Monday, September 20, 2010

A Stance

I've lived very close (eighteen miles) to the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota most of my life. I've also lived around the Pine Ridge Reservation. I have seen things that most people associate with big city ghettos and third world slums.

I'm talking about children walking through the street, wearing nothing but diapers. These children are being either followed or flat out chased by stray dogs. The dog's are in no better condition. These, "Reservations," are little more than slums.

The Pine Ridge Reservation recently went sober. If you don't know what that means, let me explain it. No alcohol can be sold on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. None. At all. For any reason.

That seems like a step up, right? Not really. My good friend works in a Sam's Club close by Pine Ridge, and he told me the other day (shortly after the first of the month, which is when the Natives get their checks) that Sam's Club was swamped. He described it, "The Pine Ridge Reservation came to Sam's Club today, and they didn't leave much behind." Nearly wiped the store clean of alcohol. I was not surprised in the least.

Two years ago, I was in a Wal-Mart in Rapid City, grocery shopping, buying a video game...pretty normal trip to Rapid for me. When I went to the check out, there was a Native American in front of me, holding a thirteen inch screen television. He turned around right there, waved his check right in my face and said, "Thanks for buying me this TV, whitey!" I was very mad, to be sure, but the man behind me alleviated my stress by replying, "No problem, dude, we'll get it back in the pawn shop by the end of the month." People had the gall to call that man a racist.

There are a lot of benefits and donation groups for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and pretty much every reservation out there like it. To those groups, I have this to say.

Quit wasting your money.

90% of housing on Pine Ridge/Crow Creek is money down the drain. If you donated to housing there, you can be sure that your money went to a brand new house! Which was almost immediately stripped of its pipes (which sell for a good profit, beer money) and other such, "valuables," which can be turned into a fine stash of liquor and cigarettes. The same can be said with almost any donation money. If you don't believe me, take a look at some statistics. Hundreds of thousands of dollars go into these places a year, just in donations. Crow Creek (Fort Thompson, to be exact) hasn't changed in the slightest in the 19-so years that I've been old enough to remember it. The only major change to the town was when I was a child and they fixed up their God damned casino.

Someone once said, "If you give a man a fish, hill will be fed for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will never go hungry again." The reason you teach the man to fish, however, is not necessarily just to help the man, but because if you don't teach him, he will start expecting you to provide him with the fish. Over, and over, and over again. It may sound selfish, but it's true.
Proverbial words aside, when is enough enough? We have been paying for our transgressions for over 200 years now. We meaning Americans, and transgressions meaning, "Taking their land." Time for some more statistics, however. Caucasians found America in the same way that the Natives found it. We FOUND it! We didn't plan some great siege on a group of indigenous people to take a land that was barely big enough for them, let alone us. No, we stumbled upon an entire continent full of open land and vast resources, sparsely populated by an indigenous people! We had as much claim to the land as they did!

I'm not against our initial apology to the Native Americans. We wronged their people, peace could have been made, instead we slaughtered a great deal of them. But after 200 years? It's time for someone to man up, say enough is enough, and put an expiration date on that payback. It's time to teach them how to fish, so to speak. There is nothing wrong with expecting someone to work for the freedoms they enjoy. I personally think it's racist that I have to pay them out of my paycheck each month, simply because they are a different race than I am.

Which is pretty much all it means at this point.

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