What does it take to succeed in life when everyone, in your formative years, abandoned you? It takes determination, smarts and a bit of luck. My life began in January 1954 to a military father and an Inupiaq mother.
Back in 1998 when I was last spending a solid chunk of time at my mom’s in Molino, Florida, I drove 26 miles north to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians tribal offices near Atmore, Alabama to see if I could volunteer in some capacity while I was home.
Buying a car will always be a big deal to me.
New Year’s at ICTMN finds me at home, shuttling between the computer, the woodpile outside, the kitchen where I hope to sautee some mushrooms soon, and the enticing couch with its open invitation to me to enjoy a brief afternoon snooze.
Boozhoo, Aniin! Denay Makinitook!
Welcome, My Relatives, to the Centre, the heart of Turtle Island, the sacred place of Manito Api. Today we come forward to share a gift from the Original People.
“What are you writing?” the man at the bar asked me.
“A piece on Turkey’s president who recently said Muslims – not Columbus – discovered America.”
“Well …. did they?”
“Of course not!” I blurted. “And neither did the Jews.”
“So it was Columbus, then. …”
I haven't participated in Thanksgiving for many years now. It is hard to celebrate the holiday when you know that it was created to commemorate the massacre of Indian people.
I live and sleep in the mountains. Been living this way for a year now, so I guess that technically makes me homeless. I know an Indian who was similarly homeless, but she got a PhD and now does research at MIT. So there's always hope for Indians in my situation.
This morning as I sit in front of my eggs, corn beef hash and yerba mate, I am thinking about my next step.
I have been spending less time with my writing as of late as I have been prepping for a second round with the Veteran's Administration.
Sometimes bravery is the smallest of things, a grain of sand lying under a mountain of regret. This, I felt as I watched my mother die. Exactly two years before the moment she left this world, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It started with a pain in her breast that wouldn’t go away.
I remember my first week at Dartmouth College. It was after a week-long bus ride from California. Dartmouth, the Ivies, the East Coast, College in general, they are all worlds away from the reality of the California Rez (American Indian Reservation).
I can close my eyes and remember the day my friend died. I was sitting in the kitchen on the stairs that led to the second floor. It was on the fourth step, where I always sat because it had a large window to my left.
It was a hot summer day. August 16, 1977.
Rats on the platform. Tough guys with tattoos quiver, juke, shriek. Moments later, they're tough again. Dates guffaw. "You're a bitch," one says. "Screw you!" he shouts. "I just don't like them." .... The coward. He leans to vomit on the rails; friends hold his skull.