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BEAR Speech 3.1

BEAR Speech 3.1

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Published by: Sterling Holywhitemountain on May 06, 2012
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05/06/2012

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Oki,andgoodafternoon.MynameisSterlingHolyWhiteMountain.Onmydad’ssideI’maSchildt;it’saBlackfeetnameinthoseparts.Onmymom’ssideI’maRink;that’snon‐Indiannameinthoseparts.BothoftheirimmediatefamiliesarefromtheBlackfeetReservation,whereIgrewup.I’maso‐calleddescendant.I’mgoingtolistoffsometermsforyou:PrairieNigger,WagonBurner,Injun,TimberNigger,Apple,BFI(bigfuckinIndian),BigRed,Blanket‐ass,Bogan,BowBender,BuffaloJockey,Bushnigger,CherryNigger,Chief,Cochise,Cowboy‐killer,Dirt‐worshipper,Feather‐head,Fort‐Indian,Gut‐eater,Hatchet‐packer,Huff,Klooch,KneeJerk,Maize‐muncher,Mascot,Rednigger,Savage,Squaw,Squawhopper,Tipitom,Tomahawkchucker,Tomahonky,Tonto,Tundranigger,Wahoo,fullblood,breed,mixed‐blood,
descendant 
.I’vewastaughttothinkofmyselfasaso‐calleddescendantfromsoearlyanagethatuntilrecentlyI’veneverthoughtmuchabouttheterm.ItwaswhatIwas,andthatwasthat.WhatitmeanttomeearlyonwasthatIwasnotBlackfeet,IwasonlypartBlackfeet,Ididn’thavethenecessarybloodquantum,Ididn’thavetherighttocallmyselfBlackfeet.That’showIgrewup.IwasBlackfeetbutIwasn’tBlackfeet.Lateron,afterIstartedschoolinMissoula,allthenon‐IndiankidsImetaskedmewhatIwas.ThewomanatCostCuttersaskedmewhatIwas.AnynumberofformsIhadtofilloutfortheuniversityaskedmewhatIwas.ThereweretimesIsaidIwasNativeAmerican,whichisatermI’mstillnotcomfortablewith,Idon’tliketheimplicationthatwearen’tany
 
differentthanourancestors,orthatifwearethenclearlywe’vestrayedinsomeway–butthereweretimesIcheckedtheboxNativeAmericanandtimesIdidn’t.ThereweretimesIfilledoutthatblankspacewiththewordBlackfeet,andtimesIdidn’t.Ireallydidn’tbelieveIhadtherighttocallmyselfbythatname,consideringIdidn’thaveacertainplasticcardthatothersdidhave,theplasticcardthatsays,“YouarearealBlackfeet,”thatplasticcardultimatelycreatedandissued,inmyopinion,byaFederalgovernmentthathaslittletonointerestinthesurvivaloftheBlackfeetNation.OfcoursesincethenallmyyearsoffthereservationhavetaughtmethatI’mBlackfeetwhetherIlikeitornot.Andtrustme,therehavebeenmanymomentswhenIwishedIwasnotBlackfeet.MomentswhenIwishedIhadthekindoffreedomthatmanyofmynon‐Indianfriendsseemtohave,thefreedomthatallowsthemtoliveandbecomfortablealmostanywherebecausenomatterwheretheygotheyfindpeoplelikethemselves.Peoplewhohavelittletonoattachmenttoaparticularhistory,aparticularpieceofland,aparticularsetofpeople.Peoplewhoseemtohavesolittleconflictintheirlivesoveranyofthesethings.MorethanonceI’vethoughtitwouldbenicetohaveneverknownwhatkindofdamageatribalcouncilcandothepeopleit’ssupposedtoprotect,itwouldbenicetohaveneverheardthephrasebloodquantum,itwouldbenicetohaveneverheardthewordBlackfeet.WhatI’vefound,though,isthatnomatterwhereIgoItakethereservationwithme.I’msuremostofusherehavehadasimilarexperience;yourheartsarecutfromthesameclothasmine.WeareallpartofcontemporaryBlackfeetculture.
 
TheonlywayIcouldfind,though,tocallmyselfBlackfeetwastofindawaythroughthatminefieldotherwiseknownasbloodquantum.IfIwasinescapablyBlackfeet,ifeverywhereIwentIcarriedthatculturewithme,whatdidbloodquantummean?FormyselfIdecideditmeantnothing.Itwastheonlywayformetothinkofmyselfasawholeinsteadofbrokenintopieces.Ididn’thaveanyinterestinbeingbrokenintopiecesanymore.Imademyselfwhole.Ididitinpartbydecidingnottocarewhatothersthoughtaboutme.Itwasabrutalandexhaustingprocess–Idon’trecommendit.I’mnotsureanyoneevenknewIwentthroughit;itwasallinternal.Ididn’ttalkaboutitwithanyone.WhywouldItalkaboutsomethingI’dbeentaughttobeashamedof,thislackofaplasticcard?Butallthatisbehindme,atthispoint,thankgod.Idon’tcareaboutthatcardanymore.WhatIdocareabout,though,isthecontinuedexistenceoftheso‐calledBlackfeetNation.Isay“so‐called”becausewe’renotreallyanation.We’resomewhereinbetweenanationandacorporationandastateandanAmericansubculturedependentonwelfare.AndifwethinktheFedsviewusorrespectusasanation,we’rekiddingourselves.Callingourselvesanationispurelipservice,inmyopinion.It’sawayoffoolingourselvesintothinkingwe’resomethingwewanttobebutwe’renot.AndI’msuretheFedsareentirelyfinewithuscallingourselvesanation.Thelongerwecallourselvesanation,insteadofcallingourselveswhatwereallyare,“TheBlackfeetTribalCorporation,”thelesslikelywearetoactuallystandupanddemandwhatwewant,thelesslikelywearetoworkforwhatwewant.CallingourselvestheBlackfeetNationislikeputtingalivegrenadeinacakeandcoveringit

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