I'll quit eating meat when you get a cow out here to beat me at a poetry slam. Only so many words rhyme with 'Mooo.' I mean, yes, we're supposed to be better stewards; yes, we're supposed to take care of the earth; yes, we're supposed to honor the sacrifices made by the animals; yes yes yes yes yes, but dammit, we're in charge, and you know why? It's because of these [holding out thumbs]...Maybe you think that carrots are less important than cows. I think they're equal, especially in a sauce.
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A lot of native culture has been destroyed. So you already feel lost inside your culture. And then you add up feeling lost and insignificant inside the larger culture. So you end up feeling lost squared. And to never be recognized, to never have any power, you know, other minority communities actually have a lot of economic, cultural power.
In a sense, you're always mythologizing your life; it's always an effort to make yourself epic. At least in fiction you can lie and sort of justify your delusion about your "epicness." But when you're writing a memoir, you're trying to make your life epic and it's not - nobody's life is.
The problem is that too many adults think their kids' lives are simple, or they try to make their lives simple, when their emotional lives are just as complicated as ours. They might have a few less tools to deal with it because they're young, but the emotions are all the same, and the subject matter is all the same.
At least half the country thinks the mascot issue is insignificant. But I think it's indicative of the ways in which Indians have no cultural power. We're still placed in the past. So we're either in the past or we're only viewed through casinos. I know a lot more about being white than you know about being Indian.
When are we left-wingers going to learn that we are losing the cultural and political battle with conservatives because we are fractured into narcissistic special-interest groups? Why should an antiwar protestor be so concerned about her dietary identity? The political opinions of vegetarians and meat-eaters are, after all, equally important. And what does it tell us about vegetarians that it would never occur to meat-eaters to carry a sign that reads "Pacifist Pork Chop Lover for Peace" or "Backyard Rib Barbecuer for International Nuclear Disarmament"?
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Then she tells me that Jesus is still here because Jesus was once here. And parts of Jesus are still floating in the air. She tells me Jesus' DNA is part of the collective DNA. She tells we are all part of Jesus, we are all Jesus in part. She tells me to breathe deep during all our storms because you can sometimes taste Jesus in a good, hard rain.
Teenagers read millions of books every year. They read for entertainment and for education. They read because of school assignments and pop culture fads. And there are millions of teens who read because they are sad and lonely and enraged. They read because they live in an often-terrible world. They read because they believe despite the callow protestations of certain adults that books-especially the dark and dangerous ones-will save them.
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When it comes to death, we know that laughter and tears are pretty much the same thing. And so, laughing and crying, we said good-bye to my grandmother. And when we said goodbye to one grandmother, we said good-bye to all of them. Each funeral was a funeral for all of us. We lived and died together. All of us laughed when they lowered my grandmother into the ground. And all of us laughed when they covered her with dirt. And all of us laughed as we walked and drove and rode our way back to our lonely, lonely houses.
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Everyone I have lost in the closing of a door the click of the lock is not forgotten, they do not die but remain within the soft edges of the earth, the ash of house fires and cancer in sin and forgiveness huddled under old blankets dreaming their way into my hands, my heart closing tight like fists. - "Indian Boy Love Song #1
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Mick had once come across one of Wilson't books and was surprised to see his face on the back cover. Mick was even more surprised when he read the book. It was pretty good, although Mick was kind of tired of hearing about Indians. Still, Mick thought, Aristotle Little Hawk was a good Indian, even if he was just some character in a book. He wished more Indians like Little Hawk hung out in the bar. He knew Wilson claimed he had some Indian blood, said so inside the book. But Mick did not buy that shit. Mick's great-grandmother was a little bit Indian, but that did not make him Indian. Besides, who the hell would want to be Indian when you could just as easily be white?
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For the mentally disturbed, Marie knew these sandwich visits might be the only dependable moments in their lives. She also knew she delivered the sandwiches for her own sanity. Something would crumble inside of her if she ever walked by a homeless person and pretended not to notice. Or simply didn't care. In a way, she believed that homeless people were treated as Indians had always been treated. Badly. The homeless were like an Indian tribe, nomadic and powerless, just filled with more than any tribe's share of crazy people and cripples. So, a homeless Indian belonged to two tribes, and was the lowest form of life in the city. The powerful white men of Seattle had created a law that made it illegal to sit on the sidewalk. That ordinance was crazier and much more evil than any homeless person. Sometimes Marie wondered if she worked so hard at anything only because she hated powerful white men. She wondered if she went to college and received good grades just because she was looking for revenge.
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Despite all of the time he spent in Big Heart's, Wilson had never come to understand the social lives of Indians. He did not know that, in the Indian world, there is not much social difference between a rich Indian and a poor one. Generally speaking, Indian is Indian. A few who gain wealth and power as lawyers, businessmen, artists, or doctors may marry white people and keep only white friends, but generally Indians of different classes interact freely with one another. Most unemployed or working poor, some with good jobs and steady incomes, but all mixing together. Wilson also did not realize how tribal distinctions were much more important than economic ones. The rich and poor Spokanes may hang out together, but that doesn't necessarily mean the Spokanes are friendly with the Lakota or Navajo or any other tribe. The Sioux still distrust the Crow because they served as scouts for Custer. Hardly anybody likes the Pawnee. Most important, though, Wilson did not understand that the white people who pretend to be Indian are gently teased, ignored, plainly ridiculed, or beaten, depending on their degree of whiteness.
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Corliss wondered what happens to a book that sits unread on a library shelf for thirty years. Can a book rightfully be called a book if it never gets read?... 'How many books never get checked out, " Corliss asked the librarian. 'Most of them, ' she said. Corliss never once considered the fate of library books. She loved books. How could she not worry about the unread? She felt like a disorganized scholar, an abusive mother, and a cowardly soldier. 'Are you serious?' Corliss asked. 'What are we talking about here? If you were guessing, what is the percentage of books in this library that never get checked out?' 'We're talking sixty percent of them. Seriously. Maybe seventy percent. And I'm being optimistic. It's probably more like eighty or ninety percent. This isn't a library, it's an orphanage.' The librarian talked in a reverential whisper. Corliss knew she'd misjudged this passionate woman. Maybe she dressed poorly, but she was probably great in bed, certainly believed in God and goodness, and kept an illicit collection of overdue library books on her shelves.
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You read a book for the story, for each of its words, " Gordy said, "and you draw your cartoons for the story, for each of the words and images. And, yeah, you need to take that seriously, but you should also read and draw because really good books and cartoons give you a boner." I was shocked: "Did you just say books should give me a boner?" "Yes, I did." "Are you serious?" "Yeah... don't you get excited about books?" "I don't think that you're supposed to get THAT excited about books." "You should get a boner! You have to get a boner!" Gordy shouted. "Come on!" We ran into the Reardan High School Library. "Look at all these books, " he said. "There aren't that many, " I said. It was a small library in a small high school in a small town. "There are three thousand four hundred and twelve books here, " Gordy said. "I know that because I counted them." "Okay, now you're officially a freak, " I said. "Yes, it's a small library. It's a tiny one. But if you read one of these books a day, it would still take you almost ten years to finish." "What's your point?" "The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don't know." Wow. That was a huge idea. Any town, even one as small as Reardan, was a place of mystery. And that meant Wellpinit, the smaller, Indian town, was also a place of mystery. "Okay, so it's like each of these books is a mystery. Every book is a mystery. And if you read all of the books ever written, it's like you've read one giant mystery. And no matter how much you learn, you keep on learning so much more you need to learn." "Yes, yes, yes, yes, " Gordy said. "Now doesn't that give you a boner?" "I am rock hard, " I said.
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