Monday, January 3, 2011

A Compelling Read

Kristen Dosela, on the Gila River Reservation
Here's the line from a newspaper article that got to me this weekend.  A young Native American girl was quoted in an article talking about being a teenager on the reservation:  "It's really hard because I walk in more than three worlds," Kristen Dosela said. "I have to be Pima. I have to be Apache. I have to be Mormon. And I have to be a girl."

Wow. That really spoke to me.  It's hard enough being a teenager in the best of circumstances. 

This particular news article focused on some of the challenges that tribes face in shaping their young people to become leaders, trying to retain traditions while struggling with the future and the social problems of the present.  The issues run deep and I don't pretend to understand everything but I'm certainly disgusted by how Native Americans have been treated over the centuries.  Living in Phoenix, I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by several, including Pima, Gila, Apache, Hohokam.  Given what's happened to Native Americans historically, it's amazing that they've been able to retain any of their history and traditions--and a testament to their perseverance.

But I think that's why I love to write stories with Native American characters.  Their culture is so rich and varied; their storytelling, so compelling.  I don't believe it's appreciated (or understood) nearly as much as it should be.  I wish there were more stories with strong and authentic Native American characters.  Although I am a huge Sherman Alexie fan, I wish there were more Native American writers too.  Personally, I'd like to see more strong Native American girls and women in fiction and young adult fiction, perhaps even ones that could further inspire girls like Kristen Dosela.

I didn't mean to start the year off with such a heavy topic but I did want to share this news article.  It hit me like a gut-punch. 

Click here to read more.


Francine Howarth said...


Nothing wrong in stepping out in 2011 with heavy thought-provoking issues!

The plight of Native Americans is reflected in various parts of the world (Aborigines Aus)and even within Europe: the latter mostly brushed under the carpet, yet when the iron grip of Tito on the provinces that made up the state of Yugoslavia diintegrated with his death, the raw facts of conquered land and migration of non indigenous peoples came to light.

It matters little how many generations down the line of migration from home country to new - in truth, the land occupied by the immigrant is never truly theirs! That's the law of the native tribal land, and we are all tribal in nature.

We all guard what we believe to be ours, but when we move from home turf and invade/occupy other land we run the risk of war. Then we have to look at the nitty-gritty of weaponry - the power to win, to conquer, to control!

Nowadays, the greatest threat to our Westerner Beliefs (us the great invaders of the past) and our Ideals is not so much terrorism as that of stealth migration, lack of integration and social/cultural/religious clashes in the offing.

In retrospect, not so unlike the insular tribalism White Folks from Europe inflicted upon Native Indians, except this time the new invaders sweep West in the name of peace while some of their brethren speak only of war. They too bring cultural and religious beliefs - as we did when moving East and West - and just as we did so these newcomers seek to change our way of life and tell us their religion is the true voice of God.

Circles within circles, empires come and go, and oh how the mighty can tumble: eventually!!

Cheerful passing shot, an't it? ;)


As the saying goes: our past will come to haunt us!

Angelina Rain said...

Wow. I’m very interested in Native American culture and traditions. Yeah, I too dislike how they have been treated over the centuries. That’s a good article. Thanks for sharing it.

Nas said...

Hi Liz, I loved reading about the native Americans as I'm not really familiar but whatever news I read and from books I know about it.

I remember some mystery series I use to like in my teens featured the NA culture heavily. And I love reading about new cultures.

Thanks for the post.

Liz Fichera said...

Francine, Yes, Karma is a wonderful thing.

Angelina, Glad you found it interesting too.

Nas, There is a great place in Phoenix called the Phoenix Heard Museum. It's a wonderful place learn about Native American cultures across the U.S.

DEZMOND said...

A lovely post, Liz. One of my dearest blogging friends, Avalon, is Native American and I learned a lot from her about her people and their problems!