Saturday, September 24, 2022

Reservation Dogs; You Kids Got To Stop Being Shit-Asses

 "Native humor has always been close to tragedy because it is about survival; like laughing in the face of all this tragedy that's surrounding us." Sterlin Harjo 

Reservation Dogs is a television show focusing on Indian youth in a small community in the United States. The show has been developed by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi. Reservation Dogs has been receiving great reviews in mainstream entertainment critic media. For me, my first glimpse of Reservation Dogs, was through video snippets on social media, like Facebook. The short clips of the tv show roped me in just like a calf in one of those Rodeos where the big Cowboys, Cowgirls break the necks of those baby cows as they run for their little lives. The calves are hooked in the neck by ropes and they are stopped so quick the back part of them keeps going forward and their head is stopped in mid-air. That is what happened to me, I was stopped dead in my couch and just had to spin around and watch the videos again. The show features some great performances from new talent and old talent: Pauline Alexis (reminds me of my niece), K. Devery Jacobs, Elva Guerra, along with Zahn McClarnon, Wes Studi, Gary Farmer. These are just a few of the many people acting in the show, even Bill Burr is featured in one episode. If you don't know who Bill Burr is, he is not Indian. 

 The thing I like about the show is the "inside knowledge." As Chief Dan George famously said to Clint Eastwood, "Only an Indian can do something like this." There are many things going on in the show beside the story which is in front of you. There are the Little People (who actually exist, I have seen one), the Bad Medicine (exists cause it happened to me) which no one wants to do because it comes back on you. There is the Owl thing, the show pixels out the eyes of the owl because Owls are messengers of Death! Or at least we believed this growing up. I like they don't shy away and get to make fun of all the good stuff. The Elder things, we know they are human and do human things like be jealous of each other. The "watch your hair" is a message we all grew up with because you don't want someone to put your hair in a rat's nest to make you crazy. The other thing they use in the show is the contrary, the backwards people. In the show the backward being is a Spirit, Dallas Goldtooth. Dallas is a well-known sketch comedian and was part of the 1491's. This group has so much talent and some fun videos. 

Of course there are going to be some things in the show which won't resonate with people. The representation thing won't encompass all for sure and it shouldn't. We are such diverse peoples in the Indigenous-Native world. Still it's cool to see those young Neechies, those old Neechies on the tv screen. We now have 85 inch tv screens, so those Neechies are kind of on the Big Screen. It is entertainment and it is fun. They do touch on some realities in our community (the larger Indigenous community) like suicide. It does really fit in the story of the youth in the show; the struggle, the living on and the coping. Believe me, as a community we know this reality. We also know humor and it is part of our lives. 

Just a little bit ago, our Aunt was buried and we went to visit. Our Aunt Francis lived in Muscowpetung Reserve in Saskatchewan. So family came to the service from different provinces; Manitoba Alberta. Allan our cousin said a few words at the service; "we have to get together more, visit and not just at funerals." My brother Howard, and cousin Barry went to visit with Allan just after he spoke. Both of them live in Alberta and Allan is in Manitoba, so they don't often get to see their cousin Allan. Allan could not be found. Turns out he took off from the Reserve as soon as he finished speaking and didn't stay for the service to end. Barry, smiling, says "didn't he say we should visit more?" It was a good laugh. 



Thursday, September 22, 2022

We Killed Bruce Willis and It Triggered Much Grief

 

Well Bruce Willis our boy was given the shot of death the other day. As we went to the Vet, I was saying in my head, "be cool, be cool." I wanted it to be just another event in life. My wife was hurting. She is usually a real rock in our life. She is the strong one in our family. She felt the pain of grief I could see it in her.

Bruce Willis was turning 10 on December 23, 2022. Funny thing is we were not going to have any more dogs in our home. We had a Rufus prior, for 13 years and it was not a good feeling when he died. So Dogs were not on the menu. But Chloe and I went out one night to take a look at puppies. We ended up buying Bruce Willis for $650. 

I was disappointed when Bruce got older because he got taller and had a longer snout. I was thinking small round and short snot. Thing is it was better for him as he could breathe better. So it was a blessing for him. The short snouts are health hazards, especially when it is hot outside. Bruce was a good dog. He was intimidating for strangers because he wanted to play with them and he was muscle. We had some good fights me and him. He did bite me on occasion but it was because I wanted him to do something he didn't want to do. He did bit all of my grandkids at one time or another. He did not get along with Jackson. When Jackson was 3 years old to about 5, Jackson teased Bruce relentlessly. So Bruce took care of it. 

Bruce started losing weight very quickly about a month ago. We thought it was an age thing. He had been dealing with sore leg for a while now. So we took him to the Vet last week.  Bruce was laying around all day, had sore legs and hips, couldn't walk anymore. They did a blood test at $490.00. They said they thought maybe it was Addisons Disease but to confirm it would take further tests for $600. We turned the other tests down. The Vet office called us later to offer some pain meds. We got some pain meds for $100 for Bruce. He could not walk anymore, it was like overnight he lost movement. It was painful for him. I had to carry him and he lost weight, he was only 28 kilos. The pain was too much for him, he would try and bit when we moved him.  Killing a dog costs a bit as well. We paid $470 to have Bruce given a needle and then cremated. We asked for his ashes. If you don't pay for a private cremation they put a whole bunch of pets together for a big fire. 

The killing of Bruce was heartbreaking. It was weird because growing up in the Reserve, putting a dog down was not an emotional experience. A relative would take the dog and shoot it. The only time I ever went to a vet was when my brother's dog got hit by a car. We went to the vet and it was put down and my brother cried. It was weird I thought (at the time). The thing with Bruce being killed was all I could see was my dead Dad, my Mom, and my son. I kept stroking Bruce's fur and saying "my boy, my poor boy." It was really triggering. Bruce was not only the loss of him but the loss of others, all right there in that little room. I hugged him and sobbed. It is weird because I don't sob. I do cry when I am sad and missing my loved ones, but it usually just burning eyes and maybe a tear or two. That is the extent and I attribute it to the medication I take. So I cried out loud when Bruce was killed. It was like my Boy was found dead all over again. I remembered stroking his hair and saying "my boy, my poor boy." 

Grief is a strange animal. Can come up and bite you and make you cry. 


Monday, September 12, 2022

They Kill Devil's, Don't They?

My deceased Uncle used to call me a devil when I was younger. He was not being mean, it was an observation of who I was and how he saw me as doing some dumb shit.  Same thing as when I say to one of my nieces, "hey demon." I am scolding but at the same time trying to be light about it and hoping it will get her to be more aware of her antics.  I think we can offer advice or offer a view on a situation and what we think is right but it will most likely mean nothing to the person you are addressing. So we say things with a bite in it. Not right but we do it. Speaking of devils I wonder who died recently? 

"I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure." There are countless devils who will never their names but we have seen them. There is a documentary entitled Rocks at Whiskey Trench made by Alanis Obomsawin. "On August 28, 1990, a convoy of 75 cars left the Mohawk community of Kahnawake and crossed Montreal's Mercier Bridge--straight into an angry mob that pelted the vehicles with rocks. The targets of this violence were Mohawk women, children and Elders leaving Kahnawake, in fear of a possible advance by the Canadian army." In the film you can see the faces of devils, faces of hate, faces of white people. Men and women who took the opportunity to hurt people. We don't know their names so we will not be able to read their obituaries. They will or have lived a life free of consequence for their crimes. You can see in the film and the news clips at the time on how much glee, how much fun they were having. Can you imagine the hate they must have had to throw large rocks, some as big as basketballs. They knew there were kids, women and old people in those cars. What is even crazier is the police stood by and watched all happen. They too, the police had fun with watching the throwing rocks. In my mind those people are the epitome of what a devil is, no compassion, hate in their whole being. 

If you ever get the chance take a look at this old film called "You are on Indian Land." It is about a 1969 protest over Canada illegally occupying Indian Land. Basically the film shows interaction between Mohawks and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ontario. The police act then as they do now; Indians are not to be treated respectfully. I think many police are either mean to begin with or are swayed into this type of behaviour by the culture of the police force systems. There are going to be some who can keep their humanity but there are many who behave and act like devils when in they're in uniform. Not much can be done to really change this situation. We just have to accept the police force is an incubator for devils. 

I wonder what the community of James Smith Cree Nation thought about Myles Sanderson before he went all stabby and killingly. By media accounts and information provided by the police, Myles was a bastard, a mean bugger who bullied and hurt people for years. Myles Sanderson and his brother Damien  went puppy eating crazy in their Reserve. Many people (10) were killed and about 18 others were hospitalized were by the Sanderson's stabbing spree. It seems Myles was always the devil the community and the police had known. I feel bad for his family. His parents were interviewed and called for him to give himself up to the police as Myles was on the run. Damien was found dead not long after the search for him started. Myles might have killed his brother. His parents were calling for Myles to give up and they said, "we love my boy." I think we do love devils. Especially our devils. We don't want to see them as devils

I didn't know where I was going with this little story.  I had hoped to offer some good words but I just muster anything. The world of ugly is so overwhelming and there is no way I can convey how it is so disheartening, so maddening. I go on social media, Twitter Facebook and there is nothing but sewage, decay and rotting corpses. The amount of hate is overwhelming, it is grabs you. It gets in your skin and you can literally smell it. So how can we enjoy the beauty of the world when all we see and hear is the monster, the Wiindigo, the Devil? We are looking at a car crash and we can't look away. I think maybe looking at something pleasent, something good might help. What do you think? 

"Social media is just a lavatory wall." "Under the house, the sewage pipe...you don't want to see it. " Stephen Fry


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Decolonize? My Sweet Arse.

 Oh my sweet arse is so tired of decolonizing white stuff. Decolonizing is hard stuff, just like cleaning mustard off of your white dress shirt. It has to be done right away or it won't come off. It is not part of the fabric, but it just becomes imbedded there for all to see. Lot of folks get it wrong when they think about decolonizing. They automatically focus on todays' gems in society: the car, the Batman Leggo, the pink polka-dotted bottoms with leopard tops, tailor-made cigarettes and of course the cellular device. Personally I don't know how I have managed all these years without an Ipod. Good god wearing Crocs, I would literally go on a fad diet if I didn't have access to tunes (even ABBA). So people (mostly Settlers aka W-T's, and white folk in general) go for the "you should go back live in Teepees then." It's an easy lazy attack about the whole decolonize movement. People will try steer the narrative away from the true story. The story of unending greed, the depravity of acquisition, and the horrors of hierarchy. 

"How can we dance when our Earth is burning?" "Easy, I wear headphones and just look at my feet." This my friends, the question and answer is our society. No, it is true. Our society is asking what the fuck and our society is answering with "no speak English." If you really truly think about it, the 'Decolonize the shit out of our lives' is our salvation. And no you're not going to find the answers with business, capitalism, democracy, socialism, political monopolies, and all those other unitary states. Those Decolonize weirdoes have it right, it is the foundation of modern society which is killing us, all of us, even those wealthy dudes waving their dicks in space flights. We live on the same planet. 

I listening to a Massey Lecture on CBC radio a number of years ago. It was Adrian Clarkson of all people. She spoke on The Paradox of Citizenship - Ubuntu. Clarkson: "a person is a person because of other persons." Clarkson does a great job at body slamming colonial scholars who make fun of Ubuntu.  There is a fierce defense of society as it stands.  The foundation of society is of course based on accumulating goods. Clarkson borrows on the Indigenous Way of Life and shines a spotlight on the absurdity of European way of life. Clarkson is sharing about decolonization without labeling it as decolonizing. As a younger person (and still much) I was a shit-head. I wanted to be more than a shit-head so I tried becoming aware of my shittyness. I even bought the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I didn't finish the book. One book I did read was The Tao of Pooh. Clarkson's stories in her lecture took me back to my own colonial coat which is part of my being. There books I read were part of the tool kit I was amassing over my lifetime. 

You see we are born into a colonial minded society. The colonial mind we have is all about getting stuff, judging others and our appetite for more. Decolonizing is about that. Essentially we have to start being generous in our being. Living a life for all of us and not just some of us. We see it all the time in our daily routines: Blood first, Be a man, Work for success, Family comes first. On the surface the messages seem to be righteous, good even. Each message is based on a colonial footing. Decolonizing our minds is difficult. The colonial messages are everyday, every second and everywhere. With our own people we see the white person, actually the white male as the superior being. The message has been imbedded deep into our being: white Jesus, white cowboy John Wayne, white Elvis Presley, white Winston Churchill, white Popes, white Doctors, white everything. The message is there and it's hard to recognize. I have seen some really staunch proud Indigenous folk yield their voice to white men and white women. We have some strong voices in our Native community but they are muted when compared to Karen's and Chester's of the world. So being mindful is not the same as letting people get away with colonial acts of privilege, judgement and bullying. Decolonization also means amplifying your own voice when others are trying to mute it. Inserted video below is decolonization in action. It is of course the Women who stand strong with their voices. The were strong without being mean. Their voices were strong in the situation. The Women stood their ground and it was beautiful. 

"My sweet lord, oh my lord, my sweet lord, I really want to see you," is a line from the George Harrison's song and although the meaning behind the song is a decolonizing of religion, the irony is the image which comes to mind in society (Western and Europe) is a white male when we hear my sweet lord.  A beautiful song by the way, may it bring some good feelings your way. The other weird thing about the society is there always a white woman being named as the most beautiful woman in the world. That is very surprising since Asia, India, Africa make up 75% of the world's population. You would think the odds are in favor of the most beautiful found in that percentage area?  Then again, we are fed a whole bowl of whiteness when it comes to what is beauty. If we are wanting to decolonize we should start with being mindful of others and try not being an arsehole. Even a sweet arsehole is still an arsehole. Like the Women in the video, they were strong, confident and didn't need to be sweet arseholes. These Indigenous Women, they were elegant in their position, they were passionate and they were true. So we need not bend over and anal bleach our sweet bums when we are soaping up for a good decolonizing. We can be mindful and still be a force against the machine of colonial stamps. 

I have this acquaintance, he is originally from Vietnam. He was telling me about how Indigenous Women are viewed. He said they (Indian Women) are easy, and are willing to do anything. I was angry when he said this. He wasn't trying to be mean just sharing what he was thought. It is quite weird for me, because I once got an email video from a Iranian colleague. It was a video of these two Asian girls and one was using a funnel to pour small fish into the canal of the other woman. After awhile the woman shot the fish out of her orifice. So we are prone to getting different messages. The movie industry sends mixed messages when it comes to Asian Women; the mild meek subservient, and the abnoxious bossy woman. We see things from a skewed point of view.  The movie Jerry Maguire, when Dorothy Boyd says about Avery Bishop, "she must be real classy" and the scene has Avery hammering Maguire with her blonde naked body and she is yelling "don't ever stop fucking me." is a metaphor for how things are not what we believe. We have been led to believe many things, white is right, white is pure, white is justice, white is everything. Only thing is, we are not enjoying this movie and we are not going to sit through it. For movies to sit through go with Exterminate All the Brutes. The view from here only gets clearer. I don't think you need to be bleaching your sweet arseholes any longer. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Walk Of Life

The other day, well it was yesterday, I went for lunch with my 83 year old brother-in-law and my sister-in-law. We went to a local food place named The Nook Dinner in the Winnipeg's West End. My brother has eye issues and had an appointment as follow up to surgery. As I waited on the street, my sister-in-law told me about a thrift shop down the street, I decided to have a quick look see while I waited for my bro-in-law. As I got to the shop, a commotion was going on between a woman, (who had on a smock, so I recognized her as a worker for the thrift shop) and a young man who had a bike. The two were doing a tug-a-war with a backpack. The boy and the woman were really getting at it. I walked up because I am a nosey bugger and got into the middle of it. I pulled on the bike but not hard and the woman was really letting him have it with her words. Then the young man pulled up his shirt to show his machete. The woman said "you fucking little asshole" as she continued to pull on the backpack. I held on to the bike and told him "don't do that" and he let his shirt fall to hide the machete. She pulled more on the pack and clothes fell on the ground and he let go and again he pulled up his shirt to show the machete, I told him again, "don't do that." The woman took what she had and went back into the store. I let his bike go and the young man picked up the one t-shirt on the ground. I found it very interesting the whole event. I don't know why the woman would take such a risk and why would the young man show his machete. It went from a shop lifting at a second hand store to a much more serious situation. I went into the store just to look around and she was calling the cops. I could hear her talking about the young man and then she said "he was Aboriginal." I saw the young man and I thought he was a young white man, maybe 17 or older, I don't know. It got me thinking, "well isn't this weird, if the young man was doing something good, he would be looked as white, but because he is being a menace, he is seen as Indigenous." Anyways... 

About three weeks ago I went with Suz, who is my wife, and of course my moral compass, to the drug store, Shoppers near our place. As we got there, at the exit doorway a large man was laying down blocking the door, he was in between the door. A few people were around him, I went to look and could hear people saying "he is breathing." So we went in for the prescription of drugs. We were about four minutes to five minutes in the drug store, not a long time. The pharmacist was called over the speaker system. She went out and we went out as well. We went through the entrance doors. I again went to look at the gentleman and this time a man was trying to move him. There was someone saying "he's not breathing." So we moved the man over onto his back as he was laying mostly on his side to the door. The man on the ground was quite large. So I had to grab his belt to help move him away from the door, so CPR could be started on him. As I moved him, it was now clear the man had wet himself, his face was discolored, more purple than pink or light tan. A woman standing there said, "He peed himself he's dead." A week or so later my wife showed me an obituary and asked if I recognized the person. I said, "no." It was the gentleman who died at the drug store. I found it interesting as this was not the first time a person just died in front of us. It was about 10 years ago when I was standing in line at a McDonalds and an older gentleman just fell to the ground as he was about to get a re-fill of coffee. He had died right there. Later on in the news his son was trying to get Public Access Defibrillations into more businesses. 

Jon Mia 

0Stella 
My sister took the trip from Manitoba to Alberta for the Pope Francis visit to Canada. Me I was in Alberta the weekend before to visit my brother and cousin. We did do a day trip to the mountains at Jasper Park. We had a beautiful visit. My cousin Barry made a Smudge Bowl out of rock and my Sister-in-law Val made us a great dinner and gifted us as well. With the mountain trip, we saw Mountain Goats, Black Bear, Elk and a Grizzly Bear, plus we went up the mountain in a gondola. I picked some small quartz pebbles on the mountain. Life is great like that. I don't think I had been out to visit family in many years. We had our baby with us, who is nine. She was a good travel buddy, no drama or complaints, just chill like a cool cucumber in a fridge filled with pickles. I posted on social media about my visit and how we were treated really fine, just like we were the Chief or something. I didn't get no Headdress like the Pope but my greetings were much better, they were the real deal, the love is real.  Hugging was not part of our experience growing up (thank you your Holiness and the Residential School gang for that) but we are doing it now. We are showing each other the love which was not part of the family thing and you know why? Because your agents of destruction beat that shit right out of every single Indian going into your "school." Okay, back to the trip. On our way to Alberta we stopped for gas in a little town. At the town gas station, which was small, really small the gentleman came out to gas our car. There was a woman on a bike there. So I asked her what she was doing. She was traveling from Victoria or Vancouver to Hamilton. I asked her why she stopped at this little town as it was not on the highway. She said she needed to "ice down her knee as she hurt it." Turns out she is a musician doing shows along the way. She was going to be in Regina for a few days. I gave her our number to visit us when she made it Winnipeg. Her name is Liz Pomeroy (0Stella). We talked but she was unable to visit as she had a busy time and had was traveling to Montreal. 

Smudge Bowls
 The other day I was speaking to my Aunt, my Mom's sister and she was talking about how the community cemetery had very tall grass. She said it was sad to see the cemetery not being tended to. My Aunt is now the oldest living sister on my Mom's side. I think she's about 86. She said of the grave site, "those people mattered." We should all think of people that they matter. 

The television production Reservation Dogs has made some good news. The young Native cast (I say Native, but they could be called Indians, Native American, First Nations, Indigenous and Rez kids) were doing Talk Show tv appearances with the Big Dogs; Good Morning America, Jimmy Fallon (can't stand that Jay Leno clone). The young actors having fun and it is great to see. There is this one young female actor, and she is "real savage" just like my niece. The show hits all the Indian buttons: Bad medicine will come back on you, Being a Warrior, the Indian who can beat up lots of people, the owl, the car, the rugged girls, old man driving on road with lawn tractor and all sorts of little references to Indian thinking. I really enjoyed the Dallas Goldtooth scene with him saying "Fuck, I really hated that guy," about George Custer, notorious racist 7th Calvary Colonel, who was martyred at the Battle of Big Horn by the Indians.



Hey! I know it's nothing much but it's about lots of stuff. It's the walk of life. So take a step and tell someone "hey don't do that" or just walk on by, either way it's all good. 




 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Songs Which Turned Me Into My Dad

 As a young kid I remember hearing Eve of Destruction song by Barry McGuire. The song had a great sound with a raspy harsh voice and cool rhymes.  There was no way to really appreciate the gravity of the situation in the world and the song's strong message. I listen to it today and I feel it still resonates in our political climate. Growing up I was aware of politics. My Dad was involved in local politics. He was a Band Councilor in our Reserve and he was also a Vice-president in the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood under the late Dave Courchene. My Dad was a staunch advocate of Indian Rights and Treaty Rights. My Dad was also anti-British, and despised their rule of the world. Today there are many who fall into this point of view but have wrapped those feelings in a new name and called it de-colonization. As a kid hearing the voice of my Dad and his view of government control has not been lost on deaf ears. I have become my Dad in many ways. Funny how listening to a song can take you to a place in your thoughts of childhood, the formation of your own attitudes and values. I realize I am my Dad. I have the same shuffle as I walk around the house in slippers. There is the scrapping sound going on when I walk; shhhhttt, shhhttt. I can hear my wife saying "lift up your feet." I tease a lot but I don't feel I have my Dad's wit. He could be real cheeky without being cruel and many times folks did not realize what went on. I like to think I have a bit of my Dad's intellect. He was an intelligent man, a man who was also knowledgeable in practical matters. 

When I was younger I vowed never to become like my Dad. I wouldn't be angry, I wouldn't be a slave to the drink. I wouldn't let other's use me. I wouldn't be a jealous raging lunatic. I guess I had some issues with my Dad. I did go into the drink and it was ugly. I didn't drink long, I stopped when I was 20 years old. I did pick up my Dad's ways of being generous to a fault. I also had loyalty to folks who had no loyalty to me. I went willingly into being used by others, who had no thought of my well being. I endured abusive relationships with bullies. I was loyal and befriended bullies. Their actions towards me affected me. I made excuses for their behavior and rationalized it. I turned the pain of being bullied into anger at those who loved me. It is quite funny what we accept in relationships. We will live with people, maintain friendships with people, and accept abuse directed at us because we care for them deeply. 

With the pain of life there is also the joy which comes along as well. There are songs which remind of us those times. The song can really take you places. The song can provide a snap-shot of the political climate, the good in society and the bad. The song can provide a voice to your thoughts and feelings. The song can open your eyes to a new point of view. The song can be profound and can be whimsical. The song is important. I can still see my Dad enjoying the big wooden cabinet record player. I hear a Hank Williams wanting you to see the light; Charlie Pride kissing an angle good morning; while Charlie Rich asking if you saw the most beautiful girl in the world. I see my Dad reading everything he could on the news about Indian people. So I did get my love of the song from my Dad and from my Mom. Although it was my Dad's choice of music we listened to as kids. My Mom had other tastes as she like Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken and Mungo Jerry's In The Summer Time

I still enjoy the songs. Today I tend to listen to the words and message along with the melody. I like how songs can encapsulate events, social interactions and society. There are two songs I believe tell us the world of men and the world of Women.  Runaround Sue and The Wanderer sung by Dion, just tells us exactly the relationship, the standings of Men and Women in society. Can you think of a song or songs which capture a subject, event, time, or a statement? There are so many. Like my Dad I enjoy the song, but I also experience the message. Stevie Wonder's Big Brother warned us years ago about the system which Edward Snowden exposed. So go enjoy the messages while listening to the song and think about Iris DeMent says about what happens after: Let The Mystery Be


Monday, May 2, 2022

Just A Person Standing In Front Of Family

 "I come to you from a good place in my Heart." The other day I went for dinner to celebrate the 75th birthday of my sister-in-law. Family came from different parts of Canada to visit as well. The dinner was very nice. For me an impressive part of the dinner was not that she made it 75 (she is quite healthy and no doubt be healthy for some time to come), but it was the visiting; sharing smiles, sharing laughs and hugs. They are a huggie bunch my in-law family. I always tell my wife it was the best thing for me to become part of her family, they are some of the bestest nicest people I have ever met, and I have met loads of folks. 

It never ceases to touch my heart and amaze me when someone can stand up and say good things to their family member. This was alien to my family. Not saying my family was not good or nice, just saying there was no outward expression of love. My family did love us, no doubt. Their way of showing love was feeding you, housing you, clothing you, protecting you and doing activities with you. They just never voiced it. Of course hugs, kisses were there for the babies but not for the bigger kids. I know it was the experiences of being taken away from family and growing up in an institution of the Residential School. It is funny because a place that preaches love, kindness, charity had broken those ideals from the children they were in charge of. Those same children grew up not knowing the hug, the praise, the love they were suppose to have from their parents. Of course they are going to be a product of their environment. So the good things a family member says about another family member is heard mainly at the funeral service of the person.  And usually it is only one or two voices which are chosen to speak at the funeral. I wonder if those life-less-shells can hear the good words being said about and to them?  

At the dinner my nephew got up and spoke to the family. He spoke of family and he spoke of, and to his mother. It was so heartfelt without being mushy or over the top. His older brother got up and spoke as well. It was so uplifting to hear the feelings they shared publicly. I often think about this Elder who said to me: "The hardest thing is to pick up a Pipe in front of your family." I know now, what the Elder was telling me and there is a lot to unpack there. My nephews got up and spoke with open hearts. They shared their wisdom, their beliefs, their feelings, their love in the moment. Usually those moments of public sharing is left to the "experts." We tend to look at strangers publicly speaking as the experts, the sincere ones. Why do we do this, accept words from the stranger rather than the known one, our own? The old "can't be a prophet in your hometown" axiom, I guess.

There are some traditions we should break. One of them is not being able to say good things from our heart to our family members. We shouldn't have to wait for them to be a lifeless corpse. Still even doing that is hard for many of us. I am sure there are many families who can sit together praise each other openly, pray aloud in front of each other, but for some this is alien. That is the weird part, the Traditional way of life, the Spiritual practices were not in secret. Well not until it became against the law and for the forced Christian conversion. This is where things got weird. You see, in the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and many other Ceremonies, words are shared openly. This means your heart, whether it is broken, hurting is shared with everyone. Your life is in the open. Unlike the confines of a Church Confessional  booth, where your heart sharing is in secret. Now that is wild eh? With the resurgence of Traditional Spiritual practices taking place in Indian country, there are more and more breaking the norms of secrecy. So what you see is more individuals willing to stand in front of family members, in front of community to share and open their heart. For many openly speaking in front of family and sharing their heart is normal but for many it is a new experience. It is not due to them not having an open heart but due to the normalization of being shut down. We are voicing our open hearts and our children will hear it. 



Reservation Dogs; You Kids Got To Stop Being Shit-Asses

  "Native humor has always been close to tragedy because it is about survival; like laughing in the face of all this tragedy that's...