Written by Alfred Walking Bull, The Circle Managing Editor,
Average user rating
Whether we like it or not, addiction
continues to be a theme in the Native American experience. Either by
stereotyping of the “drunken Indian” or the daily struggles we
endure, it has come to define our lives, sometimes for the good and
sometimes for the bad.
We may have personal stories of our
misadventures with alcohol and drugs or we may know a seemingly
endless litany of relatives and friends who were claimed by their
addictions through death or incarceration. It's easy to fall into the
trap of victimization, to blame a substance or colonization for the
effects, there are plenty of reasons to be angry and self-righteous.
However, the difficult path, always less trodden, is to look at our
problems holistically, traditionally and with a measure of compassion
for everyone in our lives affected by their addiction.
There is a popular meme on social
media, “A sober Indian is a powerful Indian.” It is meant to
empower those who have lived their lives, thus far, substance-free or
those in recovery. What has always struck hollow for me about it is
that, traditionally, we acknowledged our powerlessness. In Lakota
culture, we understand that power is derived from the great mystery,
the great power or god. We humble ourselves in front of god as
atonement and encouragement. The ideal to strive for is the concept
of the common man, never too high in status, never too important for
Other people are who we are called to
live our lives for, in service and gratitude for the relationship. We
are compelled to uplift one another so that we all may achieve a
sense of unity and joy, in order to share it with others.
In his speech before a group of
Minneapolis American Indian community members, Gerald Cross,
explained what was the initial cause of his addiction: loneliness and
a lack of belonging. “What got me going is that I didn't have no
love, my parents' addiction to alcohol and we were in foster homes.
We had decent [foster] parents who were white but we knew we were
different and they made us feel different. So we ran away and stayed
with people who accepted us.”
He continued his addiction as a
solution to feeling outcast. “We didn't have any spirituality, we
were empty inside. The drugs made us feel better. I didn't care about
nothing.” With time and recovery, Cross has been able to put
together sobriety. But it's never easy and the commitment to it is
often misunderstood that once one is sober, one will always be sober.
Last month me and the ‘gals’ had a
funktastic night out at a George Clinton concert at the famous
Cabooze in the Big City. I insisted that for one night we refer to
each other as D-Funk, M-Funk and K-Funk because I’m weird like
that. Yah George, Bootsie and Parliament and Funkadelic were awesome
as usual but oddly looked very young … as we three Funk Sisters
agreed. Or were we just feeling the years in our bones? I know I did
but I managed to wobble in time to the familiar beats and not fall
down. I wore my sunglasses. You got to have your sunglasses … so
you can feel cool.
It was a gorgeous night in the Big
City where we three used to live but we now reside in small rural
towns so it was a huge treat for me to be there. I felt happy just
seeing the skyline and jostling for stage view with people who
weren’t my cousins. Ya’ll Indians know what I mean; it’s why
before snagging up we recite our lineage as we know it before
applying any hickeys. So I was feeling da Funk and partying as hard
as my old carcass could handle. When Bootsie came my way I reached
for his hand and licked the back of it. He just laughed. That man is
still fine!!!! M’wah!!!!
So it was a funktastic night out; no
one needed to get bailed out and M-Funk was still with us and not
aboard the band’s bus. We ended the night at a place the locals
call “The Smelly Deli.” The late night boogitus emissions
sleeping at the hotel proved that to be an apt name and the next day
I insisted going to Popeye’s Chicken so I could bring some home, I
gotta have red beans n rice.
The night before the show I got to
hang out with my lovely friend Rachel sitting on her porch and
watching humanity walk by. Rachel burned sage and sweet grass so the
entire neighborhood was smudged. She and my ex, Dan, live in my old
‘hood’ so it was like going home for me; Rachel and I talked like
we just saw each other and I so love and appreciate having good
friends I share that with. Plus she and Dan spoiled me with the
T.L.C. I needed and my Dear Daniel gave me $40 for drinks for us
gals!!! It was money well spent my love!!! Miigwech!
Whiteford’s Indian Burial Pit was a
popular tourist trap in central Kansas, from 1936-1989. On open
display were 147 skeletons of Indians.
The privately owned roadside
attraction was closed after American Indians protested the disrespect
being shown to their ancestors. The State of Kansas negotiated an
agreement with the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, in 1990, and the
700-year-old skeletons were given a dignified burial.
The state of Minnesota recognized many
years ago that ancient Indian burials deserve the same protection
accorded to newer cemeteries. Section 307.08 of Minnesota’s Private
Cemeteries Act “affords all human burial grounds and remains older
than 50 years and located outside of platted or identified cemeteries
protection from unauthorized disturbance,” according the Web site
of the state archaeologist. The law applies to “prehistoric Indian
Unfortunately, a Hennepin County road
construction project near Lake Minnetonka succeeded in bulldozing a
number of Indian burial mounds. The incident, which occurred in
October 2014, was reported in the local press in May.
After the discovery of human remains,
Hennepin County officials stopped work on what was to be roundabout
at County Road 101 (known to locals as Bushaway Road) and Breezy
Point Road, south of Gray’s Bay, in Minnetonka.
The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council
(MIAC) has assembled a team to gather bone fragments for reburial.
“I’m working with the four Dakota
tribes within Minnesota, in collaboration with the Hamline University
alumni students. They all have an archeology background, including
the tribal members working on site with me,” Jim Jones, MIAC
cultural resources director, said in a story by Meghan Davy in the
Lakeshore Weekly News.
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. – White Earth
citizen and DFL activist Peggy Flanagan announced her candidacy for
the Minnesota House of Representatives for District 46A on May 22.
In a press release, Flanagan gave her
reasons for running for office. “This community has given me so
much. My mom and I moved to St. Louis Park when I was a baby. As a
single mother, she chose this community because of the opportunities
that it provided for good public education, stable neighborhoods, and
economic security, and she was right. My family and I settled in my
hometown for the same reasons, and now I want to give back.”
Flanagan, 35, currently serves as
executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota. She also
worked for eight years at Wellstone Action, including as director of
external affairs. In 2012, she worked as the Director of Community
Outreach for Minnesotans United for all Families; and she was
co-chair of the Raise The Wage campaign in 2014.
A citizen of the White Earth Nation of
Ojibwe, Flanagan lives in the Bronx Park neighborhood of St. Louis
Park with her husband Tim Hellendrung and 2 year-old daughter
Siobhan. She is a graduate of St. Louis Park public schools and the
University of Minnesota.
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL) announced his retirement
from the Minnesota House of Representatives on May 21, after serving
more than eight years. A special election will likely be held later
this year for the remainder of his term. District 46A includes parts
of St. Louis Park, Golden Valley and Plymouth.
PHOTO: Flanagan with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in 2014. (Courtesy photo)
Copyright 2008 The Circle News. All rights reserved. The Circle New is dedicated to presenting news from a Native American perspective, while granting an equal opportunity to community voices. Editorials and articles are the sole responsibility of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, attitude, or philosophy of The Circle or the corporation. The Circle does not endorse any product or service accepted as advertising. The Circle reserves the right to reject any advertising, material, or letters submitted for publication. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE PUBLISHER. West7th**