The Scales

By Crisosto Apache

Perhaps the conflict of competing religions on lands has led to much of our social, political, and military conflict among peoples. It is difficult, therefore, simply to classify the cultural competition and distinctions in community values as differentials on a time scale of social evolution. –Vine Deloria, Jr., “God Is Red”

It usually takes me some time to think about an event or an occurrence. In this instance the event I have been thinking about is the outcome of the recent election. As I sat in my chair at home, nearing midnight, on November 08, 2016, I could only hope for the best. As I sat watching the news, I could feel the stress and anticipation. The heavy feeling wore on me until I could not fight the exhaustion. So, under the weight, I went to bed.

This year’s election happens to coincide with Native American Heritage Month. An ironic annual commemoration. Veterans Day occurs in the month of November, as does the Thanksgiving holiday. During this month, I usually try to pay homage to historical Native American events and use these events as writing prompts to inspire my writing. One of the major event in Native American history is the Sand Creek Massacre, which took place on the eastern plains of Colorado on November 29, 1864. This massacre was led by US commander John M. Chivington and a small force of US Calvary. This military campaign attacked a small village of Cheyanne and Arapahoe, about 200 villagers. After the attack about 25 US soldiers were killed and about 163 villagers massacred. Bodies of the mutilated villagers were pillaged and paraded through the streets of Denver. In 1999, descendants of this atrocity formed a memorial run in November to remember, honor, and educate people about this event. Groups of people run the estimated 200-mile trek, from the memorial site, to the capitol steps in Denver.

But something heavy weighs on my mind following this year’s election. Naturally, I was alarmed and saddened the next morning, who would run the United States for the next four years. As the days went by my sadness turned to anger. I did not want to feel anger, because I have live much of my life in anger. Growing up Mescalero Apache, in an impoverished family, on the outskirts of the reservation, near a small town, with heavy Texan ancestry, (most of whom hated the Apache people), made my presence known. Many of the towns people and people on the reservation believed and participated in some form of organized religion. In a small town, it made very difficult to be yourself without ridicule and judgement. Knowing this I wanted to get out. It took many years of self-neglect, chemical dependency, for me to accept myself, and the many facets of my identity, as well as the color of my skin. This did not include the acceptance of my cultural background and the community I came from. So, the only thing I could do was run. That natural instinct of ‘flee and flight’, in the presence of danger. I had been running for a very long time.

With the he outcome of this election, I cannot help but think about the thoughts and ideas that flood my mind. I think about the retaliation by all those angry uneducated white men and women detailed in many of the media and online periodical. The violence that has followed from this election has many in fear. I think about the person walking on the street, while being called a “faggot” from their car, throwing stones. Or the cars vandalized because they displayed “Vote for Hillary” on them. Or the celebratory parades by the KKK for the victory of the president elect. Or the bystander who was savagely beaten for trying to help a female pedestrian, who was violently groped by a group of male individuals. This civil unrest is disturbing, and who could have predicted this kind of hate, which was always laying and wait. Waiting for this moment to rear its head and express the kind of violence this country, the United States of America, was born from. The United States was not formed from an act of kindness but an act of cruelty. No matter how hard the fight for liberty, justice and equality is, that civil unrest will always be there to remind this country of the legacy and civil unrest, it was born out of. I fear for the direction of this country, by the hidden buried anger of those who now feel entitled to express that anger by acts of violence. And for those acts to feel validated by an elected leader, who will not take responsibility for the political, verbal maleficence of his political campaign. This is what I fear. In the coming days, I can only look at my neighbors with suspicion and contempt. These are not feeling I wish to live with, so I write and create.

Naturally, protest always follow what is disliked in society. People and communities know when they are being threatened, and act in defense. It was a good feeling to know that thousands took to the streets in protest of the electoral outcome. In light of the situation, we cannot turn back now, we can never go back to ‘what was’. We can continue to push forward and try to make better light of this outcome. In my opinion, we were never defeated. I like to think, I am pushing forward, because I have so much still to represent. My color, my race, my ethnicity, my culture, my genders, my sexual orientation, my spirituality, my religion, my political and social beliefs, my family, my spouse, my friends, and most importantly my heart. If I start to feel defeat now, then all is lost in vein.

Copyright © 2016 Crisosto Apache

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crisostoa

Crisosto Apache is a Mescalero / Chiricahua Apache and Diné Navajo, Salt Clan born for Towering House Clan, from New Mexico. He is an alumnus from IAIA (AFA 1992 / MFA 2015) and Metropolitan State University of Denver (BA, 2013) for English and Creative Writing. He currently lives Lakewood, Colorado with his spouse of 17 years. His public work also includes Native LGBTQI / ‘two spirit’ advocacy & public awareness, which he continues to advocate for.
Some of Crisosto’s work is published in Black Renaissance Noiré, Yellow Medicine Review (2013/2015), Denver Quarterly (Pushcart Prize Nominee 2014), Toe Good Poetry, Hawaii Review, Cream City Review Plume Anthology, Common Place, and American Indian Culture & Research Journal (ACRJ). Crisosto also appeared on MTV’s Free Your Mind (1993) ad campaign for poetry.
Crisosto has book reviews for the Native American Anthology Visit Tee-Pee Town (Coffee House Press 1999), published in the Poetry Project publication, Issue 175, June 1999.

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