It ain’t easy being Indian… (August 2015)

By Ricey Wild
News From Indian Country

This entire continent needs to be re-educated. I’m sick of and disgusted by the colonizers’ fairy tale of how the America’s were discovered, I say invaded, by Europeans and make no mention of the fact that hundreds of millions of Native Peoples were already living here who had already founded and left far more advanced civilization’s than Europe had at any time. Facts: in Ohio there is a serpent mound that is built on the lip of an ancient asteroid crater; also in Ohio is the base of a pyramid named ‘Monks Mound’ that is the largest known of in the entire world; there are all the Great Nations of North America also the Maya, the Aztecs, the Olmec Peoples who built great cities and hundreds of pyramids. Their knowledge of the universe was unmatched by colonizers and still is in many ways. Let’s hear more about that history hmmmm?
But no that’s not what we hear when we begin school is it? I remember being dropped off at kindergarten and being traumatized by the strangeness of it all and my mother’s callous disregard for my pains of abandonment. Well, one can only cry for so long so I started to play with the other kids as little kids do; no racism included. I tried very hard to be good so I could be chosen to be the fairy to wake up the rest of the children with a wand after our naps. I think maybe once I got to do it while the white kids did it all the time.
That was the last time I would be considered just another girl to my schoolmates because afterwards we were taught that their ancestors are better than mine. Little did I know then how my self-perception would radically change because of the colonizer’s evil lies. I’ve written reams about my faux education about being taught that savage war-like Indian’s scalped innocent white settlers, ate babies and glaring implications that the Red Man He Like White Woman flesh. (Hence the popularity of Indian man/White woman romance novels).

We learned too that my ancestors objected to further incursion on their lands by resistance and warfare from white’s who wanted to tear up the environment to farm and extract gold, silver and other minerals. For that heroic effort by my people my former friends turned on me for being an Indian girl. Wow. I can still feel their pale, piercing eyes on my little golden back.  

Odd when I think about it now that I was one of about three Indian kids in elementary school in a town in the middle of three large reservations. Iris was my friend and James was to be my husband. He was just cute and wore thick black-framed glasses. Oh my love wherefore art thou now? Anyways we moved to The Big City from a rural area and I was astonished by how many Indian kids were in the Jr. High. It was great not to stand out and be segregated to just the tier above Martha in elementary school whose nose had permanent snot tracks underneath it.  

There is so much historical trauma attached to schools for us Indians. Most of it is absolutely horrific that reads more like a grisly horror movie than anything and if there was any altruistic intent that ended before it ever began. The early boarding schools were basically murder factories where children were stripped of their identity and if that didn’t work they were literally murdered. So, our people had to learn to survive the ‘education’ and if they lived were so traumatized by that experience that they were unable to function in society because of PTSD.

Those children who lived had children of their own who went to school where they learned they were inferior to The Great White Race.

Nowadays it’s a lot better for our little ones. So much better because many Indian people answered the call to educate our own kids and give them the attention and care so badly lacking in the past. Children are learning their native languages in schools and even being taught in it too!!! I have big respect for teachers and educators; I did go to college to become a teacher that hasn’t happened in the sense I’m in front of a class but I like to think in my own way I have opened some eyes to at the very least another person’s point of view by writing this column.

One f my favorite people in the world is Rick Gresczyk who taught at the Jr. High School I went to and whom I learned my first Ojibwe words from. Chii Miigwech Rick you are a treasure and Miigwech also for being my son’s teacher too; how cool is that?