Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Loam



                                     “Loam can be topsoil, but not all topsoil is loam. 
                                                           Topsoil is about location. 
                                                                       Loam is about composition.”   
                                                                                                                   --Me



Teenagers are stupid. I don’t know why they get cursed with both angsty-hormones and incomplete knowledge. 

My particular brand of white, teenage, angst developed around the general concerns in the air. The System, The Man (his evil boss, The White Man), and identity categories. 


I spent my angsty-years in a small town bordering an Indian Reservation. I didn’t have a lot of friends in High School (from the town, the Rez, or otherwise).  I didn’t know much of my surroundings. It took me thirteen years post-High School to ever actually go to the Rez.


I do remember I-81 being shut down, a building or two burning down, the ever-changing graffiti on the billboard, learning about AIM during gym class. I saw these things. 


I like to think that I would have automatically known that the blue guys in “Avatar,” and the mud people in “The Lord of HE WENT TO JARED!” movies rely on regressive native stereotypes. 


Or that I would have watched things in Ferguson with the same heart.

I like to hope I would have been smart enough as a teenager to figure out the messed-up-ness of Columbus Day, no matter where I was living. But I doubt it. Columbus Day hurts my heart and my head (in that order).


Thanksgiving, alternatively, hurts my head first, then my heart. I love that the Thanksgiving story of first contact is about helping immigrants, and feeding them when they needed help. I hate that the Thanksgiving story of first contact has highly limited contemporary application.

I love Love LOVE a secular holiday set aside for being thankful and grateful. I hate Hate HATE that it exists to revise the myth of this land is your land, this land is my land.


For a blog about Soil, I have to tell my story about Land.  It is all I can do to not make a Dawes Act piñata, or a Manifest Destiny punching bag. Bite the curb, Andrew Jackson G-I-Joe. 

In a blog post for Thanksgiving, I have to give thanks for everything I learned in that land. I know enough to know that clichéd trope #1 (as explained by post-colonial theory) happens when; “white people credit exoticized or native areas for self-discovery.” Yes, that I what I'm doing here. And still, anything less would be vulgar.  


I am so thankful that I lived where I did, because my particular patina of angst still remains. I never felt like part of the place there. I rarely feel like part of a place, no matter where I’ve been. Franz Fanon, Andurhati Roy and Ward Churchill explain this in ways I find more accurate. 

Only as an adult do I have the awareness to understand that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. That so many still do. Teenage hormones aren’t the cause. Nothing about being human is simple. 


I’m thankful for what I learned because of the land I lived on. I’m grateful to be less stupid. Thank you to everyone (my parents included) that put up with me as a teenager. Now let’s all hold our chins up, set the gloves down, and go read some Mary Brave Bird.

Happy Thanksgiving.


The Top 5 Books I’m thinking about this week:
5. Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer
4. Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony
3. Gerald Vizenor’s Bearheart
2. Leanne Howe’s Shell Shaker
1. Gordon Henry’s  The Light People


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