Fun fact: Indian tribes control 3 percent of the total national oil and gas reserves and 7 to 13 percent of the US coal deposits. We also control extensive amounts of the uranium deposits and fishing rights in Washington and Oregon.
I’m reviewing Silko’s Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit. It’s harder to read about injustice as a young adult. When I was in college I had so much teen angst and personal confusion about that world that learning about it didn’t inspire much more than simple furious contempt. These days with a young son and a family I worry about Indians. I worry about our “rights” and how long we’ll have them. I worry about social issues. I worry about our high rates of suicide, alcoholism and diabetes.
I’ve begun to appreciate the small and powerful group of Natives who actively protest injustices; I sing silence praises for their ability to speak up and put themselves out there to make our causes known. I say our because I believe we are all connected. My tribal rights are connected to the rights of other tribes. There’s a nasty domino effect that could happen if congress is feeling especially testy or greedy.
As a child I was outspoken and curious. My parents teased that I’d be an “AIM Indian.” I didn’t know what that meant but their tone insinuated it was something terrible, it was akin to marrying outside the tribe or being thrown in the drunk tank. I’ve never been thrown in the drunk tank, or any tank for that matter. And I’m not an AIM Indian, I may never be one. But there are days I seriously consider taking up a cause. After all, if I don’t speak up-who will? Who’s going to make things better for Kale? Who’s going to advocate for better (and local) mental health services for Indian nations?