FORGIVING OUR FATHERS


Taos Man 2
“Taos Man” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

“Forgiving Our Fathers” poem by Dick Lourie

Maybe in a dream; he’s in your power
you twist his arm but you’re not sure it was
he that stole your money you feel calmer
and you decide to let him go free

or he’s the one (as in a dream of mine)
I must pull from the water but I never
knew it or wouldn’t have done it until
I saw the street-theater play so close up
I was moved to actions I’d never before taken

maybe for leaving us too often or
forever when we were little maybe
for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous because there seemed
never to be any rage there at all

for marrying or not marrying our mothers
for divorcing or not divorcing our mothers
and shall we forgive them for their excesses
of warmth or coldness shall we forgive them

for pushing or leaning for shutting doors
for speaking only through layers of cloth
or never speaking or never being silent

in our age or in theirs or in their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it –
if we forgive our fathers what is left.

Taos Man

NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE


I guess this is where I’m supposed to fall in line and do what every other sports writer is doing. I’m supposed to swear I won’t ever write the words “Washington Redskins” anymore because it’s racist and offensive and a slap in the face to all Native Americans who ever lived. Maybe it is.

I just don’t quite know how to tell my father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian. He owns a steak restaurant on the reservation near Browning, Montana. He has a hard time seeing the slap-in-the-face part.

“The whole issue is so silly to me,” says Bob Burns, my wife’s father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”

And I definitely don’t know how I’ll tell the athletes at Wellpinit (Wash.) High School–the student body is 91.2 percent Native American–that the “Redskins” name they wear proudly across their chests is insulting them. Because they have no idea.

“I’ve talked to our students, our parents and our community about this and nobody finds any offense at all in it,” says Tim Ames, the superintendent of Willpinit schools. “Redskins is an honorable name we wear with pride….In fact, I’d like to see somebody come up here and try to change it.”

Boy, you try to help some people….

From Rick Reilly’s commentary for ESPN, Sept. 18
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As an aside to this quote, our good friend Emmett Oliver, a member of the Quinault tribe, was an outstanding footbal player throughout his high school and college days at Redlands University. Some years ago, when some people began to feel antsy about calling Native Americans “Indians” or referring to them as “Redskins”, I asked Emmett his feelings on the subject. He said he had always fell special when during his football days, people would refer to him as an “Indian”, because after all, he WAS an Indian.

Here at Stanford, the team was known for many years as the “Stanford Indians”, and the cheerleaders, the band, bumperstickers, and other items people used to show their team support, built upon the Indian motif.

Someone in their infinite wisdom, changed the name to the “Stanford Cardinal”. Not “Cardinals” the bird, but the color crimson red. The mascot is a tree. The tree parades around the field to rally the spirits of the crowd.

I’m sorry, but I think the whole thing is insulting to the California Redwood tree.

YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU



“Plains Warrior” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Belongings can’t go with me. I came into this world with none. Why do I keep them.

From an indigenous perspective a person can never own land, but it is always a person’s responsibility to care for land and protect it for future generations.

The white man believes that sacred land must be left alone. The Indian believes in interacting with the land.

To learn who rules over you simply learn who you are not allowed to criticize.