cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women in Canada -- 26 per cent from British Columbia and 14 per cent from Manitoba." CTV 08/24/09) Can you imagine how the much anguish the family is going through. I am not sure if we can. We can understand loss, grief, and all the other emotions that a person goes through, but can we really "feel" what is happening? I don't think I would want to find out. As a parent I belong to a club that no parent should be part of, the loss of a child group. But even more people have their own horrors to contend with.

I know, I know there are other people who have it worse in the world. I understand that logically and rationally. But have it register in my heart when a dark wave of ugly thoughts and feelings flood your system to the point where you can't even get up on to your feet. It's really weird I know. People say get over it already it's been a long time. I know, I know. I see absolutely no reason to hang on to grief, but for whatever reason it consumes daily thoughts. Weird.

I see so much of my relatives that have lead way harder lives and are living harder lives than I have. For me I have experienced so much and have managed to climb out of the Reserve mindset. I know that sounds so arrogant and so condemning. It's not what I mean. This what I mean, it shouldn't have happened to me! I tried to do the right things. I made sure I put my Boy in sports. I didn't drink, smoke or do drugs. He never saw that in his house growing up. He had a safe home. Never had to fear for someone sneaking into his room when a party was going on. No way! I made sure my kids had never had to endure the life of drink. I tried to make sure they didn't have to live hard.

I think it was my volatility. My up-roars. My never saying sorry after a bout with anger. Instead I felt the shame inside me. I tried to make it up by giving them things. Every week we would go to BJ Supertoy Sales. The kids would pick something out. It was my way of making up for my ugliness. That ugliness trait I wish that I could have kicked that too. Leaving the drink was not enough. I see others in the drink and their kids are in the drink too, but they are alive! I think my behaviour was the driving force behind my Boy turning to a hard life.

I live the life of a selfish individual. Not ready to let my Boy go. Not ready to start living for the rest of the family. What can you do when you have done the worse thing in the world, let your Boy die? I look in the mirror and see the ugly.

Story from home: My friend told me that the devil is not ugly, the devil is handsome. People will not go to an ugly devil. For me the devil is not what the bible has taught us, but it is more than a symbol, it is a part of life that we deal with everyday, the drugs, the drink, the jealous friend, the backstabber, the fickle friend, the angry neighbour, and the false leaders. My friend was referring to a Traditional Teacher/Elder that was not a good person. I think we have all encountered that individual, not only in the Reserve but on the street, at work and at large in the community.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Surviving In A Messed Up Manner

I killed my Boy! August 25, 2005 is the day we found my Boy in his mom's closet. He was there for a least two days. But how he got there is how I know that I am responsible for my Boy leaving this world. I can say it now, but I couldn't say it before, my Son hanged himself in his Mom's closet, he took his own life, committed suicide. Why did he do it? I think I know. He made a decision. He saw that there was no one left to help him. The people who are suppose to guide him, nurture him, protect him were not there. Me! I was not there for him. The 23rd is actually the day that he left this world. He was 20 years old and he was my Boy. My Boy! I can still remember how it was, the smell of death, the cops telling us to be ready for the sight. I remember rubbing his head, not really understanding how he could be gone.

I knew my Son was struggling. He was getting in trouble with the cops and getting in more trouble and not seeing any future. He was hooked on the Devil, crack. If anyone tells you it is not the most evil creature around, don't listen. It takes your soul, sucks your spirit until you feel empty inside. I tell myself I just needed a break, he could stay with his Mom until I could get a rest. But I know that's not true. My Boy and I lived together in BC. He was hurting. I told Him, "I'm giving you gold here my Boy", when we used to talk. This was in regards to our talks and my so called words of wisdom. I remember we talked about everything. About how if things were like the movies some words would just somehow make things all better. It's not how it works. I know he was missing his Granny, she passed away that March. He loved his Granny and told her he was going to follow her. My Boy wasn't a bad guy, he was a good guy trying to be bad and making bad decisions.

I know lots of people in our Reserve that them too, their Boy left them in the same way. I know one guy who is finally getting to seem normal. People can be cruel but I know why it's that way. They call this guy "hang em high Joe". Joe has tried to take himself out the same way his boy went, by hanging. So people know that he copes or almost copes by trying to hang himself when he gets loaded (drinking). My cousin her, she goes around helping people in other Reserves. Her Boy, her Grandson, left in June the same year as my boy, he was 17.

Everyone knows what grief is. We have all lost someone or had someone taken away from us. So we can all feel for what someone is going through. But a loss by choice is something that just can't be comprehended. It is the most violent thing to happen to me in my life. The child you are suppose to protect, to bring up to be better than you were, has chosen to leave. That means he saw no hope. No help. No one he could turn to in his greatest time of need. Do you know what that means? Your love was not enough to keep him here. He was all alone. He had to have felt so utterly alone. It was abandonment.

I have heard them all, all the good wishes, the cliches. "He's in a better place, you've tired your best, He's not suffering anymore, He's with your Mom now, time will heal, it's not your fault" and all the rest of the good stuff. It is well meant wishes, but it doesn't keep.

I really wish people saw and knew my Boy like I know him. He was a sweet beautiful Boy. He was my Boy. I still see him as that, a beautiful small Boy. I miss him and ache for him. It is selfish of me to hold on to Him. People say he will not fulfill his journey and I know. I keep him alive by talking about him. I see the looks of people. The uncomfortable silence, the not knowing how to react. I don't care anymore. There was never the feeling of the stigma of suicide that people talk about. I just couldn't say the word. I use softer labels, like he left, he passed, he's gone. But not the S word.

So were do you go from here. When you believe that God had not listened when you were praying for him to get off crack. When my Boy cried to me "I can't do it Dad!" I said "sure you can, you will do it. Just have to be kind to yourself". What the fuck did I know. Now where to go from here?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Remember your childhood Indian.

I can remember a lot when I was a kid. I was born in what they call the Indian hospital. Of course I don't remember that, but I can remember playing outside our house looking for nails. I was about 4 years old. Our house had no foundation so there were all sorts of gopher holes around the house. My Dad or my older brothers had traps in the holes; leg-hold muskrat traps. I put my hand in one of those. I guess that's why I remember that. I also remember getting in the way of the brothers using the bucksaw on our fire wood. The end of the bucksaw hit me in the head. I was also speared in the head by my brother who is two years older than me. He had a hard time pulling the spear out of my head as there was nail in the end of it. My troubles were all my fault of course. The one memory I have as a 4 year old was playing by the road. Road men drove by and took my jacket. This were the highways workers. I took my jacket off while I was playing by the road and they came by and throw it in the back of the truck like it was garbage. My mom was upset with me for losing my jacket. When I was a youngster at the school (Fort Alexander Indian Residential School)we used to play over at the church grave site to chase gophers. This guy Jeffery was a real savage ( I can use that word as it is used a lot in the Reserve amongst ourselves). He had this real big stutter. When he was asked his number at residential school he would say "nnnnaaannaananaanumber nine-die nine, na ah?" Anyway, we used to pour water down one gopher hole and someone would wait by the next hole to grab the gopher. Jeffery was always good at grabbing a gopher with his hand and we would all chase him screaming away(I get images of the Lord of the Flies scenes as the kids go wild). I remember a lot of things that seemed normal at the time but I guess in today's context would seem strange, weird and/or discriminatory. Us Indians (lot of the older ones) from our Reserve go to the left side in a waiting room or a movie theater. In the hospital in the 1960's and 1970's there were two waiting rooms, one for Indians and one for town's folk. It's true. We never thought anything of it, you just went were your suppose to go. Same thing with the movie theater in town. We all sat on the left side and all the White people sat on the right side. It didn't seem discriminatory. It's funny now. But back then it was comfortable.

Do you think a child knows what irony is? Do you think a child would recognize it if he or she came face to face with irony? I remember I was about 10 years old. I had my brother's bike and went over to the rectory. The rectory was where the nuns lived by the church. The reason I went there was to get a medal. My auntie used to clean up there and she would be the one to open the door. This time the priest opened the door. And when you were a kid, you never talked to priest. This was the priest! The one with the black suit and he was next to God! My older sister was a bad egg as she didn't like the priests, she said "he was always playing pocket pool". I didn't know what that meant. Anyway this priest opened the door and asked what I wanted. I said I was there to get a medal. I had five cents. The medals were of the Virgin Mary, or St. Christopher that I really didn't give that much thought about. I used to put the medals on thread and wear them like I had a chain or something. There was another priest there with him. I never saw him before. The priest said this is so and so and he works up north with Indians. The priest started talking to me in some language I didn't understand. They both laughed at me. Here was this priest talking Indian (or at least I thought it was Indian, maybe he had a bad accent or something) and I could not understand him. They laughed at me. I remember exactly, exactly how I felt. I was ridiculed, embarrassed, small, ugly and lastly angry. I know it wasn't right what was going on. I didn't tell my parents until years later. That's how bad I felt. I know now that I was facing irony. These guys (maybe not them specifically but the whole residential school thing) worked hard to kill the Indian language (and the Indian spirit) and now he, this priest was talking Indian to me and I couldn't understand. At the time I just knew what they were doing was wrong. I never did understand why the priest would waste time talking to me, a kid.

For a while I really hated the church and then I just got comfortable with accepting what the church is for many people, especially my Mom. Mom was a real strong believer in the church. I used to tease her by telling her I was going to burn it down. My Mom was so comfortable in her ways that she was not threatened by anything. She kept my Eagle whistle for me when I danced and gave at the ceremony feasts. For her it was our ways, but she grew up with the church and was comfortable in that. But she never ever put down any other ways. That was one good lady. She and my Dad as well as my siblings have plenty to dislike the church for. But for whatever reason hatred for the church really didn't dominate anyone's life. My Mom and Dad really believe in Indian Medicine. My Dad tells us that it is how he had his kidneys cured. He was in a bad car accident and got cured by one his aunties. The doctors wanted to find out how he was cured but he would not tell them. Indians like to guard what should be kept.

There is a book that looks at the Indian Medicine ways and the church. It is called the Bushman and the Spirits, Barney Lacendre. It's a recollection of life by this old Indian trapper and hunter. I read it a few times long ago, and I felt bad for that old man. He must be deceased by now, but he had a good way of life and traded it away for the church. In the book he recalls of his life and the way of Medicine. It sounded like a good life, but he converted to the church. Poor guy.


Story about two Indian guys. I was about 20 years old and I was at the Political Indian Regional office in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was sitting in the coffee room just milling around waiting for my Dad. When this guy walked in and started shadow boxing. He used to be boxer but now he was an Indian politician. He started saying stuff like "I'm going to knock him out", I just sat there watching and wondering, who in the heck is this guy talking about. Anyway, this other Indian politician came in and the boxer says to him, "you owe me an apology!" The other Indian, Conrad S. says,"I owe you fuck all". So the boxer says "let's go outside!". They went outside, these two middle age, pop-bellied, professionally dressed, political leader Indians. They throw a lot of jabs and kicks but not one made any contact. In the end they got tired and walked away from each other. Now that is one way to end a dispute.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reserve Indian Business

There are some successful business people out in the Indian Reserves but sadly there are a lot of failures too. In our Reserve we have a on-Reserve population of about 3500 to 4000 people. The neighbour town has 600 people. There is another town next to that with another 600 people. These 2 towns border on the Reserve. The towns have all the amenities you would expect; a paper mill, 2 banks, 2 groceries, dollar store, police station, mechanics, pawn shops, 2 hardware stores, 3 licensed premises, 4 restaurants, insurance companies and a variety of other services. In the Rez there are a couple of gas stations, a hard ware store, a convenience store, and a number of social agencies and a couple of specialty businesses. You would think there would be a craft store or something in the Reserve, but nope.

I would have thought that a larger community would be able to sustain a number of businesses and the smaller communities would feed the bigger place. In this case the Reserve feeds the smaller towns. The small towns get fat on the Reserve :-). But you know, we don't begrudge them. We support the town. We just don't realize how to support ourselves.

Let me illustrate the Indian factor. I had a restaurant in the Reserve and had a host of problems with people. Still I tried to open another business in the Reserve, a sports club. It was a licensed establishment. It is very difficult to get a license in the Reserve, but I was successful. I rented space in our local arena for $3,500 per month. Hired local guys and gals and did all the leasehold improvements. Very costly venture. I had people come in and count the empties to calculate my sales. Had gang members attack me. Had the Chief tell his relatives not to come to the club. Had numerous windows broken at a cost of $450 a piece. Had to contend with threats on a regular basis. Some people were upset at a licensed premises on the Reserve while others were upset it wasn't owned by the Band. After 3 years I closed the club. My cousin had the same experience, he opened a garage. The Band sent their vehicles to town. That's just the way it goes. It is quite funny as there were French people who owned only gas station and grocery store in the Reserve for decades and no one balked at that. They ended up selling their store (and Land!) to the Band. The land they were on was Band land. The Band bought it's own land back. The French people were given the land by the Church. A long story.

I admire people who make a go of it on the Reserve. Even the non-Indian person. It is a rough go there.

Cowboys Westerns

As a kid I watched cowboy movies that were on tv. Guess who everyone cheered for? The power of the tv. I remember a few them but can't tell you what they are called. I remember seeing Charles Bronson in a western and he was an Indian. He fell down a cliff but didn't yell. He was stoic, a real warrior. I always thought he was an Indian, so did my relatives. I also remember Dean Martin in some cowboy movie and he was cool. The cool hat the way it tilted on his head. John Wayne movies are the movies everyone talks about. He walked funny, strange. I remember laughing at one movie as this Indian guy was walking around drunk with a bottle in his hand as the guns fired all around, him being oblivious to the action. I saw this as I was older, so my laughter was that of the portrayal of the Indian. How classic. Classic in the sense that we were (I should say, are)looked at as drunken louts, not of consequence. All this in that one scene? Yes and more. Westerns were about heroes and villains. Indians were always the villains. Even in the movies that give some more "dept" to the Indian. Jeremiah Johnson was a great movie. In this movie there were some good Indians and some bad Indians. The good Indians had some ancient rituals and customs. They gave away their daughters in exchange for gifts. In reality some Bands did have intermarriage with Traders. This gave the Band advantage in the commerce of goods. But you don't want a history lesson and there are far more qualified people out there to speak of Indian history.

Jeremiah Johnson is a good movie. Regardless of the villains. This is where I am heading with the western theme of the post. Is it uncool for Indians to like westerns? I mean I hear Indian people just call down Dances with Wolves. I really liked that movie,but now I am scared to admit I liked it. Sure I know the main character is White and has a big impact on the Indians. But it was a pretty good movie anyway.

That's the thing isn't it? We need to show that we are cool about being Indian. That means rejecting anything, anything that may seem uncool to Indians. Like westerns, or like monuments. I say this because I remember reading about how uncool it is that they ripped up the mountains in South Dakota to make some big heads of some US presidents. I guess that is uncool (but kind of cool on how art is made anywhere) on how damaging it is to the Earth and disrespectful. Even more uncool is that they are making a bigger statue out of mountain and calling it Crazy Horse. I know what's more uncool than that, there was a bar in Winnipeg and they called a room the Crazy Horse, now that is really uncool. As a matter of fact it is down right disgusting and disrespectful (but I digress). Anyway, I went to South Dakota and everything, I mean everything is Cowboy and Western. But more so Indian. It's like these folks are making a living off the old Indian image. You know from the Westerns.

I like that there are images of Indians everywhere but sometimes I wonder about it. I'm all for people making a living, but not for hypocrisy. I have read stories of all that happens to Indians in the US and South Dakota (but it happens everywhere). Indians are not treated well and the incidents of racism are prevalent. Yet these same people have no trouble exploiting the old Indian image for their benefit. Go figure?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Elitists

Ah yes, the Elite rule the world. You would think that eh? Come down here in the everyday land of the Indian and you will see that there are Indian elitists. It's not just a term specifically for the rich and powerful. In Indian land there are lot of elites. There are the Traditional Elites; the Political Elites; the Spiritual Elites; and the More Indian Than You Elites. Like all elites the idea is that they are more than you. They are more Traditional than you, more Spiritual than you, more knowledgeable than you and more Indian than you.

I know these people, these rulers of the kingdom. They are all that and more. :-) It's funny because being elite means that you are above someone. Why do people strive for that?

Elites are good in some cases. We should have some people that can be paraded around in the mainstream world. Like a display. At the end of the day, they are still just people. People who poop like everyone else. Unless there's something "normal" people don't know about.

I'm like anyone else, if I could be friendly with one of the elites I would like that. Get a taste for what is out there. Nothing wrong with Elites, except for those who use it as a stick. Now those are the wrong kind of Elites.

In my Reserve there is a history with the Full Bloods and the mixed Bloods. When Treaty was signed, the Elders didn't want their Grandchildren to be left out of Treaty. The ones that mixed with the traders. Our Reserve had a trading post and was a major route from the east to the west and to the north. So today some of the families still make derogatory comments about the mixed bloods. Funny even if the mixed bloods have no idea about living other than in an Indian community.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

When I die!

"When I die I am going to be cremated and put in a urinal!" That is exactly what my friend told me. He was dead serious. I am not sure but maybe he meant urn, but who the heck knows? I have been thinking about death for some time now. It is an interesting topic and one that should be considered by all people. I am not saying let's join David Koresh or Jim Jones type groups, but we should all consider what should happen when the day comes. And you can bet your dollar that it will come (key spooky music - dumdadumdum).

There seems to be someone passing away in our Reserve on a fairly regular basis. It's not just the people who you would expect to die but young people as well. I didn't really want to hurt anyone's feelings by saying those old people, but I bet you knew who I was referring to. In any case the survivors, aka the family of the deceased are left to fit the bill. Not that there is anything wrong with that. After all it's family. One of the things people don't talk about is the cost of dying. It is expensive to die! I never hear Neechies complain about costs. They just pay it. I think we shouldn't leave our families with the costs. Caskets are nice and so are headstones, but boy they sure add up. I know, I know it's not polite to talk about money. Okay then, I'll stop.

My uncle in Muscowpetung had a nice Wake (some people call it the A-wake). They would sing Traditional songs in the day, have his casket open and people would talk about him. With dusk the casket closed. The church official or the priest was pure crap. He was not from the area and went into a spiel about other religions and other stuff. That much I remember of his sermon. What a creep. Kind of spoiled the whole event. That's what it is an event. The Wake. You come around, visit, have fun, console each other, eat food, drink tea and coffee, have dessert and then go home after it's all over. Some people stay and help clean up. I like those people. People play music and sing those old gospel tunes. I like the Hank Williams Sr stuff, like "I saw the light". But that's what I am talking about, you should consider planning out your event. Make it memorable. Or not.

Music is a big part of the death event. Whether it's the Drum. We can have the Drum in our church now. At least the Roman Catholic church. One of the past priests even use to Sundance at my Mom's cousin's ceremony. Unreal eh? Death is so sudden that you never have time to plan. It is always ad hoc. What kind of event comes out of ad hoc? Fly by night, that's what. So take the time to plan it out. Make it the hit of the Wake social event calender. When my Boy passed away my Cousin Paul came and sang a song for my Boy and me at the Fire. I will never forget that.

I like the Drum too but for me when I pass, I think I am going with a classic song. Boogie Wonderland by Earth Wind and Fire. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jLGa4X5H2c
That sums up what people should be doing when you go. Of course there is the missing you part but people should be happy that you are on your way to different aspect of life. Speaking of going on, I wonder why people sent money to Billy G. the evangelist. He said if he didn't get money God was going to come and get him. Isn't that the objective? You know be at the Right Hand and stuff? I guess people didn't want him to go to heaven, Oh, well.

There is an interesting group of people that don't want to pollute the Earth, so everything is in their death is friendly to the Earth. They don't use chemicals in the body, or metal in the casket. So in the end you are just left with Earth. Kind of cool.



http://www.practicalenvironmentalist.com/gardening/an-eco-friendly-death-funerals-are-going-green.htm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Everyday Sacredness

Everyday sacredness? What the heck is that? What makes something sacred? My Mom and Dad used to gather the crumbs of the bread when they were eating. I guess it was something they learned eating at the residential schools or something that their parents thought them. We have been thought that food is sacred. Yet we take food for granted. Sure we give food the casual thought when we see the starving people infomercials on tv. When it comes down to eat we don't remember the sacredness of food. Sacredness of all those things around us. We wolf down the Big Mac or Chinese food (aurrrrrhh... emulating Homer Simpson) without a second thought about how fortunate we are. I know people say Grace at some tables and good golly good for them. It is a practice that should remind people how lucky, blessed even, they are. In general we don't think about everyday sacredness.

I was thinking about Bundles (you know Indian Bundles or Sacred Bundles) and how we ALL have a Bundle. When you hear about the Bundle you wonder what is in that Bundle and how can I get one? Are you a bingo player? If you want to see parts of a Bundle go to bingo. Doesn't even have to be a bingo with Indian people in it. These little old ladies (stereotyping here) have all sorts of sacred items at the head of their station. Little dice, pictures even troll dolls. That is part of their Bundles. Not trying to trivialize the sacredness of ancestral Bundles. We all have things that we hold dear. My daughter used to give me rocks when she was very small. I don't know why. I kept a few of those rocks. They are in my Bundle. The rocks hold something sacred for me. The innocence of a child. The love and generousity of a child. My Mom used to give us Turtles. This artist in our Reserve makes paintings, carvings, and other items. Mom used to get him to make little stone turtles for us. I still have some. I put some on my Son's Headstone. There are thoughts, feelings, even memories that go with a certain item and that is what makes it sacred. Sacred to you. A rock is just a rock for many people. But have the rock come from your baby girl and it takes on a new life. What is in your Bundle? A picture, a feather, a rock? Do you put things in your Bundle that you expect should be there? Something that Indians would put in their Bundles way back when?

Story from home...I like to tease and make fun. Sometimes it's to the point that it is no longer funny. This is not one of those stories. I had an idea on money making. You ever see in those old comics or old magazines, there are all sorts of adds. You could send away for x-ray glasses, weird monster horses and even a sliver from the Holy Cross. I thought now that is an idea! We have our versions of sacrifice for others. I told this Elder I was going to gather some of the soil, parts of the Tree at the Sundance site. I would then advertise to sell them to people. Think of it, all these super prayers at your disposal. You wouldn't have to do any of the sacrifice but hold a piece of those prayers for yourself. Great, don't you think? I would even get the items put in a leather pouch or a glass vile that you could where on your neck. When I told Elder Fabian he was speechless. I never did get an answer from him, so the idea died. Wonder if he thought I would really do it?

But I did do something else. I sent two dollars to this very famous tel-evangelist. I sent the donation in the name of a friend named Brian. Now Brian started receiving all sorts of interesting things. He got a picture of the evangelist hand. He was to send another donation, then put his hand on the picture and they would pray together for what he wanted. He also got a two candles, where he was to send one back, with a donation, and then they would light the candles together for their prayers to go up and be heard. He got other things, and that is what makes an idea a good one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

(Aboriginal) Indians are Superstitious

I am superstitious. At least that's what I was told by Dr. K. (the psychologist I have been visiting) He said this because I told him that we are not suppose to like things too much or something bad will happen. We will experience something to show us how fragile we are. I say this because of the fear that I have for my children and grandchildren. Our world is a hard one. I may be completely wrong in my thinking, but that's just it, it's my way of thinking. It's funny we learn things throughout our lives, either by being told, watching or by experiencing things. I was laughing with my wife today about some of the stories I heard when I was young and continue to hold as it were the "gospel truth".

My deceased Kokum used to tell us about the handsome stranger. You must have heard this one. Seems like this handsome stranger finds Indians all over the place. Either at a dance or is hitch hiking on the road. This handsome stranger shows up at a party or a dance. He woos all the people dancing the night away. It never dawns on people that the clicking noise they hear is coming from the handsome stranger. Until someone notices his foot and sees he has a hoof. The handsome stranger takes off with people realizing they were partying with the Devil. If he's not at the party, you are drinking and pick him up in your car. You drive along talking with this guy for a while, all of sudden he is not there anymore. You drove around with the Devil. There was even this one bar in the city, a hang out for Indians that the Devil used to frequent.

When you are a kid these stories shape your fears. Walking home at night you hear the echoes of your own steps, you think it's the Devil following you. You run, the echoes are louder. You run faster. I laugh now because this damn devil seems to like tormenting Indians. I wonder if he went to the parties in the neighbouring White town? In other older stories you hear about Nanabosho. I can't really talk about him because it's the summer. I also don't know the Teachings very well. But I was lucky because this old lady used to tell them to clients at the treatment centre I worked at and I got to listen to them. These stories were not your children's versions.

There are things as people that we experience that are not explainable and at times not believable. But it doesn't make them less true. I know about the Fire Ball, the little people or as they are called Maymaygwayshi(k). The Little People used to visit in my Mom's house. They are funny little buggers. You will not believe that I have actually seen one of those guys. I told my Mom about it. It's a hard thing to tell stories like that because people are skeptical. It's easier to believe that a man walked on water and made blind men see. With Indians and other people, we are made to see it as myth or legend. Labels are Powerful tools (especially if it is used by someone to be superior). These Language tools are used to limit the beliefs of a people, negating their being, their essence. You see, your whole being is part of what you believe in as well. So I am now labeled as superstitious. But I am more than that. I believe in more than biology, that there is something greater than a carbon based existence. I think it is pretty naive of people to believe that we are all that is. How arrogant of a belief system to look at life that is finite, that we are truly the center of the universe.

I could jazz up the story and tell you more of things that I seen and heard but what is the point? We all have our perceptions of what is real and what is possible. Me, I tell my experiences to my family and friends, I have nothing to gain by lying to them. I have nothing to gain by lying to anyone. Everyone has their own unexplainable experiences with the unknown. Even the skeptics have a thing called coincidence. 

Do you think it's just a coincidence that you found this site? Perhaps by some divine guidance you were meant to find it - the information on this site just might wake you up to  reality and help you prepare for what's coming.....

A story from back home...I came to the city with my Dad and this other fellow from the Reserve. This guy, Ken is a very knowledgeable Traditional Teacher. Some even call him an Elder. In any case I was not a big fan of Ken and I had not hid my feelings from him. It's just that this damn guy is so cool and doesn't get phased. Anyway we had just parked the car and were walking to the office building. There were these three Indians guys sitting around the parking lot drinking. One of the guys started to yell at us and he starts flashing his dink at us. My Dad is an older gentleman, an Elder. I was younger then and got real mad. I ran up to those guys, yelling swearing, threatening them and almost coming to hit them. They just cowered and didn't say anything. I went back to my Dad and Ken. I was still mad and started scolding Ken, who is at least 10 years older than me. I asked him why he didn't say anything to those guys. "Didn't they see that my Dad was an old man?" He stopped me and said, "Steve if you see shit on the road do you step in it?" You can learn Teachings from anyone, even people you don't see eye to eye with. That is just how cool Ken is. He cannot be phased and he knows his stuff. I learned a lot that day.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Inside voice

You see the movie Slumdog Millionaire? The scene where the kids were running to the train? My brother-in-law, my sister and their 6 year old daughter went to Tinker Town playground fair. There is a mini-train that people ride around the park in. I went to meet them at the park to drop off their older daughter. My brother-in-law, Smiley was telling us about some kids (of a particular ethnic descent) chasing the train. He said to his wife, "Hey look! Slumdogs!" He said that the people sitting around heard him. These are the times when you use your 'inside voice'.

I bet there are lots of times when people should have been using their inside voices or better yet, should have said nothing at all. I like to comment all the time about people and it is a wonder I don't get into more trouble than I usually do. My wife hits me and says 'inside'. I am lucky because I am a nobody and it generally does not matter what I say, but people in the public life, now that's another problem.

Last month some politician in the US commented about an escaped gorilla being an ancestor of First Lady Michele Obama. In the US you would expect that kind of thing; they wear their bigotry on their chest like it's a logo. There are so many examples of people that should have beeen using their inside voices. In Canada we have our share of people like Mel Gibson who don't like certain segments of society. This Indian guy, D. Ahenakew (and yeah, Indians have bigots as well) went on a tirade against the Jewish population. Fortunately for him, he was not convicted of a hate crime. D. Ahenakew was described as a "cranky old coot" by one "right thinking blogger". It was an attempt to downplay the bigotry of his comments and put the onus on the media for creating a monster out of a nobody. Ahenakew was using his inside voice where he should not have been. You would wonder how did this guy from the prairies get so angry and bigoted towards Jews? That question is for another time.

What do you do when you don't use your inside voice and say something that is offense? Well, if you are a celebrity you go to treatment. There must be some treatment program out there that cures racism, bigotry, homophobia and a host of other offensive actions. I looked for the Centre but could not find it. I even looked up the 10 most offensive celebrity remarks in the hope to find links as to where they went for treatment. No such luck but I did find some interesting comments by some celebs. John Wayne (http://www.king-mag.com/online/?p=8577&page=1 ) said, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility." I was a bit surprised, I know he was an actor that killed a lot of Indians, but I didn't know he didn't like the Blackman as well. (Oops, was I suppose to use my inside voice when I said Blackman?) If the term Blackman is racist perhaps I could explain about my use of the statement. A Canadian Member of Parlimant, Steven Fletcher used the term "Jap". He said he was using in the "historical terminology of the time" of the subject. Mr Fletcher does not like people of Japanese origin because of how his grandfather was treated in the 2nd World War (notice I use the Canadian label and not the US's, WWII label, eh?) So when I use the term Black, I was using it in the historical context of John Wayne's time. Yeah, I know it still does not excuse it. Hey, it worked for a member of the Canadian government, so I just figured...

A story from home...When I was working for this guy in our Reserve, we had to deal with the government bureaucrats quite a bit. Anyway, we were to have a dinner meeting with this one guy and his wife. My friend was with his wife and my wife came along as well. We went for Chinese food. Indians love Chinese food, especially Chicken balls. At dinner with the bureaucrat and his wife the conversation was light and unfocused. We talked about the weather, back home and kids. For some reason someone mentioned kids peeing while the conservation was going. My friend popped up said to his wife, "I pissed on you, eh? Delores?" You should have seen her face. She said, "na, nnn, no! You didn't." He said " Sure I did! Remember? In the shower?" He was in a good mood and just making talk and had no idea it was not good dinner etiquette. She of course tried to keep her dignity and said, "well I kicked you out". All the time my wife is kicking my shins, because I was laughing too much. The bureaucrat and his wife were trying to change the subject.