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It ain’t easy being Indian… (November 2012)

By Ricey Wild
News From Indian Country

This year the ungrateful, murderous pilgrims of yore will not be in my column. Yooz are welcome. Personally I like the Thanksgiving holiday, just not how it mythically came to be. I like the giving thanks part of it which is done at least once a year by Turtle Island’s immigrant descendants and every day by most Indians. By that I mean me, I have been experiencing very awful, painful days so often that I forget to pray and give thanks, but when I do put tobacco down I am always sure to give thanks for what the gifts I have. I always feel better when I do.

Weird things happen to me all the time. Get this; my good ole hoopdie is broken down. This happened a few days after I started back to work fulltime and after I was fired the first day back in the first 15 minutes. I was unfired the next day. Then I breathed a big gusty sigh of relief and gratefulness for the people who helped me, yooz know who you are. I am thankful for wise, kind, intelligent people. (Good-lookin’ too! Ayyy!)

Since the car takeover in 2011 I’ve had all my difficulties have compounded exponentially. All the so-called little things I have to do like buying dog food and cat litter, washing my clothes at the ‘mat or getting lunch is miserable. Since then it’s been one dreadful thing after another; I feel as if I have an evil cloud of misery hanging over my head. Yet I am thankful that I have heat, electricity, food in the cupboard and tea. I am especially thankful for my Gramma Rose and my loving, adorably furry little family none of whom has ever let me down.

I can’t lift over 10 pounds with my right arm because I’ve had two surgeries; the first “surgery” was hellacious. Get this; one week after I returned to work after recovering from spinal fusion in March I broke my arm in a bizarre fall. The EMT’s asked me in the ambulance which hospital I wanted to go to? I told them St. Mary’s in the Sort of Big Town 20 miles away but they said, “Nope!” you’re going to Blueberry Hospital. That hospital is known for their not so veiled hatred of Indians in general, and called the place “where Indians go to die”. You may imagine my chagrin at being brought there. I am thankful for a few nice nurses, morphine and not having to eat hospital food every day.

Six weeks after the first orthopedic surgery I had another surgery to repair the first one and the result is that I have a metal arm and will never again be able to use it fully. But don’t step up to me and think you knock me out, my left arm is stronger now and I’m ambidextrous and in no mood to put up with any more adverse events. I am thankful for USDA commodities. I was forced to create a delicious recipe for chili made solely from commods because that was all I had to eat and losing weight. I am also thankful to those who practice physical therapy, it really helps.

I am also thankful for friends I don’t see often but who pray for me. I’m thankful that one does sometimes get another chance at life and that the hard lessons learnt will be put to practice. I’m thankful that I get to write this column and thankful to the readers. I am thankful I still have the capacity to be thankful after all the adversity I’ve been experiencing.

So…I just have to find some kind of middle ground where I can exist in a somewhat normal world that’s not out to get me. During all my past trials and tribulations I have trudged on toward the light, never even flagging in energy because I keep hoping that things will get better for me. I also make a conscious choice to be kind to people, no one knows what they are going through.

To all the Veterans of the United States of American I give to yooz my most humble thanks, and I am proud of you. I honor your individual decisions to volunteer for duty to protect and defend our Turtle Island. I , like most Native families have or had close family who served in the military and I am taking this time personally in print to thank my brother Michael Choate, my cousins Michelle Greco, John Dube and all of the fine, heroic men and women whom served us all so well. I will be putting down some tobacco in your honor and will be thankful for your service every day.