By Alan Sorensen
My older son that'd be Jeremy arrived in town yesterday with his two little darlings, Mariah and Kayla. It took me a week to get the house cleaned. I got the floors vacuumed, all of the bedding laundered, dishes washed and toilet scrubbed. I refused, however, to remove the fly carcasses from my walls. They remain as evidence of my baser nature and my distaste for the sneaking media out there.
We at the Daily News, I figure, don't count as media. I see us more as small-town town criers and neighbors who try to keep everyone informed rather than dirt-digging sensationalists who want to titillate and sell papers.
Of course, I could be wrong.
Anyway, the girls are gorgeous and seem to be having fun so far.
I rode out to Rocky Boy Tuesday morning with our new photographer, Casey Scalf, to cover preparations for the 37th annual Rocky Boy Pow-Wow slated for Aug. 2-5. (Fort Belknap Milk River Indian Days, just as a reminder, are next weekend, July 27-29.) We checked out the powwow grounds, met with Gordon, Mervin and Dustin Whitford, and visited Our Saviour's Lutheran Church.
On the way back to town, I asked myself what I was thinking when I wrote that I would make arguments in support of Rocky Boy and my Indian friends throughout the state and nation.
Defending Rocky Boy, I thought, would be like defending the east end, Highland Park, downtown, the south end, the Northside. Rocky Boy is, after all, a local call and more or less a Havre neighborhood.
I recalled the time I wrote my thoughts on the east end in previous columns and my defense of that working-man's neighborhood. We didn't have a lot of anything, but we did have our sense of belonging.
That sense is much stronger at Rocky Boy in many ways. I remember playing army when I was a kid and thinking it was our east end "nation" against the world. Well, Rocky Boy really is its own sovereign nation.
What had gotten my dander up last month was a seemingly innocent comment dropped smoothly in an otherwise innocuous conversation. My acquaintance expressed surprise that Indians could fight forest and other wildfires because "they're drunk, aren't they?"
I answered that non sequitur in my last column and have since been reminded of a few other misapprehensions about Indians I hear frequently.
First, there is no such thing as Indian money. Period. There are treaty funds for lands ceded (typically at 10 cents an acre or less) to the U.S. government and revenues generated from tribal holdings, such as mineral rights that any family can hold. Some tribes earn communal monies through forestry, fishing, farming, ranching or industry. When it comes to unemployment benefits, Indians are in the same basket as the poor of any race white, black, Asian.
Secondly, an ordinarily astute man asked me not a month ago why, if Indians are so environmentally conscious, is there so much litter on Rocky Boy's Reservation. The answer is simple: there isn't much litter at Rocky Boy. The Chippewa Cree Tribe may not have highway adoption agencies policing its borrow pits as we are lucky to have for our highways, but a driver has to be quick to catch a glimpse of litter at Rocky Boy. Of course, if you really want to see litter, wait until the 500 or so Sobriety Walk walkers have completed their stroll about noon on Friday, Aug. 3, then drive by their 3.1-mile course from Stone Child College to the powwow grounds. At least for a few days, the roadway should be lined with hundreds of water, juice and pop bottles. I and other Havreites may even be among those contributing to the litter.
Thirdly, if you think Indians, like Hutterites, speak funny, remember that many of them speak two languages more or less fluently while the rest of us seem to have trouble handling just one. For myself, I took seven years of Spanish in school and am now down to a two-word vocabulary si and no.