Personal Experiences, Stories and Poems

On This November Day by Charlotte Roe

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On this November day, I want for my people.

I want our voices to be heard,

To be appreciated for our history, our present and our future.

I want for us all to stand as one for our rights.

I want this country to be filled with knowledge that we do exist.

On this November day, I need for my people.

I need for us to no longer be stepped on,

To no longer be looked over by the media, the government and the people.

I need for my culture to be shared everywhere.

I need for our children to be embraced by all and not for personal gain.

On this November day, I wish for my people.

I wish for our families to not be broken up,

To have my people no longer struggle in their homes.

I wish for us to feel and be supported in all ways.

I wish for our children to be taught our truth and language.

On this November day, I dream for my people.

I dream for our governments to be rid of corruption,

To be focused on the advancing of our people instead of the greed that was taught to us.

I dream that my people will feel fulfilled.

I dream that our country and people will always have a future.

On this November day, I am thankful for my people.

I am thankful that we have always shown compassion,

To have shown it to those who didn’t show it themselves.

I am thankful for our warriors and their feats of protection.

I am thankful for our strength in the most long and trying of times.

I want for my people.

I need for my people.

I wish for my people.

I dream for my people.

I am thankful for my people.

On this November day, what do you feel for my people?

Articles/Information, Personal Experiences, Sports and Entertainment

“Spam Rants” – A play of Native proportions.

Last week's program and flyer for "Spam Rants" by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr.
Last week’s program and flyer for “Spam Rants” by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr.

Thursday night I attended a showing of William S. Yellow Robe, Jr.’s play, “Spam Rants: How to Recover Your Files and Other Things You Value.” Having previously met and conversed with Mr. Yellow Robe, Jr. I was eager to see him and his creativity at work.

Yellow Robe, Jr., from my interactions, is a very respectful, intelligent, and fun elder. He’s the type of elder who can size you up within minutes of first meeting you and then teaches and tests you based on his quick (and accurate) observations. These characters are shown within his work and analysis on Native culture and people today.

“Spam Rants” is a compilation of short scenes and experiences. The scenes represent an array of Native struggles, misunderstandings and oppression. This includes the environment, politics, elder-to-youth interactions, education, health, religion, and racism. Yellow Robe, Jr. breaks down the meaning of “Spam Rants” as a metaphor for a mess of thoughts and issues as a reflective element of today’s society.

Much of today’s Native youth dismiss elder teachings as crazy talk from the past and has no relevance to life today. Yellow Robe Jr. recreates it in a scene between an uncle and his nephew. The nephew just bought a new rifle and had been bragging about its accuracy and power. The nephew reveled in his description of the death of a deer from a mere grazing of a bullet. In response the uncle described his time hunting with relatives. In the old days and traditions they would share one rifle, and respected the animal, they didn’t “treat hunting like a game.”

An interaction between elders and youth, especially Native males such as this is an example of society’s impact. The “new” Western culture has taught Native males that they need to be focused on material things and getting ahead, instead of showing respect and care to their surroundings the way they traditionally were. The western population has a colonial way of thinking, the idea that old things or old ways should be thrown away for their lack of current relevance regardless of its importance or accuracy in its end result.

Yellow Robe Jr. presents these scenes and concepts gracefully. Graceful in the way that he uses some comic relief so that it is not harsh or offensive and yet still shows understanding and respect for the races and cultures involved. He also doesn’t diminish the impact of the ‘settlization’ that occurred and continues in the Americas and brings plenty of focus to the change that needs to occur in the current thought process of the population.

While the show allowed an entertaining look into Native struggles and mistaken identity, the post show was what I found the most beneficial. It included an analysis of the work as well as any questions from the audience on the subjects, actors, and the writing process of the play. The dialogue that Mr. Yellow Robe, Jr. wishes to create from his works is clearly successful in the mere 20 minutes dedicated to the post show.  Yellow Robe Jr. hopes this dialogue will help continue and examine the movement of ‘decolonization’ as well as invoke action to change the mindset and teachings for the population in the Americas.

The play was held at the University of Maine, was free, and open to the public. For those that are near the area or hear of any of Mr. Yellow Robe, Jr.’s productions I definitely recommend attending. His work speaks truthfully on the many issues within the Native community and is incredibly thought provoking. If you get the opportunity to discuss or see any of his work you will absolutely leave with more than you arrived with.

 

Articles/Information

Seeking Strength in Impoverished Indian Country

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Talking Circle, used as a place of support and connection in Native tradition.

Natives are unable to speak up about the rights that have been denied to them because of their inability to communicate with and be understood by the rest of the country. Native people and culture is being left behind. Being forced to live within dangerous circumstances without support and opportunities that are granted to so many others, indigenous people struggle to survive.

According to a census.gov poverty rate survey between 2007-2011, the amount of American Indians and Alaska Natives living in poverty are 27%, the highest in the nation. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are 17.6% in poverty. In order to qualify as being in poverty during the time of this census, adhering to Federal guidelines, for a single person household income is capped at $10,890. For each additional person in the household a person must add $3,820 to the original number. As of 2014 the poverty qualification has increased by $780.

All native people know these statistics because they live them, but it’s the non-natives that always want to point towards and uses these statistics as a type of excuse. An excuse to discourage many native children that their generation isn’t strong enough to overcome many of the current strife they face everyday such as suicide and substance abuse.

Due to the majority of Native people in America living in poverty, not having access to basic connection and support systems that are provided to others creates further setbacks. However, these ‘setbacks’ have been going on for hundreds of years and most would argue that it is not by accident.

For many decades the Bureau of Indian Affairs (the federal agency provided to support Native people) has been the home of corruption, racism and incompetence on matters that are to prevent mass poverty and struggle among Native people. This governmental office has in countless ways denied the access of technology and support to native people by neglect and the misappropriation of funds.

A change in this office, and the funding and opportunity process is needed in order to strengthen thousands of people in this country who struggle on a day-to-day basis to live and feel appreciated.

With increased external support in certain fields, the young native generation will be able to help and strengthen themselves to escape the marginalization that they have been forced into. Escaping this, Indian culture will then be able to live on as well as the indigenous youth.

Article Responses

Crime Across Cultures

In reference to the link and article above, ‘Rape Pandemic: Assaults in Asia, Pacific Close to Rate in Indian Country‘:

In China, after a mother was sent to a labor camp for trying to get her daughter’s kidnapper and rapist brought to justice, the U.N. had produced a study on the men in the Asia and Pacific area. The results were that in many of the countries’ cultures violence and “sexual entitlement” – defined by Rachel Jewkes, lead technical adviser for the study is the “feeling that you ought to be able to have sex with a woman basically regardless of if the woman allows it- without judicial consequences is relatively common.

The study also showed that 23 percent of men in China have committed 1+ rape and in Papua New Guinea 61 percent admitted to rape. However, in comparison to the rape statistics of the American Indian woman and in Native populations it is greater than the international percentage. In accordance to another article, ‘Rape Data for Indian Country Has Failed to Capture Complete Picture‘ article written January 2012, by Rob Capriccioso from Indian Country Today Media Network, and the data from the U.S. Department of Justice, the violence upon Native women are the highest in the nation. This is due to the country’s new definition of rape as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person without consent of the victim” (taken from the U.S. Department of Justice website http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-ag-018.html ). This new definition has lead to an increase in the rape count in Indian country. Although, even with this new found knowledge, Congress has decreased funding to aid programs for Native rape survivors. The cut back caused a huge affect in the judicial systems ability to pursue a case against Native people’s violators.

The articles referenced have not gotten large enough airtime to give the nation a wider outlook and grasp on the struggle and victimization Native people today. These articles have exposed the neglect of the government and the continued discrimination towards Native people. However, what the articles lack are personal testimony of Native American victims. It is in this thought that perhaps a testimony would allow for a greater audience to sympathize and work on further public action and support. Until more public broadcasting it is up to smaller news stations and media to provide this coverage.