Thursday, August 4, 2011
So I watched “Priest” with my sister a few days ago and we couldn’t help but react when “reservations” were mentioned with cynical remarks.
The vampires in the movie were a menace to society, especially to the church, and were defeated by a couple of super-ninja priests. They were forced on reservations far away from the city where they could harm no one.
We laughed because those are what reservations really are and this is one of the few times we’ve seen such a statement as members of the masses. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why we laughed. Whether we were hiding indignation or we felt that we were the only two who made that connection in the dollar theater that night.
Reservations were essentially a prison to keep Natives out of American — i.e. white — society because early Americans were very racist and would go to certain terrible lengths to keep colors out of “their” space even if the tribes tried their hardest, like the Cherokee, to blend into American society and stay on their homelands. These lands also originated from treaties, agreements to give up certain territories, but everyone knows these were never honored. For a time, it was actually illegal for Natives to venture off the rez.
Reservations are not at all considered prisons these days. We can come and go as we please and we embrace and take pride of the land we come from and are lucky to have.
I don’t remember anyone who was not brown-skinned like me when I was growing up — and I grew up on the Navajo reservation. Only the teachers and doctors and everyone on TV were white. They seemed like a rarity and drew much attention and fake politeness when they were in my town.
For 18 years I never had a white, black or Hispanic friend and when they talked to me, it was a different experience that I mostly shied away from. At 19 I had to man up, quick, for college where I was the only Native out of couple hundred other people. I still shied away from other people and mostly stayed with my Native friends from the Native American Club — thank goodness for them.
I think after a few years of watching other people, and learning how they can be just as friendly as the Natives I grew up with, I’m not as reserved as I used to be. But after years of telling myself to be more social, I also learned that I’m naturally a little shy anyways.
So maybe it’s because my sister and I saw these rare vampires as images of us, but I just found that reference worthy of a blog entry.