Bee in the Bonnet: Drum Beaters

By B.H. Bates

There are as many ways to beat a drum, as there are stars in the sky.

May I suggest that you: Carry a big drum, but walk softly!

I’m all for defending one’s honor. If you call my mother a low down so and so … prepare to bleed! If you disrespect my father’s good name … notify your next of kin! If you don’t like my articles … shut your fat mouth!

I’m only kidding of course. I only wrote that last line in the hopes of putting a “bee in your bonnet.” If you have a problem with anything I may make light of, please feel free to write and let me have it!

After all, isn’t that what a newspaper is all about – getting the word out? The only way to solve a problem is to discuss it. A problem is like a mold, if you leave a problem hidden away in the dark, it will never go away.

I recently received an angry e-mail, about one of my articles (Finding Pride in the Mirror). In the article, I wrote that I had changed my opinion of the “Down and out” and how I thought their predicament was their own damn fault. The electric letter went on to say that: “I had a light go on, after I volunteered at a local friendship center.”

And that person was right! For years I was of the opinion: “If you’re a drunken Indian on the streets … tough shit!” And the reason for my contempt was because I was trying to make it in the business world and I thought that “they” only made my endeavors harder.

You know the old “bug-a-boo” about how “they” reflect badly upon the rest of the native community.

In fact, a light did go on and I wish a lot of other people would see the “light” too! I came to the realization, that the poor Bros’ (or sis’), who find themselves on the streets, have nothing to do with my position in life!

But I’d like to let that “e-mail-er” know, that I’ve never in my life disrespected or mistreated any unfortunate person. Hell, half the people I grew up with, at one time, had a little problem with the bottle, and the other half I was related to! And to this day, they’re still my friends and I’m still related to the rest!

The same mad e-mail-er went on to say that I was putting down the pissed off militants, the malcontents, the “Drum Beaters!” Again, “E” was right! I am putting them down! They are doing more harm (for the native cause) than good.

Don’t kiss the native cause good-bye
I look at it this way – one of the most powerful entities on the planet, the United States of America, got their ass kicked by little ol’ Vietnam. Then the States takes on the fourth largest army in the world and they blow away Iraq in mere days. And why, you may ask, is it possible for a small group of indigenous people to succeed, where a large army has failed? It was the people!

They didn’t have the support of the people in Vietnam or at home in the United States. A “just cause” will win the hearts of the masses! And there-in lays the path to our inevitable victory. If we win the hearts of the people, we natives will one day see our dreams come true!

And how do natives accomplish this task? I can tell you one thing that won’t work – acting like a whiny two-year-old! If you piss off the people you’re trying to win over to your side, by getting in their faces and throwing up the past at them – you may as well bend over and kiss it (the native cause) good-bye!

Most non-native people, already know of the injustices perpetrated against the natives of North America. And worldwide most people, other than the Klu Klax Klan, already feel some compassion toward the plight of the First Nations people.

We natives have another bit of good fortune in our favor: today most people already have some animosity toward the government and the yo-yos that run it. If we show the world that we’re trying to do the right thing, by proudly fighting for our place in the sun, we will prevail.

And I’ll give you two examples of the right way and the wrong way. I won’t mention any names, only Band #1 and Band #2.

Band #1, educated their people, they welcomed business and above all the Chief and the Elders set a good example to the others. Soon they prospered and became a model to other reserves across the land!

Band #2, fought with everyone at every level, from the local township to the halls of power in Ottawa. When opportunity knocked, they threw up road block after road block, just because things didn’t go exactly their way. They felt the false power of being a feared bully. Soon, no one wanted to do business with them. They now have lots of potential – but that’s all they have!