We will call her “Lydia Bearback.” Lydia Bearback and I were elementary classmates on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in a town called Browning, Montana. Browning is a small town in Northern Montana with a population of a whisker over 1000. Like most Indian reservations on the Great Plains, the Blackfeet Reservation was governmentally engineered to be poor, and my family was poorer than most.
I was excited watching the women’s NCAA tournament the past couple of days.
I don’t think that I was alone—in fact, I think that every single Native in North America was equally as excited as me. Here we had two beautiful young Native sisters, Shoni and Jude Schimmel, playing a key role in a HUGE upset victory over the seemingly unbeatable Baylor and the powerful, 6’8” giant Brittney Griner. If that wasn’t enough, last night, they clinched a spot in the Final Four with the sisters playing incredibly.
It was a beautiful sight. Native people seemed to be singing in unison, like those old Coke commercials, “I’d like to teach the world to sing…in perfect harmony…”
A few months ago—right up until Election Day—many of our people messaged and pontificated like crazy to point out that there are serious and profound differences between the two political parties. This past election was presented as the ultimate Pepsi Challenge©; in a blind-folded taste test, Native people chose Barack Obama and Democrats 2 to 1!!
A few years ago, I was one of those people—I worked on the President’s campaign and honestly thought that we were entering a new generation of progressive politics, where Democrats moved back to respecting our people and the Earth. But at that time, I didn’t get the punchline of the Pepsi Challenge, the fine print that we never hear on the commercials:
“Whichever you choose will still kill you.”
What The Heck Are All These Indians Acting All Indian About, Eh?
Lately, Native people have taken to the streets malls in demonstrations of Public Indian-ness (or “PI”) that surpasses the sheer volume of activism of even Alcatraz and the Longest Walk. There’s a heapum big amount of PI going on right now! Many people, non-Native and Native alike, are wondering what the heck is going with their local Native population and how this so-called #IdleNoMore movement managed to get the usually muffled Natives restless enough to be Indian in public. I mean, like Chris Rock said, he hasn’t ever even met two Indians at the same time. He’s seen “polar bears riding a tricycle” but he’s “never seen an Indian family just chillin’ out at Red Lobster.” Read More
Ok, now the election’s done. Good. Thank God—it went on about six months too long. There went a billion dollars that could’ve been used to help educate children or wipeout poverty or pay 1/16000th of our national debt.
But at the end of the day, our guy (Obama) won, the best President ever for Tribes; a great champion for Native people, Tester, won; and Heitkamp also won. Good job everybody—thank you to all of the organizers, all the volunteers, all the Natives who fundraised, who spoke, who kept Native people as a relevant topic to the campaign. Heck, there was even a couple of Skins in Chicago in the headquarters on election night representing.
ALL OF YOU did a great job. Still, now is not the time for celebrating. Now is the time for working—in fact, the hard work only begins now. Read More