Bee in the Bonnet: EAST vs. WEST

By B.H. Bates

We’re proud, we’re loud and we’re holding our ground! Boom, boom, boom, bang your drums.” Natives are a proud race of people, who’ve proved to mankind, that it is possible to live in harmony with nature. We cared for the land, so that in turn, it would nurture and sustain us for generations to come …. right?

Wrong! Today, it’s a whole new ball game, from the one our ancestors used to play. Today, our happy hunting grounds are much smaller, thus not as carefree. Many moons ago all it took for ol’ Chief Runs With Deer, to be one happy Injun; was a tepee over his head, a hot campfire at his side and a warm beaver under him.

Over the millenniums, Natives have faced extinction from natural forces such as ice ages and drought to imported diseases, rifles and even the Saturday afternoon matinees that proclaimed: “The only good Injun, is a dead Injun!” We’re nothing, if not adaptable. And that’s what we have to do, if Natives are to see another millennium.

Given the small reservations that we’re forced into accepting, we must make the best of the situation. Hunting deer for a living just isn’t an option anymore, there are only so many trees to log and with beef prices at an all time low, we can only play ‘Cowboy Indians’ for a short amount of time before the land has to support more than those cow-pie factories.

Natives must look at other viable uses for existing lands and its limited amount of resources. Two old sayings come to mind; “Buy land, young man, because they ain’t making it anymore.” And the real-estate slogan: “The three most important things about any property is, location, location, location!” Now for the good news, my brothers and sisters – Natives have both of these things!

Most of the lands owned by Natives are not being used to their full potential. And a lot of reservations are close to cities and towns that are starving for places to erect everything from another strip-mall to another strip-joint. We are now lucky enough to live in a day and age where we are better educated and located in a market that puts the Native in the drivers seat. With a little vision and organization, I could see a national chain of Native owned and operated gas stations, restaurants, camp-sites, hotels, casinos, golf courses, dude ranches … and of course strip-malls and strip-joints. The only thing that I can see, that’s standing in our way, is ourselves. And by that, I mean, is our tendency to fight among ourselves, all the back-stabbing and our lack of unity from one reservation to another! Our Chiefs have to ‘grow-up’ and act like a big mean-ass Mother: spank the spoiled and encourage the entrepreneur.

Another subject I’d like to direct at Chiefs and the people who vote for them is ‘nepotism and favoritism.’ On most reservations, there are dominant clans (or groups), who control the power over others who may be better qualified. I personally have been in just such a situation and that’s why I looked for opportunities outside of the Rez. I call it reservation brain drain. Look at it this way – If you have someone on your reservation who can hit a running deer with an arrow every damn time and you pick some cross-eyed twit to take the shot instead – don’t be surprised when the tribe goes hungry.

Natives must strike a balance between communism and capitalism. If it’s all for one, then we risk a class warpath and, on the other hand, if Native businesspeople aren’t allowed to keep the bears share: then why work your bear-ass off, if some lazy-assed Rez boy would be entitled to an equal and unfair share?

Statistically speaking, in any given group of people, there will be a certain amount of go-getters, nine to five-ers and the ones who think: ‘the world owes me a living.’ Every group that is except the Native race – sadly, there are far more people with their hands out, begging for help up the ladder of life. There are far too many Native ‘cry-babies’ sitting around on couches and popping out more crying babies than they can support. And they all have one thing in common; some lame-assed excuse why they can’t work!

Let’s imagine that the ‘East Indians’ owned Native reservations? Let’s say they had the non-taxable lands, government grants and access to free educations? Ask yourself, as a Native: “Do you think that they would be more productive (given these advantages) than we’ve been? Be an honest Injun!”


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