It Ain’t Easy Being Indian – April 2022

photo of ricey wild

By Ricey Wild

A long, long time ago, in a big city not too far from Rezberry, I had an active life and did stuff. I used to stride concrete sidewalks and wait for buses, I shopped at K-Fart for necessities and also fancy pants places on Nicollet Mall for clothes and accessories to adorn myself with. There was always a place to dine out and try something new to eat or old favorites that brought sweet comfort.

There was never a lack of something to do or places to go, in fact, it was hard to choose. I used to have friends who were like-minded and we enjoyed all the city had to offer: different cultures, art shows, concerts (PRINCE!!!), clubs, festivals, parades, foods, powwows and dances. There I grew up and this was my home.

I met many talented people of all the arts, plus activists and journalists who were on top of the flow of current events. The electricity was palpable in the air and at no time was I ever bored. In the springtime my son and I would take ‘Lilac walks’ on the way to Loring Park, inhaling the sweetness all the way. My favorite time of year.

I did all of this while going around being an Indian woman. As a single mom I went to college full-time, had a part-time job, and to release stress I danced at First Avenue on Funk Night, even by myself cuz I didn’t care. Long hair flying in high heels and never falling down. (Well there was that one time during the Great Halloween Blizzard, but it was outside. I was unhurt.) My apartment was beautiful and I never had an issue with keeping it tidy.

The last job I had in the city was with Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). I was the Office Manager and I loved it. To say it was intense is an understatement but my work was also gratifying. As Indigenous People our words needed to reach more people, who, in some cases, thought we were extinct. Brown people of the past who were wiped out by western greed for natural resources in fact; in theory they came to save us from ourselves and if we refused to comply? They murdered us.

So I was more than happy to assist with this noble cause and I threw myself into it. This is when I met Mark Anthony Rolo who was the editor of The Circle at the time. Their office was near mine and the staff was actively involved with the annual conference to recruit new Indigenous journalists. Mark asked me to submit a piece for his insert in 1998 named, “10 Little Indian Myths” that he asked only Indian women for.

I ended up writing three, and that, my dear ones, is how this column began. The next editor, Sue, wondered why there were no Indian women writing a column, so she asked me for a sample. That was in November 1998. Yes, IKR? It’s been that long except for a few deadlines I didn’t make because I wanted to be dead. Depression.

I ask myself every day, “why oh why did I move to Rezberry when I was on the brink of a brilliant career?” It was because of a death bed vow to my Ole G-Paw. I promised I would look after his wife, my beloved Gramma Rose, when she needed me. For longtime readers, I know I’ve written this multiple times but the point is I did it. Gram had her son and grandson but I knew she needed me too.

Packed up, my son and I moved to a racist town below Rezberry. I was given an $8 an hour crap job on the Rez and lived in a former mortuary that was converted into apartments, with no car. So yeah. Woo-Hoo!!! AGH! Lots of emotion with one. What-ifs have turned into WTH?!

Even as I question myself I would not have changed my mind. A blood oath is a blood oath. My grandparents took me in and gave me a good life with them. Because I moved here I had the best times with my Gramma and can still feel her loving eyes. Because I moved here I have my own home, warm and comfortable.

What kind of place would I have afforded in the city on my sad income, now that I am disabled? Ya, well, I may have been able to afford a tricked-out shopping cart from the dollar store. I’m good and very grateful to be right where I am. Got my Fuzz-butts for a support system and everything I need.

In exciting news I am being interviewed live by Indian Country Today March 28 at 10:30 am. I’m pretty sure I’ll mess it up but Ima do it anywayz. Nothing to lose now.