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Nick-izms
Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Thursday, August 27 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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nickmetcalf-web.jpgSovereignty

Sovereignty is one of those concepts that seems to allude some of us. Itís this lofty goal and expectation for our tribes, yet it impacts us individually, communally and socially. My immediate impression is when we rely on the government to provide financial resources to sustain our own tribal government then how are truly sovereign are we? How can we achieve sovereignty and be economically sustainable?

Economic development is essential to making a sovereign government. Yet rural tribal communities have been unable to establish a tax base and resources to sustain itself. The money that is allocated to tribal governments is not enough to cover the basic needs of its tribal citizens.

Poverty is difficult. Being poor is a luxury that none of us can afford. Many reservations continue to have 80 percent unemployed, with the largest employer usually being the tribe or a church organization. Essentially, we are reliant on hand outs from the government and Ďgoodí church going people to sustain ourselves. This is ludicrous.


Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Monday, August 03 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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nickmetcalf-web.jpgBack to School

Itís this time of year that those of us with children are busy getting kids ready for school. We are shopping for school clothes and gathering school supplies. We are mentally preparing our kids for their return to a schedule. We are considering how, or if, we are able to be involved with the many school activities. Back to school: itís an exciting time.

As an insecure, awkward, effeminate kid who grew up isolated on a rural reservation in South Dakota, it was school that would be my ticket to someplace. My parents encouraged my pursuit of education. They celebrated my ability to learn. They recognized my thirst for knowledge.

My earliest memories of learning was of my mother. She enjoyed reading. As a young child, I laid next to her while she read her ďTrue RomanceĒ magazine. I begged her to read to me. Eventually, I got my own books to read aloud. She was so patient with me. One night she challenged me to try to read without making any sound or moving my lips. I protested, I couldnít do it. But she encouraged me, ďFollow the words. Youíll hear it in your head.Ē I tried and tried. I did it and I was beyond thrilled. The voice in my head could follow the words and I understood it. We laughed together.

My college years were the best time of my life. Leaving the reservation for college was difficult, but I got through it with the help of friends. I had to learn to survive off the reservation because I was thrust into an environment where no one looked like me, nor did I understand their worldview. It was my education that helped me reconcile places that didnít make sense and I learned a new way of thinking. I learned to be a critical thinker. I learned to be able to look at a variety of possibilities then make my best judgment based on the facts.

Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Friday, July 10 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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nickmetcalf-web.jpgThe Environment

Reverence for the magnificence of the environment didnít come until later in life. The responsibility for the beauty of it, I didnít know until my son came along. It was then that I became connected between generations of people who came before me, and generations of people who will come after me. It was a sobering thought.

My disconnection from being a caretaker of the environment began long before I was born. My upbringing is a consequence of the boarding school experience of my parents. I had no sense of being rooted to place, time or circumstance until I was an adult. It was during my healing and a result of my reconnection to our Native ways of living that I was reintroduced to the essence of being amongst the beauty of nature. It was in this realization that there was a calling for stewardship. It was a deepening of an understanding of the need to care for the beauty that I am surrounded by.

Being an acculturated Native, I often times meet some strange characters of people who love Native culture and spirituality. They are well-intentioned environmentalists, typically, they are new age people, wannabe-Natives or grungy activists. What they all have in common is they talk and supposedly know about Nativeness. One of those moments stood out so from a former, potential suitor of mine:

"When I take my shoes off I feel the vibration of Mother Earth through my body. That energy goes up through my chakras. I can sense her vibration through my crystals. I love Native people and their spirituality. Do you want to touch my medicine bag? You're cute."

I'm cool with the vibrational frequency that youíre feeling without your shoes on but it's a major turn-off when you want to talk about spiritual matters when we first meet. I don't know you like that. Also, if we meet in a bar, then Ė no, I don't want to touch your medicine bag. Nope. Here's some advice, take a shower cause your funk is devastating me, your hair is stringy and eat something cause you are awfully thin.

Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Tuesday, June 09 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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nickmetcalf-web.jpg

Returning to Native Spirituality

Itís my favorite time of year. Itís a busy time of year for summer ceremonies, rituals and powwows. Itís the beginning of the new year for some. Itís a time to reconcile the year. Itís time to reflect on oneís conduct. Itís time to reconnect with the Creator. Itís time for renewal.

As someone who came to learn Ďthe Nativeí way of life a little later, Iíll share with you some of the experiences I had in my effort to reconnect with our traditional ways. I will not share specifics about different ceremonies, but I will write about how I approached learning about our sacred way of life.

My parents were part of the generation of people who were forced to assimilate, so keeping me away from our traditional native way of life was not negligent, but it was them protecting me. I learned later from them that they were protecting me from the profound sense of loss they experienced.

I am thankful for the protection of my parents and the choices they made. When I did chose to return to our way of life, they struggled with my decision. Eventually, they helped me and came along with me in my rediscovering our ways. Over time, they became ardent supporters until they died.

When I wanted to learn more about our traditional ways, I approached a relative who was active and participated regularly in traditional Native way of life for help. They happily stepped forward; to this day, they continues to teach me many things and I seek their advice.

Choosing a spiritual leader, or medicine person, is an important step. Find them then get to know them, trust your gut. Iíve learned and witnessed people who have been spiritually traumatized by questionable people, so be careful. I follow the medicine people that my family has been with for several generations.


Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Monday, May 04 2015
 
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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jpeg_pic.jpgNative Pride

May is Native American Month. Itís our month to celebrate everything it is about being Native. Itís a time to educate America about who we are. Itís a time to reconnect those who may be disconnected. Itís a time to strengthen our connections to the vibrancy of who we are. Itís an important time to recognize the resiliency of our people. Itís a time to honor the generations of people who came before us. Itís time to recognize our strength. Itís time to recognize our ability to survive at any costs.

I inherited shame about being Native. Not deliberately, but as a consequence of assimilationist policies and the environment my parents grew up in. They believed they were helping me integrate into mainstream society. They believed they were protecting me. They believed they were saving me from a profound sense of loss.

Mainstream media influenced my Native identity development. It was from TV shows, movies and stories that I saw that Native people, alcoholism and poverty were similar. In my effort to overcome these stereotypes I attempted to be anything, but those images. As an adult, I came to understand these issues are a product of centuries of assimilation and the colonization that occurred to our people. It would be our traditional practices that Iíd find the source of pride.


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