Monday, March 9, 2009

An interesting time for Native people

I was reading an article in the Arctic Sounder about the words of Byron Mallot, a well-respected Native leader in Alaska:

He’s an optimist, he said, who sees a future where Native and non-Native neighbors live side-by-side, have a sense of responsibility one to another and responsibility to oneself, differences are held up as strengths and where aboriginal people still live on the land.


I have been looking around with great interest in the last several months. There is a cautious optimism in many Native people, an optimism I haven't seen in my few years on this earth. Despite the continuation of life's troubles, I hear many Native people (and non-Native, I might add) talking about "what could be" instead of "what should have been."

I'm not sure if it's the projects I've been working on, or the articles I've been reading, but I'm going to "re-quote" an Indian Country Today editoral that really latched onto the feel of the now:

Like a freshly sober alcoholic who’s lived too long devoid of hope, I’m still waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. But I’m fighting to suspend my disbelief and have some faith that change is on the horizon...

It’s often in the midst of the greatest crises that societies finally find the willpower to reinvent their institutions to better serve their people. With the collapse of the banking system and election of a president fully committed to this undertaking, we find ourselves in a once-in-a-generation political upheaval...

And it will be in this turmoil that Native people will be given a window when their voices may once again be heard, and heeded....

We should grab this opportunity and not let go until our roads are fixed, our hospitals are functioning as they should and our children are attending schools that are palaces.

While many will think of hope and change, maybe many Native people aren't *quite* there. "Possibility" is the word I can come up with. Hope might be a bit much, but hope is possible. Change is possible.

Can you feel it?

We SHOULD grab this opportunity - how many more can we possibly have?

_

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