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.