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It Ain't Easy Being Indian
Columbus and Genocidal Assault
Friday, August 05 2016
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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Native American Indians have been under genocidal assault by immigrants since they got here. European immigrants saw what they thought of as wild, untouched, fertile land that was scarce in their countries. In fact, we Indians had been here for millenia and had civilizations that had risen and fallen because that way of life is unsustainable, and we lived happily and healthy. That changed quickly with the arrival of the first immigrants.

First contact has Columbus (I hate even mentioning his evil name) writing in his journal about the Taino People and how healthy and good-looking they were. He and his evil crew then proceeded to enslave them and decimate their entire population for gold. Later Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and were saved by Indians from starvation and death. The Pilgrims brought nothing but their racist beliefs and diseases that we had no natural immunity to.

Blankets infected with smallpox were given to Indians as gifts. Entire Nations perished because there was no cure and were wiped out by the Pilgrims and the immigrnts who followed after them. We have been murdered outright and been subjected to biological, chemical and mental means to annihilate us. Yet we never gave up. We are still here.

We Indians had sickness and old age symptoms but not the multiple viruses and diseases that were used as warfare by the immigrants. Our people were wise and skilled in natural medicines and remedies. Those plants were put here by Creator for our use and are still used today. However, Big Pharma has taken over and is medicating our entire American population into zombies.

I have a lot of physical issues that I seek help for, and for which there are a lot of pills. I also suffer depression and anxiety and see a therapist, and thereís also pills for that. When I go to my appointments there are always many people who are patients and those who work in the health care industry. I say industry because thatís what it is. Donít get me wrong, I admire people who choose a profession that helps people.

My issue is that the American health care industry profits from our illnesses, and have lobbyists in Washington D.C. that buy congress to ensure it stays that way. In short, corporations are making money off of our health crises. And if one cannot pay, too bad. Or you go into debt for the rest of your life. I believe the reason cannabis is outlawed is that it can cure cancer and other multitudes of ailments. You see, the US Gov canít regulate it and make money off it, but that is slowly changing.

However, there are more critical health issues in Indian Country. Ask yourself how and why so many destructive drugs are infiltrating our reservations. Chemical warfare. I personally donít know anyone who has not been affected by the heroin, methamphetamine and opioid deaths in our community. In my former job as Graves Registrar I met with family members who suffered great losses due to overdoses and chronic drug use.

Suicide is also an epidemic in Indian County. I cry and rage about it yet I understand the hopeless feeling that one sometimes experiences in life. I feel this is another genocidal tactic that sucks the soul out of us.

Oppression takes us down a dark road into depression and sickness of spirit. To you I say you are needed, and seeking help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. Please just do it.

The good news is there is help out there. And there are many success stories, like my friend Christopher Shabaiash who dealt with addiction to opioid pills. He struggled daily with it and eventually went to a methadone clinic to ease the withdrawl symptoms. After the birth of his third child he realized it was no way to live, and is drug free now with zero need† to do it again. (Chirstopher, chii miigwech for sharing your story with me, I'm very happy you are now well.)

We Indians face more challenges for staying healthy than any other ethnic group in this country. Yet, I see many more positive changes if we have access to good health care. I know there any many Indians who live in remote areas that need help desperately and I hope this vital issue will continue to be addressed.

o all my readers I wish you well and good health. We have to be responsible for our own well-being. Love Yooz!

Ricey on Indian Month and Prince
Thursday, May 05 2016
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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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 Dineí (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 peoplesí 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. Itís a white manís world and my status didnít matter.

In May the Spring season explodes again into fresh life, color and hope, and if I didnít know the Lilac bushes would bloom again Iíd 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 ďTheyĒ 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 wouldnít 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 Ė 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 childrenís childrenís 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 ďFor YouĒ. 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, ďItís purpleĒ and smiled so even then that was his color.

I love that he was signing autographs recently with the tag, ďBe WildĒ. I take it personally. I will. Since then Iíve 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 ďComeĒ album alone in the dark. At the very end he whispers, ďI Love YouĒ. Iíma 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.

Powwow Season
Tuesday, April 05 2016
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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Iím hoping to see dandelions soon because I feel happy when I do. Their appearance means Spring has come and Summer follows. Powwow season will also be here because even if we dance indoors during cold weather I know Indians of this Turtle Island like to feel our Mother under our feet.

Again, I quote a non-Indian friend photographer from back in college, ďI have never seen people step so lightly upon the groundĒ. I treasure his observation and I remember his words every time I see our Native Nations dancing. We are still dancing even though we were to have been exterminated, and erased from history. Dancing for our Ancestors who fought bravely and to the death for our homelands; dancing for the generations to come so they too can dance in their honor.

In Native country there is always a Veteransí Honor Guard that leads the powwow to show appreciation for the people who chose to serve our country. I could statistics here, but per capita Indianís have volunteered for military service more than any other Ďraceí. I used to wonder why some did after all the U.S. government did to try and kill us, and got this answer: This was our country first. Even before we became legal U.S. citizens Our people volunteered for the military and fought Americaís enemies. Let that sink in for a bit.

Of all the powwows coming up this summer I must mention in particular one in Minnesota on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The Fond du Lac Veterans Powwow has been attracting more people year after year, but this one will be different. I donít have exact dates or time as of this writing, but the Vietnam Traveling Wall will be on display days before the powwows Grand Entry on July 8 at 7 p.m. The Wall itself will have an escort of hundreds of Bikers until itís placement. The Fond du Lac Veterans Powwow will be July 8-10, 2016.

Having met and know Vietnam veterans I tear up because of the hostile political environment they returned to here in the States. It was undeserved misdirected hate and they deserve our acknowledgement for putting themselves in deadly harm. I have been to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. twice and the magnitude of the loss does not become less; rather it is more relevant considering our current situation in the Middle East.

My own father, Jerome George Charette served in the U.S. Air Force and was on a fuel re-charging plane where his airplane refueled another one in the air. I canít even imagine. I can only hope I inherited his genes of bravery and resilience. †

I encourage anyone and everyone who has never attended a powwow to find one near them and do please go! Bring your families, eat moose or buffalo stew and the iconic frybread that is everywhere in Indian Country. And acknowledge that this land where you are standing, living, working, playing, hunting, fishing is the land of the First Peoples.

Okay, the powwow rules. When you see the Indians stand up, you do too. When they are quiet you zip it. No filming during Grand Entries or when spiritual blessings are going on. No, that is not and has never been cannabis being smoked in the ďPeace PipeĒ. We pray to the Four Directions and each has itís special meaning. We offer the smoke up to the skies and to our Mother Earth in gratefulness for the blessings bestowed so that we may live well.

I offer yooz no other advice, except honor your life-source, which is what we Indigenous peoples call Turtle Island. Hey, we went through The Great Flood also; itís not just biblical. Before organized religions we were more alike than not.††† †

As for me, I graduated to using a cane to walk so I donít imagine myself actually dancing at the powwow this summer, but I can at least shuffle around and get me some hugs n frybread. Now I have something to look forward to! Been alone too long, I need to hear the drums and jingles.

We never left, we are still here and the Revolution has begun.

Surgery, Medication, and Hard Ttimes
Tuesday, March 08 2016
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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Itís been awhile since Iíve been able to write and thereís an awful reason for that. December 23, 2015, I had another lumbar spinal fusion surgery. Iíve already been through a previous one in March 2012 so knowing what I was in for I felt horrible and it was traumatic for me.

Well, having Ďbeen thereí and knowing what I was in for (or so I thought) I thoroughly researched and cross-listed everything I knew was the most important, like my dog Mitzi and my catís needs plus. And, this is critical, my employerís knowledge of my impending surgery and the NEUROSURGEONíS recommendation that I have 12 weeks of recovery time before I return to work. I know that sounds like a home vay-cay to some folks, but since I was only making cents above minimum wage it was all I had. Not cool.

Before the big surgery I KNOW I had all professional and home pet care stuff taken care, even clean undies and a clear space to roll my new walker through. Me! A walker! Actually, itís just cute, and has one of those seats with a bag you can put your stuff in underneath.

After I got home I received a visit from an in-home Physical Therapist which I needed desperately so I could learn how to function and walk normally again. Then I got a call from her saying I had been cut off the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and do I have another insurance company? Well, it took me a bit to let that sink in, but no, I didnít have another one. Not long after that, I got a certified letter from my now former† employer saying I had been terminated from my job, one reason being I had not been in contact with them telling them when I would return to work.

People, that was one of the most important things I did; made sure I had a job to return to, never mind the toxic workplace I was forced to put up with daily. I had a job to do, I did it. Unreal. Then I got a call asking when I was going to come get my personal items, mostly books, etc... and hereís me housebound not allowed to heft more than 5 pounds. I laughed. I am unable to even carry the dust outta there, never mind the other heavy stuff.

Okay then, that kind of vicious, rez-backward idiocy I can deal with, but fate wasnít done with me yet. Late one night I got a call that changed everything; my Sonís life, my Granddaughterís life, and my own reason for even bothering to stick around this vile, hateful environment (by that I mean this life).

But hey, Iím still here and gonna stick around to make sure that those who conciously set out to hurt me get theirs. And Iím going to keep writing, on a blog or essays perhaps, to bring awareness where before there was none. Uh uh. That is over because I am becoming an active participant in any way I can. Marching may be out of my agenda right now but Iím there, too.

One other thing I will do is if I say ďIím here for you, let me knowĒ that is exactly what I will do and then some. Iíve never been so alone in my life and it really, really sucks. I even gave money and did favors to someone I thought was my friend, and who I thought would help me and stop by now and then to see if I was alive or dead. Nope.

Then thereís the time I needed stuff and the only person who helped me didnít have a car at all but he did it to just to help me. We used a taxi. He helped me put everything away and said he will help me, not just leave us to rot. Miigwech. M, you saved my faith in humanity just when I was so done with everything and everyone.

That is the reason Iíve been gone. The pain, the medications and sorrows. I wish you all well and happy my friends. One thing I know for sure we are not alone in our troubles and trials, somehow Creator gives us the strength to go on.

Creator is why we are here so I suppose I take it that Iím here to make a good difference. We can all do this together, our communities are in severe crisis due to drugs. And I donít know of any Indian family, including mine, who has not been affected. Letís start with that.

Much Love.

Native American Artists
Thursday, December 03 2015
 
Written by Ricey Wild,
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Last month I bragged about knowing a lot of Native artists and how we could support their businesses. It seems to me that everything loops back to the circle and is intertwined. There is our current reality where we need currency to live in this culture and there is this spiritual creativity in Native people that sustain us also.

The selling of our Native arts and crafts is not selling out; thatís the crapy plastic and very racist items that were mass produced overseas. Iíve said it before and will most likely say it again Ė we Indians canít ever have anything left to us. They took millions of our lives for our lands, the animals that sustained us, our children that were sent to boarding schools, and our cultural identities and still to this day make mockeries of it.

Art is an everyday thing for Native people. Our clothing reflects our tribal cultures, as do the things we used for day to day living. For instance, my people the Ojibwe used birch bark for pretty much everything from storage baskets, to pots to cook in, to backpacks,† to our housing and the famous birch bark canoes. We consider the paper birch sacred and wrote our ancestral lineage and spiritual texts on them.

Iíve been very fortunate in that I got to see many Indian art showís that feature contemporary artists as well as historical pieces like Dakota paintings on bison hides that depict events and stories and war shirts. I was fascinated to learn that the dragonflies on some of the shirts were there because of how the insects move and dart about giving the wearer the ability to dodge bullets. Dodge bullets, Yo!!!
In black and white photographs Ojibwe chiefs are wearing very fancy, intricately beaded regalia done in floral designs. As a person who was brainwashed since infancy, I used to think floral designs were only for women. But when I saw the steely eyes of resolve of the men who wore that clothing, no other thought but strength, purpose and pride came to my mind. When I see moose hide boots, leather mittens and other personal attire pieces I gasp at their beauty and construction and want, want, WANT!!! But see now, I would actually wear them as is their purpose.

If you were to visit my home there isnít anything that immediately beats you over the head that an Indian lives here besides some sheets in my windows. In the permanent state of chaos that is my domicile I do have a few pieces of functional art, like my birch bark baskets that hold plants, a few dream catchers, some cedar, sage and sweetgrass to cleanse the surroundings.

I have very recently purchased a print Iím fascinated with by Steven Standingcloud. I have been gifted a painting by my beloved friend Lorri, and a print by graphic artist Opitchee Bellanger when we connected on our views about Alien intervention. I also won a signed poster from a recent art show opening, I attended and all are going to be matted and framed. Iím so very happy right now and I may have caught the collectorís bug for acquisition of interesting and beautiful pieces of Native art. All within my limited means, of course. Or I will beg.

Then thereís this. I have been thinking a lot about how Native arts and culture has been spread world-wide as the Ojibwe Dream Catcher has. I say they are a phenomenon in that they are now sold everywhere in the world, made by who knows but their cultural meaning has not been lost in translation. Indian mothers would hang small ones on their babyís cradleboards and we put them above our beds so the good dreams can slip through and bad ones get stuck. Thatís the way I heard it so if you differ, go ahead. The larger dreamcatchers are for decoration Iím supposing. Kokopelli, which is Southwestern in origin, has his flute and danced his way into pop culture much like the dreamcatcher has.

One does not have to look far to see how influential Native arts are. Native artists work hard at their crafts and arts. Iíve seen pottery, paintings, graphic arts, photography, jewelry and many other artistic mediums that are so stunning in their intricacy and beauty they literally take my breath away. I believe it is up to us to honor the gifts our ancestors gave us and keep up the traditions that sustain us. To them I say Miigwech.

Then thereís the fake war bonnets. The Poca-hottie costumes at Halloween. The disgusting professional sports mascots, those have to go like yesterday. As long as they persist Native people are not seen as real and deserving of respect.
††

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