This past Friday, Robohontas ended up as number 15 on a list of “15 Twitter Accounts Every Native Should Follow” through Indian Country Today Media Network (image above is from the online article). I assume she caught someone’s eye since I’ve been posting much more regularly again for the last month or so. Their take on her was pretty amusing–“File Under: WTF?”–and it is good to see that I am not the only one who doesn’t entirely understand who she is or who she wants to be. It also led to a sudden influx of new “likes” on her Facebook page and new followers on Twitter, which was quite a shock to me as the growth so far has been steady but more snail-like.
More followers means increased scrutinization of what I post on her social forums. One such person on Facebook commented about an article I shared regarding the trademarking of the “Idle No More” name. I suppose the quote I pulled out from the article wasn’t the mildest, but I didn’t use it specifically to promote the article as truth. And the commenter accused me of “stirring the pot,” which I suppose I may have inadvertently done. They provided links to more accurate information, which I dutifully re-posted, and whatever conflict was there ebbed away. Strange that the threat of online conflict produced such a response in me. Am I that ensconced in a contemporary ivory tower? Quite possibly.
Another follower on Twitter posted today: ““Didn’t make Indian country today’s list of natives to follow on twitter cuz I have no drop of white blood in me” hahaha Dopest line today!” Once I saw that, I had to retweet it. In part because I have many drops of “white blood,” so it could easily be a shot at me. But also because it was damn funny and I immediately realized that I didn’t need to take myself and Robohontas so seriously. Or take everything so personally. The recent sudden attention is both awesome and scary. It was a jolt that forced me to acknowledge that, as Robohontas’ reach widens, the project will attract all sorts of outside comments, both positive and negative. And it also made me continue to think about that ever-present question of what/who gets to decide if something/someone is authentically Native. (Would the Twitter comment have had more or less impact if it had referred to drops of black or asian blood? Is that even an observation that someone would make?) And in the grand scheme of things, another 60+ Facebook page likes and 200 more Twitter followers isn’t even a drop in the bucket.
Reflecting on all of this made me think back to a quote from Sherman Alexie that I believe I remember hearing him say on NPR initially, but can easily be found via an internet search: “To me, 9/11 was the end game of tribalism. That’s where tribalism leads, to people thinking my tribe has the right to kill you.” It really sums it all up for me. There is always someone who is going to be “other” from you. It could be their skin color, their culture, their politics, their personality. It happens globally between different nations. It happens nationally between different regions. It happens locally between different communities. It happens in communities between different tribal members.
Moving on. I also finished reading a book today. I specifically call this out for two reasons. First, I don’t read much anymore. This is a confession from someone who grew up with his nose in a book. I still love books, I buy them, but I don’t read constantly. Or, I should say that the constant reading I do is now online, so I was proud to have picked up an actual physical book I bought this year, and read the whole thing. Sad, I know. It wasn’t even a long novel.
But the second reason for saying this is that it was such an interesting read. Shrouds of White Earth by Gerald Vizenor. It is about an Anishinaabe artist named Dogroy and rambles all about in first-person. It is fairly recent, published in 2010. One of the frequent settings and places mentioned in the book is the Band Box Diner, located in Minneapolis. It was strange because I am so used to reading books about places that I’ve never been to, or never experienced a connection to if I did happen to have been there. But late last year I was in Minneapolis for work and my work/travel companion and I were so enamored of the place that we made sure to go back for seconds. So I leave you wish a paragraph from the book that I loved, a paragraph that speaks to a place that–somehow–may connect everything to everything else. Or then again, it might not.
Yes, indeed it is time for a late lunch, but only at the Band Box Diner. This is my turn to buy lunch. Partly cloudy, is this a good day for a ham and cheese omelet? The eggs are fresher, truly cracked and cooked here, and laid by real chickens on the run in Minnesota. That was always assumed in the past, but now the actual sources of food are significant even at the Band Box Diner. Every meal has become a mystery of source, location, and transportation. Tonight, my friend, the women of the creature arts have invited us to drinks and dinner, organic produce from local farmers, at the Gallery of Irony Dogs.