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Thread: Not All Native Americans Are Indians

  1. #1
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    Post Not All Native Americans Are Indians

    Here's a short story I wrote recently, emulating the style of Sherman Alexie in his fantastic short story collection, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. It's my first, so be nice! (please)



    Not All Native Americans Are Indians

    My Indian name is Chief Runs-Along, and I am a warrior.
    I was born fighting. My mother always told me I was born much earlier than I was meant to, and they thought I wouldn’t live for many nights.
    It was horse****. I was born, just like any other Indian, on the Spokane reservation, exactly when I was supposed to be born. Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy, apart from the whiskey in my blood and the tobacco in my
    lungs.
    When I would tell my mother this, she would look at me angrily, and ask me how I could possibly know this. I couldn’t explain it; some things, an Indian just knows. My mother never understood this. She couldn’t understand.
    She wasn’t anymore Indian than Mandela was Afrikaner. She drowned her culture in cheap American booze and cigarette smoke, alongside my father.
    My parents claimed they were Indian, just as any other Indian does. I think they believed it too. I think people can convince themselves of most anything, if they try hard enough.
    When I was younger, I had this white friend, named James. This was after I had moved off of the reservation, after I had come to the conclusion that real Indians got as far away from those places as they could get.
    James thought he was the greatest poker player in the world. One time, he went into a casino, and bet his son’s entire college savings, completely confident in his poker skills, stupidly so. James lost all that money, and
    blamed it on the cards. When he told me that story, I wondered if he was part Cherokee.
    Me, I remember before the white men came, before we were dragged to these cramped and abandoned spaces of spare land that they called “reservations”. I remember when my people still hunted the mighty buffalo, still
    valued strength over the ability to surrender. When instead of trying to forget our bad memories, we dreamt of them every night, studied them, learned from them. When the spirits still walked the plains, side by side with us.
    The spirits remain among us.
    They sit in the trees, they watch us, judge us. Of course they’re still there, things like that never change; the only variable is us. We have lost them. We have lost our way.
    I had a friend, growing up on the reservation. Most of the other Indians hated me, but this one was like a brother. His name was Samuel, he was a storyteller. He would tell so many stories, each one with a different moral,
    different message. I never got tired of it. One story I remember much more clearly than all the rest.
    It went something like this:
    “Many, many, years ago, when the Spokane Indians still walked the plains with the Coeur d'Alene, and the Palouse, and the Paiute; when the plague of the colonists’ expansion had not yet stripped us of our pride, there was a
    great Indian warrior, Tapco was his name. He hunted many buffalo in his time, collected many scalps from the white invaders.
    “One day, Tapco was out hunting, and he was ambushed by a group of Colonel Steptoe’s scouts. Though his skills at combat were unmatched, he was outnumbered, and eventually defeated. Steptoe’s men brought him back to
    their encampment, where they laughed at him, tortured him, and tied him up in a tent with another Indian prisoner, her name was Yamka. They said that if she let Tapco escape, they would hunt down her brothers and sisters, and kill them, slowly and painfully, and make Yamka watch.
    “But Yamka had an idea. She told Tapco to kill her and escape, that way the white men couldn’t possibly blame her, so her family would live and the great Indian warrior Tapco would be free to fight and hunt once more.
    Tapco hated the idea; he refused to kill another Indian. But Yamka pled and wept, and eventually Tapco agreed to it. He killed her, and escaped Steptoe’s encampment.
    “But after that day, Tapco could fight no more. Any time he entered combat with another human being, he remembered Yamka’s innocent face, tears running down her cheeks, as he killed her to be free of the white men –
    and he was a warrior no longer.”
    That is the story of Tapco the warrior.
    I see Tapco’s story mirrored in the faces of every Indian I meet. I see my brothers stumbling out of bars and casinos, the tears of Yamka reflected in their eyes. If Tapco had only braved the pain, fought instead of
    fleeing, his story would be different. His story is applicable to all of us Indians. We can either try to escape, and fail; or we can fight, we can confront the pain and the misery.
    To betray another Indian, to give up your courage for freedom – that’s no freedom at all.

  2. #2
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    Very nice. I particularly enjoyed the brave ending.

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