Monday, April 21, 2008

an interview

after my sacramento reading
b.l. kennedy asked
if he could interview me
for a series he's doing
for rattlesnake press
sure my ego said

sitting in his cozy living room
i scarfing down sweetrolls and danishes
we begin
he clicks on the tape recorder
and says
let's start at the beginning
so even though it could have started
with my birth
i had to preface it
with historical influences
my parents
reservation life
government policies

dad, a chippewa, taken to an indian boarding school
when he was 6
and forbidden his culture
mom, a shoshone, raised on the rez
with 11 sisters
raising turkeys and vegetables
the depression not touching them

how government policies
were pushing indians off the rez
into boarding schools
to acculturate them
into the great american melting pot
the american dream
dad grew up with that
bought it

and they both ended up going to
haskell indian school
in lawrence kansas
a great american indian melting pot
jeez. let's just throw hundreds of
19, 20, 21 year old young men and women
from reservations across the nation
and watch them 'hook up'
navajo with sioux
yakima with comanche
chumash with iraquois
shoshone with chippewa
a good way to make sure
the language is lost
they couldn't talk to one another
except in english
the death of languages

and the government had a policy
of relocation
get the indians off the rez
and move them to the cities
for employment
mom and dad came to san francisco

i was born
in schurz, nevada
so i could be born 'free'
mom came back to her rez
to wait at gramma's
then they drove the 40 miles
to the indian health service hospital
like most indians over 30 years old
from nevada
ask us
we're all born in schurz

so that is how it starts
that is how i start
shaped by government inteventions
& my parent's buy in of the great
american dream

at one point
we even had a cadillac
now we're all back
on the reservation
with dreams of language lost
soured by government policies
and high mortality rates
where are our warriors now?