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Two-Fingers and the White Guy
The Search Continues
By Charles Still Waters
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Charles Still Waters
All rights reserved.
First of all, you have to be out of your mind to be a writer. No sane person would sit in a room all by themselves and write something that few people will ever read, you have to be certifiably and absolutely nuts. I have tried to explain this to Two-Fingers sister, my wife, for weeks. She doesn't listen and insists I tell his story, she says it will be therapeutic for me, as if anything could help ease the pain.
She finally cut me off from having sex with her until I write his story and that has become a problem for me. I like sex, I really do. Since I am not having any sex, I find myself watching way too much television, nothing better to do I suppose. I was watching this program the other night and this commercial came on for a sexual dysfunction drug and it said that if you take this magic pill and after three hours you still have an erection you should call your doctor. Are you kidding me? He is the last person I would call. If I had an erection for three hours I would call a television station, a radio station, my neighbors, my friends and anybody else who would listen to me. I would insist on a parade down main street where I stand on a float proudly displaying my erection. Three hours? Who is shitting who here? I am 62 years of age and my entire sex life does not add up to three hours. You know, 15 seconds here, 30 seconds there, it all adds up but I'm not sure it adds up to three hours.
Well, I digress. See what happens when your old lady cuts you off? You go out of your mind, that's what. Since I am now crazy, no thanks to my wife, I just as well tell you about my best friend and my wife's brother, Two-Fingers. But just remember, I am not a professional writer, I am just a guy that needs to get laid. Besides, the Blackfeet revere him and the young Blackfeet want to know all about him and I guess that means something.
Two-Fingers has been gone for several months now and there is not a day that goes by that someone doesn't ask me about him, his people have never forgotten him. His legend has grown with each passing day, few people have ever had this big of impact on an entire Tribe.
Two-Fingers and I grew up together and we were best friends from the day we first met and I knew him very well. I suppose, that is why I am always asked about him. I do not mind talking about him and answering their questions but I sense they want more, something in writing. As time goes on, I fear my memory will begin to fade and I will not be able to tell the story accurately, that is why I am writing it all down now. That and the fact that I need some sex.
It is difficult for me to write about him because doing so brings back a lot of memories that are best left hidden away. But, I am going to tell his story anyway, I have too. Two-Fingers did everything well. He spoke well, he wrote well, he lived well and he did it all effortlessly. He deserves to have his story told and his memory kept alive. That is what I keep telling myself but we both know the real reason.
Growing up on the Rez, Two-Fingers had a front row seat to the negative impact and devastating effects of our Federal Government's failed Indian Policy, he lived underneath it. It is a policy he fought against his entire adult life because it is a flawed policy of our government's own creation. He used to laugh when politicians would visit the reservation, their visits were always as brief as possible. They would hold a news conference, shed a few tears and go back to Washington D.C. and throw a little money at the "Indian" problem.
In the 1960's, politicians were not satisfied in just ruining the Indian way of life, they took their destruction nationwide when they created the welfare system we see today. These welfare programs have made an entirely different group of people dependent. The Federal Government has created a dependency problem and they are either too blind to see it or they just don't care. Two-Fingers always suspected the latter and he spent most of his life fighting against it, he was brave that way.
He strongly believed that Federal Government dependency is an abomination and when you believe in something that strongly you are bound to make enemies. There are those that profit from such arrangements and they are always looking to protect their interests, not the interests of the people they claim they are protecting; promoting dependency is all part of their evil game.
Nobody takes responsibility at the highest level of our government, they always blame the other guy. When the politicians go to the slum areas that they helped create, they shed a few tears, make a speech, have a photo op and then they go home and throw money at the problem; they are never seen again until the next election cycle. Two-Fingers knew that the chains of dependency had to be broken on the Rez and the rest of America. His enemies made sure his voice of reason was forever silenced.
Two-Fingers knew one thing to be fact, breaking the chain of Federal Government dependency would help his people break the chains of alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty; abject poverty that decimates a person's pride and self importance. Two-Fingers knew that every man, woman and child had to have a purpose in life. The reliance on an all powerful government blinds people who are dependent, Two-Fingers preached this for years and was making great changes right up to the day he disappeared.
At the very peak of his powers he was taken from us. He told me many things during our time together but the things that stick in my mind the most were his insistence on freedom and liberty for all. He knew that dependency is bad in principal and in its effect. It destroys character and saps strength by encouraging greed and weakness, it destroys individualism and self worth and it kills the desire to be the best you can be. Ultimately, it destroys compassion, charity and self respect. It was this war on dependency that finally did him in, they got him. He was starting to be heard and they needed him silenced. He knew that the chains of dependency had to be broken, not only for the person dependent but for the nation at large. No nation can survive when half of the people are dependent on the government.
In the olden days, Indians were Warriors who never depended on anyone, they were free. Look no further than an Indian reservation to see the harmful effects of what a hundred and fifty years of government dependency will do to a once proud and independent people. No government can ever give you drive, ambition or a desire for self reliance. But, they can certainly take these things away.
Two-Fingers knew that all people were not racists. Instead, he believed that governments promoted racism to help divide and conquer the electorate. If there wasn't a crisis, they would create one. If you are a bad person, changing your skin color is not going to change that. Two-Fingers knew that there were enablers that promoted racism and made fortunes doing so. These enablers could care less about the plight of any minority, their welfare policies have been in effect for decades and things are worse now than at any time in the history of The United States of America. By the way, The United States of America is no longer united, the political party's hate each other. That's right, Republicans hate Democrats and Democrats hate Republicans. They blame the other party for the plight of the nation and they point fingers and make excuses.
Two-Fingers was a great leader because he took responsibility for his actions and expected those around him to do the same. He lived by this motto: "Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do." If we do not know the difference between right and wrong, we are all doomed. He always said that we need to get our act together because our enemies are at our doorstep. Life, liberty and freedom, no other country gives you that. Once it is gone, it will never return. Remember this, the best way to destroy democracy is to bankrupt it. We are up to our neck in debt and we are morally bankrupt. That is what he talked about and that is what he believed and I am going to try to tell you all about him. Perhaps then all of you will take up his cause and make him proud.
To tell you an accurate and detailed story, I will have to tell you a little bit about the time we spent together and the environment in which we grew up in, I will tell the story as clearly as I can and I hope I do his story justice. I will share stories and conversations we had and let you make up your own mind. I need to warn you up front that life on the Rez is edgy, really edgy. His story will not sugar coat things, his story will be real. The books I have read on modern Indian life on the Rez are all fantasies, Indians are portrayed as little boy scouts and girl scouts. That is not the case and this book will be real and it will be edgy. Just remember, you have been warned.
To tell his story effectively, you will need to know about Blackfeet history and language. For example, I have been asked many, many times what aenet means. Aenet is Blackfeet slang and it is interchangeable in the sense that it can be used as a statement or a question. The Blackfeet are very demonstrative in their communicating, they use their hands a lot and when there is a group of Blackfeet sitting around talking they are constantly feeding off what someone else has just said and they keep the conversation going, perpetual motion; no pregnant pauses on the Rez; plenty of pregnancies, just no pregnant pauses. Here are examples to illustrate my point.
Indian guy says to an Indian girl, "You sure look good today, aenet." She responds, "Gee you're pissy, aenet. I bet you just want to get into my pants, aenet."
Group of Blackfeet sitting around a campfire talking and one of the Blackfeet tells a story and when he finishes, the other Blackfeet nod their heads in agreement and in unison they say, "aenet."
I have never seen the word aenet written out or explained so I am taking literary license in my explanation and spelling. It sounds like I have written it and it is used extensively on the Rez. The Blackfeet have a number of words and phrases I have only heard on the Rez. If you ever go to Browning, just say aenet a lot and you will be welcomed with open arms.
By the way, Two-Fingers always said that if America is unable or unwilling to break the chains of dependency, it will become one big reservation, dependent and hopeless. If you don't believe that, you haven't been to our inner cities lately.
In the olden days, Blackfeet women would maim themselves when one of their loved ones were killed. They would cut off fingers or slit their wrists and then moan and wail their lives away. As I sit here writing Two-Fingers story, I am surrounded by moans and wailing. It seems like the entire Rez is moaning and wailing. To be missed so much that people would react this way never ceases to amaze to me.CHAPTER 2
By the way, my name is Tony Church and I am a white guy. Even though we claim to be a color blind society, I think you should know that. I am not going to bore you to death with my early childhood. However, you should probably know a little about the events leading up to my white family moving to an Indian reservation.
Robert "Bud" Church and Ruby Fitzgerald Church, my mother and father, grew up in Cherry Hills, New Jersey. Mom's parents were florists who had a store in Cherry Hills and a farm nearby. They sold flowers around the entire area but mostly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dad's parents owned a bar in downtown Cherry Hill.
Mom and dad met, fell in love and married shortly after dad was discharged from the Army after World War II. I have an older brother, Stan.
Not to dwell on this stuff too much, my family and all, but you should probably know that Bud, my father, is more sophisticated and worldly than mom. Mom never lived too far from her parents. Not only did dad see a lot of the world while he served in World War II, but when he was fifteen, he ran away from home and moved to Lander, Wyoming where he made a living working on a ranch. The old man loved the west, he learned to ride and rope and eventually became quite a sensation on the rodeo circuit. He has a buddy from Cut Bank, Montana. Cut Bank is 35 miles east of Browning, just off the reservation. His buddy's name is Charles "Charley" Owen. Charlie's dad, Bob, is a big time rancher, who, as luck would have it, own's the land where the largest deposit of oil in the entire state is situated.
Evidently, Charley and dad met in Cheyenne, Wyoming back in 1936. Nowadays, Cheyenne is famous for its Frontier Days Rodeo and Celebration. Back then, it was just another rodeo. Dad won $200.00 the week they met coming in first in bareback riding and second in the saddle bronc event. Charley didn't do much that week except help dad spend the $200.00 on a cheap Ford pickup and lots of beer. You probably don't care about any of this stuff and want me to get to the part about Two-Fingers, and I will, but I had to listen to this stuff daily as a kid and I thought you should get a small taste.
Charley and the old man remained friends over the years. After the war, they reunited in New York City, New York. Dad served in the Army and was wounded by some shrapnel from an explosion while he was serving in Sicily. His left foot and both knees were badly damaged. As a result, dad spent the rest of the war in various hospitals in Sicily, Italy and then stateside in New York. Dad has never really talked about the war, most veterans of World War II don't. It must have been hell on them. Mom said dad will always carry the scars of war with him, our greatest generation is scarred.
Charley had a tough time of it too. He joined the Marines and saw a lot of action fighting the Japanese in New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa. Mom said whenever Charley and dad hook up, they always start to talk about the "good old days" before the war, always a story and always plenty of beer.
While recuperating stateside in New York, dad met mom. Mom was a nurse's aide who cared for a number of the returning soldiers that had been wounded overseas. She fell in love with dad almost immediately, she admired his strength and courage. There was also a bit of rogue in dad that especially appealed to her. Dad noticed how caring and loving mom is and he vowed to win her over. Mom was very beautiful and extremely popular with all the wounded men, but she only had eyes for dad and when he proposed, she let him think it was his idea.
These are the kinds of thing I remember as a young kid, nice things. I also remember that my dad killed my pet parrot. Dad was a chain smoker and he smoked like crazy at the time. Well, at least he did until he killed my bird. Barney, my bird, liked to perch himself on my dad's shoulder when he was out of his cage. Well, one day he was sitting there on dad's shoulder and dad was smoking cigarettes and drinking Schlitz beer like crazy when, all of a sudden, Barney dropped to the floor. I jumped up from the table and held Barney in my little hands as he gasped for air and his little eyes fluttered a bit before he stopped moving. Mom said he chocked to death from all the smoke. You have bad memories as a kid too, not everything can be sunshine and crackers. You probably did not want to hear that story either but I just wanted to get it off my chest. The good news is dad decided then and there to quit smoking.
Anyway, mom always said her happiest years were after the war when dad and her were married and they settled down and started a life together. She loved living in Cherry Hills, it was home. Dad, on the other hand, could never get adjusted to "big city life" as he referred to it. Cherry Hills is really not a big place, dad just yearned for more freedom and the wide open spaces of the west. Over the years, dad tried to make the best of it and he bought his father's bar and ran it as well as he could. But, he was unhappy and before long he was spending more and more time on the customer side of the bar. His physical and mental war injuries took a long time to heal and the alcohol he consumed helped with the pain. When dad's parents died in a car accident, he sold the bar and convinced Mom that Cut Bank, Montana was the place for us. A new start, a new beginning. Mom, against her better judgment, supported dad's decision.
By that time, I was finishing the seventh grade and Stan was finishing his junior year in high school. Stan and I pleaded with our parents not to move. Dad insisted it would be fun and a great adventure, it would make men of us he said. He was certain we needed to get out to the wild open spaces of Montana. I remember Mom consoling us the best she could.
Excerpted from Two-Fingers and the White Guy by Charles Still Waters. Copyright © 2016 Charles Still Waters. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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