The year: 1975. Scene: Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the month of May. A young chubby brown Indian girl approches the newly opened Indian Center. It is a warm day and excitement fills the girl who was to see wondrous people and events she had never known before. There was a glorious Powwow in the gym and Dine’ (Navajo) Sand Painters in the atrium. Music filled the air while thousands of other people who looked like her were celebrating their own culture and being very proud of it.
That, my friends, was the first Indian Month I can recall and I have kept it close to me ever since.
That particular day I saw my own peoples’ resilient strength even though I could not have expressed it as such at my age then. I felt joy and pride and validation as an American Indian female, which I had never had before. That day changed my life and, as I realize just as of my writing this, made me who I am today.
My Indigenous culture means the world to me and if you have read any of my previous columns you know this.
Before moving to Minneapolis I lived in Bemidji, Minn., and was always on the periphery of any social circle and at the best of times was merely ignored rather than being actively bullied. After entering public school this was the norm and I passively accepted it because, well, that was just the way it was. It’s a white man’s world and my status didn’t matter.
In May the Spring season explodes again into fresh life, color and hope, and if I didn’t know the Lilac bushes would bloom again I’d have to give up. Indian Month is rejuvenation, new beginnings and the continuation of our Indian culture that refused to bow down and disappear into history books even if “They” would have you believe it to be that way. Nope! We are still here and will be even after the rest of yooz have gone to civilize the Moon or Mars.
This Is Our Land. It always has been and always will be. So I encourage you personally to celebrate with us because we are an inclusive type of people or yooz wouldn’t have made it this far, yanno? Understand that and keep it in your hearts that our Turtle Island, as we know it, has been our homeland for millenia – not merely a few thousand years as the historical liars would have it be.
We Indigenous people claim both continents of North and South America as our collective pan-Indian culture. We were here first and so we celebrate our existence despite the continuing agenda of genocide.
We have not merely survived.
My people are the heart and soul of this place and time, and some non-Indians are finally waking up to the reality of the dire situation of climate change and the poisoning of clean water that we all need to live. Ask yourself if moentary profit (not yours) is worth your children’s children’s lives. Think Indian.
Get involved in pro-human and -animal and -plant life groups. To me that would be the greatest honor you can do for the first people of this land. For those whom already do I say Chii Miigwech.
At 19 years young a gorgeous young man from Minneapolis made and played and produced an album “For You”. His name was Prince. We Indian girls were immediate adoring fans and he has been a part of my life since, and I have always loved him for him. Prince liked women who looked like me; dark eyes, black hair and an air of sassiness.
Once outside of The Oz nightclub in St. Paul he followed me upstairs and I was too intimidated to go for it. Regrets? You betcha. But I have a 1981 autograph from Prince signed, you guess it, in Purple from a felt pen I had. He said, “It’s purple” and smiled so even then that was his color.
I love that he was signing autographs recently with the tag, “Be Wild”. I take it personally. I will.
Since then I’ve seen him perform at many concerts and at Paisley Park where I saw him shred and was brought into another world of genius and pure love.
The day he died I was crying and listening to his “Come” album alone in the dark. At the very end he whispers, “I Love You”. I’ma keep that in my heart. I love you back my Sweet Prince.
My beloved Aubid and LaPrairie Family is suffering another great loss and I give my love and prayers for you all. Biisa, your Old Antie is here for you always. I love you.