It Ain’t Easy Being Indian September 2018

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By Ricey Wild

Does anyone remember “Tank Girl?” It’s about how water and power controlled everything and there were just a few holdouts protecting the last well of water left. Yes, it’s a science fiction comic but I feel as though that very scenario is not far away. Water wars are already happening on every continent of this little blue planet, where it was once abundant enough to give life and was pure of contamination.

I read that Slovenia has declared water a human right and their president is actively preparing his country to defend their rights to water calling it ‘Liquid Gold’ in his statement. Nestle, those water bandits, are benefiting from Lake Michigan’s liquid gold, literally draining it to sell over-priced plastic bottles of water. Liquid gold indeed.

Twenty years ago (!!!) I was in Tempe, Arizona for a conference. We northerners were told we need to drink a lot of water while there in order to avoid dehydration because it’s so dry that the heat wicks up even sweat. Well, it is built on a desert.

A new friend I made there, Loren, took me on a tour of Phoenix and the surrounding areas. Loren told me that they rely on water being diverted there from the Colorado River. I saw neighborhoods with only dirt yards and when we went to the wealthy parts like Scottsdale and Fountain Hills the very air changed. It was like going through a warp. When we got to Fountain Hills from the dry city air it became extremely humid and the damp, lush, loamy smell of flowing water meeting earth was pungent.

I used to tell this story to point out the wealth inequality and what money can buy, but the more dire issue is water and who has access to it. What if the river, lake or stream you depend on becomes contaminated like in Flint, Michigan? I cry for those people who continue to demand it be fixed and the government ignores them. I pray for the Water Protector’s safety because Standing Rock showed just what lengths the U.S. will resort to get their way. As Indigenous People we are well aware of how America works; they showed us who they were when they got here.

It’s very clear to any soul with open eyes that without immediate and permanent water protection we will die as a species. I have a granddaughter now and I constantly worry about what the world will be like when she grows up, since it’s already bad now. Again, it’s the corrupt and greedy corporations that are bent on profiting off our natural resources by destroying it.

Jeez am I a wet blanket today!

Then I watched a 10 minute video of some Louisiana Native Water Protectors that astonished me. I don’t recall the name of it (my bad) but there were only a few of them, but they were actively resisting a pipeline through their ancestral lands that include swamps and thousands of animal species who live there, too. My heart and blessings go out to ALL Water Protectors. You all give me hope and while I’m an armchair warrior I feel your power and appreciate what you all sacrifice to resist and I am with yooz in solidarity. Much love and respect.

My dear friend Diane sent me a T-shirt that simply has “Caucasians” written under the ‘logo’ of a white man’s head. Even before I got it I was busy churning up responses to offended whites and how I would say it. Heheehee!!! The first time the shirt went out I made sure at least a few Indians saw it, they did and laughed. The next time I wore the shirt was to our loco Wal-Mart and fo ‘sho’ some mean old white people shop there, right? Well, I took my time strolling about the store but only one white man commented on my shirt, but not to me. He saw my T-shirt and then said to his woman, “Well there goes someone who doesn’t like white people”. She turned around and was like, “Whaaa???” like it was a surprise. I just smiled a little cat smile.

When my friend Shirley and I were waiting for a ride back to the Rez I asked if she’d even noticed my shirt? She said, yeah, but your bosom is over the letters. Color me mortified! People, if they took note or not, probably just thought it was a chief emblem. Grrr!!!
My soon-to-be-famous Caucasians shirt is about to make its debut at the casino (me rubbing my hands together gleefully). I’ll have to let yooz know next month how it goes and whether I get beat up. For real though, even seemingly small acts of resistance can open up other’s minds, like the 40% of Americans who don’t know Indigenous People exist anymore.