The American Dream Or The First Hits Free 

Contrary to the title The American Dream isn't a hit song, at least not in a conventional sense.  You never know what's gonna take off.  The American Dream was inspired by Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt. (Add affiliate links here lol).  I reread it a couple of years ago and that was enough to write this song.  

You'd never know it to look at me because I'm fair haired and fair skinned but I am actually part American Indian.  You can see it in my dad and my aunts and uncles but I took after my mother's side of the family.  My body knew of this cultural divide within.  Lay claim to it all I wanted my skin, hair and eye colour all excluded me from the club.  Who can complain about white privilege though, I could get into all the other clubs, but not the one I wanted to join.  Blood and ancestry is that funny thing we don't fully understand though isn't it, it's where those dreaded beliefs come in.  It was always a note of pride between my sister and I, amongst all my cousins on my dad's side, that even though we couldn't prove it by showing a status card, we had enough native blood in our veins to be card carrying Indians.  Of course though I always knew that I didn't deserve it, our family didn't suffer the same horrible oppression that other first nations people had to go through.  Our great great grandfather was warned that the church was kidnapping native children to put them in school, so he built his own school, for his own children and children's children and all the kids of the area to attend.  They never got rounded up, they never got numbered and entered into the system.  Our family was spared the horrors that turned the proud Indians into the fractured traumatized people guilty of Aboriginal Dissent.  I had a friend back home in the trailer park who was obviously native, clear as day, yet his family owned land and thus revoked their status by moving off the Reservation.  He was maybe in age with my father and talked about the same thing that I knew existed within my family.  The exclusion from his own people, from the time he was young until well into adulthood, because he didn't share the collective trauma that the rest of the tribe held.  

I don't wish that my family had been traumatized so I could join the club.  I don't feel excluded anymore.  When I was in high school in Mission for grade eight, I hung out with a group of native kids one grade up.  They wore leather jackets, had long hair and looked tough and people fucked with us all the time.  Towards the end of the year I learned were going to be moving to my dad's hometown of Lillooet and all my native friends new about Lillooet and had relatives there.  They didn't care I was moving, in fact one of them was moving to Shalath down the lake and would be riding the train to school in Lillooet everyday.  The three white kids I hung out with turned on me because I was moving and jumped me in the hall at lunch one day and my native friends had to rescue me.  Fast forward to Lillooet and the racial divide is firmly entrenched.  I started hanging out with the skaters and the natives hated the skaters, even my friend from Mission was hanging with his own tribe.  I made a few friends on the other side of the line until one of them told me we couldn't hang out cause I was white.  One of the things that stuck with me from the first week of school was one of the white kids, like don't go in the sun pale red head Scot kinda white, says to me, "You're not racist?   Don't worry you will be."  

While I will say I never made deep inroads into the native community in Lillooet I had enough family with status cards that I was never fully rejected once people learned who I was related to.  There were a few kids that were accepted on both sides of the line, ones who were pale enough to pass and tanned enough too, but it seemed the racism was entrenched in the older generation.  And who can blame the native population of Canada for distrusting white people, the native population of any country in the world for that matter.  I understand white peoples ingrained racism quite well, it comes from ignorance of the trauma inflicted upon the indigenous peoples by colonialism, from seeing the degradation to which they have been reduced, from believing might is right, from government and our education system.  It comes right from the top so it's hard not to catch it.  Perhaps one day we'll evolve enough that our race becomes our species but until then we're all stuck here, together, it's probably best to try to get along.  

The American Dream might be taken as a mini history lesson, a four verse book report presented in song.  I have always come back to this song since I wrote because it's got such a haunting progression of chords and recently I figured out a much nice sounding way to play it.  It was just waiting for my picking to get better because I was trying to come up with something new and realized I was rewriting something old.  Now you don't get the album master version because I don't have one of those yet but I will give you a peak of where it stands right now.  


The American Dream


Let’s circle the wagons for on last time

So they can see where we need to draw a line

We’ll all make way for the American dream

Whether we can awake remains to be seen


When the hand that beats you is the one that feeds you what did they win

The right brought about by might is no way to begin

Backed into a corner even the meekest dog will bite

When your looking for excuses its easier to start a fight


Black Elk saw the future look what good that it did

Driven out by dogs every time that they hid

Put away in boxes and stuck upon a shelf

Taught about heaven and sentenced to hell


Lets circle the wagons for the last go round

Then we’ll look for new land where theres none to be found

Fell asleep in a field of green

Woke to find myself in the American dream


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