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  • In order to make life even more confusing than it already was being 14 years old, in the rough urban neighborhoods of inner-city Chicago; Momma enrolled me in Little Big Horn High School. It was housed in an old vacant Elementary School not far from the Belmont/Ravenswood El train stop. a Native American group gained the ablility, to convert it into a High School. A public school with a special mission: Preserve Native American identity, teach lost and dying language and skills. Mostly: To right an unjust past.
    My best friend Stacy also enrolled. The high School in our neighborhood, we should have been registered to attend, was a large reputed gang controlled haven for drugs and violence. Or possibly, not, as I never did attend it and reputations can be exaggerated, our mothers believed this and we were terrified of it. Stacy, a petite, black girl with a loose large afro hair style and I, a chubby white girl with golden unruly (ala- Janis Joplin) long curls, walked into Little Big Horn for the first time. We became, "Indian". It was the 1970s and it was cool to be Indian.
    Stacy, never knew her father her mother was a 40 something, artist, white women with red hair. Stacy had her freckles but looked like her African American Dad, whom Stacy's Mom said, was 1/2 "Blackfoot Indian".
    I looked like my Scots-Irish descended Dad, with my Mom's super pale Bohemian/Welsh, skin. I am your run of the mill, "mixed breed, mutt". Momma said that her great Grandmother was "part Seminole Indian". Our exaggerated heritage gained Stacy & I enterance into this smaller, safer school.
    On that first day, inside LBH, (maybe it wasn't the first thing I saw, I just remember it as though it was) near the front door, inside the entryway a poster read "The only good white man is a DEAD white man". We both laughed. The women in the office gave us our room assignment as she studied me suspiciously then asked "what kind of Indian are you?". She shrugged at my answer which felt like a lie when offered to a very Native American face.
    Along with the "regular subjects" I have no memory of, we had a beading class, that I really liked. The teacher saw that I was good at it and seemed to like me. Stacy didn't like beading.
    Nobody beat us up, nobody was rude or mean. None of the students talked to us much at all. Heads, with long straight black hair, would turn toward us, when we walked down the very long and silent halls. Chatty rooms fell quiet, as we entered. I could hear that music from Sesame Street in my head through the whole school day: "One of these things, is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong, can you guess which thing is not like the others...." The only bully was the lonliness of being so different.
    I got sick and misse a few days. We would not go if the other didn't. Stacy got an older boyfriend and cut to to be with him. We stopped going after a year. A few years later I completed the GED, in silence with strangers at desks around me, just like my High School.
    What I learned in High School:
    We do not live our lives hoisted on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us. We inherit a world that is layer upon layer of sediment, made by tine organisim's of degraded dreams and fears so old that the first people who realized them can not be named. We, forever, are responsible for the messes we did not cause and no adolesent amount of complaining will ever change that. I can never know the struggles of the ancestors for I am and you are; only a warrior for today. The only good white man or black women or yellow child, is not a dead one. It is one who has the gift of knowlege layed before them in a welcoming way and chooses to accept it.
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