Maybe we should give it all back


I think we should give it all back to the Native Americans.

I’m not talking about more land for them to build casinos on, but just the whole kitten caboodle.

Seeing Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and Donald J. Trump, whack away at each other in sophomoric copy, videos, and nanny-nanny boo-boo garbage makes me pretty sure we’ve screwed this whole thing up so bad the only way to fix it is to scrap it.

But the downside of that is any person called to represent American Indians at that point would probably say, “No Thanks”.

It makes sense. I could live in a tee-pee. I did it multiple times as a kid and I even did it two years ago on the way to South Dakota. I could hunt for my food and clothing. Build a fire. I could get that done, but I think the cold weather at this point in my life would probably freeze up my lungs and that’d be that.

Native Americans didn’t put up with a lot when it came to discipline. And in many enclaves you had to pass through a ritual of adulthood. Some of those are not easy tasks and were built to show you were mature enough to move into adulthood, e.g. survival, physical pain, mental strain, tasks of endurance, and tolerance.

Let’s just give it back.

We’ve screwed it all up. We advanced society post-manifest destiny to a world of modern healthcare, modern communication, modern food production, and we’ve lived succinctly for the past 300 years.

What would that look like if we just gave it all back? Native Americans have conquered commerce, they have very little tolerance for crime against one another. I’m absolutely positive they would like to get their hands on history education in this country at the most basic and advanced levels.

They probably even have some really good ideas on how we get back to health care that isn’t focused on revenue generation and instead on the individual and the spirit contained therein.

I have a trophy on the top of the book cabinet in my mother’s house. It kind of protects the home. I won it when I was involved with an organization that recreated Indian dances and shared the messages and intent of those celebrations.

I wasn’t bad at it, but I’m a pretty humble guy. Dancing in front of people is not one of my favorite things. Not that I can’t, it just doesn’t fit my persona, but I won a few events and more importantly understood the meaning behind the dance.

These were dances for bountiful crops, health, rain, and guidance for leaders, both present and spiritual.

Our guidance now comes from people who are more concerned with their own legacy than the sustenance of the nation. Native Americans were always concerned with protecting and building the nation.

I don’t think things would change a lot. After all, we are to a fault, a civilization. But we’re headed down the wrong road in so many damn ways.

I went to professional health care providers this past week because my mother’s health situation quickly got beyond my ability to manager her pain and get her back to functionality. Ten days later we’re counting days in hospice. She had brutal back pain and she wasn’t x-rayed, scanned, tested, screened, or anything. Since they couldn’t diagnose the pain and bill it, they sent her home saying if she wanted to talk about private pay, they could see about getting her a room. Rest assured that conversation isn’t over, but I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Could it possibly be any worse? These are our loved ones and if their condition, no matter how painful and debilitating, isn’t “billable” the hypocratic oath goes out the damned window. The profit line takes precedent over the lifeline.

It’s ridiculous.

Is there a single candidate out there that wants to resolve that issue, or even can resolve it while the mighty health care industry watches with pointed fingers like Denver Pyle in the Dukes of Hazzard title sequence.

I used to tell people medicine was incredible and we could accomplish amazing things. But is that reserved for the wealthy or prominent, or those geographically located to those who can make miracles happen?

I still think medicine is amazing, but why isn’t that transitioning to better care. My mom is just 77. I publish a lot of obituaries and people live way longer that that. She is God-fearing, and family-oriented. Spent almost four decades educating kids who are now doctors, farmers, teachers, financial experts, and more.

She’s lived well. She certainly paid her fair share in Medicare/Medicaid taxes, social security, and health insurance premiums. Now when it’s on the line, let’s put her on the road to heaven with easy syringe suspensions of morphine to start the process. We can put medicine under the tongue to start life and we can do the same to end it. Was Kevorkian much different than this. These people working at these facilities are the sweetest, most caring people in the world and are experienced at making people comfortable in the final days and hours. But do the patients always need to be started on that ride to heaven? Are there other things that can be or could be done that aren’t because others are calling the shots? I don’t know that, but what I do know is that we have got to be our best advocate and question everything. If the person you’re discussing your care with gets frustrated easily, throws their hands up and walks out, its very likely you were right and they were wrong.

I’m real fuzzy right now. Exhausted is probably a safe word. But watching the political race is embarrassing on so many fronts and it’s clear we are lost. Where is the true, true leadership? Not the one that wants to win, but the one who wants to lead for the sake of advancing Americanism. Yeah, that’s a word.

But it’s a word that came from geography, not a society. There were Americans before us and we call them native Americans. If we can’t get this country straightened out, let’s negotiate it’s return to them.

Yes, I’m writing a little tongue-in-cheek today… but just a little, and that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Beside the Point, chuck vandenberg, commentary, Sunday, Pen City Current, Indians, Native Americans, politics, health care, opinion, editorial,


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