Writing About Indians

I've tried it before. It's hard. 

Why did I title this "writing about Indians"? Because Sherman Alexie's book of short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven is about growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. So, he's writing about real-life interactions on current situations. They are stories, yes, so they're not word-for-word true, but they present an image that, frankly, I feel I need to pay attention to. 

I've done a fair bit of thinking about Native American Indians. I dated an Indian, once. (And yes, he called himself an Indian). There's this whole romantic notion I had about who Indians were/are, and the spirituality they have and the respect they deserve. (Which I still think they deserve. They were in North America much earlier than my Norwegian and German ancestors were... I speak for just myself, but consider their presence against your own heritage, as well). 

What strikes me about the Native American experience--though I should emphasize that it shouldn't be generalized for all people groups, a.k.a. "tribes,"--is the fact that their experiences have gone largely unknown. Surrounded by this aura of respect and fear (of offending them), it seems like not knowing who they are and what they need as people, is actually more offensive than being intensely interested in their stories.

And heck, I'm interested. 


There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don't wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is. Now, these skeletons are made of memories, dreams, and voices. And they can trap you in the in-between, between touching and becoming. But they're not necessarily evil, unless you let them be. / What you have to do is keep moving, keep walking in step with your skeletons. ... Your past ain't going to fall behind, and your future won't get too far ahead. Sometimes though, your skeletons will talk to you, tell you to sit down and take a rest, breathe a little. Maybe they'll make you promises, tell you all the things you want to hear. (21, 22, "A Drug Called Tradition"). 


That segment is taken from a short story in which a large number of Spokane Indians have gathered in one of their houses to drink and celebrate one of them having received a large, large sum of money. After a time, three of them depart the party to use a drug that makes them dream some pretty psychedelic dreams/visions. There's a blurring of reality and non-reality. What is real? What isn't? 

Sometimes, I ask those questions myself. (And I don't take non-pharmaceutical drugs). 

...FRIENDS. I'm interested in spirituality. I'm a Christian, yes. I believe in God, in Jesus. In the Holy Spirit. But more broadly than that, I believe that within us we have a capacity to see and understand truths beyond what is readily visible. It's part of what makes us human--different from animals. And I know, I know, there's this weird blending of animal instincts with human ones, but I cannot escape the fact that we are driven so much by emotions, and also by feelings. Sometimes, (for better or worse), they seem to own us. I want to say that horses, dogs, baboons, tigers, penguins...can have these emotions too. I believe it is in us to search for such similarities and connections. But crap, what am I trying to say? 

I'm trying to say that experiences of what seems real. . . but maybe, we're not quite sure. . . these experiences need to be mined. Dive into them. (Not through the use of drugs, though). Search your own mind and body (and soul) for the ways you seek something beyond you. I hope it is God, because I believe God's the source of all goodness, but I suppose to begin with, you have to want to look beyond you. To know there is more. 


Last week, while I was living my life at the bakery, coming home to spend time with myself--and with God--it often struck me that I was having conversations with someone still totally invisible. Yes, I was building a relationship. And pulled back from it all, it seems kooky. COULD BE PERCEIVED as being kooky. But, maybe it isn't? I'm trying to mine it. Trying to mine the goodness that right now, in these past days, seems to be more solid than anything else I've ever known. 

. . . 

lots of thoughts, here. Forgive my wandering. It's late, I'm tired. . . and I should head to bed.

Be blessed, keep pondering the hard things. Look inward, live in the present. 

-Maggie