Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Reservations about Pueblos?

Reservations about Pueblos?

My great grandmother was Cherokee. She and my great granddad settled in the Oklahoma panhandle right after the land rush, when it opened for homesteadding. She was a family legend to my dad and his eleven siblings. One of the many reasons for that was her fortitude.

She lost her left arm to a shotgun blast while riding in a buckboard. The shotgun was butt down in the foot well and they were on a rough trail at least 50 miles from the nearest doctor. The wagon bounced over a bad, rocky stretch, the shotgun was jarred loose, and the next bounce set it off. By the time she was able to get to a doctor, the stump of her arm was healed and all he could do was congratulate her and my granddad for doing what needed to be done.

Her genes make me officially 1/8th American Indian. I understand from others, though I’ve never bothered to check myself, that the Federal Government considers people to be ‘Native American’, and therefore a minority due special eternal benefits, if they are 1/32nd! Amazing. But not surprising.

Several Cherokee views are respected tradition in my dad’s family. One is honoring the spirit of the animal that you eat. Another is a love for nature and the wilderness. For example, my dad’s definition of a ‘crowded neighborhood’ was one where you could see the smoke from the chimney of the nearest house. And his goal – never quite attained – was to live in an un-crowded neighborhood. When they retired, he and my mom compromised on a couple acres with a territorial view of open country not far from Hell’s Canyon, where he could Get His Wilderness On.

So… I’m proud to be part Cherokee. And incredibly relieved to have been raised in the modern world, unfettered by a stone age value system where personal freedom is sacrificed on the altar of group survival in a short, brutal life always on the ragged edge.

Recently, I was in New Mexico for the first time and visited a few pueblos. In the spectrum of the stone age North American Indian cultures, the folks with pueblos were near the top of the technological heap. But their values were stone age nonetheless. Galleries in the state are filled with art from pueblo people, carefully produced with obsessive adherence to the agonizingly inefficient stone age techniques forced upon cultures to whom the wheel was unknown as a tool.

Seeing how folks live on reservations and in pueblos, clinging to and even revering shards of stone age values, drowning in a slothful muck of modern vices and dooming themselves in the process, has caused me to count my blessings any number of times. There but for the grace of the Great Spirit go I.

I think to myself when I see these nice folks, For God’s sake, it’s stone age crap. Your ancestors did the best they could with what they had back in the day. Honor that and do the best you can with what you have available now. Save yourselves!

To anyone trapped in that life: Get away now! Don’t listen to those Infiniti-driving, townhouse-owning, liberal-guilt-dripping busybodies who tell you that all cultures are equally worthwhile. They are not and never have been. A few allow more people to live fuller lives than all others at any given time. Your life doesn’t have to be nasty, brutal and short like the lives of your ancestors to ameliorate busybodies’ phony, foolish and hypocritical cocktail party angst.

Honor the past. Learn about it. Don’t doom yourself to live it.

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