Thursday, July 14, 2011
It hits close to home
I’m not talking about one man was singled out in a dark alley of a huge city in the dead of night. I’m talking about a Native family beaten on a busy Nevada interstate — en route to Reno — in broad daylight by a couple of punk skinheads (read the story here).
No, John Quiñones didn’t pop out of the bushes on May 24 with his camera crew and ask passers by, “why didn’t you stop to help?”
There were bloody wounds, broken bones, a public that turned the other cheek and there seems to be police negligence/cruelty. The Native man who was severely beaten was taken to jail and left there for six days with no medical treatment and charged with battery with a deadly weapon. After many worried phone calls, police curtly told family to get his “Indian doctor,” who were then denied access to the man. The 1920s anybody? Silly me, this is 2011 — and the punks bragged about the incident on Facebook and weren’t charged a thing.
Now, I’m not from the Reno Sparks Indian Colony nor have been a victim of such brutality — thank goodness — but this hits close to home. I know Jen, a good friend and a Shoshone-Paiute raised in a town 20 miles away from where the beatings took place. Her Facebook status said she was scared and others replied with sympathy, sympathetic hate, frustration, shock and sadness.
The mentally disabled Navajo man who had a swastika branded into his skin and shaved on his head by a couple of guys in Farmington could have well been my cousin — most likely via our clan (Ké) system.
Native Americans represent less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population so you can bet we know each other. I’ve met cousins at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, I know a Seneca from New York City, a Crowe from Montana, a Minnehaha from North Dakota, a Cheyenne from Wyoming, a “real” Cherokee from South Dakota, Eskimo, Chippewa, Blackfeet, Ponca, Nez Perce, Hopi, Pueblo, Tohono O’odham… you get the point. Besides the Navajo and Cherokee, other Native tribes are very small — from just a few dozen to a few hundred — and we’re a close-knit family. And you know how it is with families; when your brother gets hurt, you hurt too.
It makes me feel afraid sometimes. I feel the cuts on my throat, the bruises on my back, the burning tears and anger.
Hate needs to stop.