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.
I was raised to be angry at white women. I’m not blaming it on my mom, but she often said white people brought genocide and disease. “We didn’t even have rats,” she said. “They brought them on their boats!” Smallpox this, she said, colonization that.
On a dark country road in Indian Country, the lessons of childhood come back quickly when the police pull you over. As a nation debates police violence, we should know that Native people are the ethnicity most likely to be killed by law enforcement.
I used to be the rez chick, pushing a bundled baby down a gravel road with a stick to ward off dogs. I used to be the rez chick dropping off my baby at subsidized daycare to study for my GED.
There was another funeral on the rez last week. This time it was my cousin, Sonny Bobb. This is the fifth death this year, and it's only April. I'm tired of death, and there's no respite.
I engaged in a pitched, life-and-death, brutal, bloody battle with four racist young white men on a lonely dark rural road in Creek County, Oklahoma in 1971. I was a 22-year-old college student and a citizen of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma.