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!

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