My hair was too short and my U.S. Government glasses were horn-rimmed, ugly, and all that first winter in school, the other Indian boys chased me from one corner of the playground to the other. They pushed me down, buried me in the snow until I couldn’t breathe, thought I’d never breathe again.
I was always falling down; my Indian name was Junior Falls Down. Sometimes it was Bloody Nose or Steal-His-Lunch. Once it was Cries-Like-a-White-Boy, even though none of us had seen a white boy cry.
Then it was Friday morning recess and Frenchy SiJohn threw snowballs at me while the rest of the Indian boys tortured some other top-yogh-yaughtkid, another weakling. But Frenchy was confident enough to torment me all by himself, and most days I would have let him.
But the little warrior in me roared to life that day and knocked Frenchy to the ground, held his head against the snow, and punched him so hard the my knucklesand the snow make symmetrical bruises on his face. He almost looked like he was wearing war paint.
Buthe wasn’t the warrior. I was. And I chanted It’sa good day to die, it’s a good day to die, all the way down to the principle’s office.