Arizona, Bill of Repeal, Concentration Camps, Congress, Frank Kafka, Gerald Vizenor, McCain-Flake, N.Scott Momaday, Native American, Nazi, Oak Flat, Puerto Rico, Raul M. Grijalva, San Carlos Apache, Sherman Alexie, United States, Vine Deloria Jr, William Gladstone, World War II
Oak Flat came into my life through a conversation with my daughter who lives in Arizona.
Even though my fingers tingled to write they were tangled with a hundred ideas and caution was also there. We tend to be afraid to write or even talk about things pertaining our government mainly because instead of protecting their citizen’s free speech, it is crushed and many times throughout history and contemporary news we have witnessed the atrocities that have come upon those who openly oppose and verbalize their disagreement. Protesting has become a risky business.
Nevertheless, thoughts came and went until I was able to write a post about it. Samuel Clemens became my inspiration and fear was thrown to the wind and the birds carried it away.
The San Carlos Apache tribes are only a grain of sand inside all the rest who struggle each day trying to make sense of their lives. A new generation who try to find their voices in a country where they mainstream or they stay like my four year old nephew/son says, “stuck”.
Stuck in communities that are there, but at the same time are invisible to the rest of the country. As a resident of Puerto Rico relating to this is simple.
Literature provides us with a unique opportunity to discern what surrounds us and as Frank Kafka says, “…books must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.”. Empathy comes wrapped inside of realms of fiction and nonfiction. It is what we do after that counts. Reading opens a completely new line of thoughts and reactions that make us more humane and better citizens across the line.
A society which is more and more individualist has become frozen upon the face of all the injustices that go on a daily basis in our society and country.
Which took me to looking upon some great Native American writers. After going around some authors like, N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria Jr, Gerald Vizenor, and Sherman Alexie I found the story “This is What It Means to Say Pheonix, Arizona” written by S. Alexie in an anthology I had home.
Alexie brings to life the struggles and despair that accompany the Native American community across the country. A country that has demanded they change who they are over and over again. They were stripped of their way of life and became the first people to be relocated in the also first concentration camps known to the world that range from 1871 to this date.
As World War II came into the lives of Americans and people across the nation, many felt terrible about what the Nazis were perpetrating against the Jewish across Europe, however at home thousands of Native American Indians were struggling with life inside the Reservations. Realities better off ignored by America.
Cultural and social diversity is not celebrated in America.
Native American Indians, which are by the way the true and only Americans, that go into the city for business or whatever it is they need to go into town for are looked upon with open curiosity and are innocently finger pointed by children as if they were part of a circus showcasing those who were different back in the day.
To top that off, if they think they can build a life for themselves in the mainstream America they can easily end up like Victor’s father, who died in his “trailer” of a heart attack and was there for days before anyone discovered him. He wasn’t happy in the reservation and went straight into isolation in a city he thought he would rise like the phoenix as the story tells us.
Alexie’s character Thomas Build-The-Fire brings to life the way of the old and the struggles of the new. Written forty-nine years ago it stills has a hold strong today that we are able to witness as the San Carlos Apache rise above their circumstances and occupy the land that is sacred for them. For a moment, sadness sank in as visions of mining came and went, thinking another lost battle, but they were able to pull off a Bill for Repeal (thank you Raul M. Grijalva) and find people willing to listen in Congress.
They have begun the same journey of discovery that Victor and Thomas Build-the-Fire went through as they tried to get to their destiny in Alexie’s story. It is not going to be easy and they will have to compromise many times along the way.
As the Tribal Council only was able to give Victor one hundred dollars they will also have to penny pinch until they have enough money, that tragically translates into power, to prevail in their battle against a system that clearly has more flaws than virtues.
Specially if you think that Native Americans aren’t even considered rightful citizens for the folks in Washington. If not, why many of them have only begun voting for the first time as early as thirty years ago.
Just take for instance the 2010 census in Arizona where they are only a mere 4.5% in a population of 6,392,017. They are not a population that will turnover an election. However, if the rest of the states unite their voices and much importantly their votes “that” can make a difference.
So my dear readers, “Hon Dah” welcome yourselves into the lives of these Americans and help them out in any way your consciousness compels you to. Justice should always be served without delay, if not William Gladstone is completely truthful when he stated that, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
Without the certainty of being a bit naive I’ve always liked how Captain Planet said as his finishing line after each episode, “The power is yours.” Which is absolutely true, what remains is, what are we going to do about it?