Courtesy Skaruianewah Logan
Simon Moya-Smith, ICTMN Culture Editor, above standing in Central Park in New York City, apocalyptically responds to a questionnaire about police brutality by the University of California-Berkeley.

Houska: Answering a Police Brutality Survey While Native (APBSWN)

Tara Houska

Receiving an email out of the blue can elicit a reaction anywhere from “hey, that's cool,” to “jeez, at least spell 'injun' correctly, bro.”

When ICTMN Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, received a UC-Berkeley questionnaire about “police challenges to Native American communities,” I can actually picture the grin spreading across this well-published and unapologetically cheeky writer's face. So Dear Readers, for your literary pleasure:

UC-Berkeley: Many years from now, as you bounce your grandchild on your knee, give us one image that captures the new era of policing – with respect to your community – that your work will have helped bring about.

Moya-Smith to his future grandchild: “You know, my dear, they never lifted the bounty on Native American heads. So the hunt continued into 2016. The authorities were killing all of us — yes, even Native American kids, and these bastards were still getting medals for killing an Indian or Indians [depending how many bullets he had left in his clip] 120 years after Wounded Knee. I once tried to re-build the Mayflower so as to send the rotten eggs back to Europe, but there were too many by then. And we couldn’t get the mainstream media to talk about the killing of our people either. Not black reporters. Not Latino reporters. Not gay reporters. Not Asian reporters. Or at least not nearly enough, my dear. The conversation was seriously binary on the matter of police brutality: Black and white. Black and white. Black and white. And then when we tried to talk about police killing Native Americans more than any other race, we’d get, “We’re not talking about that right now! You’ll have your chance, Indian!” But we never did, love. Back then, there was NBC Latino, NBC Black, and NBC Asian American, but no NBC Native American. Blacks and Latinos and gays were often seen at Chicago Blackhawks games and Kansas City Chiefs games and Washington Redskins games in red face, wearing faux feather headdresses, quaffing beer and vomiting on the churlish shithead in front of them, and then, later, they’d tell us that they were ‘honoring’ us with this behavior, and that red face “isn’t racist.” That it’s good ol’ American fun. … Meanwhile, a cop would kill another Native American and then another and then another, and hardly any news outlets other than Native American newsmagazines and infinitesimal local stations would say anything about it. We were cancelled out of the American conversation on almost every subject. A cop tried to kill me once, but he missed. That’s why I don’t have a knee to bounce you on, my dear. Since then, the police have reduced the amount of people they kill each year, including blacks, but not us, love. Not us. We’re still not human to Americans, not in their eyes. We remain “the Indian problem.” The mascot. The mythical being. That thing to be ridiculed and dehumanized and pitied, invariably in the way of their greed and self-interest. It’s 1850 all over again. So that’s why we’re fortified here on this land, our ancestral land – YOUR ancestral land, my dearest, where your blood was born. Don’t let anyone in. That should have been our motto from the beginning. We were too trusting. … Wait. Did you hear that? Jeezus, it’s the pigs! Oh jeezus! There’s only eight of us left! Hide, my dear, hide! Get under the house! They’re back. They always come back. Jeezus, just HIDE, honey! … These evil sots!” BANG! “There are kids in here! Stop!” BANG! “Did you hear me? There are kids in here!” BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! “Fuck you! We’re not going to be Christian!” BANG! “Fuck you, this OUR land!” BANG! BANG! … BANG! … BANG! …

COP TO HIS COLLEAGUE: “… So what time do the Indians play today?”

Thus concludes this tale of Answering a Police Brutality Survey While Native.

To all you surveyors out there, email at great risk of obliterating ignorance and receiving brutal reality laced with educational storytelling.

Tara Houska. Courtesy Jason Daniels.

Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, a founding member of, a Native American policy advisor to the Bernie Sanders campaign, and an all-around rabble rouser of an attorney. Follow her: @zhaabowekwe.

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