Poem: On Being a Fake Indian

My Grandfather LaPointe and me - 1982.

My Grandfather LaPointe and me - 1982.

My Grandfather,
I've cared about you since I was 4 years old,
Since I can remember,
The funeral was odd,
I wasn't sad for you,
I knew you were hurting,

Decades later,
Stories were told,
In a suburban home of love and healing,
It was painful to hear what you have gone through,
What I fight for everyday is our story,
That I choose a certain way to live because of your story,

Because of our story,
There was too much to see,
Too much healing to be done,
Not enough supports in the dominant culture,
Crying on the curb,
Rubbing tears on our jeans,
We walked out into the great abyss of the streets,

On being a fake Indian,
The stories are what we know in our souls,
No one would deny the pains,
Or sufferings in our family,

The flannel shirts-yellow smoke-bowling-UP energy,
Tired-mining-poverty-poor-rusted truck on blocks-UP energy,
Reservation conglomeration-government homes,

It was our beautiful black hair,
That we took a comb through,
Tears were behind us in the mirror we gazed at,
I was always afraid of my Dad's eyes,
In the rear view mirror,

Pearl Jam said it best,
"forced to endure what i could not forgive,
I seem to look away,
wounds in the mirror waved,"

Saw things,
What did you see Grandfather?
How were you held down?
We were afraid of the tears,
No one told us that Indians could cry,
Could feel,
Could grieve,

On being a fake Indian,
Too much of what I remember,
Homogenization tactics,
But I knew something else,
Whether it was the thunder,

My Dad saying,
"its Grandpa LaPointe bowling in heaven..."
I can remember the orange streetlight and rain coming down
Sitting on the front steps,
Thunder and lightning across the sky,

On being a fake Indian,
Sure we exist in mixed skins,
Sure we exist in a mixed blood identity conundrum,
Where mainstream TV perpetuates "equality" with other minorities,
They've got their tokens,
There are no American Indians on the TV,
We are invisible,
Life ways and identity stereotyped in a racist culture,

On being a fake Indian,
Our story is one that has not been heard,
The rush hour herds,
Daily grind in the name of "progress,"
Forgetting in daily prayers who we are,
Where we live,
The conditions of,
In this oppression,

On being a fake Indian,
No one can tell you what you feel in your heart,
What the family soul feels,
Or what healing we have done and will continue to do,
A beautiful strength,
Against great odds,
This is our choice,
What we have chosen,

What do you choose?