Who you are, where you come from


 Some time ago, Hobo Joe posted on Facebook how vividly he remembers his childhood and his Hobo Joe days, but he has a hard time remembering from the time after Hobo Joe became Dr. Longie.  Since there was some truth in that post, he'd begin to ask myself; why is that? After thinking about it off and on for a few days, here is what he came up with; he grew up with almost no Whiteman influence until he quit his wild ndn ways and went to college and begin walking the Whiteman's road.  Although he was successful on his new path all the Whiteman's influence in the world couldn't totally change him, he was too set in his Hobo Joe/ndn ways.


Hobo Joe's mom was a proud Dakota winyan whose first language was Dakota.  Although his mom and most other adults spoke the Dakota language back then she never passed down her language or her knowledge of her culture to her children.  Well, that's not really true, she did inadvertently past down some knowledge of the Dakota language by speaking it often, and at times she would mention what this and that meant in regards to Dakota culture.  And, she was always exhorting him to be proud of who he was - a Sioux.  He loved attending the only two powwows held when he was a kid.  Powwows were a different back then, they represented Dakota culture more accurately.  Therefore, he always learned something about Dakota history and culture from the adults and the announcers.


Furthermore, Hobo Joe's close friend in the 3rd grade came from a family that spoke nothing but Dakota at home.  He admired the way each child was able to understand the adults and respond in Dakota.  The boys were always singing at the drum.  He sat at the drum with them a few times wishing he could learn how to sing, but a hearing disorder prevented him from joining in.  He also spent a lot to time at his aunt Alvina's home.  He loved to sit on the stair leading up stairs and listen to Aunt Alvina's stories about the old days.  


His heroes were older male relatives who were also good hunters.  He heard many stories about his uncles on his dad's side who were known far and wide as good hunters.  He had a much older cousin on his mom's side was always bringing them deer. This old cousin once went hunting and came back in a short time.  He had shot a deer and hauled it to an old wagon trail.  They jumped in his mom's old '50 Chevy and went to pick it up.  The older cousin had told mom he had shot it twice, the first time it didn't move so he thought he missed it and shot again.  When they they examined the deer it was determined to have been shot twice in the heart.  Both wounds were about an inch apart.  


Hobo Joe rarely saw any Wisicu until he entered kindergarten and even then, his teacher was a Black lady named Ms Daggs.  By the time he entered 4th grade he had become a voracious reader, mainly reading books about ndn.  As a result of reading books about ndn, along with his mom reminding him to be proud of whom he was, and his life on the Rez, he became fiercely proud of whom he was at a very early age.  The non-Indian high school he attended failed to assimilate him because he felt so out of place there, which is probably why he was D- student who missed at least 20 days every year.  Once out of HS he hardly left the Rez except for a stint in the Marine Corps, which didn't change him except to make him more arrogant. 


Eventually, he went to a tribal college which made him even more proud to be ndn.  He reluctantly went on to UND and eventually received a doctorate.  After receiving an education, Dr. Longie had the ability to walk the Whiteman's road so he did.  He held many educational jobs over the years, and along with a business partner, eventually started a business they called Spirit Lake Consulting.  You can say he was quite successful from a Whiteman's point of view.  


Eventually, Dr Longie was hired as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.  At his first meeting as his tribe's THPO, which was held in Billings, Montana a Cheyenne ndn gave a beautiful opening prayer, a prayer that reflected everything that he was as a Cheyenne.  Later another Cheyenne spoke to the people present; he said he was from a small group of Cheyenne's that spoke a slightly different dialect from the rest of the Cheyenne's.  During the course of the two-day meeting he heard many other tidbits of interesting, cultural information from all tribes' present, including his own.  He left the meeting proud to be ndn.  Since than he has attended dozens of similar meetings all of them reinforcing his pride in being ndn.  This immersion in his and other tribes' culture along with his duties as THPO stirred a part of him that he unknowingly tried to suppress - his Hobo Joe/wild ndn ways.


Dr Longie/Hobo Joe's life has now come full circle.  First, he lived his life as Hobo Joe.  However, the Creator had blessed him with the abilities to walk Wisicu's path better than most ndn, therefore, the Creator nudged him onto the Whiteman's road so those abilities would not go to waste.  In many ways, it was a good path and for many years he was satisfied, benefited and enjoyed all the perks that came with being Dr Longie.  However, he never quite forgot his Hobo Joe/ndn ways, therefore, he never did fully buy into the Wisicu's materialistic world, or way of thinking.  Now through his duties as the THPO's not only is he relearning what little the cultural knowledge he knew, but he also learned about the Spirituality aspect of his culture and the wisdom that is inherent in it.  This learning has taken him back to his days when Hobo Joe had no knowledge or desire to learn anything about the Whiteman's world. 


Dr Longie realized, to some degree, his pride in being ndn was forgotten from walking the Whiteman's road for many years.  His job as Tribal Historic Preservation Officer was the catalyst in revealing his true nature, Hobo Joe.  His renewing and strengthening his pride in being ndn again has finally merged Dr Longie and Hobo into one contented individual.  


This resurgence of who he really is may be the reason he remembers his childhood and his Hobo Joe days very well, as opposed to hardly remembering what he did after he went to UND.  In short, his accomplishments walking the Whiteman's road don't mean nearly as much as my who he is and where he came from.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on November 29, 2016 7:43 PM.

Minot State University: Race-based mascot and nicknames was the previous entry in this blog.


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