I enjoyed looking up at the grand sky, getting lost in thought as the blue color continues to intensify. The sound of the river walking by, as it follows a limitless road. I feel less connected to my earthly attachments and I begin to wonder why I had the dream to own a big house. For a long time, I always thought that a house would provide me shelter but it would still feel congested regardless of the size.
The worst of tight living conditions as told by Clean and White such as the large European and American cities in the eighteenth century were a breeding ground for poverty and filth. The lack of sanitary infrastructure came with a great cost, where there was an increased risk of yellow fever, typhoid, and other diseases. Despite this history, we continue to have growing cities such as New York City that take more from the land than give back. White Clay Creek could have been unlucky and had a city built over it. It is sad that in our lifetimes, we may never get see the original beautiful nature of the New York City area before settler intervention.
Taking a step back, I was feeling intimidated by the amount of space in the forest. From my perspective, I have always prioritized my feelings of safety over spaciousness of an enclosed building. Growing up I have lived in the white man’s house, never thinking that other communities would see the same house as a cage. The pictures from the National Geographic article show the broken and crowded living conditions of the Oglala residents. In the white man’s house and cars, there is limited space to make a home and it constantly reminds the residents of the barriers created by the White society. There is little wiggle room to live outside of these houses as White American society has this expectation of everyone living in a building and the appearance of a standard home. To show signs of fighting back, the Oglala residents continue to practice ceremonies and customs in order to break the white man’s cages.
The wind was petting my hair into a wild mess as usually. It was a friendly gesture, where the life of the forest was beginning to grow back as it transitioned to spring. The little plants were starting to germinate, even when the weather was slightly cold. Sometimes, nature can still find the will to live and move forward from the violence of humans. Such violence is found in events such as the Wounded Knee Massacre, which ensued a protest against the U.S. due to the horrid actions against vulnerable groups of people. Once again, the U.S. felt the need to stop the protest through the use of violence, which ended up in 130,000 shots fired and 1,200 arrests. The screams of terror, confusion, sadness, and mercy were all heard by mother nature but not by the U.S.
With everything stacked against Indigenous people, their sense of community did not fade, and they continued to keep their culture alive. As stated in the “Shadow of A Nation,” wealth was not from the individual but from the community according to customs in Indigenous reservations. Another sign of high community value was the ritual of being a hero. Instead of receiving gifts which is often portrayed in White American media, the hero would give gifts to the community as a way to say thanks for the endless support.
However, all these strengths from the community wouldn’t be enough to comfort or protect individuals from struggles present in their communities. Jonathan Takes Enemy used basketball and alcohol as an escape from reality. The constant running away from the heavy grip of doubt and negativity impacted many lives. In the boundless forest, no matter how much one runs away, the struggles come back and drag everyone down.
One day, there may be no more standard house trapping communities, no more screams of agony, and no more suffering of communal struggles. Maybe one day, we can all lose ourselves in the vast emptiness of space, to be free from the pressures created by internalized trauma.