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So American

When we were at the store and getting some Chinese food, the guy behind the counter had a beautiful accent. We could tell he was African but not much else. My daughter was very curious so I asked for her. He looked at us and smiled and said he was from Nigeria and began asking her what she knew about it. She were not even sure exactly where it was though in Africa, just that is was there somewhere. As we were heading to the checkout lines she said "Mom, I feel so American!"

I don't know if it is because we are Alaskan Native/American Indian or just because we are Alaskan that we feel a bit separate (I think of it as "a breed apart') and much different then how we view "Americans". While we are American we are also more then just that. It is one of the things that drives me crazy about my country though. I can remember once in a course at the local college here and the teacher was asking about natives to me. I think I had written something about it and how we needed to do more things to bring about change for our people. One of the people in the class responded, just loud enough for all to hear but low enough I could ignore it, how this was all "ancient history". I nearly exploded and shouted 'Ancient history? Ancient history!" but got myself under control since I was not going to discuss such things with a racist white person.

It drives me crazy that people's greed for our resources makes them pretend that what happened to my mother and her generation is 'ancient history' like what happened hundred of years ago. I want to shout to the world that you like to pretend that you can not change what happened when our country was overtaken and how you had nothing to do with it when history is repeating itself and you can not sit idly by. Do not say you 'feel badly' about 'all that' but do something to set us free!

What had brought on that conversation with the teacher is I had written a 3 page letter to my native corporation and had set up a meeting to go over everything I thought they were doing wrong. I made it clear I had thought they were becoming corrupt and how that was not the Aleut way. I was supposed to meet with their accounting guy who was Chinese and would have had no problem 'tearing him a new one' is one way to express it. But when I got there I met with an Elder instead. The first thing he said to me was he knew my mom and I suddenly found myself unable to call them greedy and corrupt, it would have been rude beyond belief and I could not do it. But I had written how we need to do things and she had read it and asked me if I was the one who had led a group of demonstrators the other night that she had seen on the news. I said that was a different corporation then mine.

We do not have what I described to my daughters as 'the Western mindset' that sees things in that master/slave view of the world. Where there is no equality but one is better then the other. I believe that is not only wrong but a very stupid thing to believe in in the first place. What brought this on today was I was reading in Yahoo News several articles that just made me feel disgust at being American. The idea that the world is their playground.

One was where a Senator was advising students heading over to Mexico for spring break to stay in the resort areas and they should be fine. It went on to say how they had little contact with 'them' in the resorts. I wanted to say that was because some of those kids might actually care about more then just themselves and want to help these people. If they can not see them as people it is easier for them to pretend nothing is wrong.

Another was where the Navy was saying they were getting harassed by Chinese ships. I so want to shout to them 'Ok, in the first place what makes you think you have the right to even be in these waters?' I want to shout at them that I am Alaskan Native/American Indian and know exactly how you are and what you are capable of! You are there not to protect and defend them from 'terrorists' but searching for ways to control them.

I do believe they do that 'divide and conquer' where they do not want us seeing each other as real people. That is usually why I do not call white people racists since I do not mean to demean or offend all the good and decent ones. But sometimes I do feel like I need to shout at them that they are not fooling anyone, well, except for their own kind. I think it would help greatly if a white person where to explain it plainly. How the minorities, woman, children and even poor white people and the very wealthy are not fooled by the slant put on 'the problems' and it is only the white middle class that is getting "fooled" by it. How 'they' do not want you thinking for yourself.

The good news is that these same people are 'waking up' too! they are finally seeing the rest of us as 'One People' and helped us create a great wave of change in our country. So instead of throwing all that anger I have about it all I want to instead encourage them since we only made the start of it and there is much work yet to be done to heal our country and Obama needs us to stay involved.

One of our legends is of the 'Sleeping Lady' who will help free our people when she awakens. I think it would be a great day for the world when she does awaken.

(this is one the girls say I should rewrite in that other style and post it for the Voices of the Future)

Comments

katea's picture

Some thoughts

You and the people like you are one of the reasons why I can never hate America. You manifest in what's being good as an American. I'm just glad that most of the Americans I met treated me equally not that I demand it, I just expect it to be that way. But there are instances where foreigners here discriminate Filipinos, I mean, in our own country can you believe?! There's this fancy posh restaurant in the metro that used to "ban" Filipinos from entering until some Filipinos threated to have that restaurant closed for good. I am not pugnacious, it's not really my character but when I'm faced with discrimination, all hell breaks loose.

Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

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