Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Silliness in the Blog

Lazy to be writing today, so I went and checked some of my posts on the social media site and found this one. Being silly. But we can do that when we are old.

There is a song by the Dixie Chicks group, now they are just called the Chicks, after a bit of time it will change again to older chicks, but getting back to the song. The song is called Traveling Solider. Me, I am a fan of stories in songs, lyrics are what is good. That is why Lyle Lovett, Tom Waits, John Prine, Towns Van Zant, Leonard Cohen are some of my favorite story tellers. Although I don't mind a repetitive chorus once in awhile, like Pump up the Jam, pump up the jam, pump it. Anyways, the Traveling Solider is a story, a sad story about a young man, going away to war and how he struck up a friend with a waitress. He asked her to sit with him because he was feeling kind of low and had no one to talk to. As the story goes the waitress, with a bow in her hair, took the time to visit with the young man. The young man was in army fatigues so she knew he was a solider, but that is not the story, the story is she took the time to visit with him out of kindness and it goes from there. So I was thinking, what a good idea it is: go to a restaurant and ask the waiter to sit with you because you are feeling low. This might be a good way to make friends. So I figured, knowing me, I said to myself, "Steve go to the restaurant and make friends." Although I have no army fatigues, I guess I could ask my brother-in-law Smiley, cause he must have his fatigues, as he was army guy. But I think, Smiley was in his prime shape then, there is no way I could fit his clothes, especially when he was so in shape at the time. I figured the fatigues could just confuse the situation anyways. I don't know anything about war anyways. So off I go. I go to a place called the Jolly Mug. It's a little greasy spoon not to far from my place, and I know my wife never ever frequents the place. So I go, to the restaurant. There is an older white waitress working there. I sit, order eggs over medium, shredded hash-browns, rye toast and Earl Grey tea. As she is bringing me the order, I says to her, and I used the exact line of the song in Traveling Solider, "Would you mind sittin' down for a while And talkin' to me, I'm feeling a little low?" In the song, the waitress says: "I'm off in an hour, and I know where we can go."

Well... She says, "fuck off."

Uplifting Reserve story of the day.
Was standing in line at the gas station. My friend was just ahead of me and head of him was this older white lady. My friend taps her shoulder and says: "Are you still sexually active?" She looked at him with widening eyes and before she could answer, My friend says: "Do you want to be?"
How my brain works.
Me and Chloe were coming back from Sagkeeng to Winnipeg. She was about six years old. She was in the back seat laying down but had her seat belt on. We were at the old stop sign by Grand Marais. She said her belt was getting tight on her. I stopped because she sounded like she was getting scared. The belt was tight on her so I got my knife and cut the seat belt. It was a $200 dollar fix. Suz asked me why didn't I press the seat belt button?
I came home and one of the bulbs wasn't working in the basement. I kept trying the switch and twisting the light bulb. So I went driving to the Home Depot and bought a new light switch. Came home and changed the light switch. Kept trying it and nothing. Kept trying to twist the light bulb on and off. Suz asked me is I tried a different light bulb. So I did and the light worked.
I get things done. My way.
Me as Counsellor -
Person: I never don't do anything right. I mess up.
Me: There you go self-defecating again. You need to give yourself some good stuff, like candies and cookies. You are pretty good person I think but I really don't know.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Our Reserves are Gardens

 Warning: Metaphors, Praise, Gratitude, Pride. 

So someone had the nerve to say our communities, our Reserves, our Homes are shit. The easiest position people can take, is a negative one. It takes no effort or thought, to take a dump on some place, some person. In almost every situation, there will be people who will take a negative view, a negative position on something. We look at a country and we see only the ugly going on with them. We don't see the good, the everyday Samaritan, the quiet heroes, the helpers, the care-givers, or the beauty. In Syria, it is a country filled with so much despair, injustice, crisis and heartbreak. Still there are flowers growing among the decay of the Earth. Turkey and Syria experienced a devastating earthquake, and people are showing their hearts. It is amazing to see the beauty of people especially in a place of horror. It is easy to look at a situation, a place and the people and take a pessimistic stance, "Oh the Lord is punishing them for being Brown people." Pat Robinson, a famous Preacher, once blamed Haiti, a country of Brown people,  for being hit with an earthquake: he said the "pact with the devil" is why they had to pay, for revolting against the French colonists., so the earthquake was punishment on them. In contrast you have real compassion with folks like the Rohingya refugees. These people were run out of their homes by Myanmar military. They have virtually nothing, but still they gathered what little they have and sent it to Turkey. Now there are some real values of goodness, kindness and generosity right there in those people. While a human maggot like Pat Robinson, is hoarding 100 million dollars of corrupt cash so he can take it with him to buy life back from Osiris, (God of the Dead) at least that is what I heard. Everyone wants something but not willing to do good to get it. 

There are things which make a place, a country, a community into a beautiful garden . It can be the beauty of the land and it can be the beauty of people. This is true of our Reserves. They are gardens. Gardens  which can grow amazing things. I am fortunate to be one of those flowers raised in a Reserve garden. No doubt there are/were weeds in the garden that made it rough at times. The overall beauty of the Reserve was/is not only the land, the river, but the people. Sure in our gardens there are some poisonous plants (Purple Pitcher, not poisonous but a carnivore and that is something cool and creepy) and nuisance flowers like the Purple Loosestrife (breeds unchecked, like rodents and chokes out other garden life). Growing up, I could be seen as a bad weed. Not ugly as "Boo-boo-shuck," the Bull Thistle. But it was the grace of people which I remember on the Reserve. This one time, I was busting light bulbs in the old Arena. An older guy, in his 20's, caught me, kicked my arse and told me not to do that. He said he wouldn't tell my Dad this time, as I would get it at home from my Dad (and rightly so). This guy was looking after the community in a way he knew how and was good to me as well. A good lesson for me, don't break stuff if you're going to get caught. 

I am very lucky that I can remember my Mishoom, my Kokum, Granny and Granpa. Lot of Aunties, Uncles and Cousins, friends help shaped my view of the Reserve. The Reserve I know, has great people,  good life and a feeling of pride. You just can't beat feeling part of a community. Growing up we enjoyed the river. We did loads of swimming at our Granny's sandbar, we went swimming and fishing at the Treaty Point and Baggo's Point. When there was a lot of rain, the road ditches with fill with water, and sometimes we could swim there, not really swimming but mucking around in the mud water. Walking in the bush and picking wild plums, chokecherry's, it was awesome. Visiting with cousin's at your Uncle and Aunties places is part of the community experience. Going into the neighboring town and being sworn at by the local town youth. The garden lines were clearly strung out, between Reserve and town. We lived in a beautiful garden while the town was only viewed as a store, a place to go shop. I am so grateful to have been part of our Reserve where we knew who we were/are. You can't buy that in any store, the pride, the love of our ancestry.  

The fact our Reserves are beautiful gardens are not lost on our people. We still have the connection to a larger community, a rich history of Tradition and to the Land. We may have some weeds, some poison which has touched our garden over the years, but we don't let it tarnish the view, our garden is full of beautiful flowers, beautiful plants. And the thing about gardens, a little manure even helps it grow. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Our Reserve is Shit

Warning: Obscurity, Metaphor, Stupidity.  

If your community is full of problems, who's fault is it?  It's Bashar Al-Assad's fault, I blame. This fucking guy, is one monumental Shaitan, is the foundation of social collapse in his home community-country (I had to look up a word to describe a horrible maggot of a monster and Shaitan

Mehmed Siyah  Kalem
came up, we learn something everyday). When we think of a place that is shit, we only have to look at Syria. If there is a Hell on Earth, Syria might be it. Of course we may be getting a bias picture of what lead to its being Hell over there. The history of that last one hundred years, the influences, the interference from outside parties and all the complexity of a world growing and collapsing, all have a part in  Syria's Hell. There is no denying, which ever way took Syria to where it is now, the place is shit; starving children, (I would put a photo of starving crying kid here but you don't need to see, you already know it's gut wrenching) cities in rubble by air bombings and killing, everyday killings. What's Syria have to do with your Reserve or my Reserve, you may be asking? It's about context. Like taking a shit (we say mee-zee), it's different all the time. Whether you are defecating on the seat of your ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend's bucket seat of the Camaro, or taking a steaming-three-coiler on the steps of the Chief's house in the dead of night in January, the stool sample is still brown. Syria is shit as is our Reserve is shit. Thing is our feces may not compare to the feces other's may have. Vast differences and degrees separate our dumps, but to the individual-us, the shit is still shit. So you may be in Syria, buried in rubble, lying in your own filth, your mouth so dry you can't make spit, taking your last breathes as your organs shut down as your body tears itself apart due to starvation or you are sitting in your Mother's closet with a string tied around your neck and the other tied to the wooden dowel holding hangers as you feel so alone, so alone you see no way out, you cannot escape the horror's of addiction, the dread and despair, the grasp of un-ending pain in your soul, the shit is still real. 

How can we clean up all the shit? In Syria's case who the heck knows? Maybe get a new ruler, a new boss to sit on the great Porcelain Throne?  In our Reserves, what can we do to clean up the shit taking place? I guess we only have the option of voting in our cousin (cuz'in). Our Reserve, along with a number of Reserves in our province, are going to be electing a new leadership in the next month, Chiefs and Councilors. I believe we are fortunate we don't have a Trump or Assad ruling our community right now. Having said that, do we put the blame of our community shit on the shoulders of our leaders? Like the Syrian situation, there are many factors which come into play which stirs up the shit. We have colonized eyes, colonized greed, colonized thinking in our community. Everyone wants to eat at the table of the Reserve which only adds to the amount of shit the Reserve has to contend with. There are only so many open crying whining mouths the community can feed. All other's are S O L, shit out of luck. Even in Syria, only the mouths of Assad's cuz'ins are being feed, all others are being gassed, bombed and shot. We don't have this going on, thank Allah for that. We do have no housing, no jobs, no opportunities, addictions, no money, no land, no voice and no vision. But we have toilets, but no clean water. 

Before you start going baby-cooking-bat-eating crazy, saying "this cannot compare," you are right. Nothing can compare to the horrors of war on an innocent child, but yet, here we are, measuring our misery, sharing our scars, and showing our rectum injuries. Tell me you have not felt the most excruciating pain one person can endure? Of course you have, but in your own arse, your own vessel, your own place. A child has an ear ache which no amount of Mom's hugging and soothing can dampen. You have constipation so gut wrenching, you have take off all your clothes, lay in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, now tell me, the pain you are going through at the moment, is not worse in another universe. Our misery can not be truly weighed on a scale of pain measurement. It's selfish, yes to not think of starving children in (put colonized country here), while you eat Chinese food and your Mom or Dad is telling you to clean your plate. We only look at the horror's of other's and share a "Oh, Man, that is awful" sentiment. We have no true understanding, only our own situation and even there we can be clueless.  

I wanted to list the consequences of poor leadership and how it has lead our (local)communities to become outhouses filled to the top, where we sit on the cold plastic toilet ring, our genitals touching frozen excrement (we are in the winter season other wise it would be warm excrement sticking to our scrotums and vaginas). I just cannot relieve myself with tales of incompetence, complacency, ignorance /nescience, laziness, and plain old stupidity in our community facilities. In another situation I would pull down my skivvies empty the bowels filled with stench of the community sewage. The problem is, at least we have an outhouse, we can seek a Honey-wagon to relieve some of the shit, while other's are being buried alive, left to die, in their community, in their country's shit. They have no Honey-wagon. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

"He Thinks For Us:" He's happy on the outside because he is a Whiteman.

 I was watching a movie on HBO, One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk. It is a retelling of an incident which took place in 1961 at Kapuivik, Baffin Island.  In the scene there is a Whiteman going to Inuit people and telling to move to a settlement. The Whiteman had gone to a hunting camp, out of the ice, where a group of Inuit were. The Whiteman is a representative of the government and he doesn't speak the language. He uses a translator to get his message across to a group of Inuit men out on the ice. The dialog is compelling and it is also full of frustration. The Whiteman of the government is adamant in his aim that the Inuit must move to a settlement. He continues to target this Elder with the rules, the law of Canada. It is a gripping film. It makes it where you want to intervene, take part in the dialog. The film is the work of Zacharias Kunuk, a genius. "Zacharias Kunuk, OC, ON is a filmaker, sculptor and visual artist who lives in Igulik (Igloolik), NU. Kunuk has redefined filmmaking in Canada and has been at the forefront of innovative use of broadcast technology in the North. He is perhaps best known for his debut feature film Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) from 2001, the first Canadian feature film produced entirely in Inuktitut." 

There is so much to be gathered from the conservation between the government agent and the Inuit Elder. The vast difference in their view of community, life and the world.  

The Elder Noah Piugattuk (1900 - 1996), faces off with Mr. Whyte (the actual name of the government man). "Inuit called him Isumataq, meaning Boss, although the exact translation would be he-thinks-for-us." Zaharis Kunuk. 

The humor in the conversation comes from the Inuit men among themselves. They do not ridicule the Whiteman but rather speak about the situation and the absurdity, the unfathomable of the what is being asked, told to them. The Whiteman, Mr. Whyte is determined to have his way and disregards all of what the Elder Noah is saying. The Elder Noah on the other hand is patient but his patience is wearing thin. Noah tells the Whiteman a story of when he helped a Whiteman. Noah had taken a Whiteman to another Inuit community. Noah says this Whiteman can speak a little of the Inuit language Inuktitut, unlike Mr. Whyte who speaks only English. Along the way Noah and the Whiteman encounter a Polar Bear. The Whiteman grabs his camera and sets out to take pictures of the Bear. Noah tells the man, he needs to go closer to get a good picture. The Whiteman goes closer and the Bear reacts by coming towards him, the Whiteman runs back towards Noah and gives the camera to Noah. The Whiteman tells him to go take the picture. In this moment Noah understood what the Whiteman thought: his life was worth more than Noah's. After a lengthy trip, they got to the community of other Inuit. This is when the Whiteman starts his preaching. The Whiteman was an Anglican Priest. After the sermons, Noah had the task of taking the Priest back to their community. It was a month long trip by dog-team sled, an arduous trip. Noah expected to be given a good gift for his time and work. The Priest gave him a Bible. Noah said, "I knew he didn't love me." Much of the movie is rich with conversations radiating Indigenous wit, and Inuit cultural nuance. It is not common knowledge that the Canadian government made the Inuit wear metal identification tags, as part of the mandatory Eskimo Identification tags. Mr. Whyte says he has to check the ID tags. 

If you have the opportunity, watch the movie, don't have expectations of seeing Vin Diesel driving over a cliff and flexing his muscles. This movie has more than greased up bodies and loin cloth. If you are not a dull knife, this movie will have you thinking. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kill 'em All, Big and Small, Nits Make Lice and Other Memorable Lines

US Colonel John Chivington shouted, “Kill and scalp all, the big and little, nits make lice.” Colonel Chivington went on to slaughter old people, women, children, unarmed Indians. There are certain sayings you remember when you first hear them, see them. I heard this quote from an Indian Activist when I was in my 30's. He was an American Indian Movement (AIM) member. I haven't forgotten those words and what they referred to. It is one of those moments where your emotions get tied to the quote.  "The Hottest Hells are reserved for those in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." I have not read Dante's Inferno, where a version of the quote is said to come from. I kind of like the inference where someone must take a side in a situation. I remember the quote because it hits a cord in my Being. I want to be able to take a stance when the time arises, but I know I may fail. Some quotes are inspiring; "I have a Dream. I have been to the mountain top. I fear no man." Martin Luther King Jr. is of course the man. His words are remembered by everyone, including Red Necks and White Supremacists. Speaking of Whites, Muhammad Ali gave the world some of the best words and we remember them: "I am the Greatest." I admire his courage, his strength, his intellect and his humility. He really challenged the white masses in a time when it was against the law to do so. Ali is still the Greatest. I try to remember some quotes of Indian people but can only recall Chief Dan George, "Come out and fight! It's a good day to die." The line is actually a movie quote so it may not even be George's own quote. Chief Dan George was an incredible actor and the ambassador of the Native community. That is the thing, some lines just jump out in our consciousness while we have to really search for others. 

 I have watched cartoons as a kid and the quotes are no less memorable: "Hey, Baba Looey. Sufferin' Succotash. What's up Doc? I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George. I'm Blacque Jacque Shellacque." Each of these sayings have left an impression on me. Some of the quotes just bring up silly memories, good moments and some quotes are inside jokes with our friends. For me, the quotes from watching cartoons bring a smile and warm feelings. And thank the television gods for the Hanna-Barbera (who were better than Loony Tunes). There was the Saturday mornings getting up early enough so as not to miss when cartoons were on.  All those cartoons take me to a place of ignorance. I didn't even know many of the cartoon lines were ugly to people not white. The quote Kill them all, big and small, nits make lice is remembered not because it makes me smile but because it is so funny. It's funny because this one line just encapsulates the whole colonial-settler history. It's funny because of all these "I'm fourth generation farmer, I'm a decedent of people who came here with nothing," people who boast of their lineage. Yeah, a great group of settler's for sure. It is funny because it hides nothing. It is not hidden behind attempted humor in children's television shows. In cartoons where exaggerated stereotypical images of ethnic people are on full display. Where the Asian, the Black, the Indian, the other Indian, are made to be less then human and ridiculed. Nope the Kill them all, big and small, nits makes lice doesn't try to hide behind so-called silliness. 

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

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