Although I have loaned many things that were never returned,(note to self to complain to sister about my royal blue sweatshirt she borrowed and left somewhere in the ’60’s), I am upset about one item in particular.
I had gotten my hands on a wonderful book on American Indian tribes, their beliefs, cultures, dress…everything. It was done in detailed manner, but in such a way that the information was easy to access and interesting to read. The illustrations were clear, colorful and remarkable. Major tribes were highlighted of course, but smaller groups were differentiated as well.
That being said, as everyone probably knows, Boy Scouts often draw heavily on American Indian culture, particularly some of their extended groups, (such as Order of the Arrow).One Scout leader borrowed the above-mentioned book,(like a fool, I never noted the name or editor, so I cannot replace it). He then loaned it to what he and I knew to be a very reliable, older Boy Scout. However, the book was returned to the man, then to me, at a very large meeting. It, being of such interest to all of the Scouts and Scouters, got passed around the room. Not until a few days later did I remember to ask one of my sons if they had brought the book home with us. The meeting room, which did not belong to the Scouts, had other groups utilizing it and by the time I could get back in, the book was gone.
If the question is in your mind, yes, I am supposed to have American Indian blood somewhere on my father’s mother’s side. It has yet to be pinned down. We thought it was Cherokee, but that theory has been shot down. One cousin thought it must be the Lumbee tribe, but our last aunt refuted that…they’re still working on it.
And noticed I say “American Indian” and not “Native American”; no one I know with Indian blood uses that phrase. I will not say that I have always agreed with Russell Means, (I hope you know him as more than the voice of Powhatan in “Pocahontas”), but I will leave you with this quote:
“I prefer the term American Indian…. the American Indian is the only ethnic group in the United States with the American before our ethnicity.”
At an international conference of Indians from the Americas held in Geneva, Switzerland at the United Nations in 1977 we unanimously decided we would go under the term American Indian.
• We were enslaved as American Indians,
• We were colonized as American Indians and
• We will gain our freedom as American Indians and
• Then we will call ourselves any damn thing we choose.
Russell Means, Ogalala Sioux
I only lost a book; they lost just about everything, although I doubt that they ever meant to loan the country to anyone.
(No “Indian Giver” jokes allowed.)