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

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

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