Yet Another Random Killing

Once in the early 90’s I caught a taxi from LaGuardia into New York City. The taxi driver was from Ethiopia, Bangladesh or some another country whose refugees were flooding the city and taking jobs as drivers. Prominent in the news was another random violent attack. At that time “drive-by killings” was a relatively new coinage. Since then we have suffered Columbine, Virginia Tech, the most memorable among numerous such random killings. The driver said that what was preferable about living in a war zone was that you understood the rules of war. You knew what to expect. I’ve pondered his words often since then, especially with the recent killing of women in the gym in Pittsburgh. Living in a country besieged by random violence carries with it a different kind of anxiety than living in a war zone. And because there is no apparent reason for the violence it is more difficult to make sense of it, to put it in an historical or familial context.


Accidentally deleted a comment

Sorry "Butch".

Muskogee Nation News Column July 2009

As I begin this column the sun is coming up over Albuquerque. My earliest memories on this earth are of the sun. I am in my mother’s kitchen in Tulsa sitting in my red high chair. Sun is a bright being. I see the sun’s breath as a stream of light filled with energy. I love nothing better than to be inside it, to breathe it. When I was five I noticed that my pet dog Alligator also loved the sun and curled up into a circle where it warmed the ground. This morning I need the recharge, the illumination, and the words from the sun reminding me to keep going, to keep compassion in my heart no matter the challenges. And there are challenges. We all know them, share them, labor under them and emerge from them stronger, with the insight we need to grow. We live in complicated times.

When I return to the time of that child in the high chair, life was deep and complex, yet simple. There was no television blasting and our minds hadn’t yet been wrapped with the tentacles of need for the Internet, computers, or computer games. I remember my mother singing, often to the radio. Pop and dessert were treats, not daily addictions. Yet, those times weren’t perfect. My family had the usual problems that besiege Indian country residents. What was foremost was the presence of the sky and earth, and having the time to listen, to hear.

Last month I made it back to Oklahoma, and ran around the nation as I usually do when I’m home. I am planning a writing, music and performance program for tribal students to begin next year. Several of us met over at the CafĂ© on the Square for lunch to talk about it. I got excellent input from all those present, including Rebecca Landsberry, Angel Ellis, Angela Bunner, James King, Lee Longhorn, Ted Isham, Rosemary McCombs Maxey, and Margaret Barrows. Then I made it over to the College of the Muscogee Nation and was given a tour by Angela Bunner. I’m impressed by the progress there. I’d love to take the language classes with Norma Marshall. I also visited Weogufkee church with Rosemary Maxey. The roof of the church didn’t fall in, as I predicted, and I met some wonderful people and especially enjoyed the meal after.

Finally, at least we have a tribe. According to a letter June 24th from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Cherokee no longer have a tribe. They were pronounced dead, as of the 1907 rolls. U.S. Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Larry EchoHawk wrote that the historic Cherokee Nation as it existed in 1934 no longer exists as a distinct political entity because Congress closed tribal rolls in 1907. “After 103 years, few, if any, or its members are still alive,” he states. “Even though the historical CN no longer exists, its sovereignty continues in the descendents of its members who have reorganized as the UKB (United Keetoowah Band) and the CNO (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma).”

We live in complicated times. I think I’ll just stay here, curled up in the sun for a little while, before heading out into the long day.