"When was the last time these two sat and listened to their elders at a sacred fire, or sought their own hearts?"

Week of December 14, 2006

MUSIC, November 30, 2006

No Pain, No Gain

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night: A state of emergency was declared by the governor, National Guard members were deployed, Interstate 70 was shut down, the streets were littered with abandoned vehicles — a minor inconvenience to meet my precious New York Dolls (as featured in Rob Trucks' "Syl the One"") at Mississippi Nights. I arrived in time to catch a spellbinding performance by the Chesterfield Kings. This was my first encounter with the band, and I instantly fell in love. Their hits "I Don't Understand" and "Flashback" left me begging for more! As the Dolls prepared to take the stage, I made my way to the front. I had risked my life to get here, so I needed to be as close to my idols as possible. I stood directly in front of the stage — close enough to smell the cigarettes on David Johansen's breath. Watching them perform instantly transported me back in time (OK, maybe I wasn't alive during their heyday, but I've seen plenty of videos). Mixing classics like "Trash," "Jet Boy" and "Lonely Planet Boy" with songs from their new album, the re-formed Dolls delivered. The highlight of the evening was meeting the Dolls after the show. They were kind enough to sign a copy of their new CD, take some photos, and I briefly chatted with each of them. I'm still pinching myself. I can't wait to see where 2007 takes the Dolls. I'll be close behind.
Harley Sears, Kansas City

News Real, November 2, 2006

Tribal Address

Easley does it: Regarding Chad Garrison's "Going Native": How does one register as a Native American and does it matter if the mixture is African American? My paternal grandmother was full Choctaw and my maternal grandmother was half Cherokee. What does that make me, just black?
Esther Easley, University City They called him a "breed": I served as board president of the now-closed American Indian Center here in St. Louis a few years ago. I was born at the Saint Xavier Indian Reservation in Arizona and I do not have an "Indian Card," as I do not feel I have to prove anything. The full-bloods called me a "breed" since my mother was Mexican. I can tell you that while I was holding the Indian Center together, the only time the "true Indians" with cards showed up at the center was when we gave away toys for their full-blood kids or we had a free dinner. There are two sisters who cannot prove their bloodline but are more "Indian" than the true bloods. Rachel is a blue-eyed, blonde young lady, but her heart is more Indian than the "true bloods." As for me, I will continue to be an uncarded false Indian; John knows who I am.
Enrique "Frank" Enriquez, St. Louis
Go back to your history: I think that people should go back to their history, especially when it comes to the Seven Civilized Tribes, to find out how difficult it has been for many Indians to prove their heritage. I am a proven Eastern Cherokee, but as anyone has done any research knows, the Eastern Cherokee rolls have been closed since the '70s. I can give you my heritage: From the time my great-great-grandmother came from the Virginias right before the end of the trail started, to when she and her husband came to Missouri and started one of the first trading posts around Eldon. Then at the age of 48, my grandmother went back to her people and chose to be on the rolls of the Cherokee Nation. Think about that period of time. Why did she go? So her heritage would not be forgotten. And then we have people who have no respect for what all of us have gone through. We also have our stories. Like we explain to people who come into the Thunderbird Society, we are a Native American support group — a support group to help our people and anyone else who wants to feel like they can learn their heritage, or just the truth about history. I don't know of many people in this area that can claim to be a full-blood, nor do they have the right to carry a card. We are not, and I repeat not, a Native American member group. The society is recognized by the state of Missouri as a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping all tribes. And we do everything we can do to help the people who have stories to tell us and who know in their past there was Native American blood. We understand the calling that they hear in their hearts. My husband was raised by an Eastern Cherokee grandmother and was taught the language, which he is now trying to pass down to others. Isn't it a shame that so much could be done by our people if each of us would accept the other and pull together. I would like to ask Kathy Dickerson when last time was that she went to D.C. and fought for our rights. When is the last time she's taken collections and sent them to Pine Ridge or any of the other reservations? As I said, we are a nonprofit organization. I'll end this by saying I have heard of and seen many cards that have been altered to represent someone with a roll number, etc.
Cheryl Grooms, Springfield
The struggle continues: Wow! This is not the traditional way to resolve the problems these people are encountering. Ms. Dickerson comes off as a heavy in this one. She is not all wrong in this, but her methods are suspect. What really ruins it for her is the treatment of Dolores Santha. We are taught to treat our elders with utmost respect. These (Many Winters) are to be given honor no matter what race they are. There are not that many of the Oyate left; we must find ways to unite in our efforts and ensure the integrity of the Nations. We are the only ethnic group on the planet that needs to present a quantum card. It is the plan of this government to eventually see us assimilate out of existence. We should not impose that same standard on our own people. Continue the struggle, Kathy. Just remember: Mitakuye oyasin: We are all related.
Bob Charette (Stands in the Storm), Billings, Montana
Thoughts from the sacred fire: I'd like to know who died and left Ms. Dickerson and Mr. Raithel (White Antelope) judge and jury of who is "enough" Native American and who is not? My father's ancestors escaped from the Cherokee Trail Where They Cried (the proper English translation) in 1838-'39 and lived out their lives for generations in southeastern Missouri in fear and trepidation, and yes, intermarried with white men and women so the land they farmed and worked would be in a white person's name just in case their native blood was discovered. The law on the books in Missouri well into the twentieth century was that if you were of native blood, the state had the right to confiscate your property and remove you to Oklahoma to the reservation, which to them was a fate worse than death. Several states east of the Mississippi River had the same sort of laws on their books. There are many tribal members of various nations all across the country who have now heard about this article and are very weary of this kind of brother-against-brother garbage. I know Lora Garrett, and it was the same with her family's native ancestors — escapees from the Trail — if she gets her BIA card next month (possible!), what will you have to say to her then? Or will you then start talking about who has a higher blood quantum than whom? Aren't you afraid that the more natives who get BIA cards from the government that killed our people and took our land will mean less government funds per tribal person? I have heard all these sorts of things said, particularly by urban natives, who seem to practice the worst kind of racism — racism against their own race! Many of us non-carded mixed-blood natives are well received on the reservations: Cherokee, Lakota and many others. It is about your heart in their minds, and there are many carded natives who grew up on the reservation and believe one drop of native blood makes you a bona fide relative. To this day, many of our relations do not know this anti-Indian law came off the books in Missouri in 1976 (!) and still will not speak of their true ancestry, the ceremonies they do, nor speak any Cherokee outside of their own tight-knit circles. Do you expect they would care to have one of your BIA cards and be registered with the government? I don't think so — even though many easily could because they have ancestors on the Cherokee Dawes Roll. When was the last time these two sat and listened to their elders at a sacred fire, or sought their own hearts in regards to native spiritual matters? For me it was just last weekend with my teacher and elder (yes, he is carded), and this morning as the sun rose and I awoke, Creator gave me these words in response to Dickerson and Raithel.
Lora Duckett, Salem

Erratum Last week's capsule review of Bat Boy omitted the name of the actor who played the role of Shelly Parker, the ingénue. Natalie Wisdom portrayed the role (and very well).
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