Thursday, February 25, 2010

Indian Givers

Yesterday's mail brought a big padded envelope, addressed to my California dba Murf Ink. I couldn't imagine who ...

Upon opening it, I discovered a sealed plastic bag with what purported to be an Indian blanket inside it. The St. Labre Indian School, of Ashland, Montana, was gifting me with it as part of "Indian Giveaway."

According to the four-page letter tucked inside, this is a "remarkable facet of Native American culture." No matter how poor the Indian may be, it is not unusual for him/her to give away a fine possession.

The letter's writer is one Curtis Yarlott (Indian name "Yellow Arrows") who signed as Executive Director.

Yarlott began his letter with that explanation and then asked "Why am I telling you all of this? Well, for one, you strike me as someone interested in Native American culture and the history of America's first people. I believe you have a genuine concern for what has happened to Indian people through the years." Please remember this whole shebang was addressed to Murf Ink, not a person.

Richie looked puzzled; I was standing there howling with laughter. Between guffaws, I managed to blurt out, " I AM part Indian! And no one knows that unless they heard it from my mouth!"

Naturally, I was urged to make a donation. Mr. Yarlott (despite presumably being a tribal member) seems not to have gotten this part of his own message: the Indians give away a prized possession with no expectation of anything in return!

According to Yarlott, drink and drugs are rife on Indian reservations. The sob story in this letter ran, "When a train killed Michael's mother, she wasn't driving a vehicle. There were no screeching tires, no crashing metal, not even the sound of shattering glass to pierce the night." Now this is fine, powerful writing and I salute it.

It continues, "By the time the train conductor (Note: not the engineer) realized Michael's mom lay sleeping along the tracks, it was too late." Yarlott's letter then explained that she had a drinking problem, as do many other reservation dwellers.

In the spirit of giving (with no expectation of anything back) and certainly to salute some fine writing, here is their Web address: or call 1-866-753-5496. We are encouraged to donate online and to use PayPal. Don't do it for the blanket. Two Kleenexes folded together are just as thick. And Kleenexes are not as garishly bright either.

No comments: