posted on Jul, 13 2005 @ 09:37 PM
The Dream Dance
Margaret Sleeping Bear turned off the highway in Mount Pleasant toward her double-wide trailer on the Chippewa Indian reservation, exhausted from
another 3 hour drive from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The air conditioner in her Jeep Cherokee hadn’t worked in months, so even with the windows open, the 90 degree summer heat left her soaked in sweat,
and although she knew her house would be cooler, she approached her home with a sense of dread.
Jimmy would be there, where she had locked him in the basement that morning.
He was her only son, just turned 22, and the image of his late father, both in physical appearance and temperment.
As a full blooded tribe member, he was just starting to collect the $100,000.00 per year allowance the revenue from the Soaring Eagle Casino produced,
and in spite of Margaret’s encouragement, scolding, and threats, saw no purpose in doing anything but partying with the money.
She was different. Growing up poor, she was used to struggling to make ends meet, and living within a budget. When she turned 16, she learned from a
favorite teacher what her parents wouldn’t tell her: as an Indian, the State of Michigan would pay for her college education.
Her parents kept the old ways, spoke in the old tongue, and rejected the local Catholic and Evangelical churches in favor of the old customs. Her
grandfather would tell her over and over about the Spirit dances that would do away with the white eyes and leave only their people behind. She would
nod, and pretend to believe.
When she turned 20 she met Brian at a tribal event, falling in love immediately, and marrying within the year. Even before Jimmy was born, she knew it
wouldn’t work out.
Brian drank, heavily, and more every year as the casino money rolled in. Soon his job delivering furniture didn’t make sense to him anymore, and he
quit, supposedly to take care of Jimmy as Margaret continued her education.
She had become something of a proffesional student, earning graduate degrees in biology, genetics, and a doctorate in chemistry; thriving in the
university settings she immersed herself in.
She pulled into her driveway, the house dwarfed by the steel pole barn she had had built 8 years ago after Brian’s death from cirrhosis of the
She called out Jimmy’s name as she entered the house but heard no response. Unlocking the door at the head of the stairs, she cautiously walked
down, looking from side to side. On the floor in the far corner she saw him, curled into a fetal position. She felt for a pulse. There was none.
Without pausing she went back upstairs and punched seven digits on the phone.
“Tina, it’s me. Jimmy’s dead.”
“I’ll be right over.”
Margaret’s older cousin had always been her closest friend, especially in the difficult times following Brian’s death. Her son had died of a
methamphetamine overdose shortly after Brian’s death, and now Jimmy had followed the same path.
Tina entered the house through the back door and embraced Margaret.
“It wasn’t his fault. We both know that.”
“That’s right.” Replied Margaret. “Knew that a long time ago. That’s why we have to do what we planned now.”
Tina took a step back, a surprised expression on her face.
“Things have been ready for a couple weeks now. I was just waiting to see if…”
“Margaret, I’m scared.”
“Of what? Seeing the people we love die? Watching what this country does to us? Dammit! I didn’t borrow and scrape by all these years to change my
mind now that they’ve killed my son.
The money, alcohol, drugs, it’s all the same poison to us. The time to turn the tables is today, not one day later.”
Tina looked uneasily toward the pole barn.
“I know. It’s just that… it’s so momentous. So…monsterous!”
“In two weeks it’s over. All over. I survived exposure. You and Jimmy did too. Any person with a single bit of Native American DNA will suffer no
more than mild flu symptoms. Tina, I’m sure. I’ve worked on this for years now”
“I was expecting a little more warning, I guess.”
As Margaret pushed open the doors to the pole barn a barrel of used chemical tipped over, smashing a row of glass beakers. Behind were two vans, each
outfitted with what appeared to be air conditioning units on their roofs.
“Do you remember what to do, where to go?” she asked.
“Open the pressure tank, turn on the fan, drive to Chicago and head west on 80.” Tina replied slowly.
“There’s all the cash you’ll need under the seat. Food and a sleeping bag in back. I’ll circle the eastern seaboard and meet you back here in
“Margaret. I’ll do as you say, but we are going to be killing hundreds of millions of people. People who have never done anything to deserve this
but be born white. Are you sure?
Margaret looked back at her house, then past the distant outline of the casino toward the setting sun, and then turned back and gave Tina a hard
stare. Then she took a deep breath and said,