Canada | Opinion

Terese Marie Mailhot: Feeling nostalgic about returning to rez

Terese Marie Mailhot. Photo from Facebook

Writer Terese Marie Mailhot wonders whether she can go home again:
Leaving the rez is a lot like defecting from the army. Being an Indian is a lot like being drafted, for that matter. We’re chosen people, fighting for our nation’s sovereignty, and a dying breed. I once thought in my naiveté that I would go to school, then move back to fight the good fight, only to realize my own self-betterment didn’t begin or end with school.

The rez can be tough, growing up without, receiving a lackluster education, and dealing with the disparity Natives are subjected to. People often comment that one makes the best or worst out of the circumstance they’re dealt, but being on the rez is hard-knocks. Curtains are sparse, having a well-manicured lawn is not typical, and most Christmases my mother depended on the Turkey and food rations we were given by the tribe.

I rarely go home, because I can’t afford it, but when I do it’s usually for funerals, of which there are far too many. On Friday nights back home I still heard the same drunk dialogue of Native youth, along with people fighting, people I knew. I still saw all my same cousins at the grocery store, and nothing had really changed. The land is essentially the ghettoization of a people, ala the WWII Polish Ghettos force on the Jews. The Indian Act forced us to elect governments in a way that was unnatural to our collective. The European government construct has been nothing but a nightmare to our social structure, and it’s hard to imagine it ever getting better. Some of my friends and family were doing well, but it seemed like they were doing well in spite of the disparate circumstances.

Get the Story:
Terese Marie Mailhot: AWOL From the Rez! (Indian Country Today 12/20)

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