Anyone who has read Narnia will remember the common theme that ‘things don’t happen the same way twice,’ when it comes to God doing things.
Or meeting us.
A couple weeks ago I made a return trip to Bridger, and while I enjoyed interviewing the visiting workers, in the small details of reporting, I was asked to do some follow-up that my schedule hasn’t yet allowed for and in doing has changed my story to become one that I never thought I would write.
A story about the summer visitors to the reservation.
I used to have a natural disdain for them. As a little girl who spent part of her childhood growing up in the badlands, tourists and white do-gooders were part and parcel of life.
Yet, their place in my story was one that was necessary, and they truly made a difference in my life in ways as simple as driving me down the Interstate in blistering heat so I could get books from the library at the county seat to running interference during a rough episode involving my dad while my mom worked long, hard hours at Cedar Pass Lodge in the kitchen.
The same sort would later also hand me my first copy of “Diet for a Small Planet,” but now I’m off-topic.
However, they also made me made me feel so different from them. They alienated me more and more from my own mother, who is of pioneer blood-French/Irish/Scots/Welsh, because they ever saw me as a little Indian girl.
In some ways, I still resent that. People will never know how hard I’ve tried to be white in my life, before giving it up as a lost cause.
Anyways, I thought I had made some peace with tourists while doing cultural interpretation at Tatanka: Story of the Bison.
However, I am about to write a story about white missionaries in my homelands, coming to be helpers and take back their stories they will weave of our poverty and differences.
Unsika–that state of needing something. I’ve heard my mentors in the Oak Lake Writers’ Society say that it used to never have a negative connotation in the old ways. When someone needed something, they just needed it. It just was.
Now, there’s a darkness to the word. We use it at home, for example, when the kids want something and are being pitiful about it and it isn’t that big a need (to us ever-wise adults), we tell them, “Stop being so unsika about it.”
I guess we’re trying to tell them that what they perceive as a need, really isn’t.
Sometimes I feel that way about our community. I want to tell everyone to stop being so unsika, except that we really kinda need some help.
I want to be awesome and think that these people would accept our help back, but I know they don’t think they need help.
Not like we do.
Not when they come with their carefully packed fruit cartons of beenie babies and ‘prizes,’ and more, and the little children pack their grocery bags full of what will soon be tossed and lost around the community. Easy come, easy go.
Yet, at the same time, in my permaculture work, I will be helping coordinate some community development students possibly next summer. My own children go to the Episcopal Vacation Bible School and loved it, and the prizes (thank you for not handing out too many, though! we might be poor, but that doesn’t mean we lack the little things, just the big things, like adequate storage and organizing space…and up till a week ago, a bedroom for the younger kids).
So, I will write a story about all these wonderful helpers coming to our community every summer. I might call Mother Margaret as my balance, since few tribal people would go on record to say what she as a Euro-American priest isn’t afraid to say about the down-side of these people.
I might quote the girl on Twitter, though, coming here to do ‘missions’ begging for prayers. Funny how her prayer for safety or whatever is lifted alongside my prayers for patience.
This week, if I have time in between calling on advertising, I am going to write that story. Otherwise it can wait another week. I drove a crazy way and caused some interesting office politics in the process of driving all that way, and as it happens when reporting, the story I thought I would cover isn’t the story I’m going to end up with.
So, there will be a story. And it will end up being a fairly feel-good story. Mostly because I can’t editorialize in what I really think, and because nobody will badmouth, er, critique these people out loud.
Yet, we all stand around and see them here and try to look the other way.
The silence says volumes.
Well, I am off to church this morning, despite sick family members and breakfast not yet done and feeling like I’m not good enough to go, because I have so much to do and be at home.