Today, I went to a pow wow hosted by an Indian casino. It was a very nice pow wow. But just as I was leaving, an Native man cut me off. The most memorable thing about him was his car. It was a convertible Mercedes...with eyelashes on the headlights. You know, the same ones intended to make VW Bugs and Beetles look cute. I couldn't help think how cheap this Mercedes looked. I wondered what kind of person would ruin the luxurious impression the Mercedes gives off? Then it hit me, the type of person who doesn't appreciate the fact that the price tag of a car like a Mercedes makes it luxurious. The type of person who could buy this car with one per cap check and still have change. The new Native millionaires. I've heard the jokes from comedians. "Native Americans are millionaires with bad teeth." As tasteless as that jokes is, talk to a bunch of non-per cap Indians and they will agree with the joke.
There's a term most widely used in the Black community, "hood rich." It means, the moment the poor person from the ghetto gets a hold of funds they spend it on material things rather than take care of necessities like health or dental care. The reason is, when you've been poor for so long, the last thing you feel like doing when you finally receive money is spend it on something you can't immediately enjoy, like a material possession. Native people have gone without for so long that it's hard to see spending that large check on something reasonable. It's like winning the lottery every month. But just in case one of my readers is one of those lucky per cap Indians, here is a list of things you should be spending your money on, rather than a depreciating car.
Native American Child Care Centers
The first 5 years of a child's life are the most important in their emotional and intellectual development. Yet many Native families are forced to place their children in someone else's care in an effort to support themselves. It's bad enough that the person is a stranger, but now the person has virtually no understanding of your child's culture. Before you know it, your child is having self worth issues that you can't seem to understand. A Native American child care center, off the reservation or rancheria, would help preserve Native culture and improve self-image and self-esteem.
Native American Sports League
In the memory of Jim Thorpe, there should at least be a football or track league solely for Native athletes. A movie was just released about a Native American lacrosse team. Why not keep that fire going by creating a league in your area? Maybe even create the Native American Olympics?
Native American Production Company
Whether it's television or film, the best way to change Native American stereotypes is to make your own movies and TV shows. If it weren't for BET and Tyler Perry, there would continue to be a steady stream of Roots, The Color Purple and Jason's Lyric type movies. Tyler Perry took White America from seeing a Black cast in a movie as a "Black" movie to just a movie. The fact is, when people see Natives in movies, people see Dances With Wolves or Thunderheart. It's time to show people the other side of Native culture. What better way than to control your own media.
Native American Radio Station
We're not talking pow wow radio here. There are enough of those out there. We're talking about Native American pop and rap stars, jazz, country, R&B etc.
No matter what you spend your money on, make sure you give back to the Native community around you. What good is money if you loose your soul?