Life couldn’t have been easy for the nations prior to the landing of the boat people and none can dispute such was the case after the arrival.
Easy or difficult there was a continuity to life and a great sense of community that served to facilitate in good times and bad.
Threats existed in the form of other tribes, whether game was plentiful or scarce, even the weather could be friend of foe.
But that’s the way of it in the natural world and above all over considerations we were a natural people, our feet planted firmly on the ground.
Distinct nations, but no more distinct than that of all other living, breathing things we shared the environment with – we knew and understood that, and yet at times we warred against one another for basically the same reasons war has always been conducted……territory, differences in language, beliefs, customs, even apparel and appearance.
There are valid reasons to fight much the same as there are invalid reasons for doing so.
Ultimately the question must be where did it all begin and where will it end?
Any nation has the right, the obligation to fight an invading force – I say it is an honorable thing to do – yet even as the nations fought an external force they fought among themselves until it was too late.
If tribalism hadn’t existed what has become history might be different, to what degree one can only speculate, but a united force wields more power than a bevy of fractured smaller ones.
If we remove the con artists and attention seekers from our midst what remains is the heart of the nations – a heart composed of the poor, abused, and disenfranchised.
It is their voice and only their voice that can bring about a meaningful and equitable change.
No nation takes prescidence over another, no nation has a greater claim to what was once theirs than any other nation.
No nations beliefs and ceremonies are more important than anothers, nor does the voice of any one nation speak for all, much less a lone individual or small handful.
There is no last real Indian- the time may come when that is true, but that time has not yet arrived.
It is time though to put the cigar store Indian trappings of the internet and Hollywood aside – time to once again be real Indians with our feet firmly planted on the ground of tradition and community, to be ourselves rather than a youtube or literary construct.
Time to remember…….time to be.