What I'm Doing For Native American Heritage Month, People! by Cliff Taylor

This month for Native American Heritage Month I'm going to let myself get a little extra-energized and take things to the next level, raise some of my neighbors' eyebrows with all my extra warhoops, and not just so to speak.

To get started I'm going to set up roadblocks at a main intersection and put out a table with all of my favorite Native books I've read over the past couple years stacked high on it with a big sign that says FREE, just to share some literature and get the word out.

Then I'm going to mass-phone call with my devoted team all the restaurants and coffee shops in the region and make it so that all elders and Indian moms and dads get a free cup of coffee every day all month long; just because it's kind of right like that, you know?

On one day when the weather's nice I'm going to find the oldest, most knowledgeable elder in the state and livestream them while I ask them two questions: “What's the funniest thing you ever saw?” and then, “If you had one real long good story that kind of told it all what would that story be and could you tell it?”

If all goes well, I'm going to finish writing my masterwork of a book documenting the location of every Indian artifact and object not in the hands of its rightful tribal owners and the thoughts about this from those tribal owners and self-publish it just so folks can begin to comprehend the epic wrongness of this state of things.

I'm going to deplete my multi-trillion dollar trust-fund by turning every Indian Boarding School across all of North America into the raddest sites of tribal education, ceremony, and healing that anyone with blinking peepers has ever seen, just because you've really got to start somewhere, right? I'm going to publish an article in the New York Times about the beautiful movement that nearly every good-hearted city in America is happily joining of asking local Natives what they can do to honor their history, respect their sacred sites, repair relations, and incorporate Indians' input into the lives of their communities in truly significant and substantial ways!

I'm going to be an extra for a day in that Hollywood adaptation of Black Elk Speaks that is surely to be our peoples' long-overdue, Indian-made 12 Years A Slave, where our peoples' story, or at least a certain profound slice of it, can be on the big-screen in a way that practically rewires the American consciousness with its gorgeous, emotional, visionary truths; you probably won't be able to see me but I'll be there somewhere in the background.

I'm going to Standing Rock to witness what all the attendees of the Three Years Later Reunion Gathering have to say about how that historic event lives on in uncountable ways today and when we do our offerings to the river I'm going to add my grandpa's tears which I've been carrying around my neck since I was a little boy to the moving, brown waters too.

I'm going to make my brother Denny real proud and listen to the 50,000 What'sApp messages he's sent me in Lakota to aid my own language learning and remembering with a raucous house-full of passionate learners who're all amped up on love and high quality coffee because he's right, IF YOU WANT TO TALK INDIAN, REPEAT AFTER ME!!!

I'm going to have my friend who's an expert astral projector astral project up and over to Niobrara to sniff out the site of our old Ponca Sundance grounds and chat up the ancestors there, writing down all of the pertinent information they feel like passing along in his astral notebook, to then fly back and hand it off to my twenty-something self who was always daydreaming and wondering about such things as I stared out into the night at the gas station where I worked; really, it might help.

I'm going to play hooky for a week at work and instead spend that 40 hours at the Foundation that is working to make sure every young Native kid gets to have every kind of positive Indian-related experience they want so that their suffering is majorly lessened and so that their generation doesn't have to deal with as much of the bullshit that ours and a few centuries-worth of generations did and are still dealing with; putting my time in with this Foundation is one of the most meaningful things I do.

I'm going to take up my kooky neighbor's invitation and use the time-machine in his backyard to take a whole bus-full of us back to all the best times in life as shared by all the best Natives I have known in my near-40 years, giving us all a grand tour and total master class-experience in what the true soul of the North American Indian Native story actually is.

I'm going to say Fuck It and activate the long-in-the-making secret sleeper program of 'A Powwow On Every Block' and then just see what happens when literally a five-person powwow springs up on every city block in America, drum, dancers, MC, and fun-loving attendee included, just to see what kind of joyous miracles rain down from heaven when all of the country gets so blessed up by the Native drum and beats and beauty that it's like some collective Indigenous dream is finally realized in the strongest and most beautiful of ways; and because all the proper infrastructure is in place too nothing will go wrong here and so let's just see what happens; grab your mocs and get your stuff ready!

And then lastly I'm going to call my dad over in South Dakota and tell him what a good dude he is and what a good dude I've turned out to be and that I love him and then because shirts equate to wealth in his world because of the scarring poverty he grew up in I'm going to give him a magic rock that lets him wish for and then receive a brand new shirt every day for the rest of his sweet life.

This is what I'm going to do for Native American Heritage Month this year, folks. Some of it anyway. More if I find the time. I'm proud to be Indian, to be Ponca. I love you, my friends, and I hope your month of feeling good about being Indian/Native/Indigenous is a damn fine one too.


Cliff Taylor is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. He has written a book on Native spirituality, The Memory of Souls, a book of short stories about the stand for water in Standing Rock, Standing Rock Stories, and a memoir about coming-of-age in Nebraska, Special Dogs, all of which are unpublished. His dream is to see those books in print and to use his words to help his people. He currently resides in New Orleans, where he is hard at work on his next book. Contact Cliff @tayloc00@hotmail.com