Saturday, November 19, 2022

Whack A Mole

Have you played the carnival game, Whack-a-Mole? It is a game where you have a big hammer and you hit the heads of little mice creatures when their heads stick up out of a hole. The game is fast fun and involves smashing heads with a hammer, all good fun. The Whack-a-mole game is an allegory for people in society. You see there are those who will lift their heads out of a hole and then there are those who will take the big hammer and smash them as hard and as many times that they can. People will poke their heads out of hole based on their courageous intentions, and some will do it based on their cluelessness, in other words stupidity.  There are those who will stick their head out of the hole and not be bothered with the hammer hitting them. Some folks don't require the little mouse-creature to poke their little head out of any hole. They just hit anyone at anything and anywhere. Those folks are just messed up to begin with. The Whack-a-mole folk need some kind of stimulus to have them going hammer-time. 

A very good example of real-life-Whack-a-mole is Colin Kaepernick. Colin Kaepernick was the football quarterback who decided to kneel when the US National Anthem was being played. Holy heck was Colin slammed on the head and it seemed, everyone wanted to hold the hammer. The then US President and his slog of a VP picked up the hammer and hit the hapless quarterback. Yes, fun times for the US people. Speaking of the then President Mr. Trump, he is one mouse creature who sticks his head and doesn't know why he keeps getting hit on the head with a hammer. He also could be one of those who is not bothered by the hammer smash. Thing is there are too many indicators where he is known to be bothered even without the hammer hitting him and just a maniac to begin with. No surprise he will go after those who he feels smashed him. He will go baby-goat-killing on just about anyone, whether or not they had a hammer or no hammer on him. He went after one of his biggest arse-lickers in Mitch McConnell and his "Coco-Chow" wife.  Trump is an example of the clueless mouse in the Whack-a-Mole game of life. Dave Chappelle is an example of the mouse creature who is not (on the surface) concerned with the smash of the hammer. He has been putting his head out seemly seeking the hammers on his head. Chappelle has made the Trans-community a staple in his comedy routine. He also used the Jewish Power Entertainment trope in his routine. The Jews are thought to have a strangle hold on the entertainment industry. Chappelle seems to take pleasure in offended people, akin to most comics: Jim Jefferies, Ricky Gervais, Sara Silverman, and the forgotten Andrew Dice Clay. Chappelle must have a hard head because he has and is on the receiving end of the hammer smash in Whack-a-Mole. 

In the Indian community (the Peace-Pipe-Tomahawk-Indian and not the Simpsons' Spicy-Curry-Apu-Indian) there are people who are sticking their heads out of the hole. The main-stream community (whites mostly) won't pick up the hammer on Indians. Indians don't register in their minds and Whites can't be bothered to waste some good hammering on moldy Indians.  The only time White people will pick up the hammer on Indians, it is when the Indians is getting between them and their money; the resource sector protests. When Indians speak out against the destruction of lands for resource extraction, this is when the big white hammer comes down, along with all the resources of the system white people enjoy. In the media Indians are viewed as "Something Else, or Creatures."  So, when there comes to hammer smashing, it is Indian on Indian. We have a few Indians who are going after the "pretend-Indian, aka the pretendian." Jacqueline Keeler is an Indian Woman who is exposing fake Indians-people who say they are Indian but are not. This has caused a few to get out the beaded-handled-hammer to whap her right on the top of her braided head-hair. The issue may be her methods of research or the who is on her list.  Indians, for some strange reason, will protect the pretendian. When Joseph Boyden was exposed, he was quickly adopted into an Indian family, crazy right? I think frauds are going to be found out whether or not a list exists. After-all, for Indians the main thing is connection; who you with? The method of identity is so messed up from colonial interference; the numbering system, the government Indian Final List, metal ID dog tags to Inuit people in the north. Our people are so comfortable with the identification systems of the settler governments. For me that is the problem, colonial identification of who we are. I don't hammer Keeler for her attempts at trying to unearth the moles, the mice creatures. However, I am not a fan of using the settler established ways of measuring Indianness. This is what got us here to begin with, the Indian identity sweepstakes. 

The problem with the Indian sweepstakes is in its attraction. People love the Noble Savage. People want to be linked to a history of survival, of the beautiful brown mystique of barefooted-naked-forest-plainspeople. Some people want to embrace the past of the hippie culture with flowers in their hair and being Indian makes them more hippie than anyone. The Indian is the problem as well. They are so damn sensual. They are also damn generous, welcoming and easy to con. The Indian will welcome the pretendian based on their word alone. I mean why wouldn't we? Who in their right mind would make up a story about being something they are not? That's weird, right? If it was as easy as walking up to a whole group of people, a whole community and say, "Hey, I'm Steve and I'm 250th succession of Bulgaria, through Hermann Friedrich, Canadian Banker in Toronto. The last I heard works for the Royal Bank of Canada, look him up." This is what some individuals are actually doing, walking up to the community and saying, "I'm treaty Indian from Norway House." So, we, as Indians, say, "Well okay, that's good enough for me. Welcome Neechie." The Wack-a-mole is not our first reaction. Not until they start acting good. Then it's Indian Factor. If you don't know the Indian Factor, maybe you should reconsider claiming the Noble Savage identity. 

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 we will never know their names but we have seen them and seen their evil ways. 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 can't 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 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 pleasant, something good might help. What do you think? 

"Social media is just a lavatory wall." "Under the house, the sewage 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 

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. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Shooting the Poop with You

 Picked up my wife from her work and we visited as we drove. We spoke about the downtown Hudson Bay store being taken over the Indians. We both acknowledged the targeted visceral anger and hatred to Indians in social media. The news story sparked a feeding frenzy of racist sharks; their attacks were fast and vicious. Just a normal day as we laughed a bit about people. Suz (my wife) borrowed twenty bucks off her friend at work. The friend started to tell her about her night before. She and her spouse went for supper (dinner for those who don't know) at Boston Pizza. After their dinner, she stopped to play a few slots (gambling slot machines which are abundant in Winnipeg licensed establishments). As she was playing an old white woman (who said she had worked in the WHRA for forty years-Winnipeg Regional Health Authority) started chatting her up. The old white lady says to her, "Child Tax?" Child Tax is a benefit provided by the Canadian government to families and sent out monthly. Anyways...the friend told the old white lady, "I work in government as well." The old lady goes on to say, "I didn't mean anything by it," (the assumption she was spending the tax child benefit.) Of course she, the old white lady didn't, it is normal mindset for many not to acknowledge their bigotry. I am being sarcastic, just in case the "of course she didn't" came off as I believed that she sincerely didn't mean anything by it. Me and my wife said, "could be she was using Child Tax at the slots, but still." 

People are so funny with their everyday beliefs which can only be founded in stereotypes, racism and privilege. My wife and me ( I know I should have said I instead of me, but I'm Ojibwe me) laughed hard at her friend's story. It reminded us of "are you Peggy?" Are you Peggy story is the time a Roman Catholic priest went up to my wife and son on a public street in downtown Winnipeg.  My son who is a brown Indian man, was meeting his Mom to give her money. My son had a wad of cash in his hand as the "Father" asked if he was Peggy. The Priest was actually asking if my son was begging. Such a benevolent and charitable man that Father. 

A cousin of mine died yesterday. He was getting sick for awhile now. Blew out his liver from the drink. I was just thinking about how much fun he was. I was glad to get to know him pretty good through working together. In the Reserve you know lot of people and most of your relatives, but in some cases you don't get to know them really intimately. We shared some good times. He was of course closer to others and I imagine they have some great stories about him. This cousin, Bunny (sounds like Bun-eh) was telling me a story about my brother Pancho (sounds like Pon-cho) when they were younger. Bunny was having fun with the same woman my brother was with. My brother was kind of a tough guy. My cousin said he phoned the woman (she was already married to Sonny) he was fooling around with. When the phone was answered, it was a familiar voice;  "Hello" my brother Pancho said. My cousin Bunny didn't say anything, he just listened, as quickly as the hello went unanswered, came "Who the fuck is this" asked Pancho in a mean voice.  Bunny laughing away as he said, "I hanged up with a very quiet click."  We had a good laugh over this. My cousin was a slickster. 

Was at Surplus Direct today to get some runners (sneakers) for my grandson. The checkout line was long. Surplus Direct is one of those little shops which sells discounted "seconds" from big stores like Costco. So as I was in line a couple of young Neechie girls came in. The one girl leaves her bag at the front as there is a sign advising to do so. They walked around the little store. You could hear the other girl say to her, "Good, I never even knew this was here." They looked around, got the bag from the check out and left. I was a ways from the check out but I am pretty sure one the women at the checkout said to her co-worker, "Bet they are up to no good." I looked and no one in the line noticed or batted an eye over the comments. I was thinking, I heard it, I am going to tell them off. By the time I got to the till the moment had gone, I just kept it to myself. I regret it, no matter that the moment had gone. It did validate my thinking that this must be such a common thing so no one even notices. It is racism. We are so conditioned to it, it doesn't phase the public anymore. But I imagine, "she didn't mean anything by it." Bless her little white heart. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to visit my cousins Stephanie and Charolette; they live in Selkirk Manitoba. I really enjoyed the visit because no one is really visiting right now (you know the old COVID thing and the fact we are old lazy folks). As we get older we have difficulty; difficulty in making new friends. Heck, it's hard enough keeping in touch with old friends, family, never mind fostering new relationships. I want to make friends with Muslims, Ukrainians, Russians, Black people and other Neechies but how do you go about it. I had this idea before about setting up time to sit in a coffee house and advertise; "Hey want to meet an Indian, well just come down to X-Cues and sit with one, chat and ask what you wish." I thought it would be a good idea. 

Speaking of Child Tax Benefit, my Wife sent me to Wally-mart to get some Ritz crackers for our girl's school day. It was kind of late in the evening. There was an Indian Woman with two young girls with her. So I walked up to her and said "Anishinaabem na?" She said "Eh ha." So I asked her if she wanted a ride home, no charge. She said okay. So we loaded her stuff in the car and took her home. I came back to Wally-mart and was walking in when this Indian guy waved me over. He said "Are you a taxi, I saw you giving a ride to the Woman." I told him "No, I just give rides to Neechies, can't really trust the cabs." The taxi industry in Winnipeg has had some issues with Indian fares; some sexual harassment of Women. So he asked me for a ride. So I sent him to my car to load his stuff and I ran for the Ritz. I asked him where he wanted to go, so he got me to take him downtown Winnipeg. We got to the apartment and I opened the trunk and  he said "No, that's my stuff. I'm just dropping off money for my aunty, paying her back." So I says "Oh okay." While he went visiting his Aunty I waited in the car. He came back about 10 or 15 minutes later and I asked him where he lived, I ended up taking him to south Winnipeg, which was a good drive. It was closer to where we left Walmart in the first place. I went home  and the wife was sitting around with her phone and said, "Three hours? I was worried and you didn't phone?" I had left my phone at home because it was only a ten minute trip to Wally-mart. But the point is the guy pulled a good one on me, he pulled an "Indian."  I could laugh about with my wife because she was upset at the time.

Anyways you take care, just wanted to shoot the shit with you today.  

G'waabaamin sa.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Uncertain about the Uncertainty

 "...How would our Ancestors (Anishinaabek) have responded to these times? They would be calm and approach things with gentleness and confidence. They would say we are not alone and we have never been alone, the Ancestors are here with us to take us forward. They would say, why are you afraid? Do you not believe? Did you really think you were in control and can overpower nature? These are natural consequences that we have helped create. Nature is only returning the poisons we have put into her. The abuse we have inflicted on her. It is a time of reckoning now..."  Elder Dave Courchene Jr. Turtle Lodge 

There is so much uncertainty in our lives: massive forest fires; flash flooding; will Cancer get me; can we earn money to feed and house ourselves; trying to stay alive and free from sickness; hoping to not be shot  by a cop; hoping not to be shot while going to school; hoping not to be shot at a movie, not to be shot at a nightclub; having a spouse with homicidal leanings; worrying about being on a flight with a pilot who decides to fly into a mountain; getting some type of sexual transmitted disease; not having a crazy neighbor who measures lawn height; worried about a pack of dogs eating us; the possibility of swallowing a fly that just came out of outhouse; walking in public with toilet paper hanging out the back of our pants or stuck to our shoe, getting hemorrhoids. The uncertainties we face our numerous. So how in the heck do we cope with the feelings which come from uncertainty? It is worrisome to many that is for sure. We have the "could have been me" thoughts when a bad situation occurs somewhere. It could have been me getting bit in the neck by the white tiger named Mantacore and then carried away like a squeaky toy.  Instead it was Roy, who was bit in the neck and by the grace of all that is holy, was not me. 

There's an old Native proverb which goes like this: "Only the Squirrel eats nuts thrown on the ground, while the Hawk doesn't eat nuts." It reminds of the fact a garden snake is non-venomous but people will bring out their rakes and hoes to cut the snake to pieces when they see one. Hank Williams Jr fell down a rock cliff and damaged his face. George Strait 13 year old daughter died in a car accident and Willie Nelson's son hanged himself. The uncertainty of life can be felt by anyone. I think about Bob Gainey, the manager of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. His daughter was swept of the deck of a Tall Ship in a storm and never found. The common house spider is actually good for your home but you will kill it on sight. Maybe you are uncertain of the type of spider, and uncertain about its bite. The real bite which is an uncertainty is the bite, well really a sting, of a Bee. The Bee of all things which can bring life to an end by ceasing to be, because it is a keystone species. What a tippy topple way for life to be. Can we even plan for the uncertainties in life? 

Uncertainty is our world no doubt. Which uncertainty has you wondering? I fell for a sales pitch, well almost fell for it.  On Facebook there was this post from a City Councilor which showed him getting a free emergency kit. All you had to do was register for it. Anyways the company called the house and set up a date and time to bring over the kit. Turns out there was a presentation you had to listen lasted 2 hours and was a smoke fire detector sales. The presentation was filled with numbers, videos of devastation with home fires. The pitch is really effective. You are left feeling uncertain, feeling afraid. The last sales pitch is "how much is a life worth?"  The smoke detector package is about $4000.00. The thing about uncertainty is it can be pricey. I could not afford the $4000 for the 7 detectors.  I had our house vent system vacuumed a while back and the guy asked me if I wanted to spray the vents with some kind of chemical. I said "no thank you" and he said "well it's your family." I had read the vent vacuum and chemical were not really proven to help air quality in the home. So not sure if I will have vents done again. When marketers call the house and do the sales pitch for vacuuming vents, I just tell them I had it done a month ago. 

I know I will fall prey to uncertainties of life, but for now I am just going to try focus on having enough gas in the car, some water bottles, a fire extinguisher, a charged up cell phone and dog food. It's all we can do in this time of uncertainty; war, climate change, extremism, and social media. I think Dave Courchene Jr said it very well, "to approach things with gentleness and confidence." If Dave Courchene Jr was not a Traditional Teacher and Elder, you would think he was a practitioner of Taoism; Nothing lasts forever. Everything comes and goes. What goes up, must come down. Go with the flow. "The basic principle of Taoism is that animals, plants, and humans should live in balance with the world around them."  This is also the tenants of Indigenous way of life. It is wonderous how people with a strong belief system can meet uncertainties without the worry. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Will Smith Smite the Rock

 Will Smith walked on a live television show and slapped Chris Rock in the face. Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's bald head. The next thing was Chris Rock told the crowd that Smith smacked him and then Will Smith swears at Rock to keep his wife's name out of his mouth. 

Lot of discussion going on about the integrity of Smith to protect his wife. Smith won an Oscar award later on and with his speech talked about having to protect family from all the attacks they are getting. No word from Chris Rock on what his thoughts were on being slapped for a relatively lame or tame joke. 

I don't condemn Smith for slapping Chris Rock. Heck sometimes a slap has to happen. I do commend Rock for keeping a cool demeanor. If you want to see cool in action, just watch Rock after being assaulted, humiliated on international live television. I do condemn Smith for trying to rationalize his actions when he was presented an Oscar. How he tried to tie it to the protective role he played in the movie about the tennis stars, the Williams sisters. How he tried to play victim and portray Rock as the villain. That was quite disgusting. 

Smith demonstrated a person not willing to accept responsibility. The world saw it. He walked a number of steps and struck a man who's career is made up of making jokes about people. Smith then walked back to his seat and all the while, he did in a swagger. He sat down and started swearing with real anger in his voice at Rock. There is no video of his wife's face when all this is going on, so we don't know if she is condoning his reaction or not. 

The thing I wonder is (to quote John Prine), do we talk about it or not talk about it? I mean Jada has made it public about her hair loss. So now is the thing, does Jada want her situation to be quiet and ignored of does she embrace it and be treated normally? It might be bad taste and even disgusting to make jokes about something which someone is experiencing, but what should the reaction be to the joke? It seems weird that Jada can bring attention to her situation but expect no reaction, no talk about it?  So do we pretend it doesn't exist, the hair loss? Do we dance around the subject or do we be open about it, speak of it and perhaps even joke about it? 

As for Chris Rock, I don't know whether or not he knew about the hair loss thing or he has it out for the Smiths. In the past he has had them on his radar and poke fun at them. So maybe there is something more going on between the Smiths and the Rocks? 

I tell you about Neechies, the slap is going to happen. You tease too much or at the wrong time a slap is expected. At the same time jokes are going to happen. People are made fun for their "situations, their issues" all the time. Like this friend of ours in the community was crippled in a car accident. He lost the use of his legs and was wheelchair bound. He still went on to host people and to party at his home. His friends would say "are you going to go over to cripple creek tonight?" For the fact the crippled friend would sometimes have his piss-bag leak all over the floor when he was drinking. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Send In The White Looking Indians First

Me & Suz as youngsters
For all of my life I have resented the fact I look like a white man. It is my Jesus-viciously-nailed-to-the-cross to bear. Not saying being called white man by your relatives is close to being nailed through the hands on a big wooden cross, but it still hurts that is for sure. Not bleeding to death painful but hurt my feelings really bad, hurtful. Hurt like when you get a paper cut in between your fingers, that kind of pain. I am aware of my looks and how it reflects my attitudes and my actions in life. I wore my face like a curse. I didn't see myself as a white guy. So when I was accused or tagged as a white guy, it was belittling to me and shameful to me not being mistaken for Jay Silverheels or George Armstrong. I mean, if you look at Jay or George there is no mistaking them for being Indian (Indians of North America, those kind of Indians, you know woowoo woowoo Indians). They fit the image associated as the Indian. 

Society is still stuck on the image of the wild noble savage as the prime Indian. The perfect specimen of Indian should only look one way.  Beautiful bronze toned skin, a greasy head of long hair in braids, a feather on our head and the bare chest. For Indian Women it is the beautiful brown maiden with buckskin on her fine frame of a body. Over time the feather and buckskin is not really the identifier white people look for, they still look for the Indian look: brown face, black hair, sharp boned face (little do they know many Indians have round faces now. We say they are round and brown). The reason for this is white folk want to know who they are dealing with. You see, the white person needs to know they are superior to all others. In this way white folk can treat Indians accordingly, at the lower tier. Standing is a real concept in society and it can be a sweet limo ride for some while it can be a barefoot walk on gravel roads for others. With the lower tier, there is the absence of privilege or benefit of doubt; your word, you standing is not worth as much as the white folk. This standing is used against you, the Indian (also the Black, the Person of Colour) in all types of settings. 

Me & Earl Youngsters
I was renting a trailer from Moxley Rentals in Osborne Village in Winnipeg. Osborne Village is an eclectic community in the City of Winnipeg. lot of hipsters, travelers, youngsters, and some environmentalists.  I was with my friend Earl when we went to the little business shop.  Now Earl is not me, he is one dark Indian. So I went into the rental place to rent the trailer. The older white guy greeted me in a friendly manner. Earl entered behind me and I could see the old white man change at the moment. His friendly looking face dropped and his body stiffened. I noticed right away. Earl didn't seem to take notice as he was just looking around the shop. Lot of tools, machines, vacuums and things to rent. The old man went to do the paper work and I turned to Earl and said "that old man is racist." Speaking of my friend Earl, he got very sick within the last two years. I really thought he was not going to last days, never mind weeks or the last two years. Anyways, he was in and out of the hospital for long periods of time. He would leave the hospital go back to the Reserve and get sick again. One of the nights he got sick, his brother Buddy drove him in the City to the hospital emergency. Buddy phoned me to let me know he was at emergency with Earl. So I went to see them. There were no visitors allowed because of the COVID restrictions. Buddy had been sitting in his truck out in the parking lot for a couple of hours. When I got there, I went sit with him and asked him questions. He couldn't answer because he couldn't get anyone to talk to him at the hospital. So I decided to go and see what was going on, because no use letting Buddy sit out in the parking lot while it was winter in Winnipeg. I went in and talked to security. Security went and got the Nurse. I asked them why they weren't letting Buddy know what was going on, should he just wait or got back home, is what I asked. The nurse said they were going to keep Earl and for Buddy to go home. Now why they couldn't tell Buddy that is of course weird. So I went and let Buddy know. We laughed about sending in the white guy (me) to get answers. Buddy says "I knew to send in the white guy." I said maybe it was because it was an "old white guy" too. 

I never liked to admit I have privilege. Because admitting that would mean I am somehow the lesser Indian and no one likes to be lesser. But I know it is an advantage, not only for me, but for other Indians because we can use that privilege to fight those who hold the privilege to begin with, you dig? I am not going to let white society determine who I am, heck with that noise. So I wear privilege as an armor for my relatives, my family. It doesn't make me less or more. I am my community, my family, my people. So I say to you fuck it, send in the white looking Indian first.     

Suz & Me being oldsters 

In battle they get shot first anyways (but they can also get a good table at the restaurant or a decent room at the hotel). 

Monday, February 28, 2022

They Look Like Us

When you identify with folks it's a good thing. You feel for them. You empathize and you sympathize with them. You can walk in their shoes. This is the driving force of support for things that happen in the world. If we can see ourselves in their shoes we can feel for them and with those feelings we may act upon them. Like donating to a cause, or traveling to a capital city and camping out for a month (because you don't want to wear a mask). I remember when a hockey players team bus was smashed to bits by a semi-trailer. The deaths of so many young men caused the world to react. A fund raising effort for those 16 souls killed in the accident raised 10.5 million dollars, a record amount in Canada. There are so many Go-Fund me causes taking place the world over but this specific cause touched people in their hearts and more importantly in their wallets and purses.  It really resonated in the hearts of people. People grieved collectively for the young men. People the world over could identify; "they look like us." 

Russia, under the orders of Vladimir Putin is using his military to invade the Ukraine. The news is constant with hourly updates of what is taking place. The United Nations is having emergency meetings, while Nations are imposing "economic sanctions" on Russia; Banks are locking down access to their systems, air-space is being denied around Russia, pipeline agreements are being cancelled, and personal assets of the rich Russians are being frozen. Lot of action behind the war scenes are taking place. Even the neutral, "we not see nothing" Switzerland has taken the step to keep Russian money for now. Some of the rich Russian's are starting to worry. They are worrying for their cash so much they have spoken out publicly against the war. One is even pleading in the press for Putin to reconsider his war. Yes, they have spoken out publicly against Putin, now that is something. They are so afraid of losing their деньги - bank roll, they will risk Novichok nerve agent poisoning; Putin's favorite method of getting rid of his pesky critics. The non-military attack by much of the "modern world" on Putin has been swift.  People are sending money, cryptocurrency to the Ukraine. In a few days 23 million had been raised. Individuals from other countries with no links to the Ukraine have volunteered to join military action. A young Canadian man left his wife and three children for the chance to fight for the Ukraine. When asked why, he said "they are Human Beings." There are calls for prayers flooding social media. If you can't fight well at least you could pray. Of course it is, after-all the people of Ukraine, "they look like us." 

While the world, the "modern world" is stressed out, panicking, suffering over the Ukraine invasion by Russia, there are some people who are not part of their empathy, their sympathy . European countries have a base of European people as their main population. There has been immigration by non-European (Black and Brown) countries into these European countries. The immigration has not been well received and is unwanted. Now there is an immigration movement erupting from the Ukraine. Poland is a border country of the Ukraine and Poland is going to open its country doors to those Ukrainians fleeing the war. The door is open but not to the African looking Ukrainians. Which is pretty sad and ugly, when they, the African Ukrainians are fleeing war. Poland border guards are aiming weapons and keeping the African Ukrainians from moving anywhere. The White Ukrainians are receiving preferential treatment from Poland security border guards because "they look like us." 

Prior to the Russian attack on the Ukraine, the Canadian (and some US) news stations were filled with stories of people shouting "they will never take our freedom." People are tired of the COVID virus and all the mask wearing. Groups of people were tired of restrictions.  A convoy of disgruntled truckers staked out city centers to hold their protests. I had visions of Mel Gibson wearing his blue paint, riding on his high horse making the glorious rousing speech being reported on by the CBC news channel and carried onto CNN and Fox News. Instead what I saw was a dirty looking bearded unkempt hippy looking Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson type talking about not wanting to wear a mask as he goes to bingo or something along those lines. They too, the trucker spokespeople, raised a whole bunch of cash in a short period of time. People identified with the "freedom fighters."  It strikes me as peculiar about those freedom fighter (as they are labeled in the news) is their appearance; they all look the same. 

The men for instance, look like they just came from a NASCAR truck tail gate party lasting for two weeks. Or from a hunting trip where they got lost for a month and finally found their way out of the wilds. The women seem to be carrying the same clothing style; baseball cap, fur cap, camouflage three quarter length military style coat, sneakers or black boots and a very crazed looking sneer.  They sound the same, a high pitched roar of a wild swine caught in a leg-hold trap.  The only thing missing from the female freedom fighter is the beard (we know they don't have beards because they won't wear masks). The freedom fighters went to the Capital of Canada and set up noise camping to cry freedom.  They blasted loud ear shattering horns all hours of the day and night. This didn't play out very well for all those living near the area. If they supported the freedom fighters to start with, it didn't take long before the noise erased the support. The freedom fighters also shut down the money route between Canada and the United States. The President of the US had to call the Canadian Prime Minister to say "Hey Dude, what the fuck?" In Canada the freedom fighters were attacked with hugs, back slaps, selfies, food delivery, fuel delivery by the police forces. These freedom fighters had so much police support the Prime Minister of Canada had to declare an emergency because his police weren't tasing anyone, using their batons, pulling out the military assault guns or heaven forbid, arresting anyone. The lack of police action could only be explained with "they look like us." 

You know it is quite something to know the level support you will receive is directly related to how people identify with you. Just today I viewed a video of a Palestinian girl, and judging by her size, was no more than eight years old, but yet she was injured by a police force, a military police force. I wonder what crime could such a small child commit to receive such a reaction? Saw another video of a similar girl, 12 years old, being beaten by military police. Four grown men in full tactical gear holding her and punching her for an unknown crime. A daily routine (if being beaten, shot at can ever be routine) in their country. The condemnation is nowhere to be heard from the "modern world" over the beatings, the removal from their homes, and the killing of people in this country. The situation is of course is very  complicated (as situations tend to be) but a bit of the silence can be attributed to those who don't look like them and the others; "they look like us." 

There is a scene pictured in my head: a snowy hill across a river and on the hill are armored vehicles, scores of people dressed in battle fatigues, armed with assault rifles. On the other side of the river are numerous Indigenous Tipis, Women, Men, Elders, some on horse back and many just standing, facing the armor vehicles, the military dressed people, and dogs. I see Men and Women in the river standing by the shore line of the hill, while Military style police forces, private security personnel spraying tear gas, pepper gas and shooting rubber bullets at them as they stand in the water. I seen them, the Native Women, Men, Elders and some non-Indian supporters being shot at with cannisters of tear gas. I see them, the Indigenous folk standing there to stop the destruction of the Earth and waterways. I don't see anyone in the modern world standing up to halt the military, the private security forces, the police force. I don't see them, the modern world folks using their voice against the violence by the military forces. I don't see the modern world folk denouncing the sheriff who is indiscriminately jailing folks. I don't seen the modern world folk using their voice to send financial aid to the people putting their lives on hold to save the water ways. I don't see them the modern world folk. I see those in the police, the military and private security with their dogs. I see them, looking at the Indians and saying "they don't look like us." 

Redhawk/Standing Rock Rising

“Apparently my photo below has gone viral. So happy to see the civil and human rights violations of indigenous and the threat to mother nature reaching far and wide,” Redhawk wrote. “…WE ARE RISING.”
Credit: Jason Patinkin, Reuters

Cassi Alexandra for NPR

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