I hope so far you are all enjoying my blog. There are times I want to write a whole lot and then I also want to talk about things people may want to hear or have conversations about. I also want to make sure that we talk about issues here that are important but also that you see a tribal perspective and my tribal indigenous woman’s perspective. I hope that by sharing what I’ve experienced in my life that it will help others to see and even ask themselves questions they've never had to before. I would like to see positive change in our communities for how we treat each other. Change is inevitable for anything or anyone, to grow we need to deep dive into our truths and values. I hope to share those perspectives and eventually, share some guest writers as we move into seasons changing. Now, let me get into this blog of sharing what tribal representation and tribal erasure looks like here in Fremont County and general society. Indigenous representation since inception has always been suppressed and kept quiet. Sometimes we keep quiet to keep things vital to our survival as kept within the tribe, mostly sacred items and stories. Indigenous people have been dehumanized so much that in general society it is beneficial to view tribal people as extinct, gone, dehumanized, and especially as widely romanticized as tribal people. Tribal erasure is real today. When tribal people cannot speak for themselves and are seen as people who need to be spoken for, that creates a non-beneficial dynamic for tribal people but then, in turn, makes it beneficial for the people who silence us. Tribal people have been taken advantage of for a very long time also; as tribes have lost resources and our voice it is easy for society to say we (tribes-Indigenous) are gone. Tribal people/nations are not extinct people, we are not eradicated, we are voiceless. We are being erased and ignored. Our voices are always left out because we always let others speak for us, who have no business speaking for us. The people who speak on behalf of tribes have no cultural competency, only tribes know what's best for them. It is weird for me to make the generalization that society views tribes as “Gone-Extinct” but in the bigger world many people in society never see native indigenous people, so it is easy for them to say we are gone. However, it is weird for me to say this because if you knew how wholesome, positive, prayerful, humble, silly, serious, and beautiful our culture, elders, youth, and people are then that comment makes no sense. To live in a cultural community with so much beauty but no resources is not a very good experience. So the generalization of saying we are extinct or we are gone is language that promotes and continues tribal erasure. When I went to college at Central Wyoming College there were times I needed a ride home. I live 7.3 miles to the college and back then there was no bus transportation. If I was dropped off at school I had to find ways to get home. I was lucky if I could find a ride and get off close to home, however, sometimes that was never the case. When teachers asked me to stay late or they’d give me a ride home and once they found out I lived on the reservation they would say, "I can drop you off at the bridge!" (laughing). I never accepted a ride from them, I would walk all the way home. People staring, people wondering why I was walking. Anytime I had a teacher ask me to stay longer I would say, “No, it wasn’t worth walking that whole way home.” It also made me view my teachers in a whole different light. That bridge was still 4 miles away from my house. I mention this because there are non native people who live in our community who never go to the reservation or live on the reservation but know nothing of us, in fear of their lives, for fear of everything and anything they were told that keeps them from interacting with indigenous people. Slowly I have seen this relationship get better but it has been a slow process. I have known and heard non-natives say they have never been to the reservation, they never had friends or relatives from the reservation. Some great people live here, hard-working people are providing for their families, and some people work in education and health care. Numerous tribal and non tribal people live and work on the reservation, they try their hardest to do what they need to for their families to thrive. They aren’t acknowledged as much as they should be. There are teachers at our local schools who help our children graduate and our little kindergarteners understand what they need to do to be successful. Health care workers who go the distance to ensure our elders and youth are taken care of. Too many times we only hear about negative stories through all the news and media focus on in Fremont County. We need to start celebrating our families, elders, and youth who do magnificent things in our community! Many times we only read what the news decides to publish. Just once I wished the news would share how much tribal monies come to Fremont County businesses. That is something very rarely spoken about. Again if no one speaks on it, then does it exist? Tribal erasure happens on so many levels. I hope that my blog will start opening those perspectives, sharing about what and how indigenous natives contribute as economic members of the community; sharing about the culturally proud people who have something to say and important values to share. Lastly, it is good to see when tribal leaders and grassroots leaders can collaborate and bring something positive to the community that we all live in. Allies are important especially when egos are put to the side. There are few non native allies for tribal people to partner or collaborate on things without the non native allies taking over and speaking on tribal indigenous behalf. I hope that in the future our organization can move in that direction of indigenous representation and not continue tribal erasure.
Hohou! Nohuusoho'. Thank you! Yufna Soldier Wolf