“Don’t be so hard on yourself”, he gently admonished.
“I’ve got to be!” I reply, exasperated, “I’m all I’ve got. My culture, it’s empty of wisdom! I’ve got no elders, no teachers. Everything I learned, I learned the hard way. Experience may be my guide, but my people, their minds are colonized, filled with propagated illusions and vagabond lies. They teach their children false history and defiantly oppose anyone who speaks the truth.”
“Think! Where would you be today if not for your elders, your teachers, your culture! You know above all else, this is a hard road of self-discipline. I cannot afford to falter here! You’ve got your people, your elders, your ceremonies. I can’t very well go out to the rez with my white skin and blue eyes and appeal to these people. To them, I am the oppressor. Even though I know deep in my bones and without a shadow of a doubt that these people, your people, keep true wisdom. I honor and respect that! Their ways, the ceremonies, the teachings, gave me who I am today. I would not be here alive before your eyes now with the strength I carry if not for what these people imparted to this land with their lives. It will never be denied.”
I arose, walked to the edge of the cliff-side overlooking the river, turned, and looked at him.
“This land, she is steeped with the spirit of the people, no matter where you go. You said yourself, the reservations are nothing more than concentration camps. You cannot contain the heart and soul of a people within a barb-wire fence. The people belong to the land, not the other way around. I cannot forget this, nor can I turn away. It’s in the very blood of who I now am. My ancestors may be of Eire, and they speak to me, yes, but my life is here. I am a daughter of this land. The spirit of this land is an indigenous one. My heart abides with these people. I need to learn the language. This is who I am.”