A week before I spoke with Edison Red Nest III in Alliance, I had spoken with a young lady in central Nebraska. She said, “I’m not a racist, but… ” then proceeded to tell me that there were usually 4 – 5 drunken fights in town involving Native Americans. I recoiled at what sounded like casual stereotyping and yet her language reflected much of what Edison told me about his perspectives. Despite the similarity of their narratives, however, the distinction perhaps is in the optimism and openness expressed by people like Edison, who declared that the solution to his people’s trauma has always been there and is theirs to reclaim.
Edison Red Nest III explained that it is against the backdrop of what he describes as historical trauma that the ills today afflicting some Native American communities play out. Simply telling me about the troubled state of Native Americans unnerved him. Yet he continued to speak with candor and brutal self-awareness. It was a display of conversational courage and vulnerability that I admired.
the subtext of his own awareness of historic trauma: by recognizing this in himself, he talks about his new, more profound, awareness of and tuning into his body. His actual physical responses and what his body is telling him. I feel like, generally, people tend to explain away symptoms or dismiss feelings and yet our health and ability to be present to our world hinges on how well we listen to our bodies and ourselves. Believe and observe your feelings, maybe that’s a shorter way for me to comment on what Edison alludes to in the conversation.