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Red Indian, White Indian
Ron West's Napi Mephisto, pages 53-55


Napi recalled the time in Vietnam he had wandered around the small mountain with Buddhist monuments and come upon a blind beggar whose face had been burned away by napalm. Without thinking, he took the only coin in his pocket, his lucky ‘I will see home again’ USA quarter, and dropped it into the tin cup and instantly regretted the thoughtless act when he heard the sound of joy coming from the face without nose, eyes or lips as the beggar fingered what must have indeed seemed like gold but in fact was worthless in the foreign war zone

That act bothered Napi for years, the beggar would believe for the rest of his life (if his could be called a life) he had been cheated when the hard, heavy (compared to the zinc Vietnamese) coin was collected and nothing had come of it. Although Napi did survive to return to the USA, his lucky quarter did not help him survive to see home: which had become a living cartoon he no longer believed in

Napi had tried work, in the sawmills of the pacific northwest, he had tried college, he had tried religion, but Napi had become a restless soul that could not shake the violence of man on man he had witnessed in the war. Everything was cynical, animated living cynicism had become his life experience. People were animated cartoons, institutions all became amoebas of hypocrisies with gelatinous tentacles that attempted to ensnare him. Napi gave up. He went to stay in the forest where he had grown up, to live in poverty

One day a short but powerfully built Indian knocked on Napi’s door. Grandpa wanted to collect medicines from nature and Napi’s was a perfect location to park his car and search out the sacred healing plants. Napi was hospitable, he invited Grandpa in for coffee and they visited Like the other Indians Napi had met, Grandpa was open and honest and soon they were discussing everything imaginable, and not long after, Napi was learning about the traditional Indian medicines, because Napi and Grandpa had become friends Napi learned many things from simply observing and asking questions later on, such as the times Grandpa only marked certain plants locations and returned later on with a woman who would actually harvest the medicines. This was always the case when the root was to be used rather than the above the ground herb

Grandpa explained the plants had male and female roles in nature and it was a matter of respect. If the plant was respected, it would surrender the healing qualities, but always in the case of the roots, the plants only responded to a woman who lived a clean life, a woman who had a certain mentality from living in the proper way. Only women could prepare these roots

Napi did not question any explanation after an initial inquiry, he understood Grandpa always gave answers and explanations that eventually made sense as Napi saw larger pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place over time. Napi began to see everything is related, in the sense of relationships in Quantum Mechanics, as the Native principle underlying many things Grandpa had showed him

Once two particles are associated, they become forever associated, no matter if they are separated by a universe in time and space. It appeared this was an important principle in the pre-Columbian knowledge of native healing

Grandpa was a ‘Ghost Medewiwin’ and explained how that worked in a way that seemed to relate to the alternate dimensions in String Theory

But it was Grandpa’s further explanation of this, Man’s relationship to time, that made the most sense. This was uncharted territory in Western Science. Yet Grandpa explained it in such a way that the simple sensibility of what he was saying had to be credible. It explained so many things one witnessed in one’s surrounding experience, by simply observing the world, nature and people

This is why the old Indian people kept trying to say archaeology was wrong, dangerous, that the Whiteman should stop digging things up. The teaching had returned in a circle to common object association in the sense of Quantum Mechanics particle association and the idea that everything has memory

And then was Grandpa’s showing Napi how we can exist in Parallel Universe, the pre-Columbian Shaman’s state of power. And Grandpa did draw the pre-Columbian distinction, only he explained this in the context of ‘before the Whiteman’

Grandpa explained how the Whiteman’s schools had taken away this understanding from the native children. Grandpa, who was fluent in seven native languages, but had never been to school, said: First they taught the Indian kids they can only believe in God, but damn, they were mean, the Whiteman’s god is mean. They beat the Holy out of our kids, and beat their God into them. They burned the kids fingers with matches or put their hands on hot stoves and told them they would all burn forever if they did not go to church the rest of their lives. Those were the schools run by nuns

They changed their minds when the state schools came along. Now science was their new god. But the kids still went to church because their parents were afraid of them getting burned. So science and god are arguing in the kids heads and lives, and dammit, they made the kids stupid like the Whiteman. That argument defines the Whiteman’s world and our kids have nearly all become White thinkers, they live with this argument in their heads and have become completely hopeless. Now they can’t see the most simple things. They can’t learn anything useful because of the argument. They grow up dumb as hell...

Napi had begun to apply ideas he had learned from years of immersion in the Native Language world to his surroundings as a matter of habit, because in his process of reverse assimilation he was thinking more and more like the old time Indians Napi was becoming a paradox of experience and normal expectation which in the real world would expect the old Native ways would become extinct together with the native language speakers, and yet here was Napi, discarding modern thought and worldview, abandoning civilized thinking and mentality for what civilized thinking and mentality was in fact putting to death as a matter of unspoken habit: Indian ways

Napi disavowed his knowledge of, interactions with, and what would be considered intelligence in the White world quite easily, because of his family’s biographical circumstance. White ways had never really become set deeply in his family which had preserved many social habits from its seeming now distant native ancestry, generation to generation. The liberal child-raising habits had stayed with these families. Napi could easily see this in retrospect

The Native world he was becoming fluid in made so much more sense to Napi, an innate or natural sense, he began to look at the idea there were two kinds of Whites in his world

Invisible Indians like himself and the children of other families in the forest who had been liberal raising their kids, and the White/Whites, the regimented, strict disciplinarians who raised the kids that had been thoughtless, violent assholes. The kids that tortured animals for entertainment. These were the kids that had been practically tortured by their parents and acted out in turn. The kids that had been beaten. The mean kids. The bullies. The Racist kids not allowed to play with the children of families who were the friends of Indians. There was a lot of that crap going on, growing up in proximity to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation

Napi, who no longer believed in coincidence and accidents, began to look more closely at the comparative languages in his thinking. Native language where everything is a process in action, with very few noun-like words and a sort of pre-verb rather than an adverb, the pre-verb did not modify as much as it set up possibilities for the coming verb which would take a direction, move the process along depending on the choice of the verb, and it was the verb which carried the most important information in the absence of nouns

Everything moved, flowed in this language, comparatively, the English seemed difficult, clumsy and static. Napi thought about the English verb ‘Spell’ and it’s modified noun ‘Spelling’ and how the kids were educated. Indian memory was phenomenal compared to White memory and the White education drilled the kids in Spelling. But ‘Spell’ could be a noun as well… if you ‘cast’ it with a verb. No accidents. A Spell was not called a Spell without reason. What would applying Native intelligence conclude in this case? It was simple. Literacy was some sort of magic spell cast on the Whites that locked up their heads in a very peculiar sort of thinking. It made everything linear, i.e. square or triangulated, in fact one could say ‘imprismed.’ This is how natural acumen and real memory was stolen from the children, by drilling them in the ‘Spelling’ from the earliest possible age

In a world where everything is a circle by nature, these people could only draw circles from abstraction. The people with the spelling removed themselves from a huge part of reality. They locked themselves out of most expressions of reality as a matter of cultural habit. Napi had been stunned at the thought

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