Muscogee Nation News Column March 2012

Hensci—It’s early spring. Wild onions are beginning to sprout in my yard here in Glenpool, and the birds are all on the hunt for mates. There’s a Robin family that has been here for years. They know my sister Margaret and her family and have noticed that they are no longer living here. They have been checking me out and I have to tell them who I am, where I’ve been, and that I will be the one staying here. Once I tell them with my mind, they fly off, satisfied. They are probably the 30th generation. Basically this yard is their territory. I will have to fit myself in. The same goes for the Redbird family here. They’re also territorial. They sing every morning and help me put my feet on the ground and keep going.

Sam Proctor asked me when I’m having a party. I will and everyone will be invited. (Especially you, Sam.) And there will be music. I’ve always loved the story of my grandfather Monahwee (Menawa) who when visited by a government agent on official business, came out to properly greet him then excused himself by telling the agent that he was partying with his people and wouldn’t be done for a few days. He met with the agent two days later.

Now, that’s a good reminder for many of us. When we’re about to let our last breath go on this earth, will we be regretful about paperwork, emails or Facebook, or missing a sale at Kohl’s? What will we wish we had done? What words are we carrying that need to be said? What could we do to lift the burden of someone?  A good party can be a tonic for everyone. We’re human beings. We light up by sharing stories, songs, laughter, and even crying together when we need to grieve.  And dancing feeds all your systems with energy. Music lifts us up.

My memoir Crazy Brave will be officially out in July so I may have the party between June and July. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame has offered their facilities. I’ll let you know. Gary White Deer also has a memoir coming out sometime this year and a party between us is also appealing. I got a sneak preview. His memoir, Touched by Thunder is witty, funny and insightful, in a very Mvskoke way (he’s Choctaw with Mvskoke relatives).

When I was down in Mexico in the town of San Miguel de Allende I kept thinking of our people. The way I understand it is that some of the migration paths came up from the south. Others of us came up from the earth, and some arrived in our traditional homelands from the West. I saw Mvskoke-looking people everywhere, though most were officially Mestizo. To claim yourself as “Indio” is as demeaning as it was in our parent’s generations. In fact, when I tried to get a person of the tribal people indigenous to the area there to open my performance, I was told by a conference official “there are indigenous people, but they aren’t really active here anymore”. I knew that wasn’t true because I’d seen them all through town. Someone else confirmed later that yes, there are indigenous people there with living cultures.

A beautiful young Huichol woman attended the conference where I performed and spoke. Her culture was alive in her. She, like many others, was embracing her cultural language and knowledge, despite the prevailing colonial attitude toward the “Indio”. She was concerned, as were many, about the plan for a Canadian oil company to construct a huge pipeline through Mexico. Some things don’t change, like the attitude of destroyers that it’s alright to run a pipeline through a country, break up the land, destroy peoples and cultures, and suck out of excessive amounts of oil, gas, coal or uranium that were never meant to be pulled out of the earth in such quantities.

Before I forget, there was a fiesta there, a party in honor of the speakers, who also included Margaret Atwood and Elena Poniatowska. There were Spanish and Indian dancers, mariachi bands, folk dancing, lots of good food, and fireworks. I celebrated with everyone.

And I celebrate spring as I write this. Those wild onion dinners are coming up—time for a good party!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here in Northern California the birds never left, it has stayed that warm. Two flickers did a mating dance one day. The male reminded me so much of the way Pueblo dancers move, head down, wings out, but shoulders pulled in, hopping on one foot, then the other...Colonialism is everywhere, and it has no relationship nor respect for either culture or the natural world. Celebrating with friends and with the Earth connect us to something so much richer.....