Gut Rumbles

August 10, 2005

like being in the third world

One thing I noticed when I took my Car Ride Across America was how Indians Native Americans live on reservations. It ain't pretty. If you want to see junk cars, delapidated trailers, mange-infested dogs, drunks passed out in the yard and a sight that reminds you of something Dante wrote, just tour an Indian reservation.

I received a very nasty email from someone today, who called me a bigot, a racist, and all the other ya-da-da I get from those people. See? He has FAMILY living on a reservation! It's NOT their fault that they live there in ignorant, drunken squalor! It's SOMEHOW MY FAULT!!!

Well... my heart bleeds for him. I was born in a coal mining camp in Harlan County, Kentucky. You want squalor? I've seen it. I've LIVED IT, even though I thought life was perfect at the time. Hell, I was a little boy. I didn't know any better.

But my father and mother did, and they got themselves, me and my brother OUT of there. They took one hell of a risk doing it, but it was the best decision they ever made. Yeah. I had good parents.

Don't piss and moan to ME about life on the reservation. Go tell your worthless kin to get outta there.

Oh, excuse me. They GET PAID for staying there, don't they? SHIT! My bad. Who WOULDN'T live in squalor for a free check every month?

That's the American way. Just ask Ted Kennedy.



Posted by: daniel on August 10, 2005 03:06 PM

I thought all the tribes had their own casino by now. Boy are they getting revenge on us palefaces!

Posted by: JPC on August 10, 2005 03:24 PM

We have a big Indian reservation up here. Lots of controversy. What gets me is their prejudice against us.

Posted by: livey on August 10, 2005 03:47 PM

I've long noticed that the self-righteous really don't like that characteristic in others. Putting it another way, do you really give a shit what an indin thinks of YOUR life condition? You can bet the folks you're griping about don't give a rat's ass what you think, either.
Just my opinion. --paul

Posted by: paul on August 10, 2005 05:38 PM

If I'm not mistaken, Indians can go to college for free.

Posted by: Juliette on August 10, 2005 07:06 PM

My mom took me to disneyland (the original one in Anaheim) when I was about ten. We took one of the very last trips on what was one of the most famous of trains, the Sante Fe Super Chief from Chicago to LA and it was awesome. The train had very few passengers and I got to ride in the observation deck (those glass domes on top) alone almost the entire trip.

It took three days but I got to really see the country and go through an Indian reservation for the first time. One thing I noticed that I thought was very odd is that there were several small communities where every house was basically a shack. But somewhere in each and every one was one single expensive and nice car.

The conductor told me that those families would get together and buy one nice car together and share it.

I've always wondered if that was the truth or not.

Posted by: marcl on August 10, 2005 07:47 PM

Yep, it is a sad situation. But, there are just so gotdam many varables as to the cause of the problem and the fact that many refuse to leave the reservation is just one of them.

Posted by: GUYK on August 10, 2005 07:50 PM


No. Sorry. Just a story.

Indians almost all get an "allotment", their share of the profits made from grazing, oil production, etc. on the land of the reservation. (And there's currently an under-the-radar scandal involving Government folks stealing the allotments, or not collecting the money from the people using the land, another story.) The allotment check comes once a year, and many of them are quite sizeable.

So the Indian who's walked everywhere all his life goes down to the dealer and buys a car (a pickup, nowadays.) After that he rides, but follows the same paths as always, across the desert/plains/forest along the footpaths, bouncing over rocks and holes.

Eventually, given this treatment, the car stops working. At that point the Indian gets out, picks up whatever is in it that he feels he can carry and still wants, and continues his journey on foot. The car stays where it stopped. The Indian walks everywhere he is going until the yen for a car and the allotment check coincide once more.


Posted by: Ric Locke on August 10, 2005 08:16 PM

marcl, my family also made the same trip to S Cal on the Super Chief, neat ride. We had to stop outside Gallup, New Mexico after a pickup truck tried to run over the train. Drunk Native Americans, 2 dead, 3 injured. Those train rides in the 60's were fabulous, as was flying in those days, before the herd drives by air began.

I have read that tribal chiefs in many cases are ripping off their tribes as casino money dissappears (somewhere?) between the gamblers and the tribes.

In my early hospital rehab days in Colorado lots of Indians as fellow patients. Car accidents, gunshot wounds, suicide attempts. ALL alcohol related. Sad.

Posted by: TomR on August 10, 2005 09:45 PM

I know Indians. I worked on ranches with Indians a lot of summers. And, I worked a summer in the town just over the border from Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota. Did you know the original Sioux reservation was all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River (1/2 the state). No wonder they are permanently pissed.

The Sioux are a proud and courageous people. The ones I've known I liked and admired as individuals.

But, most of them have gotten fucked over by growing up in "the system", are content to play out their lives within it, and don't have the guts to climb out of the muck of alcoholism and gov. handouts. And damn, do they abuse their cars. Calling anything "no better than an Indian Car" in that area is a slur of the worst kind.

As for New Mexico, Indian alcoholic fatalities in that ONE low population state skewed the national fatality accident database I used in my crashworthiness studies, and thus required "special treatment".

And, I love riding the "Southwestern Chief".
That is a high-class vacation for us low-lifes.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on August 10, 2005 10:47 PM
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