indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Charles Trimble: An urban Indian Christmas in the Bay Area

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: california, charles trimble, urban indians
   

There are readers of my columns whom I have never met, but have come to know and enjoy as though I have known them for years. One especially is Rodney Little Bird, a Dakota man from Standing Rock who now lives in the Bay Area in California. His emails always leave me inspired, encouraged, and happy.

He is an urban Indian, obviously; but I bring up that fact only as a segue into the Christmas theme I wanted to write for this time of the year. But it is also something that I wanted to follow up on since I wrote a column at Christmas last year about Indian families that had gone to the cities on the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Relocation Program in the 1960s and 70s.

In that column I tried to put some perspective on the Relocation Program, and I wrote the following:
“Although some Native American writers depict the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ relocation program of the 1950s-1970s era as being a repeat of the Indian Removal Act of the 19th Century, there are significant differences. For one thing, few if any people were coerced to go to the cities, although, to be sure, some were lied to about the great future they would enjoy in the cities, or not informed of the complexities of urban life. But generally most knew what they were getting into, and were courageous in carrying through.

“Most of the relocated Indian people didn’t waste away in ghetto huts ruing their decision to take part of the relocation programs. Almost immediately they formed active community organizations to deal with the problems they faced, and to help Indian newcomers from the reservations who came to their communities. Invariably, the organizations established communications through newsletters and programs. There were weekend get-togethers for such things as children’s programs, and monthly pow-wows and celebrations of the various Holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

As I struggled to write my column yesterday, I got an email from Rodney; it was as if an angel dropped a message on my computer keys, for it told – far more beautifully than I could ever have written – exactly what I wished to convey. Accordingly, I shall quote the letter in its entirety:
"Good Morning, Chiye;

"It is worth every ounce of work to see the gleeful little faces light up as they are called to get their presents, and the work they put into opening them. It is worth every ounce of effort put into gathering the toys that they will be getting. This is the time of the year when the Little People gather in great numbers…peering from behind grandma or grandpa, holding tight to mom’s skirt, or simply burying their heads in mom and dad’s laps in order to try to avoid the inevitable, that they will soon be called up..

“This is the season when they shine like the little spirits that they are, just beautiful, just full of hope…because they are the very description of Hope Itself...Our makeshift community center was packed to the rafters, with sweets and sweet drinks and coffee and cake for the parents and grandparents, and the shiny tree with the really big lights and decorations and of course Santa Arrives.

“Tonight in East Bay yet another one of these wonderful community celebrations will happen, from 4 to 6 the community will eat and then from 6 to 8 Santa will be in the House…and they will break them down into separate age groups and deliver the gifts…This is the time for the Elders who work on this project for the whole season, buying things at the right time for the right price, stocking it all up until tonight and don't forget the wrapping that goes into this, this is their moment as much as the community members who are being gifted. Their faces light up and they are smiling from ear to ear, non-stop it seems, but I am caught up in it as well, ear to ear.

“I too will head north on Christmas Eve for dinner with friends, it is an annual tradition for us. Rides are prepared and those who do not drive or cannot afford to travel will be transported to and from, so I will now busy myself with car rental and touching base with those who will be needing a ride, and in a sense I will be Santa behind the wheel of my sleigh…but this time I will be carrying the most precious cargo, Human Beings, Sacred Entities. I may just pick up one of those corny little Xmas carol disks to put into the disk player...hey got to give them hope and sometimes it takes putting them into the spirit of things...hee hee or is it ho ho ho...

“Take good care of your health and stay warm Chiye, while I am off to enjoy the spirit of Xmas myself… Toksha Ake.”

Misun

Our tribal brothers and sisters who found it necessary or preferable to relocate off their reservation homelands to the cities, have for the most part retained much of their culture, whether it is manifest in powwows and feasts or in those wonderful values like generosity that are so precious to us. They show the strength or our cultures and the resilience of our people to survive and give thanks for their survival and help others survive. That’s what our tribes are all about, or should be.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers, and best wishes for a peaceful and happy New Year.

Charles "Chuck" Trimble, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. He was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, and served as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-1978. He is retired and lives in Omaha, NE. He can be contacted at cchuktrim@aol.com and his website is www.iktomisweb.com.

Related Stories:
Charles Trimble: A shameless promotion for my book 'Iyeska' (11/26)
Charles Trimble: A political kiss of death from Lakota columnist (11/6)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: DOJ backs tribes in ICWA case in South Dakota (8/21)
Jeffrey Whalen: Oglala Sioux Tribe's police force is in 'shambles' (8/21)
Ryan Wilson: Native language immersion programs need support (8/21)
Walt Lamar: Remove Gary Edwards from law enforcement group (8/21)
Secretary Jewell issues order and guidance on trust relationship (8/21)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes see $7.4M for buyback (8/21)
North Dakota tribe accused of concealing data on pipeline spill (8/21)
Navy rejects transfer of surplus property to Narragansett Tribe (8/21)
Kake Tribe returns to site of 1857 deadly attack in Washington (8/21)
KCUR: Modern and historic Indian art on display in Kansas City (8/21)
Mike Wise: Longtime NFL referee avoided Washington's games (8/21)
Enterprise Rancheria sues state over delayed Class III compact (8/21)
Santee Sioux Tribe working to bring more attractions to casino (8/21)
Mashantucket Tribe sees credit hit as casino competition grows (8/21)
Chumash Tribe to respond to concerns about casino expansion (8/21)
Travel: Smoking allowed at tribal casinos in northern California (8/21)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe gears up for uranium battle (8/20)
Eyapaha Today: J. Waylon Miller leads Friends of Cesar Romero (8/20)
Sandra Fox: Fixing the education system for our Indian children (8/20)
Albert Bender: US-backed genocide in Guatemalan spurs exodus (8/20)
Mark Chavaree: Penobscot Nation fights to save namesake river (8/20)
Mark Rogers: One more day with post-traumatic stress disorder (8/20)
Still no word on Cobell payments as end of August approaches (8/20)
Native boy found safe after going missing for nearly 24 hours (8/20)
9th Circuit allows Lummi Nation to pursue fishing rights claims (8/20)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe gains support for land claim agreement (8/20)
Delaware Tribe to discuss plans for land with officials in Kansas (8/20)
Wind River Reservation students enjoy back-to-school haircuts (8/20)
Review: Native man serves as anti-hero in 'Winter In The Blood' (8/20)
Bill introduced to extend recognition to Clatsop-Nehalem Tribe (8/20)
Governor pressed on Menominee Nation off-reservation casino (8/20)
Group seeks referendum on Tohono O'odham Nation casino deal (8/20)
Lawmakers approve Class III gaming compact with Karuk Tribe (8/20)
Enterprise Rancheria awaits action on Class III gaming compact (8/20)
Wampanoag casino opponents hope to catch Obama's attention (8/20)
Opinion: Tribal gaming creates short term and long term benefits (8/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala man's business dealings under scrutiny (8/19)
Mark Trahant: Behind the scenes of Obamacare in Indian Country (8/19)
Peter d'Errico: Book told from perspective of the colonial invaders (8/19)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (8/19)
Opinion: Elder of Wukchumni Tribe working to keep language alive (8/19)
Large crowd turns out to denounce supremacist group's activities (8/19)
Oglala Sioux Tribe suspends officer who repeatedly used stun gun (8/19)
Alaska Native man being treated after being shot by police officer (8/19)
Another guilty plea comes in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption case (8/19)
Leader of Muscogee Nation goes on trial in theft case next month (8/19)
Court in California won't let Choctaw girl be placed with relatives (8/19)
Tribes hail Oregon decision to deny permit for coal export project (8/19)
Al Jazeera: State struggles with Native language voting material (8/19)
NPR: Osage Nation disputes wind development on mineral estate (8/19)
Chickasaw Nation sell new blend of coffee made from chocolate (8/19)
Activists won't sue over school's Warriors mascot in Minnesota (8/19)
Broadcasters won't use racist mascot of Washington NFL team (8/19)
NIGA to hold mid-year conference at Chickasaw Nation casino (8/19)
Court won't allow former casino workers to sue Morongo Band (8/19)
Official from wine group likens a tribal casino to 'foreign nation' (8/19)
MPR: City pushes for casino amid battle with Fond du Lac Band (8/19)
Editorial: Karuk Tribe casino poses competition to Coquille Tribe (8/19)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.