Being Indian Is...

BEING INDIAN IS ... watching John Wayne whip 50 of your kind with a single-shot pistol and a rusty pocket-knife on the late show.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having at least a dozen missionaries from twelve different faiths trying to save your heathen soul every year.

BEING INDIAN IS ... fighting with the U.S. Army to save your country from the evils of communists, and against the U.S. Army on your reservation to keep the Corps of Engineers from stealing all your land.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having every third person you meet tell you about his great grandmother who was a real Cherokee princess.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having 9 out of 10 people tell you how great they believe Jim Thorpe, Squanto, Tonto, and Little Beaver are.

BEING INDIAN IS ... loving fry bread and corn soup.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having high salaried BIA, PHS, OEO, HEW, and DOL white-collar bureaucrats tell you how much money is being spent on Indians these days.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having the greatest grandparents in the world.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having your teenage child come home from school and ask you about "the strange beliefs" of Indians that the teacher mentioned in school today.

BEING INDIAN IS ... waiting (impatiently) for the new Tecumseh, Osceola, Crazy Horse, and Geronimo to appear.

BEING INDIAN IS ... living on borrowed time after your 44th birthday.

BEING INDIAN IS ... listening to all the middle-class Tontos and Uncle Tomahawks tell you we must do things the "American Way".

BEING INDIAN IS ... feeding anyone and everyone who comes to your door with whatever you have.

BEING INDIAN IS ... feeling the stares of all the whites in any public place you walk into.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having your non-Indian wife dancing in full regalia at your tribal pow-wow.

BEING INDIAN IS ... knowing the Great Spirit.

BEING INDIAN IS ... having a Christian missionary tell you it is wrong to believe in more than one Divine Being, then listen to him tell you about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Patrick, St. Christopher, St. Francis, etc. etc.

BEING INDIAN IS... having a large family of over a million brothers and sisters!

BEING INDIAN IS... feeling that Little Bear, Prays-for-All, Big Heart are more beautiful names than Jones, Smith or Brown.

BEING INDIAN IS... observing your children watching a cowboy and Indian TV western movie and cheer for the cowboys.

BEING INDIAN IS... graduating from a government Bureau of Indian Affairs school and not being able to read a 6th grade English book from your white friend's urban school.

BEING INDIAN IS... never making quick evaluations of people, but reserving judgment until their actions show what kind of people they really are.

BEING INDIAN IS... never giving up the struggle for survival.

BEING INDIAN IS... standing up for life principles and truths unashamed without having compromise your values.

BEING INDIAN IS... not only being proud of who you were born from, but mindful of how you conduct yourself in the world.

BEING INDIAN IS... to have your liberal white friends urge you to follow the same path as your Black brothers to gain some advantage.

BEING INDIAN IS... having your friends and relatives accuse you of being a traitor if you seek an education, earn more than $7,000 a year, wear a white shirt and tie, drive a car less than three years old, and live in a three bedroom home.

BEING INDIAN IS... having heard your grandparents and yourself say, "When they honor the treaties and we get our land claim payments"...then suddenly realize your children are saying the same words also.

BEING INDIAN IS... having your non-Indian friends go on a Vision Quest led by a white man to the mountains, but leaving you home because you can't make the $300 registration fee to attend.

BEING INDIAN IS... listening to your well-intentioned white brother try to tell you about your native spirituality.

BEING INDIAN IS... hearing from non-Indians how rotten the government has treated Indians, but still voting them back into office.

BEING INDIAN IS... listening to people tell you about their grandmother or great grandmother that was a Cherokee Indian Princess.

BEING INDIAN IS... seeing other Indians in search for an Indian identity.

BEING INDIAN IS... being greeted by non-Indians with pseudo names from real ancestors of your tribe.

BEING INDIAN IS... having to prove with documentation that you are one, when other races and people in the country don't have to.

BEING INDIAN IS... knowing that your ancestors were slaughtered like animals in the name of Christianity, and then being told that Christianity is out to save us.

BEING INDIAN IS... buying "authentic" Indian jewelry made in Taiwan or Japan.

BEING INDIAN IS... learning of people becoming Indian without having an Indian mother or father.

BEING INDIAN IS... finding out that people think all Indians lived in tipis.

BEING INDIAN IS... being told that Columbus discovered America from his ship, when we were watching him from the shore.

BEING INDIAN IS... trying to relate to people who say they are mathematically 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc. degree of blood.

BEING INDIAN IS... wearing braids and being called a "hippie" by those who object to long hair.

BEING INDIAN IS... being whipped for speaking your own tribal language when on the school ground premises.

BEING INDIAN IS... watching your elders boast of Indian pride and leadership, between swigs of liquor from a half-empty bottle.

BEING INDIAN IS... having your brothers and sisters that are enrolled in the tribe treat you as second class citizen because you and/or your family chose not to walk the government's path.

BEING INDIAN IS... trying to search for tradition and truths of life when alcoholism and drugs poison the path to the answers.

BEING INDIAN IS... trying to talk to elders about the "old ways" and having them want to talk more about the rising price of cigarettes.

BEING INDIAN IS... going to school when you're young and having the teacher skip over the Indian chapter in the history book.

BEING INDIAN IS... seeing others forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

BEING INDIAN IS... having others make jokes about your heritage and culture.

BEING INDIAN IS... living in two worlds.

BEING INDIAN IS... knowing the word, "Indian", is not your true name.

BEING INDIAN IS... being called "Chief" or "Tonto" by patronizing non-Indians.

BEING INDIAN IS... being human, with human thoughts and feelings like your non-Indian brothers and sisters.

BEING INDIAN IS... being constantly on the alert for the government's tactics that will annihilate you and your tribe.

BEING INDIAN IS... holding onto a piece of paper treaty that was signed, but never honored.

BEING INDIAN IS... being told of the ten commandments, but see the white man subscribe to them only when convenient and in his favor.

BEING INDIAN IS... having non-Indians look at a barefoot Indian child that laughs, thinking he or she is poor.

BEING INDIAN IS... knowing alcohol doesn't make you Indian, just drunk.

BEING INDIAN IS... seeing elders die and the language & customs with them.

BEING INDIAN IS... seeing Mother Earth destroyed by those who don't know Her.

BEING INDIAN IS... seeing history books tell you Columbus discovered America.

BEING INDIAN IS... hearing others think all Indians wear war bonnets.

BEING INDIAN IS... having the government treat you like a prisoner of war.

BEING INDIAN IS... seeing the government spend billions of dollars abroad, but fail to honor the Indian treaties.



BEING INDIAN IS... crying,

BEING INDIAN IS... laughing,

BEING INDIAN IS... forever!


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