My 79-year-old mom, Jeanerette Jacups-Johnny, has been staying with us recently. She fell twice in one week, hitting her head both times and getting two concussions. She has been recouping at our house for the last month.
When my grandpa was dying of cancer, he asked for me. He wanted me to sit with him. I was about 8 years old. The cancer had metastasized and spread over his entire body so he was in exquisite pain. I can still see him lying there in his bed, bony and frail, covered lightly with a yellowed sheet.
Many people placed on Turtle Island have a hard time speaking out that they are one living with depression.
Ho, ho ho, hummmmm. The avalanche of holidays is wrapping up, and winter is in full regalia just ready to dance. It is also time for some Native parents to send our precious children (even though they are young adults really), out into the world and back to college.
When I was a young man—more like a boy, actually—I was molested and sexually assaulted on several occasions by two different older men.
I heard the term ‘crazy Indian’ a few times when I was a young girl.
Indian life is full of incongruences. The sacred lands we live on, the land our ancestors cleared to make our lives livable, is the same land our youth blasts their bass-ridden, misogynistic lyrics on.
One of my brother’s earliest memories is of him watching me in my father’s van while our father drank out by the river. My brother said I was only a baby, and he didn’t know if my dad would come back, so he sat in the cold van, feeding me an empty bottle.
When my sister’s dates pulled into our driveway my mother would yell, “Here comes Honky!” My sister was always livid, embarrassed, but still, she went out with white men most of her adult life. I always thought she was a traitor.
Leaving the rez is a lot like defecting from the army. Being an Indian is a lot like being drafted, for that matter. We’re chosen people, fighting for our nation’s sovereignty, and a dying breed.
The old union hall sat silently at night.
There’s a stigma that Indians where I’m from are broken and dirty. Maybe it’s the water. We boiled water most of my life on the rez because that’s how Mom said she got hepatitis.
Living cheap is hard enough, but it is harder still in small-town Utah when your Mormon welfare dries up completely.
Editor’s Note: The following was previously published in The Burrow Press Review.