Poker-hontas

Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie
Gambling has always been
about trust and the loss
of trust. It's never been
about money. Gambling is
nothing new for the Indians.

Gambling is traditional
and began when Columbus arrived
in our country. Indians started
to roll the dice every time
we signed another treaty
but we've always been the losers
because the dice were loaded
and the treaties broken
by random design. Now
we've got our own game
of Reservation Roulette
and I'd advise the faithful
to always bet on red.

However, I have the distinct feeling that America is not placing any bets on the survival of Indians. America will not even allow Indians to become citizens of the 20th century. We're trapped somewhere between Custer and Columbus, between the noble and savage. I've heard it said that Indians shouldn't become involved in high-stakes gambling because it tarnishes our noble heritage. Personally, I've never believed in the nobility of poverty. Personally, I believe in the nobility of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Indians need money.

Forget the discussions about self-hate or cultural dislocation. Forget the loss of land and language. Most Indians cannot even begin to think about those kinds of complicated issues. They don't have the time. They have to spend most of their time worrying about where their next meal is coming from. They worry about how love and hunger can get so mixed up. Most Indians don't have time or energy enough to listen to me or you.

As Billie Holiday said, "You've got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for anybody's damned sermon."

We're all the same on the inside...

He prayed. It wasn't how I pray.
He spoke. It wasn't my language.

He ate. It wasn't like my food.

He dressed. It wasn't what I wear.

He took my hand. It wasn't the color of my skin.

But when he laughed--it was how I laugh.

And when he cried--it was how I cry.

--Amy Maddox

AMERICAN GOTHIC by Grant Wood


Like the Mona Lisa, this painting has become a cultural icon enshrined in ambiguity. When Wood first painted it, some Iowa farmers were furious because the painting made them look like "pinched, grim-faced, puritanical Bible-thumpers." Critics like Gertrude Stein hailed the painting as an amusing satire of rural small town life. But, as the Depression worsened, some saw strength in those steadfast glares facing hardship. The painting began to be interpreted as honest, straightforward, hardworking bedrock rural America, a symbol of the pioneering spirit that never gives up. They are simple, ordinary folk: she with her apron trimmed in rick-rack, a cameo holding tight the white collar of her modest print dress; and he in faded overalls and an old jacket, tightly gripping a pitchfork, ready to shovel manure or face down any bill collector.

Choose a True Compass for Your Life


Choose Something Like a Starby Robert Frost - 1947

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud --
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,

So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.


The Art of Details...Is the Art of Writing


Strong, incisive details provide energy and emotion in art--and also in writing.

Study the details in "Breaking Home Ties" by Norman Rockwell. A father and son sit on the running board of a battered old truck, probably near a rural railroad station. Dressed in his Sunday best, the son waits eagerly for the train that will carry him to college. The father has the face and hands of a man who has spent his life in the fields, exposed to the elements. He stares off into space, contemplating the passage of life. The family's collie rests its chin on the boy's knee. The boy holds lunch, carefully wrapped by his mother. The father holds two hats, one his own, and the other is a snappy new Stetson for his college-bound son. Every detail is important in this painting, down to the little bookmarks in the boy's stack of textbooks, revealing that, eager to continue his education, he has already begun reading.
(from Norman Rockwell Favorites)