Monday, November 16, 2009

Right Within Our Own Borders

Though out of the headlines for the moment, the issue of a Palestinian homeland is still at the center of any hope for Middle Eastern peace. Looking at the map and seeing the dwindling territory from what once was theirs made me realize we have a not so different situation right here within our borders.

It has caused a great deal of bitterness between the Hopi and the Navajo for many were displaced from lands on which they had lived for generations. I haven't made a study of all aspects of it but it has been going on since the 1800s. The rancor remains.

What's interesting to me is how it affects the daily lives of those who live there. It's a strange entanglement because it's hard to find a pure Hopi or a pure Navajo yet, as in the case of our friends, they'll fight over who and where potters can dig their clay!

Many Hopis and Navajos have married one another. Utes and Paiutes and Apache come into the mix not to mention whites. Our friends' daughter is married to a native of Tonga. How's that for blending blood lines?

So what do we have in the end? Indians. American Indians. Any lineage other than that is blurred!

Over time things have gotten complicated. These Indian nations are considered sovereign. They have their own government, their own police and they subsidize their own people with proceeds from coal and oil operations as well as their casinos. The thing is, we also subsidize them. It's all tangled up in treaties from years past I guess but the reservations for the most part have become welfare states.

They live differently than we do. Many live in abject poverty. In many parts of the reservations you can't get a cell phone signal. How novel. They don't have yards with well groomed lawns and kids on swing sets. They view life differently. Most of us don't really understand their culture. Sound familiar?

We travel that country often, yet I never get used to seeing cows and horses, sheep and goats and dogs lying dead and bloated along the roads. This isn't wildlife road kill. These animals are their bread and butter. It's just - different.

I've often wondered if it would be better to mainstream them into our society. After all, with all the inter-marriage they, being the first peoples, are the most American of all!

It is sad to me that these people harbor anger among themselves. It just doesn't seem right.

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