As I look back over the last 20 years of my "environmentalism," I cannot help but think that at least those years were not wasted in vain. Every now and then, I feel like I am wasting my time, advocating our very delicate, and sensitive issue to certain major environmental groups that seem to turn off the moment we tell them we are not going to allow ourselves to be part of a fund raising campaign. This is so as this stance respect both the dead and the dying. But that doesn't matter, at least they know; that since this has happened to us, it will happen to them (whether this motivates them to introspection is not our concern nor is seeking their pity).
Several years ago I described to my elders the experiences I enjoyed, sharing our tragedy with several environmental groups and that relief soothing my anguished soul, knowing their ears are mine for that moment. The elders ask, "How come they don't do anything? There is more than one group fighting for the environment? They don't seem to be working together, joining forces with other groups? There must be more than one environment for them to be fighting alone." That always amazes me, when they say that, it reminds me of traffic jams, honking horns, yelling drivers.
I tell them, "That is the way they were raised, they seek individuality before they seek community; when they seek community, that search always leads to others just as lost, not knowing that community always means more than just a group of people coming together at a point in time, it means blood stretched through time---the essence of spirit also known as the soul. They are scared of being forgotten, so they clamber over each other, screaming, deriding each other until one comes out on top, then they too get stepped upon back into the mud."
And now again, I'll be going back to the simpler things on the reservation, breathing relatively clean air for a few days, and pausing my rat race to enjoy life and our ceremonies. And again, I'll share with my elders what I've seen, heard and also what I read happening on the Internet. The Internet fascinates them as it resembles smoke signals, but in bytes and bits; millions of people talking all at once, like a strong breeze blowing through autumn cottonwood trees.
I'll have to tell them about the BP oil disaster, the flooding, the exploding nuclear stations and how it created this buzzing sound of bees, then fades out to silence until the next catastrophe happens. As long as everyone is in it for themselves, singing their our swan song; the catastrophes are sure to come to listen.