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The legend of 'the mean, Indian woman'

align=left img src=clients/lakotacountrytimes/dana.jpg>People always say that. "Indian women are mean." I get emails all the time from people and there are jokes about "mean Indian women." in the emails.

I don't think of myself as a mean Indian woman. I have my flaws but being mean isn't one of them. I'm not the type who thrives on drama, I detest it. I would never fight over a man or break windows out over a man I didn't want. I'm not barbaric like that. In fact at least 95 percent of the people that really know me, which is about 8, will tell you I am a nice person. This wouldn't include any siblings or ex's.

But I admit, sometimes I see a little bit of a "mean Indian woman" streak in me that I am sure is genetic and goes generations back.

Like the myth of the woman in our family who years ago beat a middle school art teachers for making her daughter scrub the classroom floor with a toothbrush. She beat him so hard with her purse that her food stamps flew out and landed everywhere in the classroom like confetti. She continued to chew him out as she picked every one of them off the floor.

Or like my great grandma who used to cut everyone's bangs on every visit with shaky hands and the biggest, shiniest silver scissors there ever was. All while cutting your hair you could hear the scissors right by your ear, she would warn you of certain death as soon as the year 2000 came and the world ended. She never made it to see that I indeed lived through Y2K but I admit I was fearful up until the clock struck 12:01 am that night.

I will admit sometimes this "mean Indian woman" streak in me will surface. Like when playing board games, which I don't think is my fault. I mean if it's a multi-player game I get ganged up on. If it's Scrabble, I get accused of making up words that I know are words. I know that phalange has something to do with your foot and qat is a tree. My grandma told me so. If it's a two person game like chess I get accused of making up new rules. So my children or siblings won't play any board games with me for fear of flying game pieces.

Sometimes I don't mean to look mean, but it ends up that way. Like the time I was shopping in Kmart with my two oldest boys, who were three and four years old at the time. I will admit to passing through the lingerie department with my sons just to see the embarrassment on their faces, even to this day. But on that day, I was drawn to a clearance rack like a bee to honey, (another "Indian woman trait.") One of my sons was standing on the end of the cart and the other was inside the cart. I let go to see if this shirt was really 50 cents when the cart flipped from the weight of the one standing on the end. The one on the inside of the cart was then catapulted into the other one and they flew out and off the cart into a pile on the floor. The cart landed on its side and all you could hear were the wheels spinning and my boys whimpering like pups.

I was trying to contain my laughter as I ran to them to ask them if they were ok. By the time I peeled them off the floor and checked them to make sure there was no permanent brain damage I was laughing so hard that when I kissed them and asked them if they was better, I sounded all evil. Other moms were glaring at me like I routinely flip my kids in carts like pancakes. They made me out to be Joan Crawford.

And I am not mean. And if people like to say Indian woman are mean, can you imagine everything they had to do back in the day. What would you do now if your man came up to you and said "Hey woman, take the tipi down, pack everything up so we can walk hundreds of miles to follow buffalo. Once there, put the tipi back up, unpack, and wait for me to come back and tell you where the buffalo is. You may then drag it back, butcher it, prepare it, cook it, dry it, scrape the hides make everyone clothing and then make me chonies out of the scrap leather."
Now we would say h--- no!

So I probably do come from a long line of "mean Indian women" who always stood up for themselves, but I really am a good hearted person and nice enough mom.
Then again, there was the one time I made one kid be a Republican and one a Democrat for Halloween.

Dana Badmilk is a self employed artist who lives in Pine Ridge with her family. She can be read on a daily basis on her blog http://danasvoice.blogspot.com/ or you can email her here dana.lonehill@gmail.com.

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