indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
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...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Navajo Nation in shock after arrest made in 11-year-old girl's death (5/4)
Bureau of Indian Affairs adds names to memorial for fallen officers (5/4)
Bureau of Indian Affairs updates list of federally recognized tribes (5/4)
Bureau of Indian Affairs finalizes rule for burial assistance program (5/4)
National Indian Gaming Commission selects first vice chair in years (5/4)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe assists vets with housing (5/4)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe pushed to hold election (5/4)
Jim Kent: Governor of South Dakota blissfully ignorant about tribes (5/4)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Who made the decision to kill Anna Mae? (5/4)
Suzan Shown Harjo: Delete 'off the reservation' from our discourse (5/4)
Simon Moya-Smith: Donald Trump sees Indian people going 'wild' (5/4)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Native issues are afterthought for candidates (5/4)
Blackfeet Nation to see $107M from Cobell land buy-back program (5/4)
Democrat Bernie Sanders staying in race as last Republicans quit (5/4)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community fails to sell governor on casino (5/4)
Editorial: Work with Cloverdale Rancheria rather than fight casino (5/4)
Lakota Country Times: Governor lectures tribe about sacred lands (5/3)
Native Sun News: Navajo Nation chapter sues tribe over water deal (5/3)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Reservation plagued by abuse and assault (5/3)
James Giago Davies: Propaganda machine protects racist mascot (5/3)
Cronkite News: Sports teams turn to tribes for naming rights deals (5/3)
Steven Newcomb: Tricking the original nations into reconciliation (5/3)
Rosebud man selected as leader of South Dakota State University (5/3)
Klamath Tribes report results of election for leadership positions (5/3)
Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant (5/3)
Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths (5/3)
Arizona reports 5.1 percent decline in casino revenue from tribes (5/3)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe casino up for discussion at city meeting (5/3)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hoping to keep gaming lawsuit going (5/3)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
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.