26 Comments
founding

I remember you asking me on our nature panel an eternity ago about whether people should have a right to stories, and I said no but hadn't thought about it as deeply as I wanted to then. It's a lesson I learned in high school after the death of a friend, and the more moon cycles I live under, the more convinced I am that we do something very-not-good when we take another's story and turn it into our own. Making I'm listening to too much Martin Shaw, but I worry more about what is done with story and what effects it will have in the future. Like an inability to have a true relationship with nature is reflected in an inability to have a true relationship with story.

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Do I reply to this like we didn't spend half the afternoon text ranting about this? I think I will just say I love your comment and will probably follow up with more talk about story in the near future.

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Can ya'll write about this conversation you've been having? I'm desperate to eavesdrop on it because I've been deep into the Shaw and Prechtel rabbit hole over here and this same wrestling keeps coming up for me too.

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founding

Now I want to know what the Prechtel rabbit hold is!

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founding

“hole” not “hold,” argh

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founding

Truly, I am eager to read it! My thinking was/is still muddled and on the other hand somehow know that if I’m shown the truth about story I won’t be able to hide from it. No turning back.

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Oct 21, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Irritable white woman here. Lately I've realized that my anger is so close to the surface, easily provoked by the most mundane mishap. And I'm a comfortable white woman in rural Idaho with six decades of privilege behind me. I don't know how black and brown people keep from exploding in anger every damn day. It feels as if we're all sitting on a giant powder keg with sparks flying around us. Injustice, ignorance, indifference, incivility... I alternate between anger and despair. Only nature brings me perspective and release, and climate change is destroying even that respite. What can we do with our anger?

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What can we do with our anger is the question, isn't it? If you find an answer please let me know. But until then, let's promise each other we won't let it consume us, because that is always a risk too.

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Oct 22, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Maybe we can use the energy of our anger to empower "right action" (a Buddhist way). Write, speak out, donate, advocate, organize, create... And to keep anger from consuming us, right action that will release the toxic energy from our bodies. Chop wood, beat a drum, pound nails, stomp our feet in a dance, scrub a grimy thing until it shines, howl at the moon... Something to relieve the tightness in our chest, the fire in our belly, the lump in our throat, the pain in our neck. Anything but sit here and allow anger and despair to destroy us. I promise. Thank you, Chris.

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Thank you, Joni.

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Oct 21, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

You write so powerfully about the issue of extraction/colonialism. You frame the intertwined issues in a slightly new way that I haven't considered. And I appreciate that. In particular the way you frame the east coast article about reservation basketball success & suicide brilliantly illuminates the situation. I may have subconsciously considered the irony of this white guy making a living off of reservation pain, but I don't think I actively connected the dots. So often we think that knowledge is power and that when people learn of problems and inequities they will be fixed. But the fix takes hard work, dedication, and resources, not just hand wringing and fleeting sorrow.

And our lives are built upon extraction. It is part of why I think climate change, covid, and endless wars are flailing humanity into eventual extinction. I'm convinced that for any of the beauty we so love to survive humans must be utterly hobbled or removed. Easy for me to say, at the end period of a comfortable life, with no progeny to worry about.

And here I sit, dithering about replacing my 11-year old car with a bright new hybrid vehicle with all the bells & whistles, while visions of cathode mining in some far flung beautiful location flicker through the back of my mind. That's far worse than buying a book from the other side of the pond.

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Thank you, Linda. I always appreciate your insights.

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Chris, We, not knowing one another, I am a 74 yr old married Missoulian (1969-73 UM under/grad and 1978-present career, retired, very "'white" MT Irish Catholic raised, adult life long Unitarian Universalist Humanist. I was raised in Great Falls, 33rd & 4th North, by parents who a major life lesson they taught me, us (oldest of 5) was that we, poor but never hungry, and clearly were NOT one iota better nor even that different from the then sadly called "Hill 57 Indians" rather ONLY just more fortunate, calling for humility, gratitude, kindness and a life work for justice/equity in every way. We have read your two books, and are reading these columns of recent, this one particularly strongly struck me as the clearest, most straight forward, NON-sugar coated version of what is so hard for so many to hear, absorb, understand. My analogy (not comparison) would be the pervasive militarism in the US, and what that does to us all. Besides caught in draft of poor, I am 50+ yr outspokenly profoundly anti-war, having been a Psych tech at height of war in heavily attacked, high "casualty" 25th Infantry forward camp medical (Medevac/'Dustoff") company in 1969 Vietnam & I happen to have MA in Ethics as well. Were I in "control" would have every student in America taught your essay, and it preached from every pulpit in the land, by those who have suffered the consequences you speak of, not the often all to privileged re-interpreters no matter how well intentioned. Thank you for such directness, honesty on something so important to be said, heard. Kindest Regards John

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John, thank you so much for this kind and thoughtful comment. It means a ton. Kindest regards right back at you!

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founding

been thinking about this in Alaska as well,

of a state that exists on Indigenous lands, whose economy is based on oil extraction, along with the many others. How american society pits individual survival vs the desire or ability to make the social institutions something wholly more ethical and inclusive. it’s a catch 22 of the worst kind. Individualism is so rooted in this country that we cannot get past it to see the needs of a closing horizon. it does brutalize the head.

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Alaska. Oof. That is the place in the world I most want to visit. But after reading The Floating Coast by Bathsheba Demuth, I don't know if I SHOULD. The exploitation of that region alone is proof that capitalism is a demonic system. What a nightmare world we've created through a greed and lust for convenience.

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founding

for real. it’s been hard to bear witness to—it’s the extremity of american-ism in so many ways.

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"I exist because of extractivism and I can't stop thinking about it and I'm trying to be better."

I do, too. My father worked in the oil industry to support our family. We lived in the midst of oil fields of the San Joaquin Valley in California -- a ravaged landscape then and even worse now. No easy answers. Going forward anyway, trying to be better. Thank you for your posts, and your two books with poems and essays. Looking forward to reading Becoming Little Shell.

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Thank you! I'm almost finished with BLS. Met with my editor/publisher just the other night and it's full steam ahead. It's still a good ways out but this first phase is nearly complete. I can't wait...

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founding

I do so identify with this issue of An Irritable Métis, what you said about extractivism application in the post and in your life and how it shows up in mine. By the way, I'm trying so fucking hard to be optimistic and joyful and all that happy horseshit, but when I cannot, I'm in good company with one irritable Métis.

Write on, Friend.....write on. I shall keep reading, for sure.

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founding

Oh, please, may I borrow "skoden" to use in my speech??

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Oct 24, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Brilliant. I’m not a fan of the “gun” book nor of guns at all. Also as I musician, I can’t tell you how often I was asked to play for exposure.

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Same. Or work free for "benefit" shows. Happens to artists all the time. When to WE get a benefit show?!

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Oct 21, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

You express your thoughts very well and I appreciate your analysis. It’s all so much to take in, percolate, and realize how much of this has affected so many. I’m just beginning to realize my place in the history or should I say misplaced! What a strange twist of irony. It would be admirable for them to share their award with the community in a reciprocity of sorts. It always goes back to money. It’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t share. Maybe that’s a great place to explore eh?

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It is a hard question, Julie. Where is the line for any of us? I don't appreciate someone from out of state coming in and writing about us and then leaving. But if I travel across the state to report on, say, the Crow Nation, or the Northern Cheyenne, what is my obligation? I struggle with it as it relates to my own obligations, which is probably why it makes me so angry. There are no easy answers! But I also try to advocate vigorously for Indigenous people and will do so as long as I am able. I don't plan to just pop in and then move on to something else. It's so complicated.

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Oct 21, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

You cast out your voice and it holds a mirror for others to see the echoes of all of those that no one heard before.

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