I saw grizzlies in Yellowstone in October. About as close as you can come to going back to native worship.
I stopped again at Little Bighorn on the way back home. About as close as you can come to native destruction. As Hemingway said, "Winner take nothing…"
With those two monumentals rolling around in my emotions, it was time to take on the Washington Redskins, in Santa Clara vs the 49ers. Not the game, the name. There's a protest planned about/against the team name Redskins. Need I say why? A racial slur for the ages. Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Redskins, says no way, never, even under mounting national pressure, will he change the name. So I'll be joining the protest.
The native protesters have been following the Redskins around the league. Close to 5,000 recently in Minnesota for a Vikings-Redskins game. After the 49ers the natives planned on the name again in Dallas, Texas — Cowboys-Redskins. Strange days indeed.
Me, I'm about as native as a cheeseburger, Long Island, playing at Iraquois and Mohawk in upstate New York. But my real life in Montana and Wyoming and up next to the Mikasoukee reservation up next to the Florida Everglades and traveling deep into the native spirit of Arizona and New Mexico and Utah and then Wounded knee where the native cultures continue to strive to hold on to their heritage.
Waiting for Jesus or any other of the religious icons to return? Me, me too, waiting on the Buffalo to return. All the religion I need. I've got some prairie cred in that department. I lived at the buffalo ranch inside Yellowstone with a herd of hundreds right outside my door. And no, I haven't got that make-believe claim to being one-quarter Cherokee like so many whites stake claim to. But I may have had a closer association with the buffalo than with the present-day native. Odd.
So here I am at the all modern-nothing Santa Clara Convention Center across the way from the 49ers gleaming new sterile Levi's Stadium. We in Sacramento just got ripped off for $300 million in public funds for the lesser NBA Kings. At least Santa Clara got the mighty 49ers.
Beautiful clear day after the recent rains. Shaman man, keep up the good work. I can hear the native drums pounding as I make my way around to the front of the Convention Center, 49er fans all around, scarlet red 49er gear, a sort of wealth all around. It ain't cheap to sit in on an NFL game.
And here are the native protesters, in lines, with signs, in small groups, in small circles, a proud native drum circle on one large drum, with those crying voices like flamenco from a buffalo soul.
Several hundred protesters I would guess, pure natives and all types of mixes, from suburbanite peace ralliers to serious kids to honored elders. We all agree, "Change The Name" is the chant as streams upon streams of 49er fans flow by, some saying "Right on," mostly ignoring, mostly well-heeled.
I got my "Homeland Security Since 1492" with the row of well armed Apaches t-shirt and a bear claw necklace from Montana. So I've got some street cred.
There is an honored elder speaking, a wide circle around him, Change The Name t-shirts and racial slur signs. The elder is speaking of all the past injustice and this one now.
I'm not going to ask which tribe are you from, you can tell who is native, wishing I could wear those types of braids in my hair.
"Change the Name!" native drums chanting. A guy in Redskins gear walks by. "That's racist!" one of the natives shouts at him. The Redskins guy shouts back, "Go back to the casinos!" Ouch. The numerous police presence has to intervene.
I'm surprised to see Chicanos in Redskins gear. I'm not sure why. I guess it's my Sacramento La Raza. "That's racist man!"
The Niners fans flow by. The power of the NFL. On TV is one thing, but here at Circus Maximus, all-around, great America amusement circus and dead buildings all around. This is what became of their, our, native habitat.
Not much more for me to give, taking some photos of the banners and flags and Aztec dancers, an elder African-American man speaking of slavery and native population helped out the freed slaves and of course "the" racial slur of them all.
I always wonder if there are any royalties for the tribes. Jeep Cherokee, Apache helicopter, even using Geronimo to describe the job to kill bin Laden.
So if Stanford, St. John's in New York, and Marquette University can do it, then… I guess some of the nation's newspapers and some of the TV coverage aren't using the name. And get rid of that racist Indian logo in Cleveland, more blackface native than anything real, and that tomahawk chop chant in Kansas City and Atlanta for the NFL Chiefs and the baseball Braves. And while you're at it, "Change the Name!"