Yellow Bird: Looking past stereotypes
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"[A]s many times as we are told how poor, disease-ridden and in need of rehabilitation we are, there are just as many that remind us there is a world beyond what outsiders see and read about in the newspapers. So many of the articles - for example, The Wall Street Journal's story on Dec 26, "A Principal Battles Legacy of Failure At Indian School" - are too predictable and don't say anything new. Few examine reservations other than Pine Ridge, S.D. That reservation has become a negative example of a "typical" Indian reservation.

If you combine their ages, my mother and aunt have spent a total of 165 years on the reservation. Neither they nor their deceased husbands indulged in alcohol. Not only did they raise big gardens and run cattle and horses, they also nurtured large families.

Like my grandmother, my aunt is a keeper of the traditions - it is her strength and law. But she isn't the only one. There are many older people on the reservation, and at Pine Ridge, I would say, who have a greater understanding of life and the world around them than even the great philosophers in history. They have learned to live with what was dealt them, and they handle it quietly but with courage.

Many of these older people have a rich knowledge of healing, culture and ways of life.

Ah, yes, there is another story to be told about the people on reservations. But those big-city reporters need to get past their own stereotypes first. Then, they can find the real story."

Get the Story:
DORREEN YELLOW BIRD COLUMN: Real stories of reservation life lie with people (The Grand Forks Herald 1/4)

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