Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Money wins over the environment

This week a Polar Bear showed up in the Indian Reserve of Shamattawa, Manitoba. That is about four hundred kilometers south of where the Bears usually stay and hunt for food.
That is a strange occurrence. In addition a number of Jelly Fish were found in the fresh water up here in Manitoba.
In the province of Alberta, a professor has done research on the affects of the Tar Sands. The new study contradicts what the government has been saying that the river is not being polluted. The Indian community that relies on the river have been saying different.
This is not an amusing story with some happy moral tale that we walk away with.
It is our home.
We are at the mercy of money.
We live by money.
We are helpless.
We can't expect the government to act.
It will take a major shift in the way the world works.
The reliance on fuel is killing us.

The "Earth will shake like a dog and shed its fleas"...

Eaarth the new book by Bill McKibben is going to educate us. We should be scared. We should not be complacent. Sadly we are.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh those Damn Petty things

You know what bugs me? Nothing really in particular but I do have some little bits of stuff that kind of bugs me. Like when there is a pebble in my sandals. What the heck? You would think that with all the open space in that shoe the pebble would just be able to slide out, but NOOOOOOOO, it stays there right under the soft part of your foot.
You know life must be okay when you start to think about the little stuff. But you know what, it's that little stuff that we know is not important and it let's us know where we are at.
If all we have is little things, than that's a good thing.
Actually the rock in the shoe thing is not that big a deal. I just stop and remove it, if I'm not lazy. But sometimes I am just to damn lazy to remove it, so I wiggle my foot, lift my foot, shake my foot, but I won't bend down, undo the velcro strap and remove my shoe.
What really does bug me and can ruin my day is, the using a rinsed out coffee pot for hot tea water. You can't have a hint of coffee taste in your tea. It ruins the whole atmosphere. The sacredness of drinking tea. The pure delight of that delicious tea. The nice hot (not too hot) warm, just at the tip of becoming a little strong, not too strong where it is bitter, but where the tea taste makes everything in life just so, so delightful. That is what really bugs me. It has me off for days. Vowing never to go to the restaurant or store that had dared to use an old coffee urn for the boiling of water for tea. How dare them.

I have been listening the news about the Miners trapped in Chile and I see now that is some real hurt over there. If I think I have some issues, the families and the miners are in for a long haul. Top it off, I heard the mine is going broke and these guys are not even going to be paid, never mind that they are going to be stuck for four months. Ouch.
I was going to list a bunch of petty things that are common to deal with, but I think that that's too petty to do.
Hoping you have a great weekend and telling you, (that's right! telling ya) to embrace the petty stuff.

Speaking of Confessions, I have never told my wife this: I am pretty squeemish. Yeah it's true, the man of steel is a bit faintie.
Been that way since I can remember. Head will rush, get kind of queazy feeling, see lights, purple lights, than bam, out like a light. Anyway this one time, I was seventeen years old. I had stayed out drinking and passed out at this house. Next thing I know my Dad is waking me up and pushing me out the door. Telling me if I say I am going to do something, I should do it. I was suppose to drive my Dad's car, pick up kids and drive them to their hockey game in the town, 40 miles away. My older cousin was the coach of the team and needed help picking up the kids in the Reserve for the hockey game. So I went. I was sick as a dog. My head was pounding like mad drums at a pow-wow. Not those fancy steel drums in the Caribbean but those big bass drums you see, hear and feel at a Pow-wow. I was sick man sick. But I still went to the game. At the game I was sitting around being sick. This guy I know from Sagkeeng was there as well. He was there to watch his little brother play hockey. He was a good hockey player. Anyway, he asks me if I "want a toke" (smoke marijuana). I say sure what the heck, maybe it will help my hangover sickness.
So I went outside and smoke dope with him. I got high. I was still sick. I went to the basement of the Arena to take a pee. While I was standing at the urinal (You know the old type that go all the way to the floor) taking a pee, I started to feel funny. I started to get woozy, then the purple lights came. I woke up laying at the base of the urinal with my weeny sticking out and me on all fours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Time to re-think

I know a few things about Indians, but only from my perspective (being an Indian).
I hear a lot of things too (about Indians from other Indians and non-Indians)

I do have some thoughts about that.

August 25 our Boy is gone

Five years ago, it was the day we went to collect our boy. He was gone.
It's funny they say time heals all. Don't believe that.
We went and visit him yesterday and today we are going to share food with him.

Wonder if I will ever reconcile with how things turned out.

You never think it will happen to you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Housing in the Reserve

Housing for Reserves (and for the poor in general) is a common issue among Indians in Canada. There are not enough houses for the population. Many homes are over crowded or are in need of repair.
I bought a house in the Reserve when I was 20 years old. I paid two thousand for it. Yep, two thousand dollars. The land was not mine (no one owns land in the Reserve, and houses are not assets in any financial institutions) and there was an issue with the land. An older gentleman and his kids lived in the that house. Another guy in the Reserve said that it was his land so the people should move out of that house or move the house. It got so bad that the guy that was claiming the land fought the son of the old man who owned the house.
So I bought the house. My ex's father purchased the land from the angry guy. So it was okay for me to move in to the house. Well I longed since moved but the house has been still in the Reserve. My daughter was given the house. She didn't live there but let others stay in the house and sometimes she rented it out for one hundred or hundred fifty. The last family moved out last month. The house is run down from all the different people that have passed through the house.
My niece was going to move into the house this month but on the weekend someone burned the house. It didn't burn to the ground but there is considerable damage.
Not sure if the house is repairable.
Too bad for my daughter and for my niece who has to find a place to live.

In Canada there is a popular television housing contractor who has now signed a partnership with the Assembly of First Nations to assist with the housing issues of Indian people. I wonder how that will work.

Housing sure is an issue everywhere.

On an unrelated topic, I am going to Las Vegas in September.
Yeah Baby, it's Vegas.
If I get the chance I am going to go look at this house. 4243 E. Carey Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89115

It is a concept that may be cheaper than regular houses and have a better shelf life. Not sure of the science behind the Dome houses and how they are made.

There are other houses that may be viable in the climate up in Canada such as this house.
"Haven home packages are priced by the panel. A standard Haven LoeksLog® panel is 8’ high by 8’ long, and is priced at $1150/panel (CAD). For example, the 24’x24’ home pictured above has 12panels. In this example, the exterior shell costs $13,800. (CAD)"

The standard houses in the Reserve just don't seem to be have a long shelf life. Maybe it has to do with the construction or the maintenance or both.
So alternatives to the standard home might be something for the Indians to consider.

Some Reserves have very tough conditions and severe climate, so innovative housing might be a good idea.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Carrying Shame of Our People?

When I was a kid, we used to go into the town next to our Reserve. The town had all of the stores for the local communities. A Hudson Bay store was the main attraction for the surrounding areas. The store entrance faced south onto the main highway through the town. Like most little towns, the store fronts faced the main street. There was a lot of bush area near the back of the store, we called it the "back of the Bay". The Winnipeg River ran past the town of Pine Falls. The bush patch behind the Bay and close to the River was a place that offered some quiet and privacy. A number of older people from the Reserve used to go and sit in the bush. They would go to the back of the Hudson Bay Store (the Bay) and drink alcohol. My deceased uncle and grand-uncle were regulars at the back of the Bay. They would be seen later on in the day, walking around the Bay or walking back to the Reserve and they would be drunk. I am not sure why they went to the back of the Bay. Perhaps it was a hold over from the days when Indians were not allowed to drink in the "Beer Parlors". There was a beer parlor (a bar, a pub, a drinking establishment)in the town. I believe the law change in 1960 that allowed Indians to enter licensed establishments. Until the law changed in 1960, Indians were not allowed to vote as they were not considered Canadians; only wards of the Crown, in other words, they were kids. So kids can't go into beer parlors.
My Mishoom, known as Misskos was very well respected in the community. He was a wood contractor. He and his sons, and nephews would cut wood for the Paper Mill in Pine Falls. Can you imagine that a man not allowed to buy his own beer. Younger White guys in town would have to buy his beer for him. I remember in 1980 an old man from town used to speak at the AA meetings in the Reserve. He would talk about my Mishoom (granpa) and how he knew him from work. This guy had to be way way younger than my Mishoom. My Mishoom died in 1968. This white guy would talk about buying beer for my Mishoom. Can you imagine that, a young guy having to buy your beer; like you were a kid? I mean you are this hard working, well respected MAN and yet you are treated like a kid. In any case, it might be why the old guys used to hang out behind the Bay and drink. It was the way it was when they were young. I know they used to hang out in the bush by the beer parlor. They weren't allowed to sit in the beer parlor. It was against the law.
Not sure if that is the reason, but it kind of makes sense. I remember a number of years ago I went to the Cree Reserve, Norway House. There is a small village next to the Reserve. The village has a beer vendor and a small pub. Across the highway from the village people will sit around in the bush and drink. They can sit in the pub now because it's not against the law, but still they go into the bush to drink. Maybe it's more comfortable to sit in the open, but who knows? 

As young guys we used to make fun of each other with taunts like "you should be behind the Bay". "I saw you behind the Bay." I guess that kind of humour was a way to ridicule ourselves, but it says something about how we saw the act of being behind the Bay and being drunk in public. Maybe?
My mom learned to drive in the 1970's, and so she would always pick up my uncle or my grand-uncle when they were walking from town. She never ever showed signs, or made remarks that there was something wrong with what they were doing, hanging out behind the Bay. She always seemed to be happy to see my uncle and her uncle. There was no shame there, that I could see.
So why was it that us kids felt that shame?
I used to get that same feeling when in the city of Winnipeg, I would see an Indian drinking around downtown. It kind of made me mad, guilty, ashamed. Wonder why the heck? 
Now I get that same feeling when there is a media story of some Indian gang member doing bad stuff to people. I kind of feel like we carry that guilt because of those people. Wonder why?
A cousin of mine in the Reserve has purchased three ATV's from a young guy in the Reserve. The ATV's are rumoured to be from the nearby cottage area. There is no real relationship with the local non-Native communities. There are exceptions but mostly the community people stay away from the Reserve and the Reserve people. Maybe it's because they don't trust them. Who knows?

Up north at my in-laws farm house, it was burglarized and it is suspected to be guys from the neighbouring Reserve. A neighbour of theirs had his home broken into as well. He has pictures of the guys who did it. He had a "deer camera" installed. Indian guys for sure. Even there I felt bad. I felt ashamed. I felt guilty.
I know I didn't do it, but yet, I felt like I had a hand in it some how. Just because the Indians did it. There is a Reserve right next to the area that my in-laws live.

There is carrying the guilt of our people and then there is the opposite of that, hating our own people. You kind of see that in the actions of people. They are hard on themselves or other people like them. People like Bill Cosby, and Joseph C. Phillips, Patrick Brazeau are critical of the people they are associated with.

It is okay to be critical but at the same time it may border on self-hate. You feel so bad at the way your people are portrayed, act or looked upon, that you turn into the bitter, the wicked and on the opposite side of who you are. I am not sure if carrying that shame is the right thing to do. Maybe if we know the reasons, the experiences, the baggage, the burden, the weight they carry, maybe we won't be as critical or maybe we don't have to carry that shame. Maybe we can be the example of how good our people are. Maybe we can show others that it is an anomaly. I love Indians. If you get to know them, you will know what I know and feel. Sure there are those that are no good, but heck that happens in every society. Christ not all Germans are Hitler, or Italians like Mussolini, nor are Ugandans like Idi Amin. Same as with Indians, not all are criminals, burglars or petty thieves. Maybe some of them are real good kind strong caring people.
I like to think that's the way it is.

You know what, I don't see shame in my people. I see struggle and I see promise. They are still here. No matter that society tried to kill them off. Sure there are some elements of that destructive attempt to eliminate them, but they are still here.  
I know what it is, we have been conditioned by so much pressure, so much attacks on our culture, our ways, our lives, our identity by the main stream machine to think our people are no good. The message has been persistent, has been relentless. It has been targeted and specific; the Indian is no good. The message has been purposeful - "eliminate the Indian." So we say, heck with that. There is no shame we are carrying. It is the main stream, the government's, the institutions, the privilege of being white who should be carrying shame. There is no shame for us to carry. We were attacked, we were punished, we were hurt but we are still carrying on living and shame is not for us to carry. It is you the general main stream public who should be hanging their head in shame. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy birthday to my pal

Happy birthday to my pal, to my pal, to my pal, happy birthday to my pal, to my pal, to my pal...

To my pal, Steve! :)

Nin sa!

That's me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do the right thing

"I sleep good at night."
What is the right thing? My right thing could be one hundred percent wrong.
And what the heck does 'doing the right thing' have to do with sleeping?
What if your bed is one of those cheap, skinny, sink hole mattress types? Do you still sleep good. And some couches are comfortable to crash on, but to be sleeping on a couch that has those big arm rests, which make the couch too short to really stretch out on, is it really a good sleep? I don't think so.

I think about doing the right thing not all the time.
Like yesterday, there were a couple of people at a cross walk downtown. The traffic wasn't stopping, but these people weren't trying to get across, so there was some confusion as to stop and wait for them or to go through, I honked (permped, beemped) my car horn to get the guys attention. He gave me the finger but I didn't see it, my daughter told me, as we driving ahead, I said "what?" So I went to stop, so I could go and hit this guy, but my daughter touched my arm and so "no Dad, just go." So I just listened to her and kept on driving. But man? Did that bug the heck out of me. I was seething for a long time. I just wanted so much to hit that "bastard" and my daughter took that away from me. So what was the right thing. :D It's actually no big deal and almost all the time I would think nothing of it. But it is funny how your mind works and what triggers your emotional response to things. And how the feelings linger.
I did the right thing, but I don't feel good about it. That guy needs something to hit him on the foot real hard. So hard that his toe throbs for half a day.

And that's the point the right thing doesn't make you sleep good at night.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Great deal of Sweating

Woo, it was hot today. The Sweat Lodge Ceremony was too hot for the cool people. My grandson Jackjack went into the Sweat to get his name. Jackson is one year old. It was my cousin Marie that conducted the Ceremony.
The Giveaway and the Feast that followed the Sweat was great. I am a food expert. You don't get to have a big belly by eating greens. Although I am a fan of greens, not sure why but it feels like work when you have to make a salad or mix some dressing on your greens.
My wife is a great cook. My Brother Don took over on the grill for barbeque food. My sister Jean is always as helpful and willing to open her home to guests.
We were fortunate that my brother Howard and wife Val, made a trip out from Alberta. They were supporting us int eh Sweat.
The oldest Brother Poncho and wife Jeannie, came over to join in the Feasting.
All in all a very good day.
Jackson took to the Sweat like a heavy hitter to a buffet.
Me, I was crying torture.
My boy Ed was the fire keeper for the Sweat.
Amelia did her job being the cute older sister and my boss.
Chloe had other plans and needed to keep them. She is my first boss and the baby.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Boozing, drugs and hotels

Well a buddy of mine received a little bit of cash a couple of weeks ago. I think it was around a hundred and forty thousand. It is part of that Indian Residential School payment process for Indians that were abused. Not a good way to get cash but that's the way it is. Some of my cousins are kind of making light of the situation. Saying things like "look at the truck that Father Plamado bought me!" Father Plamado is infamous for "washing" the boys in the school. He washed a lot of boys. :D
Anyway my buddy is sitting in a skid hotel as I write this. He was suppose to get married tomorrow. But like in the movie Hangover, "that's not going to happen".
It is an interesting thing. This buddy of mine is real intelligent but at the same time really dumb about his drinking.
You kind of wish he would make some good choices about his money. It's not a lot of money and will go pretty quickly. Lot of people putting demands on his money.
I think that whole process of the payments and the process is weird (or as my wife says, whheird).
Money and issues that is an interesting mix.
But one thing is for sure that money is getting into the economy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Boy (jackjack) will be getting his Name.

Tobacco has been passed to my cousin Marie for the Naming Ceremony of our Grandson, Jackson.
So we are going to be getting the Cloth and items for the Giveaway for the Ceremony.
Jackson has turned one year old and he will be going into the SweatLodge Ceremony with us.
We are so happy and excited for the Boy.
I remember when my baby girl Chloe went for her name. I remember her standing just outside the Doorway of the Sweat after she had finished sitting one round in the Lodge. She was two years old. I know she was suppose to go at one year old, but a sad thing happened that year, so she didn't go for her name. In the Sweat She sat on my lap and just was cool about the whole situation. Lately, We were looking at some video of Chloe and Her Granny Hazel . She was so cute as a baby and her Granny was so loving to her.

Amelia was a bit nervous when she got her name. In the SweatLodge she was not too pleased to be in the small crowded place. It was a very good Ceremony as my niece and nephew also received their names.

I expect JackJack to be okay. He's at the one year old mentality. They are still connected to the Spirits and can communicate with them. He will be in his own little cool world.

We will introduce him to the people at the Ceremony and have a Feast after the Sweat.

I think it is an awesome thing to look forward to.

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

 Urban Cowboy is a 1980 movie with a soundtrack steeped in western songs that had great Redneck lines like, "single bars and good time ...