Andrew And The Indians - 'Journey Home' - Clips From Christine
I have a friend who tells me to write of my pain. My friend is a storyteller. My friend is an Indian. To people of the white race, a storyteller is just a person who tells stories. To an Indian, a storyteller is a special person, revered by the clan. They hold the past in their heads, and the gift of seeing unseen things in their eyes.
Storytelling is a gift. Writing is an art. The two do not always link hands together. To be able to do both is truly a great accomplishment.
I have the heart and desire of a writer, a storyteller, but pen and ink fail me more times than not.
Some people sing in the shower. I write. Not on paper, but inside my head. As the water sluices over my head and body, washing away the cares of the everyday world, thoughts seep through the pores of my brain and into the pulsating drops of steam. I magically string words together that express what I feel; wonderful words that say who I am, what I am and why I am; words of wisdom; thoughtful, caring words that anyone can understand. As I turn the water off, and it evaporates from my body, the cooling vapors rinse away the splendid words with the soap bubbles. Oh, if only I could bring pen and paper to the shower!
Did I say I was an Indian? I thought I did. No matter, I’m saying it now. My mother was born on what is today known as the ‘Poarch Indian Reservation’ outside of Atmore, Alabama. My mother never talked about being an Indian. It was engrained into her as a child not to let that be known. “Hide your heritage.” Her home was not a reservation when she was born there.
The United States government said she didn’t exist as an Indian.
Why did she not exist as an Indian? Because Andrew Jackson, one of the heroes in every child’s history book, said she did not exist as an Indian. That hero, who killed a thousand of my people in only one day at Horseshoe Bend, made this decision. This man, this President, said the American Indian did not deserve to be treated as a human. He stated that they should be herded like sheep or cows and put into pens.
My mother’s ancestors did not understand his reasoning, and hid out in the dense forest of southern Alabama to escape this indignity. As a consequence, they later suffered the indignity of being denied their heritage, their birthright, and their right to exist as an Indian because they were not listed on the “proper” roles.
My mother was made to feel small in school because she knew that she was a “dirty” Indian. She learned to deny being what she was. She learned to “pass” as a white eyes.
When I was a child she whispered to me that she was an Indian – “sshhh,” she hummed in my ear, “don’t tell anyone. It’s our secret.” Suddenly, I realized why, during games of Cowboy and Indians, I always wanted to be the Indian…even though it meant I had to be the one who died. We all watched Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and other cowboy heroes. The cowboy was always the good guy wearing the white hat.
The Indians were always the stinking coyotes, sneaking up on people and doing dirty deeds to poor unsuspecting white settlers who were just minding their own business. Here comes Hop-a-Long Cassidy and he saves the day…BANG, BANG, “You’re dead, you dirty Injun.” Still, it didn’t feel right to me to play the cowboy, or even Annie Oakley.
My mother was never allowed to be proud of her heritage, not only as a child, but also for most of her adult life. I have an older brother who was born in Alabama. His birth certificate states his race is Indian. I was born later after my mother moved to Louisiana. No one knew she was Indian. It was easy enough to “pass” in Louisiana with so many dark skinned people there. My birth certificate even denies me my heritage. I am white. My birth certificate says so.
Time moves forward. Views change. Things once hidden are released to the liberal sunlight of acceptance. Your sins will find you out. ‘GENOCIDE’ that horrible word associated with Hitler never happened here in our wonderful land of the free. But, it did. Ask the Creek, the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the other two “civilized” tribes who adopted the ways of the white man only to be betrayed and murdered by their mentors. Long before the “death march” of Bataan, there was the “Trail of Tears.”
Our stories are not taught in the classroom. My child went to school and he learned the same things about American history I did. His children will go to school and will probably be taught the same. Our stories are not written down in any true sense of the word. They are told from one generation to the next. The Storytellers.
The white man does not understand how I feel about the attempted genocide of my peoples. When I say my peoples, I am not just speaking of my mother’s Creeks, I am speaking of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Comanche, Apache, Ute…every tribe that suffered the same indignities simply because they were born Indian. We were different. We didn’t believe the same as the whites.
Here in the home of the brave and the land of the free, we were not allowed to be brave or free. This country, founded on religious freedom, took away our most sacred ceremonies and declared them illegal. Yet, they say it happened a long time ago. “Get over it. You can’t expect us to keep making it up to you.” I feel unsettled when I hear these things. Why is that? They didn’t do those things to me personally, and they cannot understand why it affects me. Why do I feel this pain so? I have no real answers, but the pain is there. It is real. It hurts.
I recently stood on the steps of the Riverwalk in New Orleans. A beautiful place! Lots of ambience! Across the distance was a bronze statue of a man riding a horse. This man must be a wonderful person for them to raise a statue in his honor! To name a section of the city after him! This man was Andrew Jackson. I stood in Jackson Square. By my side was my friend, the storyteller. When I looked at him, I saw the same pain written on his face that was on mine. We did not need to speak. Each knew what the other felt.
'Journey Home' Documentary Has Solid Roots But Needs Additional Funding!
To Bobbie at Native Unity ,
Thank you so much for posting our article – “Chicamauga Cherokeer Indian Creek Tribe Seeks Federal Recognition” on June 5th of this year. We receive new signatures every nearly every day. Thank you!!
To sign the petition go to:
I am working on an American Indian Historical documentary called “Journey Home” . I follow 5 boarding school survivors “home” and document what happened to them through their letters and their descendants words.
Two of the principals in the documentary changed the face of Indian Law way back in the 1800s and very early 1900s. If it weren’t for them, Native people would not have the records or access to the courts the way we do now.
I was the first person to crack the seal on the Society of American Indians microfilm reel. It sat in the library for 37 years. This documentary is ground breaking but I am having trouble raising funds for the project.
NAPT (Native American Public Telecommunications) has given us substantial funding but I have to raise 100k more to get the documentary produced. I know there are a lot of invitational funding opportunities out there. Would you run an article about my documentary to see if we can generate additional interests from funders?
It would be such a waste and loss to all Native people if this story is never told which shows both the dark and positive side of boarding schools and documents a historical era that is rarely covered.
We face it head on and listen to the words of those who were in boarding schools and also follow two native people as the formed the society and fought for our rights in Congress and the courts. We use their letters for Native youth today.
I believe this story needs to be in the history books. NAPT is going to distribute and stream the program if I can get the additional funding. The script is available to interested parties.
Mother Kimberly Lyman
NAPT – In Production
JOURNEY HOME Producers: Cynthia Pardy (Mohegan/Pequot), Kimberly Lyman (Chickamauga Cherokee/Choctaw), WHRO-TV
Journey Home is a one-hour documentary that will provide a new perspective about the boarding school experience by revealing reforms in government policies made by those who attended American Indian educational institutions. Thomas Sloan (Omaha) and Henry Roe Cloud (Winnebago) fought for civil rights, proper education and sovereignty.
Clips From Christine
The Los Angles City/County Native American Indian Commission presents American Indian Heritage Month Celebration 2007. Mayor Antonio R.Villaraigosa, City Council Members, City Attorney & City Controller Cordially invite you to the Opening Ceremony on Friday, October 26th,2007 at 10:00 AM.
Location: City Hall, Council Chambers, followed byprogram and reception on the Forecourt, 200 N. Spring Street, LosAngeles, CA 90012. RSVP and reserve parking by October 23rd at 213-922-9762. Please remember to RSVP if you will need parking.
The American Indian Dance Theatre presents "DANCES FROM A TRIBAL LIFE" four performances - opens Thursday, Oct. 25th.
The company includes Jocy Bird, Isaiah Bob, Adrian Cross, Tawny Hale,Kevin Haywahe, Nate Littlechild, Maria Mahkimetas, Randy Paskemin,Marty Pinnecoose, Doug Schofield, Andy Vasquez, Jason Whitehouse andJosette Wahwasuck.
The program features a newly staged Honoring Ceremony, in which the company pays tribute to the elders who have passed on the traditional dances to the younger generations; an Eastern Woodlands Suite of social dances common to many tribes on the east coast of North America; an Eagle Dance suite from the Hopi and Zuni pueblos; as well as dances paying tribute to some of the animals and birds revered by many tribes, including the Deer and the Buffalo.
American Indian Dance Theatre. Artistic director: Hanay Geiogamah. Produced by Buddy Wilson.
Performances run from Oct. 25 to 28, 2007. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 PM, Sun. at 3 PM. Los Angeles Theater Center (fourtheaters) located at 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Admission: $28. Students, seniors and groups of ten or more, $15. Also available via the fall festival Cultural Green Card (four tickets for$100).
Reservations call 323- 461-3673; Group Sales call 213-489-0994. Online Ticketing at http://www.thenewlatc.com/
Sandy and Yasu Osawa (Makah, the filmmaking team from Seattle, have just released their new film featuring America's first prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief (Osage). The program will air statewide in Oklahoma(on KETA and KWET in Oklahoma City and KQET in Tulsa) on Nov. 4th at 9 Pm & Nov. 9th at 9 PM on KCLS PBS Station-Los Angeles.
The film will also open the American Indian San Francisco Film Festival for its world premier on November 2, 2007.
Christine Yazzie ~ Los Angeles, CA USA
TO SUBMIT an ARTICLE, OPINION PIECE, COMMENTS to the Native Unity Digest, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIVE UNITY - A place for Native American Peoples to solidify their tribes to make a positive impact on the cultural, social, economic and political fabric of American society and a place for non-Natives to better understand the ways of the American Indian.
NATIVE ISSUES BLOG
Professor Robert J. Miller
AIROS NATIVE NETWORK plays music, news and other great programs from Indian Country - www.airos.org
FOR NATIVE CELEBRITY NEWS - go to www.nativecelebs.com
Visit Vietnam Vet. LARRY MITCHELL at http://www.potawatomivet.com and click on his blog at the site.
NATIVE BIZ LEARNING CENTER - www.learn.nativebiz.com was developed for tribal education specialists serving tribal communities. Any tribal community can register at NO COST.
SUPPORTING NATIVE AMERICAN/FIRST PEOPLE - ARTISTS, FILM MAKERS, ENTERTAINERS, ETC. http://www.krystynmedia.blogspot.com.