05 July 2011

Fireworks, parades and feasts

Today is the 235th anniversary of the day the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain.  Not excited about all the celebratory happenings taking place this day.   I've had mixed feelings about this date.  


When I first learned about the Native American Citizenship Act, I was cynical.  It was only because the federal government found out the Indians couldn't be drafted.  Then I found out that we weren't dual citizens either.  I wanted to know why.  I didn't get an answer.  How does one reconcile the loyalties between nations to which one is born?  I've decided my order of loyalty is: family, band, tribe, clan, federal, county, state.  Never thought about local levels-county and state all that much.  Might be because they don't have jurisdiction on the res I grew up on.

It's like there are two circles.  The one I identify with most is my tribal/family setting.  Then there is the American one.  Anishinabe/American.  Separate, like the three branches of government, parts of myself that I don't really think about until days like today.

When I was young I had questions no one knew how to answer.  I grew angry in history classes when we studied about the American Revolution up to about 1900.  From then on, it was like a blanket of silence descended on everything.   When my sons studied and had the same reactions, I was a little more prepared.  They were given both sides of the story, particularly ours.  I had read somewhere about "the victor writes history."  

This sentiment raised anger also.  Therein lay my conflict.  I never considered myself as defeated.  Neither did many of my elders.  We only ceded territory.  There are still a lot of concepts that I don't understand.  I accept them because that's how it is.  Accepting doesn't always mean agreement.  

Some days I leave the reservation, it feels like another country.  Customs are different and it's apparent when we shop at the grocery store.  It's still like we're not Americans until they need something from us.  Other days, I feel like I'm home when I cross the boundary between plains and forests.  Doesn't matter that that land was ceded.  It's my home.  

Expecting me to celebrate with fireworks, parades and feasts is a little much.  I honor warriors.  I respect other people's rights/privileges regarding their lifestyles to a point.  I'm glad I live in a "free" country.  Celebrating this day doesn't make sense to me.  We've always lived here, pretty much the same way we always did.  Freedom from British rule doesn't have the same impact for me.  Tribes are still fighting to guard their sovereignty.  The day that treaties are honored without hassle is the day that I'll celebrate with fireworks, parades and feasts.

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