It’s odd how internet forums raise questions, or at least they lead to connections that weren’t previously apparent. So it was with a set of commentary regarding some of the tribe’s recent emphasis on purchasing land. What’s that have to do with An American Story? More than you might think, when this comment was offered.
It is time for them to be ordinary citizens — just like the rest of us.
The “switch” was made over 100 years ago in our family. Since then, it’s been mostly an American success story. The line seems to have produced poets, pilots, farmers, nurses and doctors (and a few nutballs of course). All of this over a century, with the next generation edging towards engineering. Was it because the family clung to an increasingly distant Indian heritage? On the contrary, it was because the decision was made early on that the future wasn’t back on the reservation, though I suppose they could have gone back if they ever wanted. None ever did. In retrospect, what would have been the benefit?
This year, when the teacher asked my children what they “are”, they answered “Nebraskan” or “Coloradan”. This is as it should be. My kids, on their own, rejected the ethnic constraints that others too willingly let themselves be shackled with. I can’t tell you how proud I was when their charter school teachers told us about the class conversation that ensued. At first the teachers didn’t understand, though the lights began to come on. The students caught on sooner. The 4th grade teacher informs us that there was more than one teacher in the classroom that day.
So I guess you can hold on to your ethnic heritage if you want. It’s a free country, of course. But as to the path to fulfillment, satisfaction and happiness (whatever that word means), our family already knows the answer.
Oh, owning land is fine. We seem to have a lot of it (not really sure why it continues to accumulate). I suppose it’s because we keep buying the damned stuff. And yes, once we have it, no one wants to get rid of it (that would be wrong!). Funny how that works. The difference between us and the tribal crowd is that it’s OUR land, purchased with our sweat, and it has OUR name on the title. Indian/tribal affiliation was never a factor. It was all acquired under US rules, which is far better than the dysfunctional setup that seems to be popular of late. Truth be told, guilty white folks made up the American Indian myth as far back as Natty Bumppo. There have been generations of Indians that have bought into it, and probably as many that scammed it.
A lot of Indian must have been bred out of us over the last century. Though we seem to have a familial predisposition for acquiring land, none of us seem to be getting warm fuzzy feelings about casinos. Perhaps the racial separation is finally complete. In that sense, it didn’t happen soon enough.