Voting and Natives
80 year-old retiree: “Pastor, all of our problems were actually caused by the Native Americans.”
Grumpy Pastor: “What? What are you talking about?”
80 year-old retiree: “Yes. Way back when the Europeans came over, the Natives were way too soft on immigration.”
Have you heard about this one? My home state of North Dakota decided to change some voting laws, requiring folks to have their physical addresses on their ID’s when they show up to vote. Click the link here to watch the video from CNN. This is problematic for the 5 reservations in the state, as typically natives don’t have physical addresses on their ID’s. Now, in defense of North Dakota, they do have a history of doing really, really dumb things. Sometimes their legislature just can’t help themselves sometimes.
Now, I’m not going to get in the back-and-forth of who is right and who is wrong. I think that argument has just about as much hope as getting my two-year old son to change his own diaper. Sure… he might end up getting a diaper on, but the walls and his clothes are going to pretty brown and messy after all is said and done. And also, I’m only going to make one reference to a past post I did in which I cited how Natives and Whites in North Dakota don’t like each other, and that’s the real problem. Which BTW, you know that whole University of North Dakota nickname thing years back? It’s the same exact thing. The majority of whites and natives got no love for each other – it’d just be more refreshing if more were honest about it.
No. I’m going to pose a different question. That question is, how much longer are natives in North Dakota going to take it? Seriously. This was a jerk move. While one could go back-and-forth on the policy itself, how it was done is not up for debate. If folks in power wanted to, they could have gone to the reservations and said “We think there’s a problem with voter fraud. The way your reservation functions, with Id’s that don’t have physical addresses on them, how could we work together so we don’t accidentally deprive a bunch of you of your ability to vote?”
But nobody did that.
Because the white folks in power… they just don’t care.
White folks not caring in North Dakota is nothing new. There are lots of examples… like housing and job discrimination, silent behind-the-back slurs like “Prairie N****r” – when I grew up there I saw lots of these things. So really, I ask, how much longer will Natives tolerate the crap that gets thrown at them? I think they’d be a lot better off if they just lost their cool and told white people not to come to the reservation anymore for nickel slot machines, $10 buffets, and bad 80’s rock acts. Don’t show up at the polls, the state legislature, or any meeting they’re asked to dress indigenous and look pretty. Instead put some emotional walls up at those reservation borders and tell white people they’re not welcome. The game is rigged, and it’s rigged for natives to lose. So why even play the game?
What has Become of Voting?
I think voting used to be a sacred and holy act at the altar of democracy. When I cast my first ballot in the 1994 primary election, patriotic love for my country, my privileges, and my sense of responsibility oozed out of my skin pours. It’s not that way anymore for me, and I suspect I’m not alone. Now voting is something you do while holding your nose and trying not to puke. And then after you voted you get that red “I Voted” sticker and you post a selfie with it. I think the day is coming where you don’t post that selfie to show your awe inspired participation in democracy, but instead to show you actually went through with it. Kind of like the picture you get when you do those eating challenges at restaurants… the Blazin’ Wings challenge at BWW’s, or that one restaurant I always stopped at in Devil’s Lake that had a 12 egg omelette.
I voted early this year because I’m out of town on election day. I know it didn’t feel like holy democracy. It felt cursed. Looking up and down the ballot at candidates who don’t deserve any votes at all. candidates who lack integrity. Candidates who serve all sorts of special interests. Candidates who cannot answer a question if their life depended upon it. Candidates who lack a backbone and don't have principles and values. A few local candidates I liked… because I know them well. But aside from that, voting is an exercise in looking for who is the least awful. And we’re all waiting for a candidate with baited breath. It reminds me of that Poison song, “Give Me Something to Believe In.”
What a damned hot mess. We’ll be waiting a long, long time.
The Sword in the Lake
My daughter came home with this story, and it peaked my curiosity. An 8 year old girl finds a 1500 year-old Viking sword in a lake in Sweden. And Sweden is now joking she should be the queen.
Amidst all sorts of negativity out there in the world, with weapons being thrown all over the place (usually in the form of words, malice, actions, and hatred), it was sure nice to read this story. It's a positive story about a weapon, instead of a negative one.
Saga Vanecek, you are the queen of the news lately. Our world needs some light and your find was exactly that - a little light for the world amidst the darkness.
It’s been real. Smell ya later,