Mar 4, 2013 - Leaving the Rez and Living the Rez -By Denny Gayton
On Making It
Some call it the brain drain, some people call it escape, some people call it success. Whatever you want to call leaving the rez, there is always at least one other side to it.
Some Indians go to college and never come home. Some Indians grow up and will do anything to get away. Some of them do it, too. Some people leave and become a success; get a great job, or something else. There are a lot of other ways people leave the rez. No one but you is going to make the rez a better place than the place you grew up in.
Our children, we, live unorganized lives. There are people at home on the rez who aren’t eating or eating enough tonight, and there is only one person you can count on to change that. There is abuse at home on the rez, and there is only one person you can count on to change that. There are people at home on the rez who have zero trust for the people working at the hospitals they go to, and there is only one person you can count on to change that. There are houses falling apart on the rez, and there is only one person you can count on to change that. There are companies & corporations, not to mention governments, in planning meetings detailing how to steal what they call your resources away from your people, and there is only one person you can count on to change that.
We seem to know our problems, but we really don’t. People don’t got food, they don’t got homes or if they do it’s pitiful, your relatives die from easily treated conditions, and people and groups – within and without us – stealing from our people…and stealing our people. We have to send our children away for a reason. Go get an education may just as well be telling our children to Get lost. The children know our problems, they live them. Whether the cumulative or catastrophic trauma is the cause alongside our own people failing to tell the children what to do – Go get an education is insufficient – IF our children come back, it is with no degree or one that does not apply to the immediate problems at hand.
When we look at people managing and working our food programs, what sort of training do they have – we shouldn’t depend only on them to feed our families, but a high school education or two year degrees cannot be expected to compete for food & grants with other program directors that have master’s degrees – so somebody else gets your food money. When we look at our housing programs, what accounts for the housing shortage – while we shouldn’t solely depend on them to house our families, the people administrating these programs cannot be expected to compete with others that are trained & credentialed to get the housing grants – so somebody else gets your homes. When we go to IHS, we can’t find Indian doctors – somebody with their own personal interests treats your relatives. When we go to our schools, we find little to no Indian teachers – somebody else teaches your babies. When we look at the in-house tribal attorneys, we find few Indians (how many non-Indians does it take to make a single Indian lawyer anyway…) – somebody with different interests represents you and gives legal advice. What interest do in-house tribal attorneys have when a state agency steals your niece or nephew and puts them into a state-sponsored home? What are we to do when the tribal accountant is stealing, allowing theft, or participating by covering it up?
We need our own people with graduate degrees in business management, business administration, social services, teaching (grade and high school), law (not just federal Indian and environmental law, but corporate, family, business, & government law) – and for chrissakes can we get some Indians trained in accounting??
These are some of the problems immediately at hand in the daily lives of our people, and these are some of the programs of study which bear directly on those programs. If anyone reading this is about to graduate high school, or wants to attend college, but you don’t know what to study – go into one of these programs and stick it out. Don’t count on it to be easy, and don’t count on having adequate preparation – if you need motivation, just remember that there are people at home that have a need, and you can count on yourself to address it. That motivation isn’t going anywhere.