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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


sitting buffalo bull, 1884

Just home from Justin & Crystal's earlier seeing the baby sleep. The baby feels to me like she is where she wants to be. It's not at all like put me back, I don't want to be in a body. When she sees either one of them or hears their voices she smiles and relaxes. I feel awe looking at the little thing just a few days in a new body, ceiling light, window light a little too much for the new eyes, the first thing baby needs to get used to in the physical world, light that's different from the light where the soul came into the body from, light nonetheless. I have a feeling the baby is responding to the love between Justin and Crystal.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee was playing on HBO. Justin suggested we rewind it and watch it from the beginning. Their tv does that. Unimaginable to me, but so is about everything else. This was a fairly recent production. I don't know when it was made, but recently in years. It was not a documentary of Dee Brown's book from the late 60s, but a dramatization of the same period of time, same events. Though I know it's acting, directing, lighting, etc, I still gaze deep into the landscapes, the faces of the Turtle Islanders playing the roles, seeing descendants of the people who were so driven into the ground, graves, by the American military, lies and treachery. At a poignant moment in the story, I think it was Sitting Bull who said, 'We will be known forever by the tracks we leave behind us.'

It must be a time for me to be thinking about the Turtle Island people. A few weeks ago I talked with a woman who is Mescalero Apache, living here in the county, and while we talked I noticed she used the term Native American and I said Indian. I have a personal argument with Native American in that it's a white middle class term of political correctness that has no meaning. The same as Indian, it is devoid of meaning. Columbus did not discover India, but when the ships landed they thought they were in India and called the people Indians. For some odd reason it stuck. I say Indian because I heard Graham Greene, the actor perhaps best known in Dances With Wolves, say in an interview that they laugh at Native American. They're Indians. For my own understanding, I see they are neither. The continent was not America until the Europeans named it. They are Turtle Islanders like someone from Hawaii is a Hawaiian or Hawaiian Islander, someone from Fiji a Fiji Islander.

I like Turtle Islander because it has meaning. Indian and Native American are names that came to the people from outside. Turtle Island is the land they live on. It's still Turtle Island to them. I say 'them,' because, alas, there are impenetrable barriers between me, a white man, and any Turtle Islander. I cannot imagine in actuality that any Turtle Islander would want to talk with me about any of that. I don't even feel right about my own racial and national shame regarding the situation of the red people. I've often wondered about the karmic debt we share collectively as a nation for what would certainly have turned out to be genocide were it not for the New England liberals and the press. It's thanks to Yankee liberals the genocide was not a complete success out in the field. 

In the company of a Turtle Islander I feel racial and national shame. I'm inclined to want to apologize for my race, but I had nothing to do with it. And it would be sentimental, not believeable, and rightfully so, because it comes from the mind, not the heart. Where the heart expression is concerned, I feel like the only valid expression I can make is whenever I meet a Turtle Islander, to speak and act from the heart, person to person. No more than that is needed.

The history is in the past. Today, we deal as we deal with whatever our situation may be. I'm not one to make something of being a political liberal about racism when I feel compassion for the people of all races beat down by the white race for centuiries. That's pointless and meaningless. All I know to do is regard people of other races the same as I do white people. It's from the heart, so it's real. Unfortunately, sometimes people of the minority races are braced against me anyway, assuming I'm against them. What can I say? I'm not like that at all? That's equal to saying I am. So it has to be whatever it is. It's too complex an issue to worry myself sleepless over. There's nothing I can do to change it. I'll call the Native American Indians Turtle Islanders from here on. When I met the Apache woman, I felt an overwhelming inclination to bow like the Japanese, inhibited it and did it within. Within was the only place I felt it really had meaning. No need to explain.


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