Saturday, July 7, 2012

What do Native Americans really want?

 Sad as it is to say, most of us seem to know more fiction than fact about Native American life. 

Beyond myths and stereotypes, what do the descendants of our nation's pre-Founding Fathers truly want? Can there be honestly be a simple answer to such a complex question?

Dr. David Yeagley — the great grandson of Comanche dignitary Bad Eagle — shares his views.

Q: If Indians could have everything they want, what would they want?  

A: At heart, every Indian is a Ghost Dancer. We want things to be like they were.  The Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka said (in the 1860’s) that if only the Indians would gather together and dance, and never stop dancing, all the Indians who were killed would all come back, the white man would go away, and all things would be like they were.  

It is a compulsive dream, but, only a dream. (The Sioux were once murdered in mass for such a dance. It’s called Wounded Knee.) What Indians have today is some meager imitation of white life. We use electricity (when we have it), fry food, drive cars (when they work), and wear Wal-Mart clothes. We celebrate Christmas, and even ask the Lord to bless our food—as well as our tribal meetings! It is a mix of things.  We obviously maintain many of our traditions, customs, and social values.  

This mix of things does affect our expectations. It affects what we want. We’ll never have the open plains to roam on again; we’ll never have the big game to hunt. We’ll never have our Comanche ponies again. But what we have is ourselves. I, for one, advocate that we preserve our blood lines, or what’s left of them. The great mix of things has eroded even our family lines. Fewer and fewer full bloods are alive. Integration of people always means interracial sexual relations and mixed children. This is a grave danger, in my opinion.  There are too few Indians to play that game. Miscegenation is more foolish than the wars. Out-numbered in war, we now make ourselves even less numerous!

Indians simply cannot have what we really want. We must compromise. I can only say that we should compromise in the wisest ways possible, ways that will insure the continuity of our people and our identity. Again, I believe Indians should lead the way for the American nation at large. America is obviously lost in the sea of narcissistic solipsism, self-destroying every minute; the Indian, who has sacrificed everything just to maintain his identity, is the only real example left of what it means to be a people, even if your land is taken, your way of life destroyed, and your mind left to manage some semblance of who you are.  

Before America becomes “the Indian” all over again, before Americans have to admit that the America they once loved and honored is no more, before I have to be first to extend my hand to the white man and say, “Welcome to Indian Country,” I suggest that America take a good hard look at Indians. Is that what you want? If you want to be yourself, be it now, with all your might, before the oedipal white liberals in charge use the Third World non-whites to bury you in your own egalitarian idealism.

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