Saturday, July 25, 2015

"Going Indian" in some ways

Chicanos, puertoriqueños, domicanos, cubanoamericanos--many of us consider ourselves mestizos, part Native American, even when we aren't sure which tribe to trace our ancestry to.

My family history is filled with memories of Tarahumara, Yaqui and even Aztec ancestors, though I may never learn what's true.

Reclaiming and resurrecting our native heritage play a large role in the children's and Young Adult literature I write, however much my works are hodgepodges of native lore. I do this believing that the salvation of our species--not only our country--will can only come from reconnecting to past ways that respected many forms of life that are disrespected by modern society.

Here are a few news items that make me wish my mestizo half was more pronounced and ingrained. And evidence of why to go Indian.

A lifelike violent video game

"Ehdrigohr, designed over the course of several years by black, American Indian game designer Allen Turner, Ehdrigohr filters Dungeons and Dragons-style roleplaying experiences through a distinctly Native cultural lens rather than a European one.

"There is violence and conflict in Ehdrigohr, but only in the sense that human beings are victims of a violent world. The game as a whole is far more focused on finding exciting challenges and hashing out interesting solutions, and there’s an inherent beauty in how people persevere peacefully in spite of the struggles they face.

"Later, the players face off against a Shiver, a shadowy monster that can't be killed by a sword. Instead of attacking their bodies, it attacks their minds, trying to capitalize on their insecurities and manipulate them into giving up. The mental strain takes its toll, but they are able to repel and destroy it through sheer strength of will. In over a decade of playing roleplaying games, I've never had an experience quite like that."

Sherman Alexie's Young Adult sci-fi novel

From NPR"Call me Zits." It's not quite as memorable as call me Ishmael, but arresting nonetheless. The 15-year-old narrator of Sherman Alexie's novel, Flight, is half Native American, half Irish. He's never seen his father. His mother died when he was six, and he shuttled through dozens of neglectful and abusive foster homes.

"So Zits is a little, shall we say, angry. He finds himself in the middle of a bank, about to gun down random customers when he's transported through time and space before coming back as himself in the end."

Stephen Graham Jones. Because.

I recently received a copy of The Faster Redder Road by Stephen Graham Jones, of the Blackfeet tribe. On his website, he lists "15.5 novels, 6 story collections, 220-odd stories, 1 PhD, and way too many boots."

That's as intimidating to me as the 408 pages in this collection from UNM Press. I'm not done reading it, but I wish … the publishers had put out a two-volume edition instead of one. I wish … the type was bigger. I wish ... I could read faster. I wish … Jones wasn't so prolific, no, call it, fertile. The man's not Blackfeet, not human, he's a literary geyser.

From UNM:
"This collection showcases the best writings of Stephen Graham Jones, whose career is developing rapidly from the noir underground to the mainstream. The Faster Redder Road features excerpts from Jones’s novels—including The Last Final GirlThe Fast Red Road: A PlainsongNot for Nothing, and The Gospel of Z—and short stories, some never before published in book form."

Reservation children stolen from their families

"This is probably one of the most depressingly heart-wrenching photos I've ever seen. Native American children taken from their families and put into school to assimilate them into white society. the slogan for this governmental campaign, 'kill the Indian to save the man'. No official apology has ever been issued." [from Sunny A Redcloud's FB page

Neo-Aztec cradle for new nieto

My word-working attempt of going Indian.

A driving joke, from the rez

A man and woman are driving on the same road. They pass each other.
The woman yells out the window, “Pig!”
The man yells at her, “Bitch!”
He rounds next curve.
Crashes into a huge pig in the middle of the road. And dies.
Thought for the day: If only men would listen....

My favorite mestizos

My immediate family, who are unsure of their Indian roots.

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, Chicano author Rudy Ch. Garcia, wondering which tribe(s) he's lost



Reconnecting with your family's Indian roots is so hard. Mestizo histories are usually undocumented. What we have are myths and legends. As a fiction writer, I can work with that, but still, there's a yearning, and need, for more.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ernesto, something we First Voice latinos need to write to fill in the gaps. – RudyG