ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Law & Legal Issues

Can't we all just get along: Undressing Indian Tribes

Updated on July 15, 2012

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.

Peace,

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.


Sweat Lodge

Lumbee Pow Wow 2012

Lumbee and Cherokee Maria & Me

Cherokee Pow wow 2012

Let's chew on it!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • brittvan22 profile image
      Author

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Mr. Archer, my Cherokee brother, it is pretty hard to substantiate Native American heritage. I think for some Cherokee in part that they were not as friendly to the settlers, understandably. Wow very interesting history. I have to check out that movie! The statements are very true and the state of many of our brothers and sister is very sad, but the quiet and unwavering strength and spirit of many of them is inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing and I will definitely spread the word, awareness is great, because there is strength in numbers.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 5 years ago from Missouri

      Very well done! I too have, somewhere in my lineage, Cherokee and Choctaw, but have thus far been unable to substantiate it. My mother is a geneologist, and knows through family history on my father's side that the Native American ties are there. His family left prior to the Trail of Tears, and settled in Kentucky and Tennessee, but there the break occurs, nas we cannot tie the two together. Someday, maybe. In one of my wife and mine favorite movies "Last of the Dog Men", Barbara Hershey's charactor states, "What happened was inevitable; the way it happened was unconciousable." The White's took, robbed, stole, killed and tossed aside the Native Americans, and to a point, still do today. I have been to Wyoming and Montana, and parts of Minnesota and Ontario, and seen the conditions they live in. Horrible! I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. Keep writing, and raising the awareness. Great Hub!

    • brittvan22 profile image
      Author

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Alex, I will bear that in mind. I understand its dangers and plan to do more research as I make that move, which is a big one. I remember the story of the Rick guy that led 3 people to their deaths, I think the true meaning was lost and was replaced with torture and testing of wills. Thanks for your input.

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 5 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      As to sweat lodges ALL trips to the spirit world are dangerous. Shamanic voyages often rip me to pieces inside. Sweat lodges as I understand it can also be physically dangerous.

      Do your research first

    • brittvan22 profile image
      Author

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Angela, thats awesome! Thanks for your kind words, I look forward to checking out your hubs!

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Exceptional information on Native Americans -- I, too, have such a heritage although not as direct as yours and am immensely proud of it. My man is a medicine man of the Lakota Sioux -- 20 years together -- so I'm constantly in touch with what's going on with the tribes and some of it is so sad. Thanks for the follow and definitely looking forward to more of your writing. Best/Sis

    • brittvan22 profile image
      Author

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thats right instead of trying to understand we reject and dehumanize what's different. I remember reading another hub on a young lady that had a brain tumor and she survived the surgery and was left with some physical issues and was rejected by the kids at school with the exception of the children in special education classes. Sometimes society teaches us different is wrong instead of being more understanding and taking the time to understand the story behind a person or a tribal dance. I hope we do better in the future as a society.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 5 years ago from Tasmania

      Thanks Brittany. I noted one point in that article: "...Because in the 1890's traditional Indian dances were illegal ..."

      Strange that we try to ban or reject anything which seems in the slightest bit threatening, without trying to understand and come to terms with it.

      Maybe this has been a survival/defense mechanism in our psyche. Who knows? But we can counter it somehow, by educating ourselves about each other.

    • brittvan22 profile image
      Author

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Jonnie, I added an extra link in there for you on the history of the pow wow/pauwau and also some current pow wows that are going to take place all over the U.S. and Canada. Hope this helps.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 5 years ago from Tasmania

      I loved the Pow Wow...... so colourful, the energy of those men! I guess there is great and deep symbolism in there somewhere, would you or anyone else care to enlighten us? Yet there was also some laughter and fun... am I right?

    • brittvan22 profile image
      Author

      brittvan22 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      @Jonnycomelately, I could never grow tired of listening to you its like music to my ears. I wish you could have been there as I listened to my fellow Cherokee brother talk about the sweat lodge. He wasn't exactly what he said it was how he said it. He had an inner peace about him, a calmness that I do not possess often enough. His voice was no louder than a whispher, but it was worth listening to. I told him, I would be back for more wisdom. Some things are lost from generation to generation and some times it is the very thing that has sustained a people for many many years. And you are right they are so much more.

      @ rfmoran, thanks it is sad, but true. Hope seems fleeting in the mist of such disparity.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Fascinating Hub about a subject most of us know little. Suicides as young as 5! My God. Your photos and videos were also great. Voted up and interesting. Russ Moran

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 5 years ago from Tasmania

      Brittany, thank you so much for this Hub. It conveys your understanding well, but also your feelings. With great respect to you and your people (Your Tribe!) there are a few things I would like to add. Several things in your Hub have triggered ideas in my mind.

      I have a treasured connection with the Aboriginal People of Australia via a man who is married to my 3rd cousin.... so pretty remote, but strongly felt all the same.

      The TV in Australia usually portrays the Aboriginal people only in terms of their dancing and ceremony, around the camp fire, mimicking birds and animals of the bush and country. This is fine, and absolutely honoured and accepted. However, I always get annoyed because there is far, far more of Aboriginal people that we should know about and learn about and honour at the same time.

      The TV would never just show caucasian people dancing rock-'n-roll, waltzing around a ball room. So why do we think dancing is the only valid thing about Aboriginal people that is worth watching? I want to know you as whole, real people. On an equal footing with me. There are skills and knowledge which you and I can share. You know things I don't know, and visa versa.

      Learning that, as you said above, "you can't make nothing from nothing." (Funny that! In fact you can make nothing from nothing! You get nothing!)

      I prefer to concentrate on making something from something. Finding materials of all sorts lying around the place, thinking up a use for all that crap instead of letting it wash down into the rivers and killing fish and animals and birds.

      Improving the ground where you live, so you can grow more food in it is a wonderfully uplifting activity. Using everything for compost helps to re-fertilise the ground. These things can help your community grow and prosper even in the face of shocking exploitation by powerful people in government.

      Hope I have not been writing too long.... maybe these few points will encourage more thoughts and ideas for us all to share.

      Best wishes.

    • The-Quietwarrior profile image

      The-Quietwarrior 5 years ago

      Awesome writing, thoughts, and information. I loved it..