Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I have a friend, who evidently has a hard time at making up his mind on which he is, a Blackfeet, or Cree, and his dilemma serves to confirm some superficial doctrine within my consciousness, instilled long ago by my early tribal influences.

Besides non-Indian teachers and celebrated people, like Jim Thorpe (the Great Indian Athlete), Charles M. Russell (the Western Artist), Will James (the Cowboy Writer, "Smokey", and other books), my childhood influences have primarily consisted of tribally enrolled or closely affiliated, Blackfeet men, women, and children.

The confirmation comes from observing my friend's behavior, combined with memories of how many of my early influences had commonly reacted in reference to my personal behavior. For example, if I excessively-displayed exploitative, penurious, or ostentatious behavior, they would say, "Yaw, you're acting like a `Cree,” or, "Look at this one, he's acting like a `Cree'”. If I chose ornate clothing (bright colors) during my once a year school-clothes shopping spree, that also fit into the category of being a Cree. Everything greedy, stingy, boastful, or having to do with dressing in bright colors, had become, being a Cree.

I wasted considerable time and energy during my youth, contemplating just what a Cree was, and had always thought that who-or-whatever they were, they must have been real-crazy people, who wore bright-colored clothing!

Not until I had become an adult did I finally disregard conventional introspection and conditioning, for intelligence, and begin actively applying any real energy to learning what a “Cree” is -- from Webster's New World Dictionary & Thesaurus: "Crees or Cree a member of a North American Indian people living mainly in the Canadian Prairie Provinces".

As you can see, a Cree is an Indian from another Indian tribe. They resemble contemporary Indians per se, and as a Race, do not display greedy, stingy, bragging and boasting characteristics. They resemble The Blackfeet, i.e., customs, ideas and comprehensive culture; however, their language is different.

So where did the misconceptions come from? Several elders have told me that a small group of Cree from a landless tribe had been evicted from Canada, during the early nineteen-hundreds and had migrated to The United States, seeking a place to live; that part of the group had settled on a North-Western section of The Blackfeet Indian Reservation; that The Blackfeet had pitied the group and had allowed them to remain; that some members of the Cree group had married into our tribe; and that the descendants of these unions were mistreated by the Blackfeet.

One of my many knowledgeably elders has theorized that the Cree that do personify the characteristics, presumably, do so as an ingrained defense mechanism and possibly, as a means to perturb their hosts.

My friend personifies, his behavior ranges from, e.g., attempting to display the persona of a Blackfeet elder, i.e., wisely telling stories and visiting calmly, carefully and respectfully -- to truth revealing, exploitative, ostentatious, and penurious spirited interludes! He is an otherwise intelligent person, possessing an M.A., and has previously taught at the University level.

He sells Blackfeet items from an internet site: buckskins, hard-copy publication(s) and e-books; and attempts to sell Blackfeet Culture, Language and Tradition.

During one particular discussion, I said and interpreted a tribal member’s Indian Name in Blackfeet, Ahpewmitah (White Dog), in the process of relating a story to him. He nearly ripped his shirt trying to get a pen from his pocket, while simultaneously requesting reiteration, in Blackfeet, even asking me to help him spell it. I did. That was before I had become aware of his enormous need to capitalize on everything, everything Blackfeet -- everything that he obviously hates, yet greedily capitalizes on.

The following incident solidifies his character within my Mind: I had been helping him with his computer for several hours, downloading, installing programs and clean-up, when evening and hunger arrived, so I asked for a piece of dried meat, of several, that hung in-plain-view, obviously dried. He said no. No explanation. No options, just plain and stingily, no. We were in the kitchen. The meat hung on a line strung parallel to the kitchen and living room’s division, and being familiar with Blackfeet custom and culture, I simply took it for granted that he would provide a meal. I left his home that evening, hungry, feeling sad for him, and disappointment in myself.

On another evening, we were visiting each other, sharing stories and ideas, forming plans pertaining to writings related to our shared-Blackfeet culture, and discussing local politics, when all-of-a-sudden, he began to talk loud and arrogantly of his being Cree, and of being proud of it. Nothing previously had been mentioned in reference to "Cree". In fact, he had recently finished speaking of how proud he was to be Blackfeet, and of practicing nothing but, “Traditional Blackfeet Religion” -- among other things, all Blackfeet. I sat and listened to his raving, saying nothing, waiting for him to finish so that we could continue. Subsequently, following a long discourse about someone who had previously made a disparaging comment in reference to his Cree heritage, he said, "These Blackfeet should be thankful that the Crees came here…that's where they got their (expletive) brains [intelligence]…they're sure a bunch of stupid (expletive) bunch of people…"

He has a habit of vigorously-describing past confrontations between himself and certain tribal members, with whom he allegedly and boldly responded to -- boastfully acting out all motions and verbal responses, literally, while motioning and speaking to me. I often wonder if he fabricates the stories, as a catharsis for some deeply established resentment, possibly-derived of something his parent(s) had related to him, concerning debasing treatment at the hands of some long forgotten, Blackfeet-Man, Woman, or Child, from the landless Cree's past.