I am hurting.
This morning I came across an article purporting that the professional football team in DC was finally going to change its racist and demeaning name. I read the article in disbelief. I whispered to myself, “I hope this is true.” My heart filled with joy. I was overcome with emotion. I imagined my grandfather celebrating this victory. I felt that the political will of Native people in this Nation has finally moved from the shadows and in to the light of day. We were being heard!
I remembered the broken treaties that have shaped the relationship between indigenous cultures and the manifest destiny of U.S. will for the past 250 plus years. I remember the high addiction rates, the high sexual violence, and the sparse opportunities that Native people endure in this modern industrial power. I remember the stories my grandfather told of when he was taken from his home, separated from his sister, and forced to attend boarding schools to rid him of the Indian within.
I remember growing up in Los Angeles and having to attend a special program in public school that taught us how to be “Indian.” This school homogenized Native cultures into something that resembled a solitary Hollywood commodity of red faced savages that spoke in grunts & hand signals, wore buckskin, and lived in teepees. I looked nothing like what they approved as Indian. I was not red enough for them.
When I read that article I let my guard down and got excited. I was relieved that finally the Native voice was heard. We have moved past the Facebook check-ins by the masses to assist the water protectors endeavor to seek political clout. We have moved beyond the annual flurry of post by folks around Thanksgiving that espouse the ills of that first holiday in which pilgrims and Indians made nice and founded our country.
I am hurting.
I hurt because I should have known better that to let my guard down and hold any hope in that the Native plight is worth anything more that the history books and a collective national guilt to be brought out when folks in power feel bad. I hurt.
I have no idea who is responsible for this hoax. If it is a Native group I would love to know what this was intended to serve. If this is any other group then I say, “fuck you!” I do not need any more assistance in feeling bad or depressed about myself. I got that down. I kind of don’t care who did this and why. I hurt. I hurt because once again Native voice and Native people are a commodity to be swung around in a political game of power and privilege just waiting to be considered real enough to be taken seriously and offered a full measure of humanity.
I am hurting. Today, I am going to feel this. Tomorrow I will remember this. I will not believe you again. I know you will not change. I know this because you are not hurt by what you did.