Bee in the Bonnet: Point the Arrow

By B.H. Bates

“He shoots an arrow into the air . . . . it lands, he knows not where!”

What does this line of poetry mean to you? To me it means that the poor family of the Indian who shot that arrow will go hungry tonight!

To hit a target, a person has to do a number of things first, to insure the best possible outcome. You can’t just point in the approximate direction and hope to be successful. You have to take a long steady look down the shaft of the arrow, you have to line up the target, the arrowhead and the quills before you can let it fly!

Not to mention distance, wind, speed, trajectory and whether or not your target is on the move. Let’s imagine that the quills on the back of the arrow symbolize the ‘past’ and the arrowhead represents the ‘future.’ We natives must first look at where we’ve been, so that we may hit our marks.

The ‘point’ I’m tying to make is – we must review, scrutinize, check and recheck the past before we can even attempt a shot at success. And by ‘success’ I mean: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!”

And by ‘that’ I mean: “WAMPUM!” And lots of it! Some schmuck once said, “You can’t buy love nor happiness.” Evidently he wasn’t a delighted millionaire with a gorgeous wife.

More than likely he was a native. And the reason I’m saying this is because it’s in the nature of the North American Native to be content with the ‘same old, same old!’ You know the old attitude … “As long as the grass grows!”

I’m not condemning you if you’re content to have ‘enough.’ Enough food, cash and a Tepee that doesn’t leak too much. In fact, for years and years, I too was satisfied with having just enough to eat and more importantly enough to drink. Then I got involved with a woman who had a horrible, horrible addiction . . . SHOPPING!

It was evident soon after the love affair started that I either had to get motivated or become the first native monk in history. Which brings me back to the arrow – if you want to hit the target, you have to focus.

You can start be reviewing your past and start asking yourself the tough questions. And in the name of the Great Spirit – be truthful!

Here, I’ll get you started.

(Q): When I get my claws on some Wampum, what’s the first thing I do with it?
(Q): Do I have an addition?
(Q): Where does the money go?
(Q): Am I following in the footsteps of a parent?
(Q): Am I jealous of other natives who’ve succeeded?
(Q): Why am I such a loser?

I told you they were tough questions! And I can also tell you, from experience, that some of you are already blaming me for your own failure to answer these simple questions. Some natives are so intimidated by the truth that they’ve stopped reading this article. If you’re still reading – congratulations! You’ve just beaten one of the biggest demons to face the North American Native since the ‘Big stick that makes thunder!’ That demon is of course – DENIAL!

After you’ve reviewed your own tracks, you’re ready to look into your future. “Am I scared of looking like a fool, in front of everyone, if I fail?” (A): Maybe. But, if you don’t even try you’ll be an even bigger fool, years from now, when you’re an old man (woman) saying things like: “I could’ve been a . . .”

If you’re the kind of native that is outgoing, gregarious and has a set of “B—S” may I suggest the exciting and profitable world of business. There’s never been a better time to get your moccasins wet – the dollar is strong, loans and outright grants are available, there are no taxes on reservations and besides all of that, you have the element of surprise on your side . . . When you think about it, who in their right mind would expect an Indian to sneak up on their business and start scalping their prices!

One of the first things I’d like to see is an Indian Princess (doll) without the words ‘MADE IN HONG KONG’ printed across her backside! There is a group of native artists from the West Coast that are trying to copyright their traditional designs and stories, with great success, I might add. I think it’s only right too, I mean, you just try to call your new restaurant ‘Micky Mouse’s Grub House’ and you won’t have to wait long before you’re up to your mouse hole in Disney lawyers!

Have yourself a prosperous year. I hope you hit the buffalo bull’s eye!