OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
According to the most recent Equal Opportunity Survey by the Defense Manpower Data Center, there are 22,864 Native Americans in the armed forces. That’s two percent of the total number of soldiers. Most Natives (39 percent) are in the Navy. Only 16 percent are in the Army.
This sign sits on Central Street, the main thoroughfare of the Blackfeet reservation town of Browning, Montana. Each little star represents a Blackfeet who’s serving in the military now.
Fun factoid: Native soldiers report the most frequent levels of offensive jokes and general harassment. Lay off them already, everyone!
MISSING BEER MUG MURAL
A good way to begin wiping out alcoholism on the reservation is to white out any beers in murals on the sides of bars. Out of sight, out of mind.
NATIVE PRIDE HAT
Speaking of pride, this hat’s owner was so proud of being Native he didn’t mind the fact that he was so drunk he could barely pick his head back up after the photo was taken.
RUNNING INDIANS GYM MAT
News flash: Indians call themselves Indians. It’s not a big deal, so stop having powwows about how white people cannot say that word. These mats line the gymnasium of Browning High School and everyone is damn proud of their Running Indian status. In fact, the ENTIRE gym is lined all the way around with State Cross-country Champ banners.
Living on the rez can definitely give you a case of the grumpies some days. Eighty percent unemployment, heaps of diabetes and hep C, and crystal meth falling all around like snow? Bummer! Luckily someone has discovered the cure to all the world’s ills: A good firm hug. Don’t you feel better now?
BEST RESPECT THA REZ
This sign hangs in the Snack Shack across the street from Browning High School. Even though the rez suffers from almost third-world crisis conditions, everybody has hometown pride.
“FRIENDS… Tell each other everything. Talk on the phone constantly. Have their own slang. Study together. Have secrets. Borrow clothes. Laugh together. Cry together. Even though we may go our separate ways, you’ll always be a part of me and we’ll always be FRIENDS FOREVER!!”
If this tea really makes you win, you kind of have to wonder why they weren’t guzzling it all through the 1800s like their lives depended on it (because they literally did depend on it).
THOUSANDS OF CONDOMS
This massive pile of condoms that sits in the community health center and all the possible fucks that might, maybe, happen with them is like some Native American physics problem about potential versus kinetic energy. It makes you woozy just thinking about it.
You can often see horses running free on the rez. They will jump in front of your car like they think they are just a couple of frolicking dogs—not 1,000-pound behemoths.
If we find the guys who stole these girls’ horsies, they are in some deep shit.
This sign hangs under the TV in Ick’s bar in Browning. You say “What does that mean?” to the bartender, and he goes, “Cost you a dollar to find out.” So you go, “Fine. I don’t care what it means.” And then it needles you for an hour and you finally, angrily, slide a dollar over and the bartender smugly says, “Your Curiosity Just Cost You A Dollar For The Juke Box.” And you, my friend, have been zinged.
(PS: But sorry, Ick’s, “jukebox” is one word, so it really should be
YCJCYADFTJ. We wish we’d thought of that while we were still in there. We could have totally served them.)
BLACKFEET GHOST STORIES
The best thing about this book is that it isn’t a bunch of ancient tales from before the white man or haunted-house stories that actually sound a little plausible. Instead, it’s all stuff like, “Me and my cousin Bobby were out on Jim Big Bear’s ranch last summer and we heard this really weird hooting sound. I’ll bet it was the ghost of an elder.”