I’ve been ill. Very ill.
For a long time, nobody knew but my family and the guy who put me in this publication full time. Early this year, I got the diagnosis and on January 12 I got the knife. Er, not me—my cancer.
I’ll be speaking to an oncologist about whether there will or should be an attempt to poison my cancer without poisoning me.
Less likely, Buck Rogers, M.D., still sometimes burns cancers without burning the host, death rays deployed by insurance company death panels.
You gotta be Indian to understand how that tracks with the historical remark Richard Henry Pratt shall always own. Pratt, the avatar of white superiority, admonished that the proper goal of federal Indian policy is to “kill the Indian in him to save the man.”
I’m mixed blood, very mixed, but not mixed enough that I was raised with the white man’s allotment, “three score and ten.” I am flabbergasted to report the odds of living three score and ten have shifted to my favor.
Assuming enough of you stay with my change in focus, I will cross that unlikely milestone exactly one week from the day this column publishes.
Just before I went into surgery, I was over on Facebook bargaining with God and several hundred of my closest personal friends. I had only one thing left to offer because my body was acquiring new breaks every day and my soul was taken when I threw down with the Devil at a rural highway intersection, two crazy typewriters burning and hundreds of pages turning.
The news I comment on? I still see it running either too fast or too slow. How’s that new swamp drain coming, Donnie? Climate change denier in charge of climate change…check. Education Department run by a woman who does not support public education…check. Regulation of investment banks turned over to Goldman, Sachs…..check…State Department turned over to an oil company CEO with half of Russia under lease, leases worthless under the Obama sanctions….
I hadn’t heard my Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller bark like that since he lost his boot camp “command.” Ray had won some competitions but lost the cute ribbons for his guidon when somebody found out he was allowing his troops to steal Sam’s ice cream as a reward.
“Whose ice cream was I supposed to steal? Sam owned it all.”
Anyway, he demanded I stop the serial hilarity long enough to point out that the first U.S. soldier has fallen in the service of our bellicose commander-in-chief and before his body returned to Dover, a White House press briefing was interrupted to “put Iran on notice.”
Of what? Something like a red line, I gather, except this red line will be real as American blood can make it.
I’m writing this new version of my column on spec. It not the kind of thing you ask permission for and I don’t expect it to be judged in any way less than everything else I’ve written. Unique IP address hits from enough of you dear people who have allowed me to live out my poor attempts to imitate the greatest Cherokee artist of all time, Will Rogers.
Because of my promise just before surgery to God and Zuckerberg, writing my life is of some urgency. What you will see, if you do me the honor of continuing to read, will be vingettes from my long dusty red road from the Muscogee Creek Nation to where I find myself.
If hospice is in the cards, it will be home hospice, surrounded by my family, my art, and my four-legged companions.
No offense to hospitals, but you understand, right?
Whether or not I am allowed to move from news commentary to vingettes from my life as I try to discover a logical arrangement of them, my editors have promised me my old job back if I recover.
I’m thinking of other artists I’ve admired besides Will Rogers, the great John Henry Faulk’s path from South Austin chicken coops to home hospice appointed much like my own. I think of the great Ojibwe poet Jim Northrup’s Rez Road.
Being an American Indian is not a disadvantage. We must make our young understand that knowing a bit of our tribal teachings will make them welcome at many fires.
That’s the reason I want to write about my life. There’s no money in it and I’m already more famous than I want to be or am likely to be. I want to be like Rogers, like Northrup, like at least three ladies I know named Harjo—a story that shows kids indigenous blood is a blessing if you reject the sanctimonious, patronizing, spirit-killing garbage we all had to traverse. Every story on that journey is another rebuttal to Indians on the brink of extinction and if you will have me I’d like to add my own story to many.
It’s not up to me to say if it’s wisdom.
Keep a fire!