While I was at the general's funeral last week, I spoke with one of his grandchildren who worked with a tribal government that shall remain nameless. She was trying to help them find new sources of revenue, including tourism. She told me that simple tasks were difficult because skilled personnel were so thin on the ground within the tribe. For example, she had great difficulty getting them to give her an invoice for some work they had done. It wasn't that they were being stubborn, it's that they weren't used to doing such things.
We discussed our different experiences with American Indians on reservations. She confirmed what I had long suspected, that most of the talented and motivated young people left the reservation and never came back. The reservation just didn't have anything to offer.
What is the point of clinging to the Old Ways? It's pretty clear that the Old Ways aren't paying off any more. Hanging out on the reservations in New Mexico is a pretty depressing experience. The available jobs are not exciting at all. Casino work must be the best they have to offer and even that isn't breeding a new generation of intellectual and artistic leaders. It all seemed so very confining to me. It's as if the reservations were a prison, physically, mentally and psychically.
Then there's the ferocious problems of substance abuse on the reservations. Why not get loaded when there's not much else to do?
What happens when your reason for existence has vanished into the past?