The title for my column is a tribute to my late Unk Gene who would stand taller, puff his chest out and declare, “It ain’t easy being Indian, but someone’s gotta do it”. Then he would beamingly smile to all who were in the room, obviously implying that he was the right Indian for the job. That he was! ;D I miss you Unk!
I invite yooz to think about that statement, cuz it is very hard, difficult and at times exhausting to go around being Indian all the time. Take a walk with me in my fuzzy leopard slippers for a day or a few miles, you may come away with just a small inkling of what it is like to be me and what I am subjected to upon my ancestral grounds. The descendants of foreign land squatters have no hesitation to ask or state what they think of as truth: that ‘Indians’ get everything free: house, healthcare, education in addition to per capita checks from their tribes so none of us have to work. I answer “no! you are actually describing the current U.S. Congress! Get your facts right!”
There are times non-Indians also front their dubious knowledge of Native culture. “Do you bead? Know how to make fry bread? You ARE smoking serious buds in those pipes, hey?” (nudge, nudge)! And one of my favorites; “do you live in a teepee?” No….fyi: we use electricity and drive cars, too! I walk away leaving them astounded. Sometimes I don’t know how I get through particularly absurd days but I do; however, I don’t like to suffer alone so I write about it.
On a more serious note, while I was watching the national evening news about the Boston bombing I became very angry, so very infuriated. Who are those bombers to come to this great country that fed, housed, educated and welcomed them only to plot mass murder upon innocents as their way of saying thanks? All of a sudden a !Ding! went off in my head. My people understand what it’s like to have warlike strangers come across oceans and butcher the hands that fed them only to then plot to annihilate hundreds of millions of Indians.
“Now European-Americans know what it’s like to be an Indian,” I sez to myself. Now yooz know what it’s like to be randomly massacred. Before ya’ll get your knickers in a knot, know that I did not enjoy or relish any feelings of ha-ha for the bombing! What I feel is deep sadness. Religion, politics, manifest destiny, it don’t matter. No one deserves to be slaughtered.
We Indians have been suffering through the same thing in different forms since yooz first got here. For your safety and mine do not tell me to ‘get over it’ cuz it’s not any little thing to pretend didn’t happen. Indians identify with being targeted by overt and subversive means. That’s where the ‘ain’t easy’ part of being Indian comes from, to put it mildly.
One reason I love writing this column is that the readers get to ponder another person’s point of view, as in my case – an American Indian woman heavily armed with pointy words. Ahem!
On another note, The Lone Ranger movie is opening soon, and in a press release Disney claims they had a ‘terrific collaboration’ with the Native American Community. Really??? Then I just gotta see this movie! Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actor’s cuz he’s so weird. He is playing Tonto, the “Lone” Ranger’s sidekick.
Not by any means am I qualifying this farce as a movie depicting actual factual Indians, but I did wonder where the producers or wardrobe people came up with such a questionable, hideous example of an Apache? It struck me that the Tonto character is just a recycled Captain Jack Sparrow. I was mystified as to what Indian tribe stuck entire dead birds on their heads? To me the crow looks like it was trying desperately to fly away and got stuck in Johnny’s hair. I did do a bit of research and found a picture painted by a white guy that matches Tonto’s get-up. Now I get it.
Johnny’s Tonto looks like a Captain Jack that went on a really wicked mean one, passed out, and woke up all painted up. That’s what happens when you associate with certain Indians. The only convincing scene in the promo is when this guy that talks like Festus says, “that masked man has a crazy Indian with him!” Listen to Johnny’s voice as Tonto; he speaks in broken English like the westerns of old. Me no approve! Sa-ad!
Well Keemosahbeez, that’s all for now. No wonder no real Indian wanted to portray Tonto. It’s a dumbass thing to do. Geddit?!!!