The hidden years in Canada 72, the Cree

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 25 June 18:50

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‘That was a pretty girl,’ Rico was and I said, 'you really did a good 'Don'. You said exactly the wrong thing at the right time. ‘ ‘I would like to be Blackfoot,’ Rico added. ‘You live in nature and what do you really need?’ ‘You do not need much, I said, but you should not idealize it. It does not matter if we wanted to be one of them, we would not be accepted by the Blackfoot. Our children would be half-bloods selling fake tomahawks for next to nothing and be offended by the very first white man that would walk past. We would never belong to their tribe, really. You heard it right, the girl said it herself, they are the first people, the chosen people. ‘ The truck roared on now over the plains that barely knew any inclinaton. ‘That must be the crossroads,’ Rico said, and we looked far ahead to the sand line that crossed our path. ‘It is not indicated but now it is a right turn to Wetasikwin.’

‘We would have just flown by,’ I said. ‘That must have happened to Kiwi, no doubt.’ We drove silently on while I thought how strange it was that every nation, believed that they were the chosen ones. What is it with people that they wanted to be more important than others, that they did not even know. On the other hand, maybe all people and their tribal ties did come forth from one and the same strain and it was only the common notion that persisted that they, whoever they were, were unique. ‘Did you see that sign 'asked Rico and to be honest, I had been lost in reverie. ‘No,’ I said, ‘what was it?’ ‘I do not know,’ Rico replied, ‘I think it was in Blackfoot.’ There were more signs that were incomprehensible and one great sign that you saw from afar:

 ᐑᑕᐢᑮᐏᐣ ᐃᐢᐸᑎᓇᐤ

‘I can not even guess what it says, but it is in Indian language,’ Rico thought. ‘I am embarrassed that I actually know so little about Indians,’ I replied, ‘we live in the same country and I do not even know if they have a written language. The girl was right, our schools are bad, they put the focus only on white man’s knowledge. Each Blackfoot who speaks and writes English, knows more than us. ‘ ‘There is more I noticed,’ Rico said. 'Oh, let's hear it,' I said, 'Stop the Pow Wow and speak, hau! ‘ ‘The Indians we see in the Queen's  are castout booze brothers, I think, outcast half-breeds.’ 'Young Richard,' I imitated our old teacher, ‘you have one of your rare brilliant moments, enjoy it 'and more serious, I continued,’ you're right, the outcasts come to the city because they do not fit in the old habits and end up fighting in third-rate bars in the gutter. I've not seen a down and out drunk here. ‘

In the distance, approaching an intersection again there was a pump and some buildings. ‘We can have some coffee and ask questions, you know, you take coffee and asks where you are and whether they have heard of building projects.’ ‘Phew,’ said Rico, 'this is a coffee day. ‘ The truck came to a grinding halt and we walked into the building. Above the door of the cafeteria was a large sign with the text, or a text that seemed much  like we had seen before. ᐑᑕᐢᑮᐏᐣ ᐃᐢᐸᑎᓇᐤ ᐑᑕᐢᑮᐏᐣ ᐃᐢ. ‘We could just as well be blind, I said, it's an incomprehensible language to me. Imagine if the menu card is  Blackfoot. ‘

The wistful country western music drifted towards us when we took the first steps across the threshold and we walked to the vacant spot at the bar. There were a lot of cowboy-like Indians at the bar. Some deviated from the standard cowboy because they wore a feather in their hair. ‘Good morning,’ I said when entering and when the barmaid turned I looked at a beautiful face again with almond-shaped eyes, looking at me curiously and tanned a deep brown. ‘So gentlemen, what can I do for you,’ she asked? ‘Two coffees,’ Rico said, and when the girl turned to him laughing, he added it, ‘I am a friend of the Blackfoot, I find them a great tribe and I understand their habits.’ He paused to let his words sink in. His words had real effect, a cowboy beside him, spat on the ground. Rico went on, ‘I did not know Blackfoot had a written language, I'm impressed.’

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‘So friend of the Blackfoot,’ said a big Indian, ‘you're impressed, why do you look so voluptuous at our women,’ and he nodded toward the barmaid. There was something wrong, I felt it down to my toes, something that grew in error with enormous momentum. ‘Are you sent to insult us, you half cast ,’ the man asked menacingly, to Rico, now you could feel the ugliness in the air grow. ‘Just a minute,’ I said, ‘we just want some coffee and some information on where we can bring building materials to.’ ‘Are you also a Blackfoot friend,’ said the man who now proudly got to his feet and towered over me. He spat on the ground. ‘Bppff, Blackfoot,’ and he placed his foot on his spit and rubbed it as if he crushed an ant. ‘We are Cree, the first-born people, my grandfather has many scalps of the Blackfoot beggars.’

‘Right,’ I said, 'that explains a lot, forgive my friend all day he has been saying wrong things without thinking about it. I assume that the sign above the door is also in Cree. ‘ ‘Yes,’ said the girl again with a recurring friendly smile. ‘What does it say?’ I asked? ‘Wetaskiwin, of course,’ the girl said as if she marveled at so much stupidity. ‘The peace hills.’ ‘This is the first time we come here with freight, we don’t know this area,’ I explained, and I grabbed two delivery notes from my back pocket. ‘Does anyone here know these companies' and I showed the coupons. ‘Yes,’ said an old Indian who carefully spelled out the names, ‘that's where the white dogs, built large houses in Bittern Lake.’ ‘Thank you,’ I said, ‘is that far from here.’ ‘No,’ said the big Indian, ‘you see the lake on the right a kilometer or 40  from here and then you go tomorrow sun around it.’ ‘I do what,’ I asked? ‘, ’tomorrow sun,’ the man said, ‘you know nothing, do you, along the top, but then you’ll hear them. They cut trees with chainsaws and are raping our land. ‘ ‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘You want coffee,’ said the Cree girl without making any effort. ‘No thanks,’ I replied, ‘but we’ve got to be going again. Thank you for everything. ‘ ‘You, stupid man,’ said the Indian who now stood in front of Rico. ‘You listen carefully! Not say enemy to your friend, when you're a friend of  the foe. That is better for you. ‘ Rico nodded and I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him away from the Indian, 'thank you,' I said, 'that seems to me a very good advice. ‘

‘Stupid man and great rider have left us,’ laughed the Indian. Outside said Rico, 'I suppose you're great rider,‘ ‘ Yep, ‘I said,’ as I understood it, that is what he called me. ‘ ‘What a shitty day,’ Rico said.

San Daniel 2015

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