Cherokee Kid

Jim Alberty is a member of the Bird Clan of the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Claremore, OK he now lives in Maine, working as a composer, writer and Creative for Apple. He is active in the Casco Bay area arts and education communities as a composer, musician, social dancer and actor.

Warrior's Rage

This is me and Gary.

Gary is a Vietnam vet, a tough, no-nonsense kind of guy.

To see him dance is like watching a hawk soar above the ground in search of game: smooth, graceful, effortless, constantly aware. He dances with a singleness of purpose expressed in every movement, no show, no exhibitionism.

Pure grace and power, Danger and beauty. The perfect dance of a warrior. I can only move smoothly and, awestruck, try to keep out of his way.

But if you'll notice, he's very blonde; up close he has electric blue eyes.

And when I first met him, a decade or more ago, I was stupid enough to think he was a Caucasian (or "white guy", as we Natives say), a member of what I've dubbed the "Kakkapoopoo Tribe", wannabes aspiring to connect to Native wisdom, as if seeking wisdom from any source wasn't a legit way to become wise.

Shows you how stupid I was. I've since apologized to him.

Because his parents are from Tahlequah, the tribal headquarters in Oklahoma, to which place my father has just recently moved.  He has 50% Cherokee blood in the Bird clan, which makes him distantly related to me.

It also makes me an even bigger fool.

Earlier this week a CBS affiliate in Boston released footage shot at an Elizabeth Warren rally, footage of major staffers from her opponent's campaign making tomahawk chops and fake war whoops at one of her rallies. Video feed follows ...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The argument from the pasty-faced, over-priced doughboys being that Dr. Warren should not be taken seriously because she's Native, that because even the small degree of blood she possesses disqualifies her candidacy.

No. I believe they think it entirely removes her right to aspire to a position of responsibility.

Scott Brown said, right off the bat in their first debate, that looking at Dr. Warren would tell you she wasn't Native. Then he waved the flag of "Affirmative action", guaranteed to get white men off the couch to vote her down.

"Because you are, you cannot".

One of the great lies in human experience.

I heard that lie buried behind so much of what I was taught during my formative years. I learned it between the shining lessons and discipline of my amazing schooling - on the playground, from "playmates", teachers on duty, my parents - eventually myself.

Learning from that voice - not drowning it out or silencing it, but turning it on itself as a bass line for really joyous music-of-life - this has been the greatest achievement of my recent years and it's only just beginning.

And now comes the mayor of Lewiston, Maine,  Robert Macdonald, telling the Somali immigrants that make up %10 of the town's population that they need to "leave their culture at the door".

"When anybody comes here from any country, they have to embrace our culture." Right. 

I'll drop by and visit him in his tipi anytime. What a dumb bastard.

"Because you are, you cannot".

Because you are gay, you cannot marry. Because you are Native you cannot lead. Because you are Jim you cannot be happy. Because you are fat you cannot dance. Because you are black you cannot vote. Because you are a woman you cannot have the same pay. Because you are a man you cannot cry. Because you are old you cannot learn.

One of the great lies. Buy into it and they have ropes tied to your very soul.

Belied by one of the great truths: because you are alive, you can.

Simple. How simple.