Thursday, October 11, 2007

Buena Suerte, "Scarlett"

(Per a promise made to an earlier comment/response by Cheryl, HERE, this here's a post comprising my thoughts on all things Oklahoma Choctaw, these days)
Other than the two parts of your comment that I've already commented upon, i.e., a newer photo of me, as a grinning "Local Content", and considering following the Alabama Crimson Tide, instead of the Sooners, here is my 'return email' to yours.
[Hello to everybody in Durant, peeking in, here, from the Nation! 3 times today! Watching you, watching me]

Thanks very much for commenting, and for stopping by my little bloggie. Like everyone else, you are welcome here. I would like it if you were a regular reader, contributor, pal.

But I am a Local Malcontent. THE localmalcontent specifically, identified as same, by a letter in the McAlester News and Democrat newspaper in 2002, in a response to a letter published I'd written, itself in response to a closet-Socialist's earlier letter.

I am proud to be a, THE, Localmalcontent, if that means that I stand up for my beliefs, my standards, my heritage, and my hopes for the United States of America.

You want a current photo of me? I have to have my photo taken when one of my casino's customers wins a large amount of money, mostly over $3,000. I have to look very happy in these, standing with the winner, handing them a fanned-out wad of cash. Two or three are on the web right now, I think, last time I looked.

Some good ones made of me this past May-June, Memorial Day weekend, at the 2007 Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City, where I danced with a good friend's southern Grass Dance group. Pics mostly of my butt, but I really liked this one, of me in ceremonial dress, the group of us as we stood waiting to begin; I thought I'd lost these forever, when my (new) computer bit the dust and took a month's vacation in Oakland this summer, getting a new motherboard. But Marty's wife was good enough to email me the whole disk's photos earlier this month.

From left, half of Ralph, Marty, Wes, me, and Calvin.
By nature, and by choice, I do not readily provide any extra curricular information about myself, including photos. And by extension, much about the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, my employer, either. So consider yourself lucky, Cheryl.

Opinions are fine, are OK, but the actual figures and information you seek from me are a matter of public record, so seek them! Elsewhere. Officially.

But here's a tip: 1-800-522-6170, the Choctaw National HQ in Durant, and Matthew 7:7.

I don't mean to be short here with you, Cheryl: To the contrary, I am only saying that for what you ask, I am not the source you should seek. I'm the first Conservative, the first 'Republican'-minded person in my family, in this area of the state.

Either you'd cite me as a 'local malcontent', and unworthy of further notice, or you'd cite me as 'Mr. So-and-So, of the Choctaw Casino....' Neither clear identifer, can I afford or risk.
What if I was a state employee, within the Governor's administrative branch, opting to be cited for my personal opinions in some big study? Sorry, I don't have that much privilege.

Thus, this little bloggie... And thus, my 9-year-old photograph, of me stern, thinner, acned, and with shorter hair.

Individual Choctaw do not receive financial benefits directly from the Tribe, as a result of our casinos. But- there are many, many additional services such as a variety of housing assistance programs, home repairs of emergency problems, low-interest tribal loans, loan guarantees, a private credit union, as well as encouragement and incentives to pursue self employment goals, all of which ARE funded by casino proceeds. Schools, day cares, language centers, vo-techs, and tribal grants and annual allowances for items such as clothing or for books, or tuition are a bedrock part of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's promise to its membership, and to its youth.

For Indians, either with a CDIB, or without other insurance, we get free prescriptions; but I should point out that all our medical services including dentistry and surgeries are performed by Med students or 1st year doctors, interns. The latter, under supervision. Even some medical benefits which are not covered by Federal law: Free eyeglasses, free dentures after a certain age (55); free legal representation, if a member is destitute; free geological surveys or maps, certain travel expenses, subsides for a local area bus service for our elders and the like. Each and every employee of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma receives a $400. Christmas bonus. I also receive a bonus based upon certain criteria of my casino's annual operation.

I do not choose to be identified further. I did that once, earlier this year, and it got me into ugly trouble. Lesson learned there! And thank you for not asking further.
Cheryl, I am happy and content living on my peaceful Oklahoma hillside, with my black Lab, Amos, 'Guardian of the whole', and my chickens.

I do have genuine disgust for the 'socialistic', U.S.-government-run Bureau of Indian Affairs (Once my employer, in the mid to late 90s), and the Indian Health Service, it's blanket edicts and the hurry-up-n-wait-for services mindset it requires. That's a given. You may discover that no Indian person likes it really, even Indian caregivers, nurses. The clinics are always crowded, the appointments overbooked. We are treated like unassembled parts on a factory conveyor belt. "Go here, do this, go there, do that, bring us this report from there, take this report and go there, and if you forget to, then screw you, here's another appointment date for April, 2009, try and bring it in, then". Treated like stupid children.

Cheryl, the problem is the all the danged red tape and governmental supervision, the intervention. And the professional turnover! As example, personally, I really like alot, my 1st year, Muslim Doctor!! A Good guy from Jordan. Is he an embedded Islamic terrorist, like those doctors in Scotland, England? I hate to think so! I like him so much, for his attention to me, back in March, his little-bitty smiles, haha, that I don't ever want him to leave the system.... But he will someday, all too soon, and I'll get another substitute doctor, and have to go through the necessary reiteration of my entire medical history, again: Thanks to Federal regulations, the cheap way the government takes care of us. It is an HMO essentially, and a badly managed one at that. But it's the only game in town for many Indians, and they, we, are discouraged to make waves about it.

I have been vocal in the past again and again, regarding Oklahoma's unemployment, mostly here in the southeast part of the state, because I can remember my mama feeding hobos, drunk Indians really, off our back porch steps, in the 70s!, and of having vegetables stole from our garden. I've written formal letters to our chief Pyle, to my Choctaw District representative, to my friend, assistant chief Batton, to state Senators and representatives alike, urging them to make a sincere and real effort to reduce area unemployment, to give good folk hope, not in the form of gov't. hand-outs, but as a hand UP.

And some things have been acomplished, new seasonal jobs are on the books, at places like saw mills, lumber yards, coal mines, gas exploration teams, or within the Tribal government which go a long ways to helping good people stay above sea level.

But it's only a start, only temporarily, as we again see from August Okla. Unemployment figgers.
[This is my thin, "liberal" stripe.]

You say: "I wasn't really asking you to participate in a formal study--I'm just always kind of looking for new research ideas." Good. Keep looking. Within your own mind is the best start, best place to look. "I'd be interested in what you think of some of the stuff I've written. [...] Really--give me your honest opinion. (BTW, I read your commentary re: the Tulsa study--I'm asking because clearly, brutal honesty isn't an issue for you!)"

Thank you for that kind compliment, Cheryl. I will read them, and I still have your email, so count on it... and whatever they say, please keep up the good work you do. Ya know, I can read the posts of some far left extremists, maybe just left of the planet Neptune, and still appreciate the work, if it has a sense of sincerity, of conviction to it. Agreement is another matter!

Finally in your closing words, you express your love for fellow Okies J.C. Watts, Ernest Istook, Senator Coburn, others; I appreciate and highly respect them, too! Mr. Watts, especially. For he is living and being the best that he wants to be, and that's a lot! That is all I wish for, for anyone. Myself, I would hop on one foot all the way to Norman, for the opportunity of spending time with this man. He's one of my favorites, too! Looking forward to J. C.'s presidential run someday!
So Cheryl, have I answered your comment-ed/email questions?

Oh, yes, about the matter of rooting for the Alabama Crimson Tide, instead of the Sooners.... "Are you just nuts?"

In closing this email/blog post, I'd like to recite a story my grandfather told me as a little boy. It has meaning to it, alright?

Why The Possum's Tail Has No Hair

Coon and Possum met one day and had a talk. As the talk went on, Possum couldn't keep his eyes off Coon's beautiful, furry tail. "How are your folks?" asked Coon.
"Fine," replied Possum.
"How you a doin'?" continued Coon.
"Fine," came the same reply. Possum was so busy admiring Coon's black and brown ringed tail, he couldn't think of anything else.
"Where you a going?" asked Coon.
"On way to mountain," answered Possum slowly. He had come out of the bottoms that morning.
"What for?"
"Huntin' persimmons. Might find some," Possum answered, still lookin' at coon's glorious tail.
"I just passed persimmon grove on way down," Coon told him.
"Any persimmons?" asked Possum, beginning to show a little interest.
"Trees full!"
"Where you a goin, Coon?"
"To bottom to look for crawdads."
"Noticed them in every slough, ever' creek, lots of them," said Possum. With that, his eyes were back on Coon's tail. "Your beautiful tail, Coon! How did you get it?"
"Took hickory bark, wrapped it around tail, then singed it. That way I got the pretty colors," explained Coon.
They separated, each going his own way. Possum kept thinking how he could have a tail like Coon's. He got hickory bark and wrapped his tail. He built a fire to singe the fur on his tail, but the fire got much too hot. He accidentally burnt all the hair off his tail. And very soon he forgot all about persimmons.
Ever since, possums have had no hair on their tails. That is also the reason they travel at night. They still sulk because they have no hair on thier tails.

The moral of the story, Cheryl, is not to be envious of others' tails: To offer help, but not be real specific, situations change between here and there: To be happy, be not "mal-content", with what you already got. To be mal-content 'nuff to see, and to object when others try to change your good way of life. (Like the system of free market-based medicine and health coverage in our nation today)

That is all that I do here, ma'am.


Babs said...

Thank you for sharing the pic of you and fellow tribe members in the ceremonial dress - it's a beautiful scene. I also really enjoyed the possum story - it's a good reminder for us all.

Oh btw, I've added you to my blogroll over at The Conversation Station.

Redstater said...

I dunno where you two got sideways exactly... but great post mal, loved the story... tell more, tell more.

Cheryl Suellen Smith said...

I feel I first should set the record straight.
1)I told you I was working on the Navajo project, right? Well, I feel good about what we're doing, but only if it really serves the people. A bunch of classmates and I decided to look at other tribes and nations to see what forms of government they have, see if those forms of government serve the people in earnest, and see if the people are, well...content with their govenrments. I had the unemployment data, but it's not very detailed--plus I was just using that as an indicator as to individual member utility. (It's hard to be content when you don't have a job or money to pay bills.) I looked at on-line copies of the Choctaw newspaper--I see there are lots of kids going to school, getting scholarships, new health centers opening, etc. but what I was really looking for was a feeling--a general concensus. I don't want official stuff nearly as much as I want to know what it is people are saying in their homes. I wasn't lazy in my pursuit, it's just hard to access that kind of information. Truly, I had the paper done, but I found the subject matter so compelling, I wanted to know more. You'll think I'm lying, but all of a sudden I found myself really wondering about life there. And then to find your blog! Well, what a happy accident that was!

I've only been to the panhandle of Oklahoma. I'm guessing I haven't seen the prettiest part?

I got the chance to work with Ernest Istook this summer. From what I gathered, he is pretty great. I think he's a man of his word--I hope I'm right. At any rate, he was wonderful to me and he and his wife were incredibly gracious.

I also got to meet Tom Coburn a few times this summer. Please be advised, I now have a very serious crush on the good senator from the great state of Oklahoma. No kidding! Glasses and all! That guy has guts! Did you happen to see his recent floor speech re: SCHIP? Wow!

I'm now working with a professor who used to work for JC Watts in DC--love that guy! I like him because he doesn't seem to have a sense of entitlement. There is no greater feeling than having had integrity. My sense is that he knows that feeling.

So, as you can see, I've had a lot of Okies in my path in the last few months. You've all been very kind and perfectly hospitable. Almost charming!

You won't believe this BUT I'm currently accidentally locked inside the Utah Department of Health. Yep. I'm doing an internship here this semester (working on health system reform--trying to shield us from HillaryCare) and I have a key card...that apparently only works until 6pm. Lo and behold, I go to leave at 6:15 and I can't get out. My only option was the emergency exit. So I went to the guard's desk (the guy goes home at 6pm) and just started rooting around for phone numbers. Finally found one, they called someone who called someone, and I expect to be rescued in about 20 minutes. I know this sounds like a joke. indeed, it isn't. Prior to writing you back I went through other people's desks looking for candy and/or Advil. (Low blood sugar=a headache that could kill a small animal.)

So you have a dog and some chickens, huh? (Do the chickens have names? If not, can I name them?) I am also a dog person. I don't mind having a cat--provided it's a cat that poops outside. I have no desire to deal with that mess. Yep, I like dogs--kind of big dogs, actually. My dream is to live in a house with enough land to have four or five dogs--two bloodhounds (Boudreau and Thibodeau), a German shepherd (Duke), a malamute (Chewbacca) and a beagle (Smudge.) Oh, and as long as I'm spilling my guts to a perfect stranger, I need three gardens--a flower garden, a veggie garden, and an herb garden. Oh, and a couple of fruit trees. I never get why people go on anti-depressants when they would likely get all the relief they need by planting and tending a garden. There is something monumentally empowering about eating something you grew--don't you think? (Please tell me you don't kill your chickens, though! I don't want you to grow those guys and eat 'em! That would be sad. Don't get me wrong--I eat meat--I just don't want to eat meat I've met.)

Oh--I loved the picture! Very cool. I went to the casino website--didn't see you...unless you are a tiny white lady. Her I saw. I'm not much of a gambler. In fact, I'm not a gambler at all. I don't get it. There's not an attraction for me. I'm going to Vegas in two weeks--but only because my friend has a convention there and his company is putting him up in a swank hotel. I'm so cheap I tag along for the free room and the couple of freebie meals I'll get as a result of hanging with him. (Did I happen to mention to you I was poor, white trash?)

And as for the story at the end, well, that settles it,
you are officially wise AND adorable. Though, you know Mal, you are hard to figger out. I can't tell if you're really nice and funny or if you're pulling my leg and your humor and wit are nothing more than a cruel hoax.

I hope you're a nice person. Though my summer was actually quite wonderful, I did hit kind of a bump and am currently trying to not lose my faith in humanity.

I liked the moral of your story. I actually feel much the same way. I don't know that I've ever been jealous. I kind of remember even as a kid thinking "jealous seems dumb" and indeed it is. What a waste. Next time I write (which may be later tonight) I'll have to share one of my moral tales. It's about Alabama. And bugs. It's good!

Okay Mal, gotta run, I think my rescuer will be here in a few minutes!

Take care and let's chat later, k?

PS I'm kind of thinking I should come up with an alias. This seems very exposed. What do you think about "Anonymous"?

The Localmalcontent said...

Thanks for the compliments ladies! I was in serious panic mode when this was taken- so nervous with stage fright- see the terror in my face?

Cheryl, you can name the chickens. 3R, 18H. Yeah I've killed, cleaned and eaten some. Easier when they are unnamed, I guess. Kept for the eggs. They remind me of my granddad. You'd love my place then: 3 gardens, flowers, vegetable, and herb. Bartlett pear and apple trees in the back, down the hill, 8.02Ac.

And Cheryl? ALL cats poop outdoors. Given the chance. My Lab is named Amos- for A-Mess-Of-S***.

Red thinks we're 'sideways'. I think that's a racing term.

onesouthernbelle said...

Got sideways? Okay, in my own defense I WAS LOCKED IN THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT, quite bored, low blood sugar, killer headache, out of my mind. I figured thinking happy thoughts about gardens and chickens (living chickens, that is)would help the situation.

Also, Red, if you're reading this, LOVE YOUR BLOG! I'm actually not a blogger myself, though I totally admire those who do it well. I have a friend/professor curently writing a book about the change in civic participation facilitated by blogs. Compelling stuff.

So Mal, I'm interested in your opinions on the upcoming presidential race--both the primaries and the general election. I'm a policy girl for many reasons, one of which is I think it's so much more dignified than actual politics. No, I'm not saying politics is UNdignified, I'm just saying it really has that potential. Now, having said that, let me add that I'm a political junkie--I love politics as a spectator sport. I was working on political campaigns before I could vote. For 3 years in high school I dressed up as Ronald Reagan (moment of silence)for Halloween. So far I'm am seriously digging this Republican race, though I think we have too many candidates--people who are only marginally engaged get confused. It took me a while, but I'm finally on board with Romney. He's bright, articulate, Hugh Hewitt likes him, and he's the most conservative of the bunch. (Actualy, I like McCain a lot too, I just think he's too far behind at this point.)
I'm interested in all points of view.

In the mean time, please consider the following from my all-time favorie Brit: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

-- Winston Churchill

Also for your entertainment, the best of late night re: the upcoming election:

Conan O’Brien: “During a recent speech, President Bush said, ‘My job is a decision-making job. As a result, I have made a lot of decisions.’ Apparently, Bush’s decision that day was to write his own speech.”

David Letterman: “Top Signs Hillary Clinton Is Getting Cocky”: Already selected her victory pantsuit; Canceled today’s campaign appearances; Went to see “Good Luck Chuck”; Spent most of the last debate listening to her iPod; Hired Faith Hill to beat up women who’ve hit on Bill; Assembled a Las Vegas crew to steal her football memorabilia; Calling Giuliani during speeches to say she loves him; Already issuing memos about putting White House toilet seats down; Responds to difficult questions with, “Oh no you didn’t!”; Told Bill he can start dating again.

Jay Leno: It’s starting to get nasty out on the campaign trail. This week a spokesman for John Edwards is accusing Barack Obama of stealing John Edwards’ ideas. Obama apparently has a secret plan to slip into third place. ... Barack Obama announced he is flying back home to Chicago to have a have a hot 15th wedding anniversary date with his wife. Every candidate spends their anniversary differently—Rudy Giuliani spends his trying to remember which wife he’s married to, Hillary Clinton spends her wedding anniversary trying to track down Bill, and Fred Thompson spends his helping his young wife with her homework. ... Border agents have now been issued air guns that shoot pepper balls at people coming across the Mexican border. Have they thought this through? Is that going to bother people from Mexico? Pepper balls? Don’t these people eat jalapenos? Isn’t that like firing meatballs at an Italian guy?