from the Ahnishinahbæótjibway (We, the People)
Since I’ve been writing this column, I’ve been getting a lot of mail and telephone calls that need to be answered. Tuesday, my mail-order certificate for completing a home-study course in Shamanism finally arrived. As is documented by my genuine, gilt (guilt) edged diploma from the International Institute of Shamanism, I’ve become a full-fledged Shaman, D.D.—but I’m only going to work part-time ... it depends on how I feel.
Under my new title as Shaman, D.D., I want to thank the young lady in Cass Lake for calling to let me know she agreed with me, on the last column that Wub-e-ke-niew wrote. There are a very few Ahnishinahbæótjibway people left. Thank you for calling.
to the stack of mail:
I grew up a Chippewa reservation with an Indian name, and there is no way I’m going to let anyone denigrate that upbringing. Yes, the whole nine yards: the tar-paper shack, 11 brothers and sisters, cutting wood for heat and cooking, hauling water, outside toilets, spearing fish in the spring for food, hunting ducks and deer in the fall for winter food, trapping with the old man for needed cash items, etc. When we went into town to spend our hard-earned money, the white folks were so glad to see us. We never experienced any racism. The BIA was always there to help us out when we needed it, and they gave us fine schooling, with scholarship opportunities to go to college so we could work as mid-level Token Indian bureaucrats for the Bureau and other white institutions. So, why don’t you quit bitching and crying in your news column?
Dear Wemetigozhens (translated into English, this means, “Little Burnt Stump”),
I guess I should quit complaining. Some of
the descendants of the French fur
traders, who got turned into Indians during the War of 1812 with
England, got a
pretty good deal. Forty years ago,
there were quite a few tarpaper shacks in the northwoods, and almost
electricity or running water—a lot of the white people didn’t have it,
either. Back then, there were actually
ducks and deer to hunt, and wood to cut.
Nobody had refrigerators, and the only way to keep fresh food
was to share
it. Abe Lincoln was born in a log
cabin, and so were a lot of other people.
Indian Religion, doesn’t it have degrees? How do I go about studying this religion, and getting some of these degrees? Is it like Chemical Dependency certification? And, do I have to learn the language so I can help my people?
First of all, you spelled my name wrong. It’s Shaman, with an “S.” If you want Charmin, you’ll need to go see Roger Jourdain, Butch Brun, Bobby Whitefeather, Buggers McArthur, or former Tribal Chairman Chip Wadena. Those are the official Indians you want to see; I’m not an IRA Indian, never have been, and never will be.
The idea of “degrees” is a historical accident. There was a Frenchman trying to be a medicine man, and he didn’t speak English too well. He couldn’t say “the,” he always said “de.” He was talking to a blood quantum Indian about the seven Crees up in Canada, and what he said sounded like “de Crees” or “degrees.” It’s time to start debunking this mythology of “degrees.”
you want religion, there are still a lot of missionaries
around who will be happy to give you a free Bible and save you. And, if you want to help your people, it’s
more useful to learn English.
How do you make the wigwam shake?
a bungee cord, some of the Real Indian Traditionalists
(especially those with college degrees in Indian Studies) spell it
Some of your story-telling, some of your Wannaboozhoo stories, seem to be outdated. Why don’t you get “with it,” and give up on all your useless old antiquated ideas? I don’t know why you can’t be more like us.
Signed, White Traditionalist
Dear White Liberal,
The fish are all gone and the deer are disappearing. The forests are mostly clearcut or turned into sick agriculture called “tree farms.” The buffalo are gone, and the passenger pigeons are extinct. They’ve been tearing down piñon nut trees to make room for more cattle, and the spin doctors are creating public opinion to destroy the BWCA. They want to “develop” the BWCA to make money. In plain English, their Euroamerican motto is, “greed is good and exploitation is healthy.”
We’ve given up a lot, already. Why don’t you try giving up something for awhile, like maybe quit stealing other people’s lands, stop giving other people different identities ... why don’t you give up your apartheid Constitution? And, violence seems like a useless old antiquated idea to me. As long as you’re talking about giving up worthless customs, why don’t you straighten out your language so it doesn’t lie so much?
I wanted to know if there really was a Nanaboozhoo.
I went and consulted
a Real Indian Medicine Man, and then I went and talked to several Real
Traditionalists. They informed me that,
“It’s so sacred, we can’t talk about it.”
That’s what Real Indians always say when they don’t know, so I
that they didn’t know. I don’t know
either, and I don’t really care.
That’s all for now. Keep the mail coming. My mailing address is P.O. Box 484, Bemidji, MN 56619, and my telephone number is (218) 679-3984.