Cultural Identity In America Literature Reader II english 235 Prof. Jesse Schwartz

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Third Grade

My traditional Native American art career began and ended with my very first portrait: Stick Indian Taking a Piss in My Backyard.

As I circulated the original print around the classroom, Mrs. Schluter intercepted and confiscated my art.

Censorship, I might cry now. Freedom of expression, I would write in editorials to the tribal newspaper.

In the third grade, though, I stood alone in the corner, faced the wall, and waited for the punishment to end.

I’m still waiting.


Fourth Grade

“Youshould be a doctor when you grow up,” Mr. Schluter told me, even though hiswife, the third grade teacher, thought I was crazy beyond my years. My eyesalways looked like I had just hit-and-run someone.

“Guilty,”she said. “You always look guilty.”

“Whyshould I be a doctor?” I asked Mr. Schluter.

“Soyou can come back and help the tribe. So you can heal people.”

Thatwas the year my father drank a gallon of vodka a day and the same year that mymother started two hundred quilts but never finished any. They sat in separate,dark places in our HUD house and wept savagely.

Iran home after school, heard their Indian tears, and looked in the mirror. Doctor Victor, I called myself, inventedand education, talked to my reflection. DoctorVictor to the emergency room.


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