I am proud to be an Indian

I used to be ashamed of my culture. I was ashamed of myself. I was raised in white foster homes and group homes. There were some good and bad families I lived with. I honestly believed I was white. The only Natives I saw were down town, drunk and dirty, asking for money. Funny how I ended up the same way. I remember watching the old cowboy and Indian movies, seeing one cowboy cruise into the village and kill all the braves and snag the best looking squaw. What a joke! Growing up, I learned respect and manners ‘cause I had it beat into me. I also remember my step dad shoving white power down my throat, and I actually started to believe it ‘cause I used to hang out with skin heads and white trash and rednecks, and we would go looking for Indians to beat on. I think I might have been brainwashed ‘cause my culture is not all lazy, alcoholic, smelly, dirty minded savages. I am just at the beginning of my circle of life. I am a baby in the learnings of the old ways. I find it hard to stay on the red road ‘cause there are so many distractions in the city, such as the lies you learn on T.V. and the radio. Everybody acting, trying to be tough and hard. Sometimes, I get caught up in the excitement of it all and get into trouble, but when I actually practice what I have learned from the lessons the Elders and traditional Indians teach me, I have this feeling of innocence that I have not felt since I was a little kid. I also have a lot of courage I have never felt before. I am learning history from our people’s side, which I never learned in school- the truth- and the truth makes me proud to be an Indian. I still have a lot of down town, inner city Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary in me, but I’m learning to live with it as a learning experience. When I follow the red road, I feel beautiful. I don’t feel like that 120 pound sack of bones any more, that felt really gross and all ashamed, thinking I was born to be a dog on the streets. My culture was what I was always looking for and I never even knew it. Everything I was taught about it before was all lies. The Grandfathers and Grandmothers are still alive. The above ones are everywhere, looking out for me and my people. We have survived the worst of it and there are many brothers and sisters still suffering out there. I hope the Creator brings them home, too. All our Nations are rejoining and getting stronger and healthier. All the lost ones like myself are coming home. I am proud to be an Indian. There are a lot of steps I have to do to earn respect and a lot of painful experiences I must face on my path. I think it is worth it to live a simple, honest life with many awesome experiences. I am no gifted writer. One day, the Creator might see fit to make me one. I am just being honest and simple because the Native culture is totally different from the white, anglo-saxon, protestant way I was raised, and it makes sense to me. It gives me courage and strength. I am just trying to say I am proud to be Native.

– Anonymous
July 1995

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