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  • Writer's pictureJim Mileski

Updated: May 4, 2022

By Jim Mileski

I live in a 55+ community of modular homes. Directly behind me is a forest filled with large pine trees. Pines have shallow roots, which can be clearly seen by a few that have toppled over through the years. When the wind blows, it's not unusual to hear a sudden crack and the subsequent crashing of something somewhere in the forest.

When I discovered that Hurricane Henri was predicted to strike us with category four winds, I began to fret about what would happen if one of those trees fell on the house.

My fears intensified when I remembered that these homes are manufactured to withstand 110 mile an hour winds. Fortunately, we have never had a blow of that magnitude; but similar homes in Florida have, and their destruction was catastrophic. I was filled with despair that the same thing would happen here.

Several hours later, I was able to convince myself that worry is an unproductive emotion because there's absolutely nothing I can do about the impending storm, and took comfort that if a tree did fall upon the house, I would be part of the pancake and never know what hit me until I "came to" in heaven.

The next morning I was astounded to discover that there was some rain, heavy at times, but no wind and no sign of damage whatsoever. I do not know where Henri went to, but thankful that he did not come to call.

Later that day, I remembered reading about an old hotel with the following message etched upon some prominent wall:

"I am an old man and have seen much trouble, most of which never happened."

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Updated: May 5, 2022

Isn't it time we were exposed to more novels, films, television shows, plays, etc. that open a wider view into the spirit, culture, and soul of Native Americans? If so, what would some of their stories tell? This edition will shine the Quarter Moon Spotlight on some of the many significant contributions Native Americans gave to the world.

Congresswoman Sharice Davids is also a lawyer and professional mixed martial artist educated at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Cornell Law School. When she was sworn into the 116th Congress in yr., she became the first Democrat in 10 years to represent a district in Kansas. Representative Davids is simultaneously the first of two women and openly LBGT Native American to serve in the US Congress.

Representative Davids was raised by a single mother, who served in the Army for 20 years. After graduating from Leavenworth High School, she worked her way through Johnson County Community College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City before earning a law degree from Cornell Law School.

CHRIS EYRE is an award-winning and highly acclaimed Film Director & Producer.Arguably, Chris Eyre may be considered the top Native American film Director. If not, he is certainly one of the most prolific and acclaimed. Eyre is a director and producer , known for acclaimed films like Smoke Signals, Edge of America and Skins. 

Unfortunately, a case could be made that Native American filmmakers have yet to get the support, opportunities and recognition they deserve.

Secretary Deb Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. 

As a military child, she attended 13 public schools before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque.  At the age of 28, Haaland enrolled at the University of New Mexico (UNM) where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and later earned her J.D. from UNM Law School.

After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, Secretary Haaland became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party. She is one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. In Congress, she focused on environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, and family-friendly policies.

NASA Astronaut and Navy Commander John Herrington was born in Wetumka, Oklahoma. A member of the Chickasaw tribe, he was the first Native American to walk in space.

Herrington honored his Native American heritage during that walk by carrying six eagle feathers, a braid of sweet grass, two arrowheads and the Chickasaw nation’s flag.

Commander Herrington is a life member of the Association of Naval Aviatino, University of Colorado Springs Alumni Association, a Sequoyah Fellow and a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. 

Leslie Marmon Silko is considered one of the great masters of Native American literature and one of the key figures in the First Wave of what is knowsn as the Native American Renaissance.

In 1981 Silko was a debut recipient of the MacArthur Foundatioin Grant, the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americans Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. She is most famous for her first novel, Ceremony.

Still widely read and studied in collees across the United States today,  Ceremony emphasizes the importance of reintegrating older traditions and knowledge into our lives - exactly what Silko herself has been doing since she was a younger girl.

Jim Thorpe was one of the first Native American superstar athletes. An All-American in football at the Carlisle Indian School, Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics before his gold medals were revoked on a technicality. Thorpe played professional baseball and football, and sought an acting career after retiring from sports.

Later in life, Thorpe was elected a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, and in 1982 his name was restored to the Olympic record books as a co-winner of the 1912 track events. Proving he still loomed large in the American consciousness, he was voted the previous century's greatest athlete in a 2000 ABC Sports poll, and finished third in another ballot conducted by the Associated Press.

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  • B. La Verne Wilkin (Binnie)

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Maybe, he gravitated toward me because I was the only other person of color in the class. He was tall and handsome with light brown skin the color of the lightest pecan shells and just as smooth. His jet black hair matched eyes of the same color.

"Hello," he said simply.

"Hi," I answered. "I am Binnie."

"Bimmie ?"

"No, B-i-n-n-i-e, Binnie."

"Oh, I got it, Beenee," he said with his lovely accent.

"Nice to meet you, I've got to run. I don't want to miss my bus. See you tomorrow."

"Wait, I will come…"

Many years ago, my friendship with Hassan had begun, while I was studying at a School of Library Science in the Northeast section of the United States. Later, I learned that special arrangements had been made for Hassan to come to this country and study for his library science degree, I learned later. He was focused on contributing to the development of libraries in his home country, Pakistan.

While watching television, he learned about the separateness of African Americans from mainstream society. He often asked surprising questions, for example, "Does she represent the American standard of beauty?"

Being close friends was the extent of our relationship. American styles of intimacy and "courting" were hard for Hassan to fathom. Touching between us was hugs, probably initiated by me, and a couple of kisses on the cheek. However, one day I asked Hassan how to say, "I love you," in his native tongue, Urdu. He told me there was no direct translation, but taught me to say, "Main tum se Mohabbat Karta hu", I do love with you.

Fast forward twenty to twenty-five years, when my husband and I arrived in Washington, DC by train and waited outside for our turn as the line of cabs picked up passengers. When the driver heard that our destination in South East DC, the historic African American community, he was NOT pleased. Agitation showed in his face and demeanor. Sitting in the back seat, I noticed that the identification license, cab drivers are required to post, indicated that he the phrase remembered after all those years, "Main tum se Mohabbat Karta hu," his face lit up and a grin spread from ear to ear.

I said, "I used to have a Pakistani boyfriend who taught me to say "I love you" in Urdu. As I repeated the phrase remembered after all those years, "Main tum se Mohabbat Karta hu," his face lit up and a grin spread from ear to ear.

The driver, then, began to ask us questions and we chatted about our backgrounds and more. When we arrived at my aunt's house, the driver jumped out of the car, grabbed our bags and carried them up the steep steps to my aunt's door. After we gave him a substantial tip, he shook our hands and left smiling. Because of one meaningful cultural connection, that man's preconceived notions of a negative trip to Southeast DC had become a pleasant encounter for all of us. I never found out what happened to Hassan. We grew apart, but he learned that people of color from other countries need not always live

the lives of restriction and separation designated for African Americans. I hope Hassan accomplished his dreams and lived to a ripe old age as I have. MAIN TUM SE MOHABBAT KARTA HU.

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