MNN Column for January 2010

Some thoughts for the New Year:
--Yesterday, the last day of 2009, went out early in the canoe into Maunalua Bay into waters agitated by the full blue moon. We paddled out toward Portlock, through tricky water swells, with the adroit skills of the steersman Monte Costa. This is what I miss when I back in New Mexico and Oklahoma: being water and canoe, moving through the human field with my water mind.
--Geological time is much like Indian time. In such a wide-angle view of time, colonization has already happened. It was a failed experiment. It was a blip in real time, a tough lesson in the human storyline for everyone involved.
--We humans are small marks in time. It’s the ancestral field that makes a discernable design. Just ask the artists, the visionaries, and others who travel out into the memory field. Ask those who have maintained a tradition of taking care, and paying attention.
--It is difficult to proceed with dignity and grace when you have lost yourself and your children to a prevailing story that doesn’t include you. We are almost never visible in the story. We are almost never on television, in the movies, heard on the radio, seen on the Internet, or visible anywhere, except as powwow dancers, warriors on horseback, shy Indian princesses, or constructed of other images emerging from a past constructed by Hollywood or anthropologists.
--The worst part is that we often believe these images.
--The newest Hollywood attempt, Avatar, despite the 3-D effects and millions of dollars worth of techie shine is the same shameless “wannabe” story as the blockbuster, “Dances With Wolves”. The non-native protagonist literally inhabits an indigenous body as a spy on their naturalistic society, and becomes more native than the natives, winning the girl, all bravery contests, and then returns to lead them out of a holocaustic fire of colonial destruction.
--And while I’m on the subject of Hollywood, kudos to the new series on the Travel Channel, Meet the Natives: USA. Five men from a remote island of Tanna in the Pacific, who still live in a traditional manner are taken off the island to the U.S.. They ask many questions, such as: “Why are we so obsessed with money and possessions? Why do we treat our pets better than some of our fellow citizens? What does "family" mean to us? What do we do with our elderly? How come we make all our important decisions in bars? And what's the point of ironing a shirt?” Only half of what they say is translated. I can only imagine what they are saying to each other in their tribal language as they go to their first cocktail party in New York to “meet the WASP’s” What has really struck me as I’ve watched the series, is the humor and dignity of the travelers. Despite all the glitter and glam, they see the truth of the matter. They are happy to return home with their stories. I wonder if people still living so close to the heart of the earth can believe much of what was witnessed in the lifestyle of the U.S.?
--And New Year’s Eve watched the first ever of its kind native comedy show, Going Native: The American Indian Comedy Slam, a Showtime special featuring Charlie Hill, the Oneida comedian as MC and featured artist, and five other native comedians Larry Omaha, Howie Miller, J. R. Redwater, Marc Yaffee, Jim Ruel and Vaughn Eaglebear. As Hill pointed out in the introduction, laughter is truly a medicine and part of healing. They did an incredible job. Which leads me to my final thought:
--I look forward to the time when we each take our rightful place in the story. We must each assume our place, and believe in ourselves. Every sunrise marks a new year. Every breath is a decision to go forward. Might as well go forward with bravery, laughter, joy, grief, whatever it is, let it be exactly what it is, and most of all, be yourself.

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