I think about my mother some times and the lessons she taught her children, the values she sought to instill.
An understanding that the world didn’t evolve around us and even as children there were responsibilities to assume regardless of how minor they might be considering age as a factor.
They reverberate now in memories like the songs my mother used to sing.
I remember too when at a young age I dropped out of school to begin working because there was never enough of anything, and fortunately my father had moved on.
She was distressed at the thought and wanting something better for me as though an education was the only available route.
In our related discussion it was the only time I can recall when I went against her wishes, and in doing so reminded her of our situation and the lesson she had taught us that even children have responsibilities.
I remember her tears as the realization settled in and the crushing reality of our needs descended upon her, this need for me to put away the toys and daydreams of youth and work.
A need motivated in part by the lessons that we as a people should be self reliant, we should not have to stand in line for anything, or bow down to anyone.
A lesson I took to heart very early on that was re enforced on a daily basis by everything I saw – the need, the poverty, the disparities, and the dependency.
From that day forward she came to view me as a man, still her son, her last born, but no longer a child, and she treated me as such.
I haven’t quit working since that day and will not until I no longer have the physical ability to do so – because I believe in the lessons my mother taught me. I believe it is my birthright as well as that of every other indigenous person in this hemisphere to be self reliant, to bend their knee to no one.
I also believe these are values every parent should seek to instill in their children, to help them understand that while there are many responsibilities they also have a responsibility to themselves to live as one of the people, to be their own person in as much as doing so brings no harm to others.
To think rather than succumb to “peer pressure” or go along for the ride because others may talk if you fail to.
My mother believed in sharing, didn’t matter how little you might have if a need existed then share.
One time she told me I was generous to fault, and when I asked how that could be she responded if I gave everything away what would our need become, if I gave everything away what would I have to share when someone needed something?
The lesson in that was a common theme of hers…balance, and the essential nature of it. Yet I never saw her deny anyone in need anything.
My mother didn’t have an easy life and neither have others, an awareness I will not overlook or push aside, and a motivation for me to continue addressing such issues regardless how unsettling it may be for some, how bad they may think it makes them or us look.
No woman among any of our nations or of any ethnicity should be abducted, abused, and murdered like Annie Mae was – no woman among any of our nations or of any ethnicity should be bartered, raped, go missing, cast aside, or murdered….and not a single individual involved in or facilitating such things should be glorified, called a warrior, a liberator, or tolerated for so much as nanosecond in our communities.
I know the truth of ndn country,the good and the bad, just as it exists everywhere else, and I know where my allegiance should and does lay – I don’t need a book to explain it all to me, nor the opinions of others who are not of our nations whether they be writers and poets or pluck a guitar crooning what they believe are meaningful lyrics.
If saying so makes anyone uncomfortable or even angry, too damn bad – we all have a responsibility to address issues as they are, and like work I will continue doing so until I am no longer physically able to.