The single story

I have to admit that I loath stereotypes. I think they limit how we see people. How we ever can see people. It is a single story that blinds us to what is underneath. When I went to the Native American reservation to visit my spouses family I encountered some of the typical native stereotypes. More so that I thought I would have because I usually do not believe stereotypes to be that accurate to be honest. However it was true that there were a lot of signs of poverty. It was true there were signs of substance abuses. I was informed people sold drugs on the side. That people were in jail, came out from prison, on parole or had done time for something or other. There were signs of disrepair everywhere. Of buildings that had burned down and never replaced. Many people were on government assistance and waiting for their checks so were broke when we were there as it was a long weekend, however, not very many places to even work in such an isolated place. So yes, there is that story. Maybe someone could have walked on there and had all their presuppositions confirmed and nothing else would have stuck onto them. They would never have allowed any other story to intrude upon what they believed to be the true story.

People are not defined by their stereotypes though. Or I should hope not when I can think of all the ones people could pop out for me. How dull I would be then. So the story I absorbed and told from my trip was a lot different. It was how I noticed right away that so many people had no desire or need for technology. No desire or need for a TV, or internet or a phone and certainly not all three at once. I can understand not being able to afford it but it was also no desire for it. They had a slower pace about their day. They filled it with other things and were less consumed with the idea of wasting it with techno-crap. Because they have an immense sense of community there. The moment we hit the reserve people knew my spouse had arrived. They knew the truck he drove. Where he went. And they wanted to meet with him and have a chat. He met so many relatives I am sure his head is still spinning. People go and visit each other regularly. That face to face contact cannot be underestimated to me. They made me feel entirely welcome as well. Also with the sense of community they have gatherings for just women and just men. I was invited by my spouses mother to the women’s gathering. They just all got together, chatted and played some games. Simple, fun and enjoyable time spent together with some good food. Quality time. I also should mention that my spouse’s brother and mother both had drinking and drug problems off the reserve but when they moved back on it something just clicked for them and they have both stopped drinking and doing drugs. Aside from his brother doing pot, which really when you think of the alternatives is not all that bad. Frankly, I think it has mellowed him out a little. Years ago when he left here he had been in extremely bad shape. I honestly thought he would never recover. He is thriving where he lives now. Like he is a different man. Like he learned to be happy and never had the hang of it before. He works of the reserve so he has steady employment but income is tight as he is helping to raise his common-law spouse five children. Quite the handful there I imagine. So I really think the enviroment there really just suited them. And the enviroment elsewhere did not. And I can see why. Being surrounded by such lovely nature all the time and that sense of close community I think would be good for the soul. The area the reserve is on truly is beautiful and the houses are spread apart so really you do get a nice patch of wilderness there. I was also astounded by the creativity to many members of his family. The artwork they have created, in diverse forms, is amazing. We in fact bought four pieces of artwork home because I had commented on some pieces his mother had and she remarked on who had done them. We could not resist taking a look at his work and buying some. His uncle promises to make us a dream-catcher, with a painting in the middle, as well. I had always known his brother could do some fantastic artwork before he had injured his hands. He had an amazing talent. I just had not known so many in his family were that creative in so many different ways.

Even though, yes, you are aware that there are these stereotypical concepts present. Yet there is a lot more depth to every single person and every single story that those limited concepts can every express. I loath stereotypes. I enjoy the company of people. I love their stories.


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