Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Admit it. You're a Racist.

So some billionaire was taped talking openly about his thoughts on Blacks and minorities.Another Billionaire is constantly promoting ridicule of Indians with his team logo. The thing is people are shocked. Not really about the Redskins team but with the NBA  LA Clippers owner, who doesn't want his young girl friend to bring Black people to his games. One thing for sure it has a lot of people talking.

The funny thing is, people are appalled at this guy's way of thinking. I am thinking, what?  Where the heck have these people been?  People are saying "that is no way to talk in this day and age". What? This day and age?  Heck, just look at what is happening in Canada and the U.S. for heck sakes. The Donald Trump is one of the most hateful bigots out there. Yet he is a mainstay on  television all the time. He attacks the President Obama on a constant basis. Donald wants to see his birth certificate? If Obama was not a Black man, would this be happening?  Of course not. It is because people are just out and out pure racist. Don't believe, take a look at Ted Nugent, Cliven Bundy, Hank Williams Jr., Mel Gibson, Paula Dean, Michael Richards (Kramer), Charlie Sheen, John Wayne (of course), John Mayer (with KKK dick), and what racist's list does not have that kkkookoo bird Ann Coulter

I think that these "big name" racist have one thing in common; they outed themselves. Just imagine how many of the racist are hiding?  I think the only thing that Donald Sterling did when he said he didn't want his girl friend to bring Magic Johnson to his games, was that he drove more racists underground. It is not that they are going to stop hating Blacks, Jews, Muslims, Indians, Asians (and everyone else that doesn't look like them) but they are going to try and hide it tighter within their circles. The circles will become tighter. More people will not be able to enter the circle. Funny how that circle is full with money?

Canada is kind of a different animal.  It's not like Canada is much less racist that our friends in the good old U. S. of A.  No, heck no.  Canada just uses it racism differently.  Much of Canada's racism is in the government sector.  The U.S. government is built on racism, everyone knows that, but Canada is slicker or more hypocritical when it comes to its racism. The business side in Canada is good at hiding its racist holdings (get it?).  While the U.S. business doesn't really care if its racist.

Ah, heck, it wasn't my intention to talk generally about racism in the U.S. and Canada's increasing big foot of racism (you know the increase of Right Wing ideals and policies in Canada under Stephen Harper),  I wanted to examine the every guy racist. The guy and gal who live in your neck of the woods. Go to your kids hockey games. The ones you see sitting at the rotten ronnies (McDonalds) or the one who sits and laughs at the funny looking and talking minority on TV sitcoms. You know, your friendly acquaintance, your boyfriend, your work buddy, your boss, and your wife. Those are the racists I was thinking about.

Do you think a racist is the sum of our experiences?  You know all those little things that happen to us our whole life?  Or are we just born that way?

Nah. I think it is a learned thing. A learned attitude, belief, and a lifestyle. Not like being born Gay or anything (not that there is anything wrong with that).  I think it's a built up thing of your own desires, wants, tastes, likes and dislikes. It is a negative view on the world.  And that view of the world must have come from somewhere.Not that it is an excuse. Many people have experiences that they don't LET define them.

Do you think that living beside a Reserve with a bunch of Indians that come into your town and have White girl friends make you racist. I mean if they "stole" your girls?  Or if you work in a Town Paper Mill and the only ones who get the promotions are the White guys, will that make you racist? Or if you are stopped by the White cops and they extort money from your poor Mom who works as a janitor and is not loaded with cash and is just trying to feed her nine kids?  Or is those "rich" White guys driving by you on the road throwing insults and hurling racist names?  Or is that store owner that watches you like a hawk when you go into the store to buy some penny gum?  Or is that wicked White Nun who whacks you with that big leather strap? Will that make you racist? Or is it when you go hanging out with your Native friends and other Natives come and bully you anyway? Or if you Mom was walking on the street in downtown Winnipeg and a drunken Indian guy walks up and cuffs her in the head? Would that make you racist to hate them after that? Or you work in Portage Place and all you see is the United Nations of Indians and minorities, where as a White you feel uncomfortable?

There is some truth that our experiences make us who we are. But there is still our free will. If we know something is not right or moral, then why do we still do it?

Or are you one of those people that does not see colour?  I think the people who don't see colour only exist for a short period of time; they are babies - Abinoojii(ag).  They, I think, are truly the ones who don't judge colour of your skin. All the others are full of moo (excrement).

We think of racism as a bad thing. When it is a judgement based on our experiences and of stereotypes.  It is a shortcut to all the information that we absorb and digest over time. It may be absolutely wrong but we do it anyway. Is it wrong? If you use judgement to punish, discriminate, isolate, neglect, ridicule and even kill, then of course its' wrong. But we all do it. Deny it, I dare you.  You are lying to yourself and the world. Of course we see colour. It is in the every day signals, messages that we receive. How do we not see colour? I don't have a clue. Everything is a category. Our experiences show us that. That is why it is hard not to be racist. We categorize everything and everybody.

Remember when Japanese cars came into the market? What was the thought; cheap cars, no good. Now it is the Chinese industry that we question and categorize. We see other things in a category as well; wild wilderness, backwoods southerners, communist Soviets, radical Arabs, militant Blacks, savage Indians, and so on. We can't escape it. Admit it. You are a racist. Even if you like Blacks and Indians. You still see them as what they are, not White. And that is okay. As long as you don't put yourself above or better than them.

Sure some naive person will say we are all human beings. Please!  That is so scraping the chalkboard with your finger nails; it makes us cringe. We are all different. So let's embrace those differences and see them, but DON'T use it as a weapon.  Use it as an opportunity to learn. To explore and expand our likes, our tastes, our experiences. So let's see colour and love it. Make racism about loving the great differences we have. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Are you an Apple?

My Mom was a great lady. The kind of person that was so open and honest.  Lot of people can be like that. Sometimes you have to laugh at the the things that they say. My Mom was the backbone of our family. The Mom who kept everyone together. I really liked her.

She went to Boarding (Indian Residential) school in Fort Alexander Indian Reserve. I think she had a grade three or four education. She loved to read. I remember as a kid my Mom had all sorts of reading books. She was also a good believer in the Church. She did her Rosary prayers all the time.  I don't I ever did one of those in my life.

Anyway my Mom would say some of the funniest things that you wouldn't expect her to say.  There is a radio station in Manitoba called NCI .  NCI is a Native radio station and has a lot of Native talent on there as hosts.  I remember there was this one gal on the radio that my Mom could not stand. Mom said "she sounds like an Apple".  Holy heck I didn't even know my Mom knew about Apples. So it was funny, this old Woman calling another Neechi (Friend Indian) an  Apple. Mom was not the type to really put down anyone. So it was really funny.

Apple is a put down of another Indian by an Indian. It means that the Indian is trying to be White. Have main stream values and ashamed of their heritage. I think for my Mom it was this woman's voice on the radio. I think at the time it was either Rosanna Deerchild or some other host. Not sure.

I am not sure if there are that many Apples these days. You know? Since its kind of cool to be Indian.
In his book Red Earth, White Lies, Vine Deloria, Jr. discussed why Americans wish they could be Indians:
They are discontented with their society, their government, their religion, and everything around them and nothing is more appealing than to cast aside all inhibitions and stride back into the wilderness, or at least a wilderness theme park, seeking the nobility of the wily savage who once physically fought civilization and now, symbolically at least, is prepared to do it again. http://mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com/
 Deerchild is quite a Woman. She is an accomplished writer a known radio personality and a very proud Native woman. I guess the way she talks, her accent or lack of one is what annoyed my Mom (if it was Deerchild).  I don't see her as being an Apple, the opposite actually. I think she is a good Native role model (in some circles).

I kind of laugh when I hear some Indians talk. There are the guys like Gerry Big Bear who is a radio host. Man he sounds like a White guy. There are many like this. I guess it is where they grew up. Maybe that is why they have no "Indian accent". It seems weird to look at them, when their voices don't match their face. My Mom was real Reserve, just like many of her people in her generation. Being Indian is what they were/are. So I guess it didn't appeal to them that others would rather be white than Indian.

They were some in our Reserve and other communities and cities where Indians claimed to be anything but Indian. They were White, Italian, or whatever but not Indian. Some tried to marry out of the Indian. Mostly Women in this respect. Saw it in our Reserve.

But today I think there is a resurgence of Indian Pride. So there is a lot less need to be White, or Apple. There is less of a need to hide who you are.  You see the constant and multiple attacks on the heritage, social conscious, and life of the Indian is being countered. It is being countered by the realization of Indian Spirituality. It never died. But now it is more and more being Lived by Indians. So with that Spiritual awakening, the pull or allure of Apple is almost over. The rise of the Indian is strong.

I imagine there are still a number of Apples out there. I don't know if they are on the radio stations or television shows. Maybe they are in main stream business or politics? After all that is still the strong hold of the middle aged white guy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I like Powwow too...but this is Sundance.

One of the best scoldings I was ever witness to, was Elder Joe Esquash giving advice to some young Indian Men.  We were at a SunDance preparation meeting. The boys were all around the Drum. They went into a song and started to jam. They were going full tilt, just giving it all. Some whoops and holler.  After the song and the last beat on the Drum, they smiled gave each other encouragements, congratulations, grins and pride-full looks. Many of us were all in a circle in this small building. The Old Man Joe, just said "I like Powwow too, but this is SunDance".  All the heads of the guys around the Drum just bowed.
They all knew they were scolded. No yelling, no anger, just a calm voice telling them this was for Prayer time.   

We laughed afterward.

I like that about the Elders and the wise, just how damn cool they are.

You know that some Indians don't believe there is any Ceremonial element to Powwows?  Sad, I know. There is  of course pageantry, exhibition, dance, gala, colour and of course pride. But don't think for one minute there is no Spirit there. There is wonderful Spirit and strong Ceremonial presence in the Dance, the Song, the history.  They only need to ask about the Dance, the Song, and the revival. You see it was a neat trick to practice Ceremony in front of everyone when it was against the law. Even it was disguised in the festival and exhibition aspect of the Powwow. 

I was listening to Ceremony songs on the youtube and was thinking about Ceremony. Spring is here and just two months from now, there will be many SunDance Ceremonies happening.

It is a blessing to be able to go to Ceremony. Just think there was a time (not too long ago) that you couldn't even leave your community or practice your beliefs. Wow eh?

It is a testament to our People and their ability to survive. We do have an obligation to our ancestors and to our heritage to not forget who we are and where we come from.

Not only that, but we owe it to our children and their children to Teach them. Teach them about our heritage. That means learning our language and our ways.

It is never too late.  Seek out Elders, Ceremony, Language Teachers, and Story Tellers. They will not turn you away.  So enjoy the Powwow, but also don't forget the Ceremony.

Like the old man says, I like powwow too, but this is Sundance...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Should White People Be Allowed into Indian Ceremonies?

When you get older you tend to repeat yourself. So, I guess I covered this topic before in some fashion, but I hear it come up once in a while with friends and think why not revisit White people in Ceremony?

My friend is having a Ceremony tonight. It is a Cosapachican (Tie Up) ceremony.  I am sure there will be non-Native people there for sure. I guess everyone wants to take part in Ceremony.  It does cause some secret (and not so secret) resentments from people about White people in Ceremony. Even greater resentment when they are participating or Helping in a Ceremony. I remember some White participants in our Reserve Sundance Ceremony. There was this one guy who considered himself a "Windigokan", or a backwards person.
 One of the most interesting of Plains Ojibway institutions is that of the Cannibal Dancers, or "Windigokan," as they are called.  - Another peculiarity of the cannibals was that they used "inverted speech." That is to say, they expressed themselves by opposites. If one wished to drink, he would announce that he was not thirsty, and if a bystander wanted him to dance, he commanded the clown not to do so.
by Alanson Skinner, from the article The Plains Ojibway, within the anthology The Southern Workman, Vol. 43, Issues 1-10.

Anyway, this White guy would participate at the Sundance as a Windigokan. That is all well and fine, but he acted backwards outside of the Ceremony as well. When he was with Indians that is. Not sure of what he did when he was in his "real" world at work and home?   My friend who is a Windigokan and very knowledgeable Traditional person, "schooled" him about the Ceremony and the Windigokan. I guess the White guy didn't like it so he tore up his Windigokan clothing and left hanging on some trees.  I wonder what ever happened to that guy. Oh, by the way we don't refer to any of our attire as "costumes". Just for your info.

You see it is not an act to be a Windigokan. You must know a few of them yourself.  They are the ones that do things in a manner that is not like the average. It is like the Artist. You know Artists think a different way, always being creative looking at things with a different eye than us.  Same with a backwards person. He or she is the one that will make things seem out of place or weird. Rather than take things down a hill they will carry it up the hill. They will not walk a straight road to get somewhere but will go off in all sorts of directions but get there at their time. You know those guys. It is just the way they are. They laugh and make jokes at inappropriate times, but it seems natural to us. Teasing at your Dad's funeral. And wondering why people are giving them the look?  That is a Windigokan, the one that brings healing at times when you don't expect it.  

My friend and Teacher is not open to having White people take part in Ceremony. She is afraid that they will steal it for their own purposes. In some cases, She has been right about that. As we seen when James Arthur Ray killed three people in a Sweat Lodge.  You know how that went. A Rich White guy charging outrageous amounts of money for people to take part in a retreat.  Part of the retreat was to take part in a warrior ceremony.  Didn't work out very well for the warriors and for the head guru, Ray. I think he is out of jail now.
Ray likened the lodge to the Taj Mahal or the Vatican and himself to a priest, according to a transcript of audio recording received.
Participants paid more than $9,000 each to attend Ray's 'Spiritual Warrior' event with the sweat lodge planned as the highlight.

I have many friends that conduct Ceremony, I have never ever seen them "charge" admission. People honour them and the Ceremony with gifts. The gifts are given freely and if they chose to. Anyway, some of us are not opposed to White people coming into Ceremony. As one Elder said from my Reserve, "If the Creator does not turn away anyone, who are we to?"  I can see that. I can also see my friend's point of view as well. She talks about the Old Man, deceased Elder Peter O'chieseHe was sitting on the ground with his arms outstretched and one of his hands open and the other clinched closed. "We have given some much and they have taken so much, why can't we hold what little we have left?".

I was at a Sundance Ceremony years ago at Punnichy or Gordon's Reserve and there was a big ply-board nailed to a tree. The sign said "no white people allowed".  It was the Sundance Chief who had placed the sign there. And it was his Right to do so.  I read that years ago, the Sundance in some communities made it a spectacle, like a Fair or something. With people dragging Buffalo Skulls with harness on. Not in a real Traditional manner. I think those are the situations that scare our People. The mockery, the stealing of the Spirit and Intent of the Ceremony. Like what Ray did. 

Am I offended when White people come to the Ceremony.  I guess sometimes I am. But other times I am not. Not sure of why. It is a conflict for sure. I think it is a hard situation to really embrace. As my cousin said "people are seeking for the good life". That is the constant you will hear in Indigenous Ceremony and that is mino bimaadiziwin  - good life. We are all seeking good life, whatever our heritage. 

I told this story before and because I forget will share it again. Not many people have read the old post anyway. (I see the read count of posts). You must know with Creation the Creator had Teachers in other peoples' worlds. Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Brahma, and so on.  Well on this day Nanabosho or Wesakechak.was to meet his brother Jesus.

Wesakechak was standing on top of Sweet Grass Hills looking over at the countryside. He was looking over at his people. Way of in the distance someone was walking. He was walking towards Sweet Grass Hills. He kept walking. Wesacechak didn't know him. Didn't recognize this guy. As the guy got closer, Wesakechak could see this guy was beat up. He was blooded. He was beaten. He looked awful. As the man got closer, Wesakechak started to recognize him. He came close to him. "Ho' my brother Jesus, what happened to you?" Wesakechak asked.  Jesus was all beat up, blooded with marks all over him.  Jesus told him, "My people did this to me. They beat me, they whipped me. they stoned me. they killed me." Wesakechak asked him why?   "Cause my people are not satisfied.  I healed the sick, made the blind see, fed the hungry and still they fought me, they beat me, they whipped me, they killed me."

You see White people were not satisfied. They had their place, their way of life, their home. But they were not happy, so they went off to take things.  They had Europe. Not happy they went to India, China, Australia and Turtle Island and took them.  Still not happy they went on. Ships to space, hotels under the ocean. They took the Earth, the Sea, the Air, the Moon, and Mars. They took everything. Now they want your Spiritual Life. They take your Language, your Pipe, your Ceremony, yet they have their own?  They are not satisfied. They want everything. 

So, I guess you can be a little more understanding when someone puts up a sign, No White People Allowed. 

Update: This is why so many Indians are afraid of White people corrupting the Sacred.  http://news.bme.com/2005/02/25/spiritflesh-the-energy-pull-part-1-fakir-rants-raves/

Taking something and somehow making it??? Perverse? 

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