Native reflection from a mixed guy… I don’t look native lol… I don’t… But my blood’s the same as many of u here. Leech lake band of Ojibwe. My mother’s people. When I was young I had to go to a foster home in the cities. Being mixed kids they put us in a native home. Me and my brother. From the beginning we were abused there. Mom being native or not we looked different. The lady would kick us out the house in the morning and tell us we couldn’t come back till dinner time. There, I learned the terms muck and makadewiyas. I heard it often. Not knowing where u fit in can be hard on a kid. Wanting acceptance and to be cared for by the people u were told were ur own. We eventually left that place. After that, living in St. Paul I barely saw native people, so I had little connection with that part of me anymore. Being lost from my mother, I forgot pretty much all about natives. Later in life though it would eat at me thinking that maybe my own ancestors would of looked at me the same as that lady did. Inferior because of the grade of my hair…the shape of my nose etc. Hurt turned to resentment and a sense of self-hate. Not good enough for my own people I’d think, and they ARE my people because without them I wouldnt even be here. So What am I?… I know I’m black, but that’s not the whole of me. I was confused for years over these questions. In prison though something happened I wasn’t prepared for. It was there, once known where my people were from that the natives approached me. Called me niezhii or muck neizh lol and they always wanted me around. Made me a mediator sometimes between the black and the native cliques and gangs. I don’t look now the way I looked then. Physically I was a speciman. Pushing close to three hundred on bench and doing 35 full form pull ups on the bar straight. In prison I was exactly the type of man ud want to sit at ur table. And I started learning things. Reading traditional literature and drawing feathers all the time… Making up pow wow songs in a language I never heard lol banging on my writing table for a drum annoying my neighbors at night.. yeah Pack was tripping my black friends started to say. I was having new feelings reading those books… Even started to pick up an exaggerated native accent that had the guys on both sides laughing lol yeah, very crazy but exciting time for me. Oh the path of life. I chose to come here to the rez for many personal reasons. To run away from my past in the cities for one and start somewhere new. Here was my only shot I figured, I found nothing but failure where I’d grown up so what did I have to lose. Coming here though I got very weird mixed reviews. Some were kind and welcoming, others were suspicious and although quiet I could see the same old look in thier eyes… What’re u doing here! Never liked hanging around guys much but The women loved me lol…sounds like bs bragging huh?… Well… I’m not. They Kept trying to get me drunk all the time.. Show me around. No, I was no Muslim like the people here know me now. I was fresh out of prison trying figure myself out so I made a lot of natural mistakes newly released convicts do.. Hadn’t been around women in years so… Always a new female face at momma’s house. She hated it. No more on that though. I was learning. I went to sweats and pow wows and although different I grew to love this place. It’s home now. My son too like my mother is a leech laker. I’ve made many personal changes since being here though. If u know me u see me alone now. I wear a Muslim beard and I’ll touch no women not closely related to me because of the spiritual path I’ve chosen so as a consequence no women here give me a second thought once figuring my odd ways out. It’s OK though… It’s what I chose so Im good. I don’t look like u… I dropped the phony and once funny accent But remember this oh my people, I am u… My blood is the same as urs, something an ignorant person’s judgment of me can never change. I am Ojibwe. Gitchi manidoo sometimes comes off my tongue in prayer because my heart equates the name with the same great spirit that guided an Arab man who lived long ago in Arabia named Muhammad who called the Creator Allah… Meaning basically “The One God” in Arabic. Were different but the same… I love my people… And like it or not… U are my people. Goodnight Leech Lake. Pack Ru Redfeather….

Published by Pack Redfeather

I am a walking contradiction of traditions some say. An African American and Native American Muslim poet with a personal life history as violently turbulent as a Storm. A visionary from the bottom of life’s social barrel striving to share the hope found in the light of faith through sometimes dark but real poetry. I’m a former member of the Bloods street gang, former serial bank robber, and both federal/state prison convict. I live on my mother’s tribal reservation of the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe in Minnesota.

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