STUPID INDIAN

I was asked to attend a meeting at the University of Victoria.  It had been a while since I’d sat with scholars in dialogue.  I sat to listen, not remembering the topic–with moving and all the demands of finding help, this was not a priority for me. 

As though from a script, the Chair of the meeting began to speak in that drone that scholars often slip into.  I was not in the back of the wagon with the others.  My brain was working to simplify what was being said, to translate into a language that my aunt or uncle from the village would appreciate.  It was exhausting, running behind the wagon in my moose hide moccasins.  The other Indians, about the age of my adult children–young Indians–seemed to sit comfortably in the wagon for scholars.

I came to see that growing up hearing Sm’algyax spoken when my father’s parents came to live with us throughout the winter months, had me believing I was too stupid to learn the language of my father.  I didn’t understand that they thought it was best I learned to speak English as good as any white person.  In public school and post secondary school, because I look like an Indian–one with a moribund ancestry–any accomplishment was a free handout and I was inferior intellectually.  It seemed I was a failure in both worlds. 

A momentary and passing reality, one that I was once locked into groping blindly on bleeding hands and knees searching for the key.  Now I understand the key has been in my hand all along.  Look into your hand and see the key that you need to free yourself.

“We’re in the Dorsal Fin” 5×7 mixed media on watercolour paper 

 May you be in the dorsal fin of wisdom going deeply into life.

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