Bee in the Bonnet: A buck, with bucks!

By B.H. Bates

Wampum, payola, buckskins … whatever you call it, money talks! The meaning of the golden rule has changed since I was a kid. It was: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Today’s translation: “Whom ever has the gold, makes the rules.” In other words, do’um, before they do you!

What would you do if you had a million buckskins? What’s the first thing you’d do with that kind of Wampum? Buy a big fancy house, a shiny purple Cadillac or maybe even a perky new boob job?

It’s nice to dream of how life would change for the better … if only. But how’s a Rez Bro or Sis, going to get their hands on that kind of money? Working for minimum wage – you’d have to work 8 hours a day, five day a week, for one hundred years to earn a cool million. Then you’d have to pay income tax, unemployment insurance, not to mention the irony of contributing to an old age pension fund. There has to be a better way.

You could make it the old fashioned way – become an renegade! You could sell drugs to children, whack people for the mob or maybe you could steal from the rich and give to an off-shore bank account. But, like most illegal get rich quick schemes, the only thing you’ll get to spend, is time, in jail, fighting off some guy named Bubba, for your virginity!

The only other option left to the average Native, who dreams of financial independence, is owning a successful business. But we all know that’ll never happen. And I’ll tell you why you should just give up any dreams of ‘making big bucks’ on the ol’ Rez. It’s the Native people themselves – the back-stabbing, the jealousy, the communist mentality of ‘all for one and one for all.’ How in the name of the Great Spirit, can the entrepreneurial spirit survive with a hatchet in it’s back?

Let’s say you have a piece of land on the ol’ Rez, that you want to develop. One of the first things you’ll need is investment capital, and where do you go to get that start up cash? Your band office? If your Chief and council are anything like the ones I know, you’re in for one long and drawn out process. You’re asking for quick and helpful answers from a group of people who couldn’t agree on pizza toppings, if their lives depended upon it.

And you can forget about the banks, they won’t touch anything on the Rez, because of the political uncertainty and instability of the aforementioned pizza-heads! So, unless you have a rich Grandfather, who’s planning a trip to the happy hunting grounds, the only other avenue left to you is the good ol’ boys in government. And as we all know, the only thing that moves slower than a band office employee is the huge, lethargic, bureaucratic machine of government.

If you look at successful reservations across this great land, the one thing that most of them have in common: is that they’re lead by smart and wealthy Chiefs. These individuals have taken the buffalo by the horns and welcomed business onto their reservations. But why is it … only the Chiefs are rich? And therein lays the answer: “It’s good to be Chief!”

So why can’t the rest of us non-Chief types get into business too? Why can’t we control our own destiny? You could, if you had something called a ‘certificate of position’(CP). This small piece of paper is the only thing that stands between you and a shot at the ‘Big Bucks!’ But, you, as a regular every day Injun, have no chance of ever getting a CP in your life time … and why, you ask? I could tell you, but I think I’ll let you go and ask your elected Chief, why you can’t own your ‘own’ land!

I will give you two hints; One – They (Pizza-heads) have a very low opinion of your intelligence! Two – It’s all about control!

So unless you get voted into the big tepee (Chief), you’re up the creek without a paddle. But, hey, you’re an Indian, you’re used to that. But not to worry, not all is hopeless … because I like you, and because you’re a loyal reader of my column – I’m going to let you in on a little secret. But first, you must swear to the Great Spirit, that you’ll never reveal my secret retirement plan, I call it: “A BUCK, WITH BUCKS!”

Here goes … and the winning numbers are; 3, 12, 19, 22, 52, 55!

Dear reader,
Iif you have a bee in your bonnet about Bee in the Bonnet column, or suggestions for future articles please feel free to contact B. H. Bates at: beeinthebonnet@shaw.ca