At the Radisson now. In Bismarck now. Sitting at the bar now. Off the road, finally (thank the gods). Time to gauge the pulse of this place, this town. Drunkards hug the walls in here. These grungy sots have been at it for a while. I can tell. Slur is the lingua franca, a pidgin it takes years and thousands of dollars to master. And, rest assured, these are masters.
The air itself is a flammable gas. No one light a match. Explosions that way. A woman’s raspy guffaw catches my attention. “Ha! Ha! He! He!” Then she leaves for another smoke. “I’ve come to drop eves,” I tell the bartender. The barkeep is an elderly woman of about 60. The crone says I can drop as many eves as I damn well please. I overhear a conversation run like hot vomit on the other side of the bar. “Trump’s gonna do us good, boy,” one says. Another nods in approbation. More muffled talks of “the wall.” Can’t make out exactly what the rheumy-eyed runts are saying, but it can’t be too different than the rotten bar babble heard in Germany in the weeks leading up the construction of the Berlin Wall.
Music in here as dated as the haircuts.
Suddenly, a Native American male slips in. He orders “a pop.” “Are you at Standing Rock?” I ask. He looks at me like I’ve got a death wish. “Why the living hell would you hazard to even mention the camp in here? …” He didn’t really say that. But his eyes did. Right. He grabs his soda and quickly slips out the double doors in the back. I seem to blend in with a few skulls in here. It may be due to my freshly shaved head and hipster comb over. They probably think I zipped in from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Or maybe they think I’m just one of dem’ Mexicans “whippin’” out his “Mexican thing.” Well, they’re right. I AM Mexican. And politely leave my Mexican thing out of it. Speaking of chorizo, Americans miss the delicious point. Mexican IS indigenous. The only thing that geographically separates a Mayan from an Oglala is that goddamn border. … OK. I continue to frantically take notes on mini napkins. Can’t find my pocket notepad. Oh well. Maybe I left it on the plane? Lost wisdom. Forever gone. “Watcha do?” a man sitting next to me on the flight earlier to Bismarck inquired. “I’m in fertilizer,” I said.
“Fertilizer?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I responded.
“Are you a farmer?”
“Oh, no,” I said. “No, no, I mean I deal in bullshit.”
Silence. His visage, a confused stare. His wife, sitting to his left (I had the aisle seat), quickly redirected his attention to something on her iPad, evidently saving him from me. Good. No time for doddle. I am no fan of idle natter anyway. I would’ve happily engaged Mr. Buttoned-down blue eyes in a discussion (or debate) on the nature of misdirection, the pervasiveness of dissimulation, and what grows out of bullshit. But, for the rest of the flight, he nestled his shnoz into his wife’s shoulder, his eyes fixed on that iPad, completely ignoring me. Smart husband.
A farmer plowed 'TRUMP' into a field in Edgeley, North Dakota, in August. Courtesy Gene Hanson.
Back in Bismarck, a mostly white town to the north of color, the acerbic slurring from wiggy whisky heads continues. Drunken blonds whoop it up and take shots at a long, eight-seater table. Shot after shot. Bellow after bellow. “Again! Come on, you pussy!” a blond in shitkicker boots shouts. Two men eye me wearily from the other side of the bar now. I don’t think they appreciate my taking notes. Are they napkin salesmen? Or maybe they want to know what I’m scribbling frantically. Well, I’ve been jumped and beaten to a pulp for less. There was that time I elbowed a guy in the gut at a pub in downtown Denver for pushing me too many times, the prick. But I may have reconsidered my impulse move had I known he was marching with a posse of 10 or 12 bottle-swingers. I don’t mind pain, in fact. I bleed therefore I am. That’s right. To hell with Descartes. Native Americans are natural philosophers. Yes, we are. For example, if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it … it was probably another white corporation cutting it down to clear-cut a forest in some rapist tar sands effort to further fatten their oil-slicked pockets. Or haven’t you been paying attention?
I don’t expect to leave here in one piece. The drunkards are getting drunker. More Trump talk. These are his people, of course. It won’t be long before they spray tan their balls and breasts Trump-orange. Orange supremacy. Comb-over country. Holy jeezus! I have a comb-over! Maybe a mohawk is due? Would the Mohawks mind if an Oglala wore a mohawk? John Trudell wore a mohawk, but that was for a movie. “Thunderheart.” Gotta do what old man says. Wasn’t Trudell Shoshone? I can’t Google right now. “No Wi-Fi For Indians.” That’s the latest sign in North Dakota these days.
Or haven’t you been paying attention?
Soon they’ll be brandished on local mom-and-pop shops all over town, just gotta know where to look.
“Are you one of dem’ protestors calling themselves ‘water protectors’?” a lady asks.
“No, ma’am,” I say. “I’m a proctologist.”
“Oh!” she says, a smile forms on her face.
“Yep, I eye North Dakota’s assholes.”
Nearly 65-percent of North Dakotans voted for President-elect Donald Trump. Courtesy google.com.
OK. Time to make for the door. Got to plan my escape. Avoid the white woman in shitkicker boots periodically still yelling “don’t be a pussy.” Slowly pass the pair of napkin salesmen. Leave the cash on the bar. Ignore the crone. (Is my satchel with laptop and papers still on the floor beside me? … Yes.) Alright. Good. Quickly grab that. Maybe I’ll stop by the john and piss on their toilet seats on my way out. Why not? Think about it. If you urinate on toilet seats AT LEAST YOU’RE NOT URINATING AND DEFECATING INTO AN NON-RENEWABLE RERSOURCE (WATER), THAT BLUE STUFF WE NEED TO LIVE WHICH IS CONSTANTLY THREATENED BY LIMITED-THINKING, MONEY-HUNGRY OIL AND GAS JACKALS!
My caps lock got stuck there, folks. Or did it?
And the epilogue to this story is try not to get caught in Bismarck with Trump lovers and Indian haters on any night. These people have very little respect for anything other than God, guns, their boots and the Bible. These may be the same gunslingers who follow my friends around town here. They track them. Hunt them and hound them. And we know who foots the bill for this kind of 24-hour surveillance. Blood money. Right. I struggle to call Bismarck a safe space for anyone other than these kinds of Trump humpers (65-percent of North Dakotans voted for Trump). So, when in Bismarck, keep a sharp eye. The jester will soon be king, and these are his writhing, foaming, loyal subjects. Orange supremacists. You’ve been warned.
Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter @SimonMoyaSmith.