I’ve spoken often about how the mind (or at least for sure my mind) tries to make connections between the things around us. Lately my mind has been trying to make bridges involving anything native.
Like many in the South my father’s family claims Native American heritage, specifically Cherokee. While we were working to clean out my father and step-mother’s house we found a lot of photos. The one I’m including here, if I was remembering correctly, my Great Grandfather John Richard Driggers. He is the one that my father always said was Cherokee although when I did research his death certificate lists him as white and his name, of course, doesn’t say native necessarily. Although whose to say he didn’t just list himself as white? I’ve never had much luck finding out more so I decided to use some of the money left from my last paycheck to order a DNA test on myself. I’m not sure how accurate it will be, but thought it would be interesting to see where the story next takes me.
While I was sending in my paperwork to get the test (hasn’t arrived yet) I also found myself watching Navajo Cops which was added to Netflix recently. Like any of these cops type shows you see a lot of drunken people. Does that help or hurt the native sterotyping?
I’d also stacked up my (at the time – before Christmas) remaining stack of paper based books to read which included Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. This is a linked short story collection that was some of the basis for the movie “Smoke Signals.” Kind of fun to read it after having seen the movie to see which pieces Alexie used as he made the screenplay.
What will I do if it turns out that I do have Native American blood? Will I finally try to pursue leaning about the culture? I’ve always looked at native culture kind of sideways. I remember doing some badge work as a Girl Scout on Native Americans and I’ve always been drawn to it, but is that because of this family narrative about possibly being part of a tribe or just because I really love a lot of what I’ve read and seen about native culture?
All in all what I’m saying is that we are always trying to find those little places where we fit. Those of us who love to read and write are trying to join that greater conversation. Along with that I have to give a shout out to Bryan Borland and his second full length collection Less Fortunate Pirates (Poems from the First Year Without My Father) which is a truly amazing book. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to read the book, but I found solace in it instead. Bryan and I have many things in common, and now sadly this. But, I am grateful that he took the time to write and share his experience so that I could join in his tribe.