By Lisa Jones
Sure, somewhere, an Indian is crying, and somewhere else, like in the non-Indian, first-world mind, we are applying humor to further anesthetize the little sleepy zone in our brain where serious and sustained thought about native people might dwell—the part of our collective post-colonial consciousness that, if it awoke, might convince us to give it all back and move back to Krakow or Athens or Liverpool—and who wants to live there?
OK, so let’s look at a photo of an actual Indian crying, and over something a lot worse than littering. Here’s George Gillette, who in 1948 was the chairman of the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribes of North Dakota, crying because the tribes’ homeland on the fertile floodplain of the Missouri River was to be inundated by construction of the Garrison Dam.
The points to note here are rather obvious:
1) Indians do cry. They're not stoic or unfeeling like animals.
2) Indians cry for serious reasons such as losing their land or families. They don't cry over trivial things like litter because they're so hypersensitive to the environment.
3) Indians have been cutting their hair and wearing Western clothes for a century or more. They don't go around in buckskins or headdresses these days.
To sum up their crying, they do about the same amount of it, and for the same reasons, as everyone else. If that surprises you, you're probably thinking stereotypically.