September is now here, which means a steady influx of pre-cold weather "Indian" festivities and acknowledgements is underway, from powwows to parades to virtual hashtags that are all meant to proclaim to the world, "Hey, you!! Our lands have been invaded for centuries... our ancestors were beaten, raped, stolen, and slayed in myriad ways including germ warfare... and to this day our people have been downtrodden due to depression, substance abuse, fear of further oppression, and so many other causes that would take too much time to name... but guess what... WE'RE STILL HERE!!!"
All of these expressions are nice. However, are they enough?
Is it enough to simply be seen, to shout out to the universe that we (merely, barely) survived the atrocities befallen our past while doing very little to make a tangible difference in the present? How will we ensure that we remain here??
Is it enough to sew ribbons on our clothes;
paint hands on our faces;
conjure fantastical ancestors who, if they are able to save us from this intergenerational nightmare, have chosen to not do so;
splurge thousands of dollars on regalia, jewelry, and accessories to "look" like those ancestors instead of "being" like them;
participate in rituals and ceremonies that honor nature while we consistently dishonor our tribespeople;
develop organizations and clubs that profess to offer assistance yet in truth feed individual egos far more than the weak?
Educationally, our children are behind their peers of every race and ethnicity nationwide. Our women face abuse, trafficking, and murder more than any other race and ethnicity nationwide. Our people (on a whole) face more police violence and overall oppression than any other race and ethnicity nationwide.
We deserve to dance and prance as much as any other group, but when will make real action to advance as a people??
The days of the 'passive Indian' who is content with being "seen", or who must receive permission to exist must end! No more hiding our cowardice behind sage smoke and prayers for the wrongdoers, convincing ourselves the The Great Soul prefers their peace and salvation above our own! We must do more to take our destiny into our own hands!
Our ancestors owe us nothing, and our oppressors (with their fluff organizations which "acknowledge" only some, and pit us against one another) will give us nothing. The only way is to form alliances with (our own) likeminded individuals, forge our skills and talents, and build what we need so that our children may succeed as competent world citizens long after we are gone- without needing to beg anyone for anything.
Powwows, parades, and hashtags are not enough.
We must become the heroes that we wear upon our tees.