Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Potawatomis look back at the year 2010

Looking back at 2010 in the rear-view mirror is a year of mixed emotions.

Around here, it’s always about the weather: We survived over 42” of snow this past winter and the spring brought welcome change. The summer had its spells of rain and then a stifling heat hit. Our pow-wow days were scorchers, as well as the Gathering held in Shawnee, Oklahoma. But, the fall was picture-perfect and we’ve escaped the blizzards the east coast have been experiencing this winter, at least so far.

Outside of a couple wayward souls, most people in this neck of the woods are KU basketball fans. We had such high expectations. This team has national championship written all over it, but it never came to pass. In their last game, I watched the game in disbelief. KU couldn’t seem to do anything right, and I fully expected them to whip off one of their patented 12-0 runs, but it never happened. I thought when they threw a rare full-court press on Northern Iowa, they would unravel and it was close to that, but it wasn't meant to be. Some little gutsy guard shot a long, long 3-point shot with a lotta seconds on the clock and it swished through the net and then I knew it was over.

I did say a few words that aren’t meant for publication and I truly believe I went through a spell of shock. I never thought for a second that they would lose. They were destined for greatness, but there were tell-tale signs throughout the year. KU would create huge leads and then go to sleep and other games they would only play half-hearted. Collins struggled more time than not. Aldrich had his ups and downs. Henry looked like a monster player one minute and quite ordinary the next. Am I painting you a picture of inconsistency because that’s what it was this year. Yet, I remain a KU fan. A 33-3 record isn't bad by anybody's standards. Somebody said after the game "now it's only babies and memories."  There's always this year and maybe Selby will make all the nightmares go away.

In May, they had a birthday dinner for Meeks Jackson. She is an 87 year old elder of our tribe and a good person and one of our last fluent speakers.

The summer months were hot and we had a wave of deaths too. Joe Hale died at age 62. I've known Joe and his boys for years. I watched his boys grow up and because of him, they picked up the songs fast. They are known as top of the line singers on the pow-wow circuit, but I remember them most for helping us with the songs in our religion. That will be Joe Hale's legacy -teaching and passing along the traditions of our way of life.

In his earlier days, he went off to Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Marine Corp. It was a hard go for Joe for a good number of years, he had inner struggles that few can know and understand. His life was similar to the life of my brother Larry. Both left here young boys and the Vietnam war changed them into vastly different people. Thankfully, the inner struggles of seeing war, death and seeing their own blood flow in front of them leveled off in time, but both died fairly young. To me, that wasn't much of a reward for serving our country but we have little say in that department. Now the only thing left is the memory of knowing these good people. That is part of the cruel realities of life on an Indian reservation.

Our tribe also lost Mike Jensen, Dale Thomas and Wesley Begay, as well as the song-man Gary Cooper - to name a few. Age or cancer took their lives. Death is an inescapable truth here and everywhere. I knew all these men and they each made their own marks on this life. Life does go by fast, make the most of it, and sometimes I look around and wonder why everybody had to leave!

In June, my granddaughter Tara was able to meet the First Lady, Michelle Obama while she visited Camp Pendleton and San Diego. Tara was able to sit in one of the front rows. Ms. Obama made a visit to encourage the Marines and their families. Tara said she "felt pretty blessed to meet the first African-American First Lady. She's a beautiful and wise woman."

I’ve watched the golf course progress for the last year on my way to work. Let me tell you this promises to be one of the best golf courses in this area, if not all of Kansas. I’ve had the opportunity to play the course once and it is both breathtaking and difficult.  It will be one of the toughest courses anybody would want to play and it will only get better looking as the years go by once it’s properly established. It will open for public play in 2011. It may be political suicide, but I might try and sneak over there on occasion. I won't play 600 rounds like some guy in Texas did this year, but at least a few times.  Who knows, I might improve on a game that went south years ago.

Other than that, I’m glad I could watch my granchildren grow and develop. Grandchildren can only be viewed as gifts and I'm damn lucky to hang around long enough to see my grandchildren get to this stage of life.

I'm also glad I’m around yet to write these blog entries. I'm thankful to you for reading my material.  I know it doesn't make sense at times, but stay with me it will get better.  I tried not to hurt any sensitive feelings out there.  The sure way to start a fight is to talk about religion and politics, so I stay away from those topics if I can.  But that is hard to do. so maybe I did indulge in veiled references at times during the course of this year.  I'm guilty.  Damn I would hate for somebody to quit talking to me. On top of that, those politico types have their own news outlets!

I mostly try and tell how it is out here on our reservation and how KU is doing, because those are much better story-lines. I hope your holidays were great, your time off work was constructive and you have a safe and happy 2011 and if you see me on the street or rez road, wave or say hello, it would make me feel good, but if not that's good too!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The weather, Josh Selby, and pony-league baseball!

I woke up today and watched the weather reports on the tube and it looks like this area is safe from all the elements for now. On the West Coast, the rains are hammering the hills of Hollywood, the snow is coming down hard in Colorado and many parts of the East. Some highways are shut down. All of this makes it dangerous to travel. I’m glad I have no travel plans this holiday season and to be truthful I don’t have anybody to go visit anyway, so that’s that. I used to go see my brother Larry in MN on occasion, but that option is no longer there.

And thank goodness for the naysayers out there because I was reminded about Josh Selby being suspended for nine games for taking a little cash when he was in high school. But let’s be real on this subject. This stuff happens all the time in college, it just some get caught and whole bunch of others don't. Some of these guys are coming out of the inner city, talented as the day is long – and when they hit that college campus, they dress good, drive good, spend good, and all that fine jewelry comes from somewhere. Their mammas sure don't send it to them. The last time I drove by an inner city dwelling, it didn’t look like there was an abundance of cash there, maybe a little drug money on the corner but that was about it. That said, being so damn good has its perks! That is the reality of college athletics.

A case in point: Kansas State suspended a couple of their stars for taking improper benefits -a clothing store in Manhattan put some free cloth on them.  To be truthful, these athletes should get more in a monetary way.  After all the universities and the coachs make millions so why can't the guys who make that possible get a little too.  It's only right and then stuff like this won't happen. Maybe!

I read in the paper about some old guy dying. I knew him years ago. My brother Larry and I played pony-league baseball in Hoyt one summer. We would walk to the highway and this guy picked us up and gave us a ride from there and after the game we would walk from the highway again. After a few games, this guy asked us who picked us up. We said nobody, we walked home and after that this guy picked us up at home and gave us a ride home after the games. We lived seven or so miles from the highway. We didn’t care because we wanted to play ball. That old boy lived a long life and he probably never really knew that being good to a couple of Indians wasn’t ever forgotten.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Josh Selby, Religion and the Second Coming

My spirtual journey has taken a set-back.  I've always took pride in my reliablility to my religion.  It wasn't always that way, I did partake in the forbidden fruits of life for many years and one day I decided to change.  I figured I could work toward making a real effort to do better and hopefully at the bitter end the good just might outweigh the bad.  Who knows?  I will have to wait for that determination, hopefully until after my next birthday!

But the point of the story is yesterday we had our Winter Ceremonies start here and I was late going in and I did catch it for being late, which is something accorded to a guy who is fairly reliable.  I took the verbal stuff because they were right and they knew where I was.

I stayed home and watched on t.v. the "second coming."  Josh Selby made his debut at Kansas University and that guy is everything they said he'd be and more.  I guess ol Wilt scored 52 points, a KU record, in his debut in the early 1960s and there was no doubt he was one of the best to ever set foot on the KU court.  KU was a spring-board for Wilt to greater things in the NBA and his fame also caused him to become a magnet for women, but that's another story.  Last year X Henry scored 27 points in his debut, but never approached that number again, and went off to the pros way too early.

Selby will make everybody forget the stars of the past before he's done.  It was like magic when he went into the game at 16:00 minute mark.  He started out trying to be a passer and then nailed a 3-pointer that brought down the house and proceeded to score 10 points in his first five minutes.  It was like he was on the court by himself.  I envied those fans, including my nephew William Mitchell, for getting to witness the game first-hand.  This game will go down as a memorable moment for them because from my favorite chair in front of my 32" t.v. it was damn exciting to see this milestone.

The game ended 70-68 over USC.  KU did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong and if Selby wasn't on that court at the end they would have lost, period.  He nailed a 3-pointer with 20 some seconds left and KU ended up winning. Selby delivered and once the chemistry all starts to develop, KU will be the big-dogs of the Big 12.  If they tighten down the defense and do more against the other teams big men, they will a presence on the big stage in March.  Selby is that good.  I don't gush over players that much, but this guy is the real deal. 

Now I gotta get back to making amends for being late yesterday, but I'm banking or hoping that the man up stairs is a KU fan too and understands.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Radio Stations, Josh Selby and my new job, maybe!

My granddaughter Kek said “I wish the rez had its own radio station…” on her facebook page and Katie Mitchell responded with “it could be like smokes signals version. Some guy parked at 6 mile corner telling who passed this way or that way and with who in the car."

It’s no doubt this business venture would certainly fail though. All the people would have to have high pay and all the perks of business, so the bottom line is done gone. I normally just run for tribal office because I know I would never be hired for a tribal position.  I wouldn't want to go through that rejection and telling me I ain't qualified even though I worked my entire adult life and even got in a little schooling, but in this case I would at least try and get hired.

I would want the job Katie talked about with certain conditions though.  I want to sit on my front porch, instead of 6 mile, on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and I could report to the station about who went by that day waving or maybe if they looked mean and was mad about something or the other. Or they could stop and drink a cup of coffee and tell me their troubles and gripes so I could report on that. On Tuesdays and Fridays, I could sit on the main road and do the same reporting. Hell, they could even stop and tell me they hate hearing me talk Indian or a semblance of the Indian language or tell me they hate me for hating xmas - there ain't no sense having a Potawatomi hold back at this late stage of the game. There is a freedom of speech on our rez,so I’m sure their won’t be anything censored.

I would also like to do the week-end sports commentary. I could tell you about how Josh Selby led the Kansas Jayhawks to the national championship, how the Wildcats of Kansas State fame failed again, how the Royals fell apart again and how they whine about being a small-market team and won’t spend no money on anybody.

And if all else fails, I could tell you about my grandchildren and my dog Coda. That’s if they hired me….

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Per cap day on rez

It’s that day and like some old fool, I’m working today. In some tribes, the entire operation shuts down for a day or two, but we don’t, as far as I know. In a few short weeks we will have to pay taxes on this check, so the myth that Indians don’t pay taxes has gone out the window. I’m just glad I’m alive to see it, because we grew up dirt-poor and it sure would have been handy back then. It would have been nice to dress a little better and have some pocket change and buy things other teenagers enjoyed. (but, growing up poor stories come dime a dozen, right?). I realize some don’t get a per cap and others don’t like it because we do, but that’s the way it is. Sure the amount has gone down a tad, but it’s still better than nothing.

In my observation, more people than not depend on getting this check. They have no jobs – won’t be hired by the tribe or the casino even though there is mention of tribal development now and then. Those folks go to town and pay a few bills and it’s all gone, and just maybe they can squeeze in a few xmas presents. Some just sock it away in their accounts and don’t think twice about it. Some are sick and dying and really can’t enjoy or care about spending anything. Others will throw it all back into the slot machine from where it came, but all of this is their prerogative. Oh well the day will come and go, and Josh Selby will start on Saturday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Johnny Cash, big city life and travel

Let me tell you about a story about a clone of Johnny Cash, big city life and the drawbacks of travel!

Somebody recently sent me a video of a 16-year boy from Seattle named Vince Mira. He was discovered on the streets of Seattle singing Johnny Cash songs for change and dollar bills. Such is the life of the struggling artist in the big city, but I watched this video and the young boy was impressive. He sang one of Johnny Cash’s songs “Ring of Fire,” and did he ever do justice to the man in black. Very few can match the voice of Johnny Cash, and certainly Joaquin Phoenix couldn’t. Remember this young boy’s name because he should become famous sometime or another. Hopefully he will get off the streets and make it because of his talent. Yet, I suppose all aspiring artists have to start somewhere!

I’ve been to this city before and it isn’t much different than other big cities, if fact, somebody said Seattle was over-rated, overcast and over caffeinated. It’s a fast-paced life where everybody is in a hurry to spend their hard-earned or inherited money. It’s a place where there are all kinds: There are lonely people, pan-handlers galore, druggies, and crazies, and a few short steps away are luxury stores where rich folks can buy a purse which will cost more than what some of those people on the street will pay in rent for a year. Some people smile, but there are many who aren’t friendly, and that’s big-city life. But, if you can navigate through all that, there are some great sea-food places to sample.

Travel is getting such a hassle anymore and the lure of seeing new cities is waning as I get older. At the airports they get their jollies feeling you for alleged guns or whatever. It’s a process that is more demeaning than anything else. I had three knee operations and all those changes set off all the bells and whistles at the airport. It’s not good at times.

At this point in my life, I think much prefer rez life. Plus, being away from family, my adopted dog, the couple of friends I have and the comforts of home aren’t good either, so that is my goal for 2011, besides losing a couple of pounds, is to stay closer to the rez. But, like all New Years Resolutions…

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Morning Coming Down

The holiday is winding down and I got some more work done around the house, I even walked my dog Koda a few times in the park.  If you ever come to our reservation, you won't hurt my feelings if you don't stop and visit me, but make a point to go see our park.  It just gets better every year.  If only they would put up a park bench or two for the older walkers to rest their old bones, it would be better yet.

In sports, KU lost big-time to Mizzou yesterday and ends a poor season with little promise for next year or at least that's what I saw watching that game.  Holton lost in the 4-A State Championships but they had a great season.  Silver Lake won the 3-A State Championship. Those are two local teams in this area.  I also watched the OU-OSU game last night and those big backs could put the fear in people.  They looked impressive. I thought boy that would be hell to try and bring one of those big OSU backs down after they got a full head of steam going.

Oh, when I was talking about KU, I meant the football team.  The basketball team is 6-0 and just won a tournament out in Sin City against Arizona 87-79.  They are going to be a rock solid team.  I'm afraid they won't win the national championship, but will make this another interesting 30-win season.  When the twins were sitting on the bench, the rest of the team stepped up to the plate and maintained.  They are deep on the bench and this will help in future games.  Jay Bilas of ESPN said they will the best team in the Big 12, but I say they have to work for it and they will. I just hope Selby doesn't upset the chemistry when he starts playing December 18. 

Oh, whatever happened to last year's superstars:  Collins is buried deep on the bench in Charlotte and Aldrich just got sent to the developmental league (oh, lets call a spade a spade, he was sent to the minors).   Maybe they weren't as good as we thought, huh?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday morning, golf and pow-wows!

Steve McDonald,one of our tribal members who can play the game of golf better than 99.5 % of the people in this tribe has won another tournament.  This time in San Jacinto, California.  He won the National Native American Senior Open Championships with a 213, 3 under.  Steve has now won more than 35 sanctioned PGA sectional tournaments and eight FNGA professional championships.  Steve has done well and works as the golf pro at Lake Shawnee.  He's always been encouraging to me by doing so well.  He is an asset to our tribe. In racist circles, they would say he is a credit to his race!

The We te se pow-wow went well.  We, as a rule, go sit in a corner and watch from afar.  They had several specials that didn't take as long as usual and people got to dance to their hearts content.  They honored a couple of veterans who are gone now:  Joe Hale and Teno Masquat.  I knew both of them and they were good people.  It is good for the families to see people still care and remember their relatives.  Also my sister was head lady dancer and I helped by getting in the way.  She handed out gifts to the older women there and that too is good. She didn't have a honor song, so I didn't have to do my shuffle out there in public, which is good.  My grandson Pat kos shuk said: "im rich because i got money from wa-ta-sa pow-wow and feeding my dog $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$"

We have a short work week this week with the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching.  It's turkey time.  In the Potawatomi way of life, we've already had our fall ceromonies and that is our thankgiving when we thank our Creator for giving us life, health and for what we received in our gardens.  But a true Indian will also not pass up on a good meal, hence the bird has to go.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Review that might help somebody!

I read this article in USA Today about ways to stop youth violence. I find this story more than interesting because when we were growing up, there was no information like this available and we indulged in many of the things mentioned in this story. That was not good!

The story covered the efforts of Miami running back Ronnie Brown who wants to make young people aware of the things they can do to prevent more violence. Brown said “All across the country, kids are resorting to violence. It’s becoming easier for them to make those decisions, and it’s sickening.” Brown wants to give back to his community and often talks to different school groups in his area. His own life was difficult. His parents were sent to prison for drug offenses when he was only 6 years old and he had to live with different relatives. Adversity made him stronger and now he wants to change the mentality that is so prevalent in the inner cities. In a sense, these presentations are therapeutic to Brown.

The economy or socioeconomic conditions are a factor. The article said “there’s more stress at home, and it rolls down. People are losing jobs, and losing homes. That goes from adults and families to the kids to schools.” A simple thing like free breakfast at school can relieve stress among young people.

Of course, all the violence isn’t confined to the inner cities, look at Columbine High School in 1999. Reservations aren’t exempt either. Look at the Red Lake shooting not long ago. The article said “We believe to shoot up a school, use drugs, have an eating disorder, it’s all coming from the same place: pressure inside of you.” And bullying is viewed as a method of releasing pressure. Some classify more than 10 types of bullies such as control freaks, and guilt-trip bullies as well as cyber-bullying which is now happening.

23 Ways to Stop Youth Violence

1. Walk away (Brown said “I think a lot of times, kids think, ‘if I walk way, I’m not tough, but if you walk away, you get to go on with the rest of your day…it’ really about giving yourself a chance to be successful throughout the rest of your lfe)”

2. See the big picture (for example a curfew allows young people to be indoors where they are safe and not getting hit by a stray bullet, but the young person who can’t see the big picture said that violence will only start earlier).

3. Give respect to get respect

4. Think before you act

5. Learn to manage your anger (a violent incident can occur in a split second – and forever change the lives of perpetrators and victims).

6. Talk to someone you trust

7. Listen & understand

8. What would your family say?

9. Tell the truth

10. Speak up

11. Exhibit tolerance

12. Speak with a professional

13. Lead, don’t follow

14. Adjust your attitude

15. Remember your faith

16. Think about your future

17. Know the consequences

18. Get involved at school

19. Who are you really hurting?

20. Stay in School

21. Surround yourself with positive people

22. Believe in yourself

23. Negotiate (anger management classes teach compromise and prevention).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Early Monday morning, politics and basketball!

It’s Monday and I can’t but help notice that the Republicans haven’t solved the fiscal crisis yet, plus Obama didn’t solve anything by going overseas for ten days. I rarely watch Saturday Night Live but I did over the weekend and they carried on about how much America owes China. This guy was playing the Chinese leader and he kept asking Obama if he brought a check to pay off the debt and the Obama impersonator kept stuttering and said it will happen soon. Then the Chinese guy start getting graphic and said America was going to put it to them. It was a funny skit, but I suppose politicians will find the answer at some point in time.

Since I did my Fall clean-up around my place this long week-end I’ve decided I will watch the tube again tonight. Of course, we have little choice since it gets dark about 5:00 pm. KU plays Valparaiso at 7 o’clock, so that will occupy my evening. I hate to get too up-beat on KU basketball again. They look good so far. You never know until they start facing better competition. They have the speed and talent to hang in there with most folks and will only get better when Josh Selby takes the court, although sometimes too much star power can hurt the chemistry of a team. Let do a recap and look at last year! Collin's thought he had to carry the team at all times. The truth of the matter was that he didn't have to and that hurt in the big games. I think KU has to use all their weapons and not rely on one person and this will only make them better when the big dance gets here.

Some of those weapons are Tyshawn Taylor, the Morris twins, Tyrel Reed and Travis Releford who I predict will have a solid year. Some of the bench could start anywhere else especially Jeff Withey a 7”0 center. Taylor can push them up and down the court and while there will be turnovers the overall game will be much better than last year.

It is a wait and see thing for us. Yet, as a general rule KU will win most of its games this year, but I think the disappointments of the past have tempered our expectations somewhat – kinda like politics!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

For many of us, we wake up to a holiday and a day off, but we can't forget why we are getting that privilege!  We coulda woke up under some Communist or Nazi regime and we sure wouldn't be enjoying any  of the freedoms we have today and its because of those military veterans who did their part to make this country great and free.

For this reservation, we have veterans left and many young people serving now and we are thankful for them giving up their time to guarantee our freedoms and as a result:  We can go to whatever church we want, pray if we want or not, bad-mouth politicians and  by gosh, sometimes we can get away with that- It's called free speech. We can move around this great country as we please, but of course under certain financial restraints.  Our kids can grow up free of persecution and oppression.  We are the only ones who can do that to each other.  We have freedoms to do whatever we want as long as it doesn't break the speed limit or offend some moral beast in people.  We can drink and smoke as long as it doesn't get out of hand.  They attach a few penalties to excesses these days. Well you get the picture.

Our reservation has also lost so many veterans.  They were good friends, good people and a real loss to their families, religions, and our tribe.  I miss them and think about them everyday and not just on Veteran's day.  Some have died fairly young and that doesn't seem like much of a reward.  I recently finished a Veterans booklet for the We te se and it will be available to veterans and I'm sure they will have a few extra copies for sale at the We te se Pow-Wow, November 20 in the big city of Holton. 

As I wrote this or gathered material for this publication, I was struck with the personal suffering many of these veterans went through and the pain they endured because of their war experiences.  Many around them couldn't understand their actions and like so many things in life,we aren't put here to judge others.  I think that is reserved for only one person.  I have a full appreciation for what they did for us and this country.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Camping 2010

Here is a picture of me, Juana and Voncile at a camp, an Indian encampment, last Sunday morning.  Mary LeClere and her hiker bunch were camping overnight and Pat ko shuk stayed with Eddie Joe.  We went over early to bring some bacon and eggs for the breakfast and if we looked cold, we were. In this picture, we were sitting there looking at the bacon and tators cooking and generally slobbering waiting -I was anyway .  It was the best breakfast we’ve had in recent memory, even better than the good ones we’ve grown accustomed to at home.  Ain't nothing like the real thing!  There had to be over 25 campers and I told them that they were tough Indians to camp all night in the cold.  Of course, I'm getting too old to stay out there all night, but my 10 year old grandson can take it and did.  He prayed for the breakfast when it was done in our language.  This group has been taking five mile hikes the last two weekends but not this time.  I guess there was way too much breakfast consumed (Picture by Eddie Joe Mitchell).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vacation time over!

My time off work did come to an end.  It was unusual to have some free time and have no schedule in front of me to lead me through the day.  But, you know what?  I managed and wonder why I didn't do this more than once in a blue moon.  One time a guy wrote me and said to get retired and see the world away from the reservation.  I thought his comment was kinda funny, but maybe I will take his advice sometimes.

In New Mexico, the site of my short get-away, the weatherman on the radio said "I pity those poor idiots who took my advice yesterday and went outdoors."  Well, I was one of those guys.  I played a round of golf at Isleta Golf Course, an Indian owned business, and the day started out great but steadily went down hill, kinda like my game, and the weather turned bitter cold to where it hurt the hands to hit a golf ball.  I enjoyed getting out there.  I have to get out more, since we have our own course now, and I can't look too awfully bad all the time.

The big city is something though.  A cop was passed out on Highway 25 in his squad car one night.  He was arrested for DUI.  I read somewhere these guys are suppose to serve and protect.  Other news there was a candidate for governor who carried a hand-gun in one of her campaign stops.  Granted she has a license to carry the weapon but it must be bad to have to carry a gun in the New Mexico political arena. Damn can you imagine how it would be in the first political disagreement?  The Wild, Wild West!

Speaking of the political arena, Meg Whitman another candidate for governor, but in California, has spent $141 million of her own money and the polls are saying she is way behind the old guard Jerry Brown. Does that make sense to spend that kind of money for a job that probably pays $150,000 a year?  It goes back to power and all of its ambiance.

And in sports, one comedian said  a  OSU wide receiver was caught driving 92 mph while drunk.  Sounds like the guy is ready to head to the next level.  Crazy huh?  Some of these guys are so good they can get away with about anything. 

The big city traffic is hectic, the lifestyle is a bit different than home, the down-town area looks fairly dangerous and you can't find a wal mart anywhere. Of course, travel is a big change to normal life so it really isn't anything to cry about.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Notes from somewhere in New Mexico

I flew to Albuquerque New Mexico on the first day of my vacation. It was pretty darn cold and windy and the ride in on the big bird was rocky. I wanted to tag along with my wife. She is attending a conference and I will do absolutely nothing, although I thought about hitting the golf course and brought my golf clubs. Southwest Airlines is the last airline in existence that allows two free bags, so I brought them along. I much prefer to mess up with my own clubs rather than rented ones. Some people buy clubs every year. I don't. I've had mine for ten to twelve years. There's nothing wrong with them, I just got to learn how to hit them right. I also want to see if my luck at the casino is any better here than it is in Kansas, but I sure doubt that.

Normally I will take a day off or two at a time and do some work around the house, so this is the first "vacation" I've taken in a spell But first I have to adjust to the time change, because I got up at 3:15 am on my first day here,when its 4:15 back home. As I get older I notice I get up earlier. One morning I got up at 2:15 and any way you cut it, that is way too early.

I want to play the tourist role and maybe go here and there and take pictures. I brought my tourist outfit, you know the golf shirt, golf pants along with a hat and camera, so I should stand out, but I really need to get a bright, bright shirt to stand out more. When I go somewhere alone, I rarely go see any sights, usually stay at the hotel and the area close by. Fun guy, huh? This hotel is six miles from the nearest casino and that is good. Usually the temptatation of those little devil machines is too close to my room and they whisper to me to throw all my money into them. Isn't it hell to be human sometimes? If I don't win on this trip, I will give it up for a good long while, but haven't we heard that song before?

Also I've seen a lot of Indians around here, must be a reservation nearby!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday morning thoughts!

Damn what is going on?  The chiefs of Kansas City fame have won four games already! Missouri beat OU in football.  KU and KSU lost again! The Rangers are in the World Series and I'm on vacation this week. 

But a fast story:  This guy I worked with said one time his church has a bunch of their congregation going on a trip and posted this fact in the church paper and when they got back somebody had broke into all of their  homes.  About now, you are wondering what the moral of the story is:  most importantly, don't tell anybody your out of the neighborhood.  But I have somebody staying at my house and the tribal police go by once in a blue moon so everything will be safe on the home-front.

I rarely take any time off.  I thought why the hell not, so I did.  The weekend was horrible since I was sick the whole time.  The flu is making its rounds here and I'm not exempt.  I'm better today.  My grandson Pat ko shuk went on a 5 mile hike with a group of Potawatomis yesterday.  He came back in a pretty good mood so it must not have been as hard for him as I thought. It sure beats seeing him sit in front of that tv all day.  His Uncle Eddie took care of him, I hear.

In the local news, three young people offed a guy near Topeka West High School over the weekend.  Big city news but these three young people will have plenty of time to think about this incident in jail for a good number of years.  The answer is pull the trigger first these days.  It isn't, but it seems that way.

Oh, if you need your lawn mowed, let me know.  Oh, that's right the mowing season is officially over. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Police brutality, baseball and politics!

I opened up the paper today and saw where the Topeka Police Chief was handing out some award to the cop who got drunk last year and shot these two Mexican guys in Topeka. Off-duty work, I guess. Damn I thought is this Topeka’s answer to the immigration problem: shoot um up, and hell with deporting them. Plus, later give the the deserving soul an award. Hopefully that isn’t the way it is and the guy was reformed from a year ago and did some great things for his community. I was afraid to write this cause my skin is more dark than light and today it’s all about repercussions. Too late, it’s already written.

The World Series is looming. It looks like it might be the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants in the series. I get into world series pots and hope to win at least one, but last year I didn’t. I guess that Josh Hamilton of the Rangers is a big dog and can hit the ball a country mile. I hope later that he isn’t on some growth hormones or steroids like the bonds guy. It’s been awhile since either team has made it this far. In the case of Frisco, in fact, the last time was when bonds was google-eyed on steroids. The good thing is we will be able to see Willie Mays in the stands again. A bit older now, but still a draw! Baseball is a tainted game because of the steroids but it may come back in time.

And there is only two weeks left for us to endure all those political ads on t.v. I will be glad when it’s over. Hell, the Republicans hate the Democrats. The Democrats hate the Republicans and the Devil hates us all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Update!

I haven’t put anything on the ol blog lately, mostly because I’ve been slightly busy these last few days. Let’s see, I went to a regulators conference in Wisconsin for a few days, came back and attended our Fall Ceremony and raised my hand in a General Council meeting last Saturday to be recorded as a member in attendance and in between all that I cleaned up my garden and mowed my yard for the last time this season. Oh, I also did some carpentry work at my daughter’s place. I still think I can be a carpenter after all these years. Her floor is fixed. I put in new 2x6s and plywood and I guaranteed the job for life or she will get her money back. Oh hell, I forgot it was one of those free things you do for your kids.

Travel to Green Bay was adventurous. They first cancelled my flight in KCI, saying something about a door wouldn’t close. I guess they didn’t want to take a chance of us passengers blowing out so they made us get off and then a six hour wait started for my next flight. You gotta love flying! The meeting and casino was good along with the people there, but it’s always better to get home. I don’t travel that much these days, but the airports and hotel rooms all look the same and the news coming from the tv and the newspapers are troubling to say the least. For instance, the news told of a highway patrolman going 126 mph and texting at the same time. What happened? He got his message sent, but in the process he killed two pretty teenage girls. This awful chain of events deprived those young kids of a future! I think Oprah is right – texting while driving needs to go.

While in Green Bay, and for a brief couple of hours I played tourist.  I was able to go check out Lambeau Field, home of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer, Ray Nitschke, Wilie Wood, Max McGee and a whole bunch of others who made the place famous and to say nothing of bringing world championships to a relatively small city. It was also the first professional football stadium I stepped foot in. I’m not much on professional sports but I did want to see this place and glad I went. Quite a few years back I had the honor of meeting Max McGee. He gave me a signed picture of him catching a touchdown in the first super bowl and gave me a autographed football of the Green Bay Packers. That picture and football remain prized possessions. Max died a few years ago at 72 when he was clearing leaves out of his gutter and fell off his roof. He must have believed in doing his own work, kinda like me, but of course I didn’t catch any passes to speak of.

I’m a fairly lucky guy to be able to help in our religious services and I try to be dependable in this area. I figure I need all the help I can get at the bitter end and can only hope the good out-weights the bad. Sometimes though people remember the bad in people and not the good but that is another chapter for another day. I also made it to our quarterly general council meeting waiting to give a report but we lost a quorum shortly after everybody filled their bellies.  It was a mild meeting.  I've been to some real wing-dingers in the past.  We never had shoes being thrown like they did at Bush, but it was close at times.

It’s always sad to see our services end and the same way with my garden and yard work. I don’t know what I will do with my extra free time. Maybe it’s time to build some stuff indoors and see if I can give it away to somebody or I could sit around and count the days until Kansas University basketball begins.  Oh, that's right I haven't got over the disappointment of last season yet.  As Jethro said "I'll conjure on it."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day 2010

Columbus Day is said to be another reason for banks to close and the take the day off. Our tribe used to take the day off, too. We didn’t really honor the guy, we celebrated the day off, but the new agers decided it wasn’t politically correct anymore, so now we work on that sacred day. I’ve been kinda sickly and thought about calling in sick, but that would looked like I supported the Italian guy Columbus.

Some discreet guy said somebody had to bring disease to America and maybe that’s true, but I bet those early Indians didn’t plan on dying in such huge numbers because of those diseases. There was no next time for those Indian greeters on the East coast, and I bet they wished they hadn’t been so gracious to these immigrants (talk about a need for stricter immigration laws, huh?) . Another radical line of thought said thanks for the cholera, but please leave your money at the casino and it's true.  Thank goodness we survived to rake in the proceeds!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Martie and the Boy!

This is my girl Martie and my grandson Pat ko shuk.  They took this picture at Family Night or "Sunday on Monday Family Night." He goes to school at Royal Valley Elementary School and is in the Fourth Grade. They also had ice cream at this event and played three games of uno and Pat ko shuk won two out of the three games.  They asked Kek to go along but she was too tired to mess with them.  But they stopped by the golf course and missed the golf lessons offered by Notah Begay but saw him leaving in a car.  They still were able to get a t-shirt and a hat.  The golf course opened up today for tribal members, but I stayed away for fear of a vicious attack for playing golf on a work-day so I stayed at my work-station.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Writing, softball and Joe Hale!

A young friend of mine, who I will leave nameless for his own protection told me that he was the only one that reads my blog.  I told him I was wondering who that was who showed up on my counter.  Such is the life of a tormented writer - all you can do is hope that somebody reads your stuff.  I don't want to say, you pray somebody reads your material, because that wouldn't sound right. Maybe I should use more big words, huh?

We made a journey to a place called Salt Lake City to watch our daughter and her softball team play ball in a National Indian tournament.  They raised all of their expense money.  I think that is great.  Help yourself if you can, if you can't let the tribe pay for it.  They did well for a first time facing this kind of competition.  They ended up 2-2 for the tournament, but now they know what has to be done on their next trip.  I enjoyed watching the games and it made me miss seeing our old team play. 

I had to cut my trip short by a day.  I came back to the rez to help with Joe Hale's funeral.  Joe died at age 62.
I've known Joe and his boys for years.  I watched his boys grow up and through his teachings, they picked up the songs fast. They are known as top of the line singers on the pow-wow circuit, but I remember them most for
helping us with the songs in our religion.  That will be Joe Hale's legacy -teaching and passing along the traditions of our way of life. 

In his earlier days, he went off to Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Marine Corp.  During one encounter with the Viet Cong, He was hit in the upper left arm by rifle fire, and was stunned by the impact and was knocked to the ground, but survived. Joe said later that those were scary moments and was afraid to look at his arm because he felt like there was nothing there. That was in 1966. He was sent back to the United States after this incident, recuperated and finished out his service time.  As fate would have it, Joe's brother Victor died in Vietnam in 1968 and his cousin Martin Jim, Jr died there in 1971.

 It was a hard go for Joe for a good number of years, he had inner struggles that few can know and understand.  His life was similar to the life of my brother Larry.  Both left here young boys and the Vietnam war changed them into vastly different people.  Thankfully, the inner struggles of seeing war,death and seeing their own blood flow in front of them leveled off in time, but both died fairly young.  To me, that wasn't much of a reward for serving our country but we have little say in that department.  Now the only thing left is the memory of knowing these good people.  That is part of the cruel realities of life on an Indian reservation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Football 2010

This is a picture of Zach Wamego with his Aunt Lisa Wamego and Wabnum.  Zach and Wabnum are my nephews, while Lisa is my sister.  This picture was taken after Coffeyville Junior College beat Garden City Junior Colllege.  Zach is 6"6 and 320 pounds and plays right guard and is gradually working into a starting position.  He played at Royal Valley High School.  Zach is the son my late brother Mike. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Retirement is postponed!

I was ready to retire in a few short years, but now Obama wants to raise the retirement age. The full benefit age will be 70. Of course, his popularity will decline further if he were to implement this idea.  Old people get awful mad when somebody tries to dismantle anything dear to them and historically politicians stay from any changes at all in social security because of this political fallout.  So the lesson for politicians is to pick on less popular programs and they'll last a long time in politics.  Oh, yeah their retirement package is pretty awsome, so they don't have to worry at all.  The only thing they will have to worry about is will somebody pick them up at the end of the day when their kids put them on a park bench and let them fend for themselves.

Damn, I might be lucky to hang on that long anyway. To be truthful, I’m lucky to be even considering retirement. I seen so many of my relatives and friends die young and I mean damn young. I guess so many of us thought we were lucky to reach 30 and anything after that were considered bonus years. For the longest time, Indians never lived long enough to worry about any retirement.  I think the life expectancy for Indians was 49 years old and it might be a tad higher now. In addition, Indians always had low paying jobs, so any real social security was minimal and there wasn't anything called a 401 K for years and years.  Getting old for many Indians only promised harder times if they didn't have somebody to take care of them.

I could get up a list of things I want to do before I kick off at age 71. Isn’t that the way it works, as soon as you retire, you die instantly. What could that list be? I have no ambitions to see Hawaii and its pretty beaches, don’t really care if I see Phoenix again, and oh maybe it would be nice to see Europe. My brother Larry was stationed in Germany after he left Vietnam and saw quite a few European countries and wrote me what he saw there, so I guess it would be like de ja vu, if I did go there. So I guess I can rule that out, plus who wants to figure out currency exchanges?

I suppose I could settle for taking my grandchildren to a few places in the lower 48. I saw Alaska and it was right pretty. Sarah Palin was still in high school before she become a rock star that she is today.  I didn’t see her on that trip, but I saw some moose, bear and a bunch of eagles.  I can't go too far South, I might get deported and who wants to see western Kansas again? I don't want to see the oil fields of Texas, Louisiana and Florida, thanks to Exxon or was it some other company who did all that damage?

Probably my best bet would be to stay close to home and watch all the theatrics and drama here.  That's worth the price of admission to this reservation, or for that matter any reservation. The cost of living is a lot better than most places.  There are some really good people here and that ain't true everywhere, so I think I'll stay here and watch the grass grow in my yard and garden. It was Mickey Mantle or somebody who
said “if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

KU rises from the dust!

Is it too late to get back on that KU bandwagon?  Please forgive me for giving up on them when they lost to Abilene Tech last week.  I don't know what got into me.  It could have been the weather or maybe some force from outer space made me think like that.  Maybe it was the pills I took for my hurt foot!  I don't know, but they have made my football forecasting abilities look bad to the educated and uneducated world of sports watchers. 

Today, KU beat the #15 ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 28-25 at Memorial Stadium.  They put in a new quarterback and went back to the old offense that made them famous in the past and played like they were suppose to.  The last time KU beat a ranked team at home was in the early 1980s when they beat OU.  I was going to that game but decided to listen to one our general council meetings and I kicked myself for weeks after for missing that upset.

Who do I have to petition to get back on the band-wagon? It sure ain't Lew Perkins, he left on the same midnight express Mangino took, and he had a suitcase filled to the brim  with $2 million in severance pay (for you math people out there, that is $ 5,400 a day or so for doing absolutely nothing for the next year).  I guess the only thing to do is apologize to my readers for making a mistake so there it is - I'm officially back on the KU bandwagon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Old Songs and Musicians

Let's look around and see what is going on:  The homes are burning in Colorado. There is flooding in Texas. They are going to burn some Korans in Florida. Fall is fast approaching. People are continually mad over the state of politics, and the Killer a.k.a .Jerry Lee Lewis turned 75 years old the other day.

The ol boy is still going strong after all these years. Well maybe not real strong but he’s still going. I saw him in a Las Vegas show with Chuck Berry back in the late 1980s. It was a helluva show and it seemed like both were getting old then. I always said I got to see those two before they kicked off. I have to admit, it is amazing that he’s still cranking out the sounds at his age. But getting back to that show, I thought it was something with him up there banging away on that piano and singing one song after the other. He was great and it was the same with Chuck Berry.

I watched movies about these two after that and read some articles too. Both led fairly rough lives indulging in all the temptations of life.  We know the routine:  wine, women and song.  Hell maybe some of us did the same thing! Both had up and down music careers. Jerry Lee Lewis got married six times. Whoa, six times. I thought somebody said one per lifetime! The life of a musician! As most hard livin folks, he almost died a few times and lived through a bunch of adversity but said all that just rolled off his back. Good words for all of us to live by.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Golf Course Next Door!

I’ve watched the golf course progress for the last year on my way to work. Let me tell you this promises to be one of the best golf courses in this area, if not all of Kansas.

I’ve had the opportunity to tour it several times now and it’s breathtaking at times and will be one of the toughest courses anybody would want to play. It will only get better looking as the years go by once it’s properly established. There’s a 600 yard par 5 and some long par 3s that will be hard to par. I like the way the course is laid out. The front nine is open and the back nine is narrow and has sloping fairways. It looks like the back nine is carved out of the timber. There are creeks crossing several fairways. It will be decision time for many wild swingers, lay up or go for it. It will be a risk reward type course. I only saw the U.S. Open on t.v. but some of the layout is similar – a native grass is growing off the fairways and let me tell you it won’t be easy getting out of that stuff.

So whoever designed this course needs an A plus. It will add some powerful words to the title Prairie Band Casino and Resort. Oh, some good words need to be said for all those young guys working out there all summer in the searing heat. They deserve some kind of pat on the back. As the course nears completion it will be worth the trip to our rez to play.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Night the Wheat Stood Still in Kansas

The KU football team got a good old beating from North Dakota State or Montana Tech 6-3 the other night.  Please don't be mistaken it wasn't Michigan State,so its promises to be a bleak year for KU fans again.  It's bad enough that we have suffered nightmares from KU's early exit in the NCAA baskeball tournament a few months back and now this.  Where are you Nolan Cromwell when we need you?

KU hired a new coach, a better players coach than the last guy, Mangino.  He promised to try and win every game and not cuss anybody, but the operative word is "try." Mangino is living on some golf course retreat in Florida and saying "and they thought they'd do better without me. They also thought I was a bit rough around the edges, but I could deliver a win once in awhile and I'd be damned if we lost to some little school by the Canadian border."  Of course that's all speculation but I imagine he is laughing as he is learning the game of golf.   Mangino does have the time since KU paid him a bunch of money to leave town on the midnight express.

It may be that KU will be lucky to win one game this year and will probably lose to those farmers out at KSU and we will never hear the end of that, I assure you.  We have low expecations,kind of like when people take political office,but damn why can't we win against the lower division schools?  We know KU can't compete with schools like Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas in recruiting, but at least we should be able to grab a couple of players from Southern Cal, who will serve some probation time for paying Reggie Bush a pile of money while he was winning the Heisman Trophy.  Oh, hell they all do that, don't they?

In Ancient Greece or was it Athens, when somebody was caught stealing they cut off both hands.  It wasn't because they were stealing it was because they were caught.  That's the way it should be in college football or maybe in life.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Evening News

I woke up and read in the paper that Tiger only won $151,000 in the Barclay tournament and he probably looked at it and thought "chump change," but life does go on.  And Fidel in that little country south of the Florida Keys said in an interview that "he was on deaths door, but he came back."  Bet those guys in D.C. didn't like hearing that.  Locally, the blonde on the morning weather said we are going to get rain this week which won't hurt my feelings none. 

After a day at the sweat-shop, we went into the city to run some errands.  Imagine running errands on my own time!  Well anyway I was driving down the street and had to stop at a red light and there was this van with two bumper stickers one it.  One said "I slept like a Democrat last night, lied on one side and then lied on the other."  I reckon that tells you Kansas is a Republican State but in case you had doubts the other sticker said "Work hard, there are millions on welfare."  It's been awhile since I seen some good stickers.

We stopped at the grocery store and I left off my wife at the front door like a good guy would and I went to park. I walked back to the store and I seen these two good looking girls go by and pretty soon they stopped and kissed each other on the lips. I thought "I don't quite know what's happening here," and being the country boy that I am, I thought maybe it was a momma letting her kid off for work. But also being the observant guy that I am, I also noticed they were kissing for quite a long time, so I figured "geez this must be the changing times I heard about" or maybe it was the song "the times are achangin."

I guess it beat staying home and smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo.  Isn't city-life something?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hung Jury Time Again!

Rod Blagojevich of Chicago fame, David Wittig and guy named Lake of the local Westar Energy Company have something in common. Blagojevich was accused of trying to get some financial mileage out of Obama’s vacated Senate seat, while Wittig and Lake were accused of looting the local electric company out of millions. Each case ended in a hung jury. In the Topeka case, the prosecutors didn’t push for a retrial but in Illinois they are going after Blagojevich again. More than likely Blagojevich will only get a slap on the wrist or if he goes to jail, he will end up in a country club prison in the East.

These cases have drug on for months, if not years, and you can imagine the millions of dollars the attorneys have made? The lawyers come from elite law firms and are usually the best money can buy for these high profile guys. In the Westar case, the company had to pay much of the legal cost, so you can expect a rate increase soon. They develop a legal strategy that puts a wad of bills in their pockets. They drag these cases on by calling for expensive expert witnesses; they throw in some character witnesses who bring tears to your eyes; and the judges grant their request for continuation time after time. All of these legal maneuvers will eat up a whole bunch of tax-payers dollars. By the time they are done, hell they could make Hitler look like an innocent school boy. And can you imagine the time the judge and jurors have to sit there and endure this nonsense and in time all they can do is pray for it all to end. Money talks, my friend because these high priced lawyers get their clients off the proverbial hook.

All of this doesn’t bode well for the justice system. The average criminal has little money to hire an attorney to defend their interest and can usually count on being jailed or put on some kind of probation for extended periods of time. Nobody makes them look like innocent school boys. In South Dakota the penal system is represented by Indians in huge numbers. If they can’t get a job there then crime usually happens. What they should do is create some kind of public works units (chain-gangs) out of prisoners to help with county and state budget shortfalls because they sure won’t get rehabbed in prison.

Most of the people have to live with the mistakes of life or die in jail thinking about it, but for not for these guys:  Blagojevich said he is running for governor again when he gets out this mess and Wittig will be back in the front row for the Kansas University basketball games. No, “justice for all” isn’t really there!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Summer season is winding down.  I started to take some of my corn stalks out and tilled some of the ground up until it got hotter than a pistola.  The politics is pretty hot around here too, but that is another matter handled by people much smarter than myself. It's a situation where nobody will win, but it is the glass-house of politics.

Usually nothing happens around here. I usually sit on my front porch and wait for a car to go by, so I can wave at them.  Isn't that exciting? But yesterday they were having a cultural retreat at the Rock Building and  I was asked to come talk about the history of our tribe and some culture.  It was for a group of young people.  I try and limit my public appearances anymore. It makes me work much too hard at remembering the facts of history.  I would much sooner work in my yard or hit the garage sale circuit but the heat kinda limits that.  If nothing else, staying home is fine too.

I told the young people how I got involved in writing and sharing the stories of our people.  It started over twenty years ago.  I would interview some of our older people about some of their life experiences.  Some were good and some were bad for them, but at least I got to record it.  I always figure someday somebody will want to know how our life was here on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation.  I never claimed to be a historian or a writer, I just want to tell a story.  I think it was worthwhile to do all that work over the years.  And these young people wanted to hear some of these stories and that was good.  I told them I did quite a few presentations but very rarely was asked to return because people didn't want to hear about some of the terrible things that happened to the Potawatomis over the years, but we were a stubborn people and survived. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scientific way of voting in Indian Elections

When I was much younger I attended the local U - Washburn University and got a degree in political science and lacked six hours of getting a history degree too, but that was a coon's age ago and is, as they say, academic.  We learned all the theory and read about how the political machine works in this country or how it's suppose to work.  It was a good learning experience.  Sometimes I did feel out of place being the only Indian in shouting distance, but after awhile nobody paid attention to me. Books don't prepare you for the real aspects of political life but it helped.  I think I should have minored in psychology because you run into some real odd balls in life and that could have helped in explaining human behavior.  So now I try and compensate and watch CSI and Criminal Minds to help me understand a tad bit better.  I also read all the time to help me understand a little more about the world we live in, but this isn't why I put all this in here. I want to explain one method of voting on an Indian reservation to you.  This isn't something I learned in books or on t.v. or the Topeka Capital Journal, I simply made it up.

Today it's election time here on the rez again. There is a run-off. Some where along the line our tribe decided to use primaries.  I guess it was done to nullify those with big families, but they still get in there. In this particular election, I know both candidates well, so I'm going to use the scientific method of deciding Indian elections. Heads I vote for Jimmy, tails I vote for Sogi. Here goes the coin toss.........and the winner is..................

Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Potawatomi Gathering Notes

The 2010 Potawatomi Gathering is now history.  It was held in Shawnee, Oklahoma and hosted by the Citizen's Band of Potawatomi.  One memory that will stick for all the participants is the oppressive heat.  Temperatures were in the high 90s and low 100s and the heat index was 105-100 every day.  That in any language is hot. One day the public announcer said "there are showers everywhere in Oklahoma, but not here.  It's suppose to be in 98 degrees today.  Welcome to our cold front."  It's the Oklahoma heat I remember from past visits.

On the way down I saw a Confederate flag flying in one yard. I thought I'm surely not that far south, although I get lost easily on the road.  I saw a Kickapoo Nation sign; a Sac and Fox Nation sign and a Iowa Nation sign and for a second, I thought I was north of my reservation, but I guess there are other bands of them, too.  We have nine bands of Potawatomi scattered all over.

The first two days I attended the leadership sessions which allowed me to get out of the intense heat.  Most of the days involved the chairs discussing some of their tribes accomplishments.  For instance, the Citizen Band have a RV park, golf course, a concrete business with 8 trucks, a grocery store that grosses $50 million a year, run their own clinic and are in the process of building a 240 room hotel by their casino.  Rocky Barrett said Shawnee has had three motels pop up after the casino went up.  He also said a kick-boxing event held at their casino was a huge draw and made a big profit for the tribe.

The tribes discussed some joint ventures.  One was a 7-tribe progressive game that has promise according to many in the room and forming a company that would replace worn out casino chairs among other ideas.  They scheduled a follow-up meeting September 21-22 in Michigan to discuss logistics of any joint ventures.  Another idea is to form a charter to self-fund medical insurance for tribal and casino employees.  Something like this could save a bundle of money for each tribe.  There were many good ideas discussed and some of the tribes are on the right track with their economic development ideas. 

In one session they asked me to talk about culture.  I talked in general terms and said there is no right way and no wrong way in our Indian religions.  I know better to go into details. I'm not a fool.  That's been done in the past and people get mad.  What's the fastest way to get people mad?  Talk about religion and politics. So I told them the most important thing in our lives is to give thanks to our Creator for what he has given us and that is through prayer.  Prayer helps us all during the good and bad times of life.  I talked a little about language and again it's not the method of learning but the most important thing is the ability to retain and use the words on a daily basis.  There were 125 people in the room so hopefully they took something away positive from the people who talked in this session, not necessarily from me.

While all this went on indoors, my grandson Pat ko Shuk swam in the Citizen Band pool and played putt-putt golf.  He did some fishing and said he almost caught a blue gill. One gal at the motel asked him "ya all code."  He didn't understand her southern accent.  I guess she was asking him if he was cold.  We got a kick out of that exchange.  The people in the area were friendly.  Since there are over 240,000 Indians living in the state, we weren't anything out of the ordinary.

The Citizen Band provided meals and had  pow-wow sessions to keep everybody occupied and allowed plenty of time for people to visit each other and/or to sneak off to the small casino located close by.  There was a golf tournament, horse shoe tournament, volleyball tournaments going on during the days.  All of this kept people busy and "by the end of the day," as Hot Rod Stewart sang one time, people were pretty exhausted and if it wasn't the activities then it had to be the heat because it was a scorcher.  I'm glad though that the gathering is headed toward Michigan next year where it should be much cooler than the last two years.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Economic news of the day!

Here is a headline in the news today: An employee who had been asked to resign went on a shooting rampage Tuesday at a family-owned beer distributing company in Manchester, Conn, killing eight people and wounding others before fatally shooting himself, officials said.

This again shows how awful the economy is today. Sure some people are just plain messed up to do something like this, but you wonder if the possibility of going without could have played into this decision. People who lose their jobs are confronted with losing their American Dream;  losing their homes;  and a hundred other things associated with in leading a normal life. Thus, fear is a factor and the papers are filled with stories of how people can't get another job except maybe at McDonalds.

But actions like this shooting isn't the answer. But, it does seem like shooting others is the answer for far too many people anymore. Everyone around them has to suffer. These eight people in this story had families. They were planning a future for them. Now these next few days these families will have the ordeal of taking care of funeral arrangements.

We also read in the papers about how the big companies are hoarding profits and not doing any new hiring. That too is wrong. A recent USA article said companies are sitting on a pile of cash, enough to pay 2.4m workers $70,000 for 5 years - yet they're not hiring. They say the answer is for everybody to spend, spend and the economy will get alright, but when big companies don’t hire that notion is defeated. The big bonuses continue for the top executives and the worker gets none or gets fired. That notion is wrong too. Where is that economic recovery plan and have we hit any benchmarks yet? It doesn’t seem like it, does it?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Old Pictures Again!

Tribal member Sharie Landis gave me this copy of a pow-wow scene from the 1960s.  In the war bonnet is Frank Nioce.  I seen this picture a couple of years ago at one of our General Council meetings.  It was the usual attack, counter-attack day, but in the middle of all this fire, I asked these girls if I could get a copy of this picture they were lookin at and they gave me a copy the other day and I'm thankful they shared with me. It always makes you wonder what happened to such beautiful beadwork and a bonnet such as this.  I didn't get all the name of the people in this picture but when I do I will add them to this blog entry.
 Back in those days, color shots were kinda rare so I'm lucky to add this picture to my collection.  Frank lived a long life and was a tribal council member.  He lived in Hoyt, Kansas.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Baseball thoughts

I’ve been watching recent baseball developments. On the major league level A-Rod has gone six games without hitting his 600th homerun, but who really cares. All those homers were enhanced by steroids, maybe not at this moment, but in the past this is true, by A-Rod's own admission. It’s hard for me to recognize his accomplishments and Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds too because of the steroid issue. Mickey Mantle didn’t have to use steroids to do what he did, neither did Babe Ruth or Henry Aaron. Andre Dawson was inducted into the Hall of Fame the other day and he made it there because he did it right and he implored kids to do it right too in his acceptance speech.

Another baseball issue is aluminum bats used by young kids and others up to the college level. It used to be nothing but wooden bats. Now the ball coming off the bat sounds different and the ball has more speed. Kids are getting hurt with some going into a coma from the hit. This is happening all over the country. They need to get rid of aluminum bats before more get hurt. Can you imagine a major leaguer using these bats, people would get killed. It isn’t old school, its common sense. But what happens is the big companies that make these aluminum bats have big money and can lobby for their concerns and nothing will get done because politicians listen to big money not common sense!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gathering 2010

It is in my immediate plans to attend the 2010 Potawatomi Gathering held this year in Shawnee, Oklahoma and hosted by the Citizens Band Potawatomi next week.  I haven't been there since the mid-1990s.  The heat has held me back from going since.  I've been to the other sites over the years.  It is enjoyable to see people from the other bands, plus I have some first cousins who live in Shawnee.  We rarely see other so we plan on having a cook-out and see who can tell the most lies.  It should be a good time.  My wife and grandson, Pat ko shuk, are going.  He is a guy with a personality and makes friends easy.  My other grandsons have promised to guard my homeplace and keep my weeds down.

There is a full schedule with some discussions about gaming the first two days.  I will try and try throw in an opinion but sometimes that is hard to do when you have a room full of politicians.  They have a golf tournament. The tribe owns their own course and it will be fun to try it out.  I might try and get to their language sessions and listen.  They are talking about "namings, prayer circles, ghost suppers, funerals, weddings, and seasonal feasts."  I know a little about that but I just want to know what others do on their reservations. They have a museum that is well put together and well worth seeing for anybody. Our tribal paper wants me to write an article but I don't know.  What can you add after writing about so many other gatherings.  This blog is the extent of my writings anymore.  Sometimes I add some stuff into my book, plus pictures.  I figure somebody will want to see that some day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A 1998 Channnel 11 interview with Jim Mckinney and Gary Mitchell


Gary Mitchell: I've done a lot of traveling in my time. I go to a lot of reservations. I see a lot of Indian people in the cities -- they have no connections. They don't know what the religions are; they don't know what the traditions are; they don't know their language ... and they're lost out there. And we have that here. So the answer isn't out there. It was always here. Any number of people can tell you -- that they've went off and they've looked for things, and it wasn't there; it was here.

Narrator: Although he was sent to an off-reservation boarding school when he was young, Gary Mitchell has lived on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation in northeastern Kansas most of his life. A few years ago, as he pursued a college degree at Washb urn University, he became inspired to write about his tribe's history, eventually publishing a book on the subject.

Mitchell: I guess what happened was I was studying all the politics and history of the white civilization, and it occurred to me one day, I said "well, I don't even know anything about the history of my own tribe." So that was another reason that I got i nto that -- I wanted to do it for my own benefit. As I started writing the book and the articles on the tribe, I wanted my grandchildren some day to be able to read about what happened to our tribe.

Narrator: In his book, Gary tells about how his people once lived in small villages around the southern reaches of the Great Lakes.

Mitchell: The Potawatomi Tribe at one time owned 28 million acres ... or controlled 28 million acres in the Great Lakes. Then when the Manifest Destiny policies started kicking in, then we were pushed westward and our land started diminishing.

Narrator: In 1833, the Potawatomi signed a treaty giving up claims to their ancestral lands in return for 5 million acres in northwestern Missouri. That treaty was soon followed by another that moved them on north into Iowa.

Mitchell: Well then they had another treaty where we came to Kansas in 1846. Then we had 576,000 acres. So all the way through the process, we lost land.

Narrator: Within fifteen years, still another treaty reduced the size of the Kansas reservation from a 30 mile square down to a square of eleven miles on each side. Although the boundaries remain the same today, the Prairie Band and its members control only about a third of this area. Most of it was sold to non-Indians long ago as the federal government continued to implement policies that separated Indians from their land, if not from their traditional culture.

Mitchell: That's been one of our strong points -- we've always been able to adapt to a situation. When we were in the Great Lakes area, when we started to move westward, we've always adjusted. We've tried to keep our traditions, our language. A lot of tribes -- they don't have what we have here. They don't have their languages; they don't have their religions; they don't have any of their traditions or their culture, so we've been real fortunate in that area. That's because of those older people and what they've done for us.

Narrator: Like Gary Mitchell, Jim McKinney was born on the reservation and sent away to a boarding school when he was young. He now lives in a country home not far from the reservation, following a career in the Air Force and a number of years as a Metho dist minister. He continues to work on a Potawatomi language project that he initiated several years ago.

Jim McKinney: I don't remember exactly when it was; I didn't write it down -- I'm thinking about six or seven years ago, I approached my son about the project -- with our speakers fast disappearing, that there was a need to preserve it somehow. And I tho ught, well maybe we can get it on tape or get it written down ... better yet, get it on videotape. So with that idea in mind, I approached my son and said 'with your expertise' ... because his master's was in rhetoric and composition. So with his expert ise in the language, perhaps we could get together and with the fast disappearing of our people, because I think once the language is gone, the culture pretty much is gone with it.

Mitchell: The language is the basis for our prayer. And that's how we communicate with our creator. And that's how we look at it. That's how the elders have always looked at it. And that's I think the key ingredient to all of this. We have to teach t he language in order for us to improve our lives or improve the lives of our children . That's why I've always believed in that strongly .... that we have to maintain those traditions and our language is part of that.

McKinney: We talked about a name for the project -- what would be a good name for it -- preservation and propagation or some such. I hit upon the idea of a Potawatomi word. And that word in Potawatomi is Bwaka. Bwaka means a person who has specific kno wledge in a given area. Also it is used as an acronym for our project here -- Bringing Wisdom and Knowledge About.

Narrator: Jim's son -- Smokey McKinney -- has been his partner on this project. They've taped conversations with native speakers and collected various written materials, with the intent not only of preserving the language, but perpetuating its use. Wit h a small core of collaborators spread across the country, they've established a site on the Internet, which includes such things as an online dictionary. They also intend to develop multimedia software that can be used to teach the language.

McKinney: Then eventually as we teach our children, then we find that there are other folks who have not had the exposure to the language because of the relocation efforts of the early '60s, where they were relocated into the urban areas ... relocated the m just like they relocated us into the boarding schools. Some of them have not had access to their native roots. Some of those are third generation Native Americans or Indians or Potawatomis living in the urban areas that have no idea at all ... about t he language, about any of that. All they read is what has been written in the history books.

Mitchell: A lot of them are coming back now because of a lot of the economic development that's happening. But ... now that the perceived riches of the casinos are coming in, now you have a lot of people wanting to migrate back to the reservation, wherea s before, they all wanted to leave because there was no jobs here.

Narrator: After Congress approved an Indian Gaming Act in 1988, the Potawatomi and other local tribes entered into compacts with the state to bring bingo and casino gambling onto their reservations. In January of 1998, Harrahs opened a new casino and hotel complex on the Prairie Band Reservation.

Mitchell: A man told me once -- he said "I wish we could do it another way." But we've had all these years -- nobody's ever come up with a solution to some of the problems that we have on the reservation. We've never been able to make any improvements to our roads or our buildings cause we never had the money. But now we have that opportunity. And if we do those things, it'll help. But it's not the total answer, again.

McKinney: Many of our people see casino gambling as the panacea -- that's the cure-all; that's a Utopia. That's going to solve all of our problems. It is not.

Mitchell: I don't think that's the answer to all our problems. The answer's always been here. It's been our religion and our tradition and our people. That IS going to be one of our answers in the long run ... not money. So, it'll be a short-term sol ution, and somebody needs to come up with a vision of what are we going to do after? That has to be done -- our vision, however you want to say it. That's what we need to do.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Work Story!

The oppressing heat drove me indoors the other night so I watched a t.v. show called Dateline. This particular show was about migrant families, who were legal citizens, but went north to follow the harvest. They picked blueberries in Michigan and cucumbers and got paid by the pound.  This led to putting their young kids to work. More pounds, more pay. Other times they landed work howing out weeds in middle of acres and acres of produce, but with the introduction of “Round up” this part of the work experience dried up. No weeds, no work. I guess child labor laws don't apply to farm work. 

This nomadic life is dictated by the economy in southern Texas. These folks lived on small farms and they had to hit the road for more income. Often times they would sell a cow at auction to finance their 1,500 mile trip to Michigan. They loaded up the family truck with food from the farm and this helped them eat along the way.

It was an interesting story because of the struggle people deal with on a daily basis. These kids would learn how to drive tractors at age 6 and would work all day picking the crop of the day.  There was little choice if they wanted to survive. I did say this was in America didn’t I? I can only say I’m thankful my grandchildren don’t have to get out there and do that kind of work. These kids would leave school in early May and return a month or two after school started up again and their schooling suffered. One 11 year old boy was tested and the teacher said he was a full two years behind the rest of his class.  One girl in the story did graduate from Michigan State and her motivation was the memory of those long hours in the fields.

Here on the reservation, we grew up dirt poor too, but thankfully we didn’t have to leave home for work like these migrant families had to do in the summer. Around here we found work with local farmers throwing hay for low pay, but did we ever get a big meal at noon time. We weren’t used to that much food.  It was something usually associated with a Sunday dinner, but we earned it.  As we got older, we worked at Skinner’s Nursery in Topeka for $1.00 an hour on Saturdays.  One summer we somehow landed a job at the Post Office in Topeka. Larry worked in East Topeka; Eddie worked at the main post office and I worked at the North Topeka facility. We mostly helped the janitor with cleaning up the place. It was a good experience and it sure beat the heck out of working for farmers throwing hay in the heat. As I said we were pretty damn poor so this money we earned helped us buy clothes and that was one less worry for our mother, so I can understand to a certain extent why those kids worked in those fields.

But getting back to the story at hand, it is a sad story in a lot of ways.  These kids don't have much of a childhood and it shows how bad the economic picture is in some parts of this great land.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Work Update

I take a lot of pride in going to work everyday and try hard to do my job right.  But one day in my early morning reading of the local rag somebody quoted Charles de Gualle, of French fame.  He said the "graveyards are full of indispensable people." So I said damn I better take a few days off - 3 to be exact.  Some call that a mini-vacation.  I didn't go to any exotic location, hell I didn't even go to Topeka.  I stayed home and caught up on some work in my yard, garden and did some carpentry work.  In my old age I'm trying to build things.  Some turn out right, others not.

I also slept in.  I woke up a 5:45 a.m. every morning.  Lazy, huh? I mowed my yard which is my number one priority in the summer-time. I got a lot of those weeds out of my garden, and picked new tators for immediate consumption.  I build some new steps in my workshop area and a small wall and put in a door.  Being a wanna be carpenter is hard work and time consuming.  And after this spurt of manual labor, there was  a mess to clean up.  It took several days to do these projects, but now I freed up some time in the future for some small woodworking projects.

On Saturday night. we had a rain storm and boy did it every come down.  This is the most rain I seen come down in such a short time.  In fact, the creeks were almost overflowing the banks.  I've never seen that much water in the creeks for a long, long time.  My daughter and two of my grandchildren had gone to a movie in Topeka and narrowly missed getting hit by a tornado, just south of of the casino on Hwy 75.  I'm glad somebody was watching out for them. It was strange because there were no warnings and this tornado came out of nowhere.  Our weather has a tendency to be unpredictable.

It turned out that my work place went on without me so it's true being indispenable is only a figment of the imagination.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Potawatomi Golfer

Golf sure isn't an easy game which may explain why I don't get out there much.  In fact, I've gone once in three years, but this isn't true for every Potawatomi.  Steve McDonald has  made the time to get on the course and has done well lately. He is on the verge of realizing his life-long dream of playing more on the pro circuit.

He recently qualified as the 1st alternate for the U.S. Senior Open and will likely get to play in this prestigious event.  Getting to this point for Steve has been hard.  He played in many tournaments over the years winning some and losing some but now if he does well in this tournament it could mean big things for him.  These guys at this level by doing well attract the big sponsors.  This means he won't have to struggle getting to tournaments, will have the pick of all the new technology and get more exposure. You never know - if he puts together some great rounds...I hope he does well!

Steve is the golf pro at a local Topeka golf course and comes from a family of athletes.  His dad John played the golf game for years.  His brother Mick was a big guy on the softball fields and now shoots in the 80s in golf.  His son Alex recently made all-city in golf and his daughter Emily was all-city a few years before and it earned a golf scholarship.  The game goes on. 

Steve is a Prairie Band of Potawatomi tribal member and once gave me some sound golf advice.  He asked, after seeing me play golf,  if I would consider working more on my yard and garden, so I took his advice!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Day the Music died in Indian Topeka

Maybe you’re getting old when…you look around and do a head-count and suddently realize that a lot of your friends have died. Some have died young, and others were too old to die young. A case in point is the Potawatomi song-maker Gary Cooper. He died today. I knew Gary every since we were kids. His Dad Walter Cooper taught school in Delia, Kansas and they had a house right down the street from the school. We went to school there only briefly, but that was the first memory I had of him playing in that front yard.

Over the years, my brothers and I would run across him at different events. He was a friendly guy and became a life-long friend. He was a cousin to one of our old friends Vernon Yazzie. Vernon went to the same school as us and we stayed at each others homes and this was how we would often run into Gary Cooper in our excursions into t-town.  In revisionist history, they are called excursions.Vernon was one of those guys who died young.

Gary started a band and played in every honky-tonk in the area, sometimes twice. He must have made a decent living at it because he played right up until the bitter end, but truthfully our chosen hobby doesn’t’ pay the bills, so Gary did some roofing work with his dad in a day job. They had a house in North Topeka. We grew up on the reservation and he in the big city. Our paths crossed many times over the years, but as it happens in life, we rarely saw each other in the last few years because my focus changed to family and family type events. Gary never did marry and stayed close with the guitar.

The last time I saw Gary was the Potawatomi Gathering held here last year. He played up on the stage and I dropped by to see him and when I was leaving he said “I’m going to dedicate the next song to Gary Mitchell.” He did that to a lot of people beside me and it made us feel good for a second or two. He was in a wheel-chair and his health had steadily declined over the last few years, but he did what he liked until he couldn’t anymore. Around these parts there were few Indian bands, but there was a song-maker once, his name was Gary Cooper.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Old boxing stories

I ran across an old clipping from the Holton Recorder and this guy named Jim Hoy wrote an article called: Jess Willard was the Pottawatomie Giant. According to the story Willard was the World Boxing Champion from 1913 to 1919. “As a fighter, he was variously nicknamed the “Kansas Giant” or the “Pottawatomie Giant, but whether this latter sobriquet came from the county he lived in or from the Indians with whom he traded horses on the reservation in neighboring Jackson County, I don’t know.”

I remember talking to Maynard Potts, who at the time was in his 90s, about Willard. Maynard had a great memory and could tell some great episodes of Potawatomi life.  He said there used to be a store on the southwest side of the reservation and Willard was just starting out in boxing and the Indian boys from around the reservation would go down there and try him out, but would always lose. This was a funny story.

Monday, June 21, 2010

All is quiet on the home front

Around here everything is quiet on the home front. The Pow-Wow has come and gone. The rains come and the heat stifles the air the next moment and the rains come again, but that’s the way it is in the summer time. But those conditions can only help our gardens. The tribal elections are getting closer. The expectations are low so it’s not that exciting. The Potawatomi Gathering is coming up in August but that is in Oklahoma, a place hotter than here.

So we have to cross the borders of this reservation to find some real excitement. In Missouri, a farmer put up a sign in his field that said “Democrats – Party of the Parasites,” and although it is in an area of Republicans, somebody took exception to his yard art and set it afire, not once but twice. Funny! But there is more to this guy's story: He received more than $1 million in federal crop subsidies since 1995.  Around here, they don’t put up political signs –yet, but they could get burned too.  Who really knows? While we are on the Missouri topic, the Royals are not in last place but pretty damn close.

Tiger didn’t win the U.S. Open but the poor guy still ended up with a pretty fair paycheck of $300,000. They say part of his game is gone and maybe it will come back, maybe not. I personally wouldn’t count him out just yet. A lot of people couldn't care less what happens with some of these pro athletes because of their feelings of entitlement and their attitudes of being above others, but this is Sports America.

In the Deep South, first they get a horrible hurricane and now oil is going everywhere ruining their environment and seashores. Some say it’s the price you pay for a view but it also is affecting their livelihoods and that isn’t good.  The politicians will make some empty promises and soon will forget them.  Yet, that isn't good for the people who depend on the sea or the fish-consumers of the world either.

On a sad note, we lost three people here: Mike Jensen, Dale Thomas and Wesley Begay. Age or cancer took their lives. Death is an inescapable truth here and everywhere. I knew all three men and they each made their own marks on this life. Life does go by fast, make the most of it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Busy Weekend Again!

In many parts of the country, there are oil spills, storms and flash floods causing extensive damage and deaths to wildlife and humans alike. Here there wasn't anything of that magnitude, but there were challenges. On the Prairie Band Reservation the 2010 Pow-Wow survived some heavy rains and some hellious humidity, but between rain-falls the pow-wow was completed in its entirety.

There were people from all over joining the celebration and vendors everywhere. It was all good. I’m glad they had a good experience coming to our reservation. The most important thing that these pow-wows can do is highlight the progress the tribe has made over the last few years. The only real drawback is that everybody can't win.  Some make big money, others don't.  That's the way of the pow-wow.

I missed parts of it because I attended my nephews wedding. I’ve been around Willie Potts since he was a baby and now he’s 35 years old and married. He asked me to come to the ceremony and say a prayer in our language and I’m glad I could help him out. I also count his parents as long-time friends. I don't have many of those so its important to keep the ones you have. Why?  You'd want at least a few people at your funeral. An old coon-hunter told me once after I told him I was getting into the frying pan of tribal politics 20 some years ago:  "now you will find out who your friends are,"  and I've found out his words were true. There was a lot of hard work planning the wedding and everything went well. The company was good. The food was good. I imagine that day will be a positive experience for both Willie and Tracy. After it was over, we went home to rest and later we caught the evening performance at the pow-wow.

On Sunday, I stayed home and did some work. I figure the pow-wow would go on without me and it did. My daughter told me that the work could wait until after the pow-wow.  True, but I just can't tell my inner self that yet. I was able to get most of my yard mowed and did some more organizing in my workshop. I told my wife that I will get organized before I cash in the chips and I will. I put up a new mailbox that my sister-in-law gave us. It came from Canada. I just hope the young hoodlums who go around  bashing mailbox’s will leave this one alone, but with that said they probaby will do just that.  My neighbor gave up and rented a post-office box to get his mail.

We packed in a lot this weekend and by Sunday night I was fairly tired. I slept so hard that I didn’t hear the storm outside and I guess there were tornado warnings everywhere. The rain was good for the garden. It rained close to 4” here.  Now the Potawatomi Gathering is next, but we are not sure we are going yet.