Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Native women pay the highest price for our Rape Culture

The revelations of rape culture throughout Canada's highest institutions of learning is further evidence that this country remains a dangerous place for Native women. 

My wife tells our daughters to always be on guard. "There is no such thing as paranoid for an Indian girl." The numbers of our Murdered and Missing sisters continues to grow without action as though our current sum is not staggering enough to make people care.

My wife told me many years ago that she believed Native girls put on weight as an act of self-defense after years of being under attack. The society that we have created is one that demands women to be as small as possible. It makes them even more defenseless.

As in the movie 12 Years a Slave it is the women who suffer the most under racism and repression. It is the Native people of Canada who are on the lowest rung of this society. It is women who are the lowest rung of this society. It is Native women who hold onto the last rung as though it is the final grip on our humanity itself.

The fight is at our door. It is our responsibility as Native men. Our men have to start within. There is no win in this fight until that fight is won. Until then our women stand alone.

Men who are not connected to anything are dangerous. The ones who are not connected in some real way to the larger community are dangerous. They are the ones that need to be watched. But they are not the only ones.

I have waved this sickness awash in my mind as alien weight. This blind to humanity. It is not what the Creator made of me when I came into this world. It is not how my mother raised me before she sent me out into the world. It is not what I can be to be all the things that it takes to be called a man. Napayo.

This is the greatest infection of the residential schools but it has to be understood at another level beyond sexual violence. It was spiritual violence that was spread to the thousands and thousands and thousands. Yet this is another violation often imposed upon our women and girls by Native men. 

I don't what your name is, what you do or what you've done. If you disrespect our women you disrespect our mom and all your words and action become none. Do not keep our women down and done and unsafe and unsung. 

This is our fight first. We must change. We can protect our women and then we can help them all. But first we must take care of our own homes. If we cannot protect our women in their own homes and in their own communities then all is lost.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In Praise of The Vulture

I see the big shadow swoosh over top me and onto the ground below
and hear the power of the wings flap with great and unending power
I turn my head with excitement to see the large black body fly over head
I want to see the bold white head and tail feathers flash in the sunlight

It is not the Eagle
He is not the special one
He is despised
His bald red wrinkled head
is unseemly
as though carved from the
very rotten flesh which he
is always feasting

He rises up and my eyes follow
He joins in a circle with seven brethren
And spin in celebration

If these were Eagles
I would fall to my knees
and cry

I hear the Voice
I can't tell you where it comes from
but it told me this

Who are you to judge the Vulture
and how he is spreading across Mother Earth
like never before
Eating up all the death Man creates

Then I saw my brothers
for what they are
and what they do

So then I smiled and said my thanks
and hoped for something new

And if one day
it becomes that way
that I get to return to
this Mother Earth

I would be proud to serve
with all of my friends
as one who cleans up
after all of our sins

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What if this Winter NEVER ends?

What if this winter never ends?

There it is.
I said it.
That is the shit we do not want to hear.

That is not what we need to be thinking right now.
Those are not the words we need to be saying out loud right now.
We need to shut this guy the fuck up right now.

We need to put him in jail delete his name from the files because he is saying shit we do not want to hear. We can not have this. Not right now. Because the thought is banging around my head like a stray bullet inside an empty bomb shelter.

So calm the fuck down and shut the fuck up.
That is not what we need to hear right now.

They'll be coming for your wood.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Olympics 2014 - NativeWritesNow Edition

It was a Native Olympics second only to Jim Thorpe owning the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in Sweden. The Sauk and Fox/Pottawatomie athlete won gold in both the Decathalon and Pentathalon at those games and had the King of Sweden declare him the greatest athlete of all time.

A century later, the Sochi Games brought together Native athletes from Canada and the US that made indelible marks on the Olympic stage.

The Ted Nolan Story was already plenty dramatic. Even if it ended with him hoisting the Memorial Cup as Coach of his Sioux Greyhounds. Nolan grew up on the Garden River First Nation and overcame poverty, racism and limits of size and talent to make it to all the way the NHL.

Soon after his playing career ended he began coaching. He coached his hometown Greyhounds to three consecutive Championships and soon Nolan found his way back in the big leagues this time behind the bench.

After one year as Assistant Coach he was hired by the Buffalo Sabres to be their head coach. By his second season Nolan had turned around the lowly Sabres and led them to a Division title and he was chosen the NHL's Coach of the Year.

Nolan's clashes with all-star goaltender Dominik Hasek saw him run out of town. The whispers were that it wasn't that Nolan was such a good coach but that Hasek was such a good goaltender. Anybody could win with the Dominator in net.

The team would continue the rise initiated by Nolan and ascend to the Stanley Cup final the year after he had left the team, but the descent for the Buffalo Sabres has been brutal since those heady days.

Nolan would speak out publicly in the years that followed about the open racism that he experienced and that he believed was a factor in him not returning to a job behind the bench.  He returned to the NHL behind the bench for the New York Islanders and led them to the playoffs in his first year.

He was let go again after his second year by a Islanders management team swirling in confusion and led by newly hired General Manager Garth Snow.

Nolan had his second chance in the NHL and it didn't work out. He had been kicked out of the circle. It had to hurt. Nolan is a "Player's Coach". He makes the players believe in themselves and you can't lie in their face to do that. You have to put your heart on the line right next to them. It's gonna hurt sometimes. Sometimes it's gonna break.

He would be banished to Latvia or so it would seem but it was in this former Soviet country that Nolan would find his love of the game once again.  He got his players to rise up and win their way into the Olympic tournament. He overseas success brought him back once again a third act in an NHL coaching career. He was greeted on return to Buffalo as second coming and prodigal son all rolled into one.

His return had one caveat. During the Olympic break he would return to his place behind the Latvian bench. During the tournament he showed the world that he could coach men to challenge superstars.

I googled Latvia when I heard that Nolan was coaching the country and the first thing that came up is Latvian Jokes. I clicked on the link and turned out that Latvia jokes make fun of the people's intelligence and also starvation and rape. It's that insidious hatred that is disguised as a smile, the good old ethnic joke. They were picked on and they were disregarded and more ways than one.

They were true underdogs and if you love sport as much as I do, you found yourself rising up as well to cheer David Latvia versus Goliath Canada even as a fan of Team Canada. Yes, there is the nationalistic side to the Olympics but there is the pureness of sports that reaches into the most human part of us. It is why the first Rocky movie is the best. Rocky doesn't win, he goes the distance with the Champ.

The Canadians didn't even know they were in a fight until half way through the game by that time New York Islanders franchise player Jonathan Tavares was knocked out of the game and out for the season. It would have Garth Snow, the man who exiled Nolan from the NHL crying foul on the whole idea of sending superstars to play against men.

Yes, Nolan is a Player's Coach but he's also a strategist who had his team committed to a system that kept them in it against every team they played including eventual Olympic silver medalist Sweden.

He is also a trickster with the guts to try something on the Champ. The only goal by Latvia was a trick play where one player entered the front bench door and another snuck out the back door. It was so crazy that it might have worked again if CBC commentator Glenn Healy hadn't screamed the information to the broadcast booth.

When Nolan had tried the same trick again in the third, the Canadians were ready; but without that extra intelligence one wonders if the Canadian brain trust would have been fooled again.

Who knows what would have happened to Team Canada if they actually trailed in the third period. The population of Canada is small but the weight of it's hockey expectations are greater than any other country.

Nolan and Team Latvia had their chances but the final decision was also in the hands of a First Nations man. It was Carey Price, Ulkatch Nation BC who led Canada past Latvia and then shut the door the rest of the way. No one would score on Price again. I know it's a stereotype, but the truth of it stares you into the face when you see Price. He is stoic. Steadfast and unbeatable in the end.

Jocelyne Larocque Metis Nation, MB took home Gold and as one of the new generation of Women's Hockey.  It was Larocque that started the play that turned the whole game around and led to the team's already legendary comeback against Team USA. Larocque fired a crisp pass out of the Canadian end that found Meaghan Mikkelson, then Brianne Jenner and then the back of the US net. A few other miracles later and Team Canada was wearing Gold.

On the American side, TJ Oshie (Anishinaabe) and Team USA Hockey got off to a fast start but fizzled out when they came up against the stonewall of Carey Price. Oshie had already earned his place in the US Olympic legend with his snake dance scoring performance against Team Russia.

I am sure somewhere Jim Thorpe is smiling.