10/6/07

Dignity and the Power of Stories

No. I haven't been blogging much, not much at all. I'm writing stories, poetry and music. Some of it finds its way here. Some not---it's being born, learning how to walk, to run, to fly.

Today took a break and went with my daughter and the children to the Halloween store. We took a look around at all the gore and cute. Strange how it's all together. You can be a ghoul, a murdered soul, a monster coming back with a chain saw, or a princess or cheerleader for Halloween. What irked me is that you also be an Indian, either a warrior (comes with tomahawk) or princess (brown fringe cotton dress and headband), or you can be a Mexican man with a huge sombrero for lazing in the sun.

Now, what's wrong with this? Proves to me how we natives exist in the American mind (not imagination, I'm becoming convinced there is none or almost none left. "Civilization" has killed it), and we can only be bought and sold in these images. Why? Because they sell. No one wants a Mexican attorney or an Indian opera singer. (Jim Pepper would have made it if he'd played flute. Instead he had to go to Europe with his saxophone to make a living.) (I almost forgot, I saw "Hawaiian" grass skirts.) We are not wielding our power to create images that supersede the ridiculous. Instead, we're fighting each other over diminishing dollars of government programs, casinos, blood quantums and skin tone. We keep giving in and playing cowboy and Indian, warrior or princess because we have to make a living, don't we? Otherwise they won't buy our movies, books, art...

What did we buy? Some rubber spiders, flashing light rings, a couple of remote control fart machines, two warrior costumes for my grandsons (not the fake Indian warrior kind, the fake Star Wars kind.) My granddaughters are still looking.

And me, I'm just trying to find a way to break through the gore of history, the savagery of fake images. We have some good stories,incredible stories. I'll never forget Bruce Miller's story artistry in the Evergreen College Longhouse. His stories were magic and carried light forward from the ancestors. We have stories that illuminate, they massage open our eyes, they purify our ears. We have stories that unlock the imaginations of our children so we can get beyond the ruin.

2 comments:

marcie said...

Joy glad to hear you are writing. Your writing is the most clear and beautiful image i know as to what is Native. The gift of your writing shows me "a real person", and i call that "Native".

Momma's always "write" said...

The Native costumes at Halloween bother me too. I have actually already had the conversation with my first grader as to why I think that you can not dress up as an "Indian" for Halloween because an "Indian" is not a character or an object, it is an ethnicity. I find it as offending as blackface.