October 06, 2010

Indian in the Living Room

Indian in the Living Room

By Ed HansonI would like to introduce someone you have grown up with, refuse to acknowledge, who has made the life you now have possible.

Hello my relatives. I am the Indian in your living room. I am the First Nations, the original inhabitants of Turtle Island.

I am the corn, the beans, the squash, the sweet potatoes, and tomatoes on your dinner table. I am the gratitude you express every fourth Thursday in November.

I am the Corn Maiden, the Two Hills, the Sacred Mountains, Spider Woman, Shiprock. I am the Kachinas, the Thunderbird, the Black Hills, and the Buffalo.

I am the Pipe Carrier, the Keeper of the Sacred Bundles, the White Buffalo Calf, Kokopelli. I am Heyoka, Coyote, Raven, Crow, White Old Man, and Salmon Boy. I am the Sun Dance, the Ghost Dance, the inipi wakan, the hanblechya.

I am the Indian in your living room.

I am the Great Law of Peace. I am the plan for the U.S. Constitution given you by the clan mothers of the Iroquois Federation. I am political freedom, free speech, equality, and freedom of assembly which you claim as part of being an American. I am the Delaware who allowed Washington's troops to survive the winter at Valley Forge.

I am the caretaker of Mother Earth. I am the Grandfathers who tell the stories that teach us how to be human. I am the Ancestors who watch from the heavens. I am Powhatan, Pocahontas, and Sacagawea who helped the white man survive in a strange land. I am the Brotherhood of the Shield that used to care for and protect the people before the white men came.

I am the Indian in your living room.

I am the residue of Manifest Destiny. I am an inconvenience to progress. I am America's Final Solution. I am the ghost of Osceola, Pontiac, and Seattle. I am the Trail of Tears, Sand Creek, and Wounded Knee I and II. I am Baker's Massacre, Ghost Ridge, and all the atrocities carried out in your name. I am the guilt you carry for these crimes.

I am the Indian in your living room.

I am blankets infected with smallpox. I am trade whiskey, forced conversions, and Indian schools. I am slavery, spoiled beef rations, and crooked Indian agents. I am Cornstalk, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and Crazy Horse, I am Sitting Bull, Jim Thorpe, Leonard Peltier, and Ira Hayes. I am Squanto, Red Cloud, White Calf, and SuAnne Big Crow. I am the Navajo Code Talkers who helped you win the war in the Pacific.

I am a long history of unpaid debts and broken promises. I am the spirit of the buffalo shot from train windows and left to rot on the plains. I am every treaty ever made and broken.

I am the Indian in your living room.

I am the reservation where the Constitution and Bill of Rights do not apply. I am the loss of freedom and way of life. I am poverty and unemployment, alcoholism and diabetes. I am hopelessness and suicide and I am here to tell you the reservation now includes your living room and it just swallowed New Orleans.

Now we all live here together. Welcome to the reservation. What they have done to me is being done to you and you let them away with it.

I am the Indian in your living room and I will not go away.

I am your past, your future, your heritage, and your destiny. I am that small drop of Indian blood every American family now carries. I am your parent, your grandparent, and great-grandparent and we are all related.

I am the Indian in your living room and I don't seek vengeance.

I'm done asking for just compensation. Your government is not capable of dealing honestly. I am declaring independence and you had better respect it.

I ask that the people open their hearts and listen and when you weep for the loss of my children as you would weep for your own then, I will know you have heard.
Comment:  This is a poetic way of noting America's Native roots. The Native history and presence across the land. The Native influence in everything from the Constitution to corn flakes.

It's why we deny that America is a "Christian nation." Why we say white Anglo-Saxon Protestants don't own the land and never did. Why we call this a multicultural stew where people of many races and religions, including Indians, have contributed to the whole.

For more on the subject, see America's Cultural Roots.

1 comment:

Burt said...

It is sad that in order to get a full grasp and more accurate account of American history, one needs to either await for college level electives or go to another country.

Most Americans don't know a thing about this land before colonization or statehoods and take their collective histories based on myths and hollywood propaganda.

Great article, thanks for sharing!