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

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Sixth Grade

Randy,the new Indian kid from the white town of Springdale, got into a fight an hour after he first walked intothe reservation school.

StevieFlett called him out, called him a squaw man, called him a pussy, and calledhim a punk.

Randyand Stevie, and the rest of the Indian boys, walked out into the playground.

“Throwthe first punch,” Stevie said as they squared off.

“No,”Randy said.

“Throwthe first punch,” Stevie said again.

“No,”Randy said again.

“Throwthe first punch!” Stevie said for the third time, and Randy reared back andpitched a knuckle fastball that broke Stevie’s nose.

Weall stood there in silence, in awe.

Thatwas Randy, my soon-to-be first and best friend, who taught me the most valuablelesson about living in the white world: Alwaysthrow the first punch.


 Seventh Grade

Ileaned through the basement window of the HUD house and kissed the white girlwho would later be raped by her foster-parent father, who was also white. Theyboth lived on the reservation, though, and when the headlines and storiesfilled the papers later, not one word was made of their color.

 JustIndians being Indians, someone must have said somewhere and they werewrong.

Buton the day I leaned out through the basement window of the HUD house and kissedthe white girl, I felt the good-byes I was saying to my entire tribe. I held mylips tight against her lips, a dry, clumsy, and ultimately stupid kiss.

ButI was saying good-bye to my tribe, to all the Indian girls and women I mighthave loved, to all the Indian men who might have called me cousin, evenbrother,

Ikissed that white girl and when I opened my eyes, I was gone from thereservation, living in a farm town where a beautiful white girl asked my name.

“JuniorPolatkin,” I said, and she laughed.

Afterthat, no one spoke to me for another five hundred years.


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