Indians. Huh. Its raining. Wet.
I'm on my bike.
I love riding this time of night. Fast. Silent. Invisible. Stealth Biker. I'm a halfbreed spy in the employ of the Cree Nation, riding my pony through the rainy streets of an enemy culture.
I hear indians muttering on the corner, slide by. Hmm, that guy looked Cree. Wonder if he's related. Handsome. Booze hasn't drained him yet. I double around the block, gotta get another look at my cousin. Oh, he's Cree for sure, look at those cheekbones.
"He's too beautiful to be Blackfoot"
Ah, The Voices. They come when I'm alone. They used to come when I got too drunk. They just won't let go of those old tribal rivalries. Wonder who it is...
"WATCH THAT CAR!!!!"
Wish the Voices would help out with the traffic more often.
The received wisdom in my family is that we have always been at war with the Blackfoot Confederacy. The first night I was at the Lonefighters camp we were laughing and singing and having a great time til I let slip that I'm Cree.
Then they started bragging about how the mighty Peigan ended the war by kicking our butts in 1870. Three hundred Cree warriors dead. The end of an era. The end of the Buffalo. The end of the happy time. It didn't seem polite to mention that the only reason they won was because some asshole amerikan gave them repeating rifles.
Probably Kevin Costner.
The Great White Father educates Hollywood about making westerns the new, sensitive way. Real Indian actors, real Indian buffalo, real indian language... well, close. The whole thing is in the Lakota women's language. Must have been a toss up between hiring an additional elder to coach the men or paying the buffalo that wrote the script. Still another story about a Great White Man and the difficult time he has without sidewalks and a real white woman to push around. But wait! The good savages were smart enough to adopt a white female! What foresight! Her family had been massacred by the bad savages. They probably put their outhouse on a Pawnee burial site. After I threw up on my popcorn I swore never again until a redskin makes one. If Kevin really cares he could donate ten per cent of the $800 billion "Dances With Wolves" will eventually make to Native filmmakers. He had the courtesy to rip off somebody else in his latest effort, but it may cost another ten per cent to make his English accent stick in the re - edit for video.
I ride past one of the Gastown "indian art" galleries, the ones that never smell like indians when you get inside. Riding past a second gallery I think about a friend of mine back on the prairies. A gifted artist with a bad drinking problem. (Alcoholism is hereditary in indians, we get it from our oppressors.)
This friend of mine hadn't eaten for a while so he went to the bar one night to sell his prints. Fifty bucks a shot. Or a couple of shots. The evening and the whiskies went by until closing time, when drunk and penniless he traded his last print for half a salmon sandwich.
Half a salmon sandwich. I bet these Gastown bastards spend a lot of time trading their lunches for culture. The return on indians and their art buys a lot of salmon on white. What makes me laugh is that my friends masks and prints are all North-West Coast style and he's Slave Lake Cree. It's like buying eggrolls at a sushi bar.
A lot of us are confused about our roots. Until I was 23 I thought all indians walked with their feet pointing out like a duck. I'd seen it on an old Davey Crockett re-run when I was seven. It wasn't until my movement teacher ragged me about it that I said, "All indians walk this way." I then had that quicksand feeling you get when you speak one of your childhood Tenets of Reality in front of someone for the first time while realizing it's total bullshit. All I had to do was look at someone else in my family.
I still walk like that.
A couple more indians coming out of the Lamplighter Pub. I guess they let us in there.
I can go into any bar I want if I'm dressed right. I can pass. It was harder to pass in school. Had some real problems with History.
The Spanish government is planning to send replicas of the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria over as part of their orgiastic quincentennial. Apparently they've heard rumours of Native discontent and can't figure out why we're so pissed. They could save themselves a lot money and embarrassment by sending over a boat named the Mea Culpa*.
1992. I can't wait. Maybe they're coming over to tell us we don't live in India after all.
* "Mea Culpa" gag courtesy Warren Arcan.