Bee in the Bonnet: Give, ‘Til It Hurts

By Bernie Bates

It’s in the nature of the North American Native to be givers. And, as Martha Stewart says: “That’s a good thing.” Long before people celebrated the banquet, there was the pot-latch. Many moons before there was a theater, Natives were telling stories around a campfire. Even before the ‘celebrity roast’ became popular – Natives would roast a buffalo roast and tell funny stories, like how Two Dogs Humping got his name.

Natives have always been a very generous people, take, for instance, the first thanksgiving. Those poor pilgrims were starving, all they had were crabs – when one of them had an idea: “Why don’t we invite them Injuns over for dinner?” Sure enough, the Chief and his merry band came – but not empty handed – remember, Natives are givers. The Chief and his tribe brought the very first traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, potatoes, corn and sweet berries for dessert. After everyone had ate their fill, another long standing tradition started – the women cleaned up the mess and the men laid back and lit up big fat cigars and watched a ball game (lacrosse).

And it wasn’t only food; Natives shared all of life’s necessities, shelter was another thing that Natives provided to those poor unfortunate white folks. If not for the Native’s assistance, who knows what might have happened in those first cold winters; the pilgrims could’ve frozen their ice holes, frost bit or even death! But not while there was still a beat in the hearts of our brave ancestors. They made sure those poor people had plenty of food reserves and even reserved them a nice piece of land to stay on – all at no charge. Pretty damn generous, wouldn’t you say? (Historical note: the pilgrims, did however, give the Natives the crabs.)

Another historical bit of hear-say: It goes without saying, the first White-men, not only forgot to bring enough supplies to live on, they also forgot to bring enough White-women to live upon, too! So, once again, we provided them plenty of beaver pelts, to make love on – not to mention the women – with whom they could play: hide the European sausage. Did I mention they gave us crabs?
It’s said: “Give a man a fish, and he’ll be hungry again tomorrow. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll never be hungry again.” Natives taught the pale-face how to hunt the mighty buffalo, and we all know how that turned out. We taught them how to catch the swift salmon, and we all know how that turned out. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I dare you to try and find a true, 100% pure Native bloodline! Hell, I defy you to go onto any Reservation and find more than a handful of original Canadian beavers!

The forked-tongued devils, asked where they could find the ‘yellow rocks?’ Natives showed them just where to dig … they took the gold, we got the shaft. They asked Natives where was the best places to grow crops … they got the fruits of the land, we got hoed. “What’s that you’re smoking,” they asked? We introduced them to Mary-Jane and tobacco … they made high profits and Natives got smoked.

Being a Native being, who’s personally been treated unfairly, I believe in being fairly fair. Even though all that I’ve stated is true – we Natives did receive something in return for our goods and services. Natives learned how to; speak the language of the forked-tongued bureaucrats, use the system to get something for nothing and hire lawyers to tell stories to the media. Natives got lessons in real-estate: At one time a Native could sell an island (Manhattan) for trinkets, now, governments stipulate that we can’t even get a bank loan, against what little land we have left – sounds a little one sided, don’t you think? Did I mention we also got the crabs?

One thing that is constant is: change. Natives are waking up and beginning to smell the coffee. Land is now at a premium, space for expansion especially around cities and towns all across the country is becoming scarce – and you’ll never guess who owns that valuable land? I’ll be generous, and give you a hint: “What has university degrees, a ton of pit-bull lawyers and is brown all over?”

The days of cheap reservation camp-sights and trailer parks are over. Think more along the lines of high end resorts, condos for the rich and famous and Native owned and operated wineries and Casinos. Who knows, maybe even one day, Natives could even own and operate an entire city. Wampum will be rolling in faster than two dogs humping – and here’s the best part, you can thank the government – all the profits will be tax free!

I think that calls for a celebration, don’t you? Let’s have a traditional pot-latch, and any non-Native people who’d like to attend, can bring a nice salad. We’ll be serving crow.


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