Can't we all just get along: Undressing Indian Tribes
An Unforgetable Encounter
Journey with me
As I stated in another hub, a huge part of my heritage is Native American from the Cherokee and Lumbee tribes. I was watching Lisa Ling's our America and something my mother told me in conversation came flooding back to me. She said, "Britt, you know the government gives us people swamp land to live in." As I looked in the disparity on the Reservation, the poverty, the hopelessness, the amount of alcoholism, and suicide, my heart was a bit broken. The show was dedicated to the Lakota tribe, however, I felt an unexplainable connection and as they dance it was like something inside my spirit was awaken. I can not put into words, but my spirit cried for them, but hope was strong.
I want to say thanks to Lisa Ling for her exposure of this issue, it took me back to my previous research I did on America and its pre-colonial history. I learned how each differing tribe interacting with one another in the claiming of land and territory and how they did have tribal wars for land, but it was nothing like the torture and torment they have experienced during the colonization of the white settlers.
My Cherokee heritage comes from my great-great grandmother Laura, who was a full blooded Cherokee Indian and my great grandpa who was half Lumbee and half Caucasian. My grandmother Laura was known for her corn and dumpling and how she could make something out of anything and she by all accounts of family who personally knew her and encountered her in their lives, she was a strong and very proud woman. I surmise part of my strength I gain from her and my resilience, she passed to Ma (my great grandmother Nancy) who passes it to Willievelyn, my grandmother, who passed to Sherry, my mother and it enveloped me head on.
As I child I remember I used to write my name on the board and I wanted to include all of who I was so I would write, “Brittany Vanessa Sherry Willievelyn, Nancy, Laura, Stuckey. My classmates were tickled and would always find the most opportune time to say, “Brittany write your full name on the board.” I would smile and go to town, it never failed that someone would ask, “Is that really all your name?” I would say, “Not really, but that is all of my ancestors and they helped make me so, yeah I guess it is who I am!” I guess that was my first encounter with trying to carry my heritage with me wherever I go.
In Lisa's exposure the average suicidal age was 13, but kids as young as 5 were having suicidal issues. I definitely could understand their disparity. I remember the young man she interviewed saying, "Ain't nothing to do, if you don't have nothing to do it with." As you saw the land which was definitely not good ground for planting or growing anything and the level of poverty you understood his sentiments. You can’t make nothing from nothing.
80% percent of them were unemployed according to Lisa on the reservations, but as I did my own research I found that unemployment on the reservations ranges from 15% to 85% and that 46% do not have health care coverage. The only government assistance available to them was food stamps and subsidized fuel. As far as life expectancy that was age 40. Per my research, I found on a national level that the life expectancy was a little higher, however they also had a higher obesity rate and the top reasons for death in the Native Americans community on a national level was Cancer, Heart disease, and Stroke.
One thing I thought was great that they were thinking that a way to combat these various diseases and disparity was to reach to the things that sustained them from their heritage. In other words, looking to their spirituality for inspiration and also hunting fresh game. I think we all could take a page from that book. As I stated in another article the good food is expensive and I am working on my own garden now, so that by next season I will have an array of fruits, veggies, flowers, spices, and herbs.
It is how our people survived for so long living off of fresh game as well as fresh food from the land. We have been in such a hurry with everything, since we are a, “I want it now, right now” generation. We need the quick fixes, the fastest solution. We forget in that the quick fix you skip steps that are necessary in order to preserve your health. Fast food and fast fixes have threatened our daily lives, the lives of our children, and threaten our very way of life. Children are not expected in some areas to our live their parents this is on a national and global level. We are getting fast food and fast lifestyles that lead to long term issues that kill at alarming rates.
We have to get back to basics. I spoke today with one of my Cherokee brothers and found that North Carolina has no sweat lodges, but he has gone to one in South Dakota and the way he spoke of his spiritual experience made me want to go. I have to get myself disciplined enough. To be able to sit and be one with God or Yahweh, Jehovah, or the Great Being or Allah or the Universe or Nature or yourself is very powerful, but a sweat lodge is not something you enter into lightly it can be very dangerous. Some believe sweat lodges have healing power or that you receive great revelations. All I know is at some point I want to visit one when I am disciplined enough from what I hear it is a great experience.
Let us change ourselves to do better in other words resist the urge to make a quick meal, take the time to prepare a well-balanced meal for you and your family. Try using a crop pot if time is your issue, but you will have to pre-cut and season everything. Also, plant something in your backyard, start small. Look to your heritage, your spirituality, for guidance, for courage, for strength. Help someone you wouldn’t normally help, let’s get back to community building. You must put the time in and vest your energy into making something worthwhile. Some things take time and after a while you will see the reward of your hard work, don’t give up!
I want to end with a Native American saying that was passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman, "Lakota Instructions for Living
Friend do it this way - that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.
And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.
When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.
If you do it that way - that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One - whatever you ask for,
that's the Way It's Going To Be.
Brittany Vanessa=Strong Butterfly
Dedicated to My great great grandmother Laura McLeod, whose name means laurel tree or sweet bay tree symbolic of honor and victory.
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