Steve Russell: Everybody knows everything
"Too many years ago, I attended my 25th Not High School Reunion in Bristow, Okla. ''Not High School'' because I am a sort of honorary Purple Pirate, having left high school in the ninth grade to join the service and save Saigon from the Viet Cong, who I was convinced would then take Sausalito and Sallisaw.

I saw the lady who had been the principal of Edison Elementary School, where I had gotten sent to the office so many times. She looked exactly as I remembered her from the '50s - older than dirt. I walked up and spoke to her:

''You probably don't remember me, but ...''

''Hello, Stephen,'' she interrupted, ''how is Wanda?'' That would be my mother, who this woman had also taught.

I'm an urban Indian now, but those who grew up on reservations or in places like that little town in the Creek Nation will remember how everybody knew everybody's business. There was no way my one-eighth blood quantum would allow me to play white boy if I was so inclined, and no way to escape whatever I had coming for my numerous malfeasances. No place to run and no place to hide. Same thing when visiting relatives in the Cherokee Nation or over on the Osage reservation. Just mentioning my name connected me in ways not avoidable.

Did ''privacy'' have any meaning then? I've done a lot of thinking about that since I moved away and changed my name and gained briefly the possibility of being anonymous."

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Confessions of a presumed terrorist (Indian Country Today 8/1)

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