Well, Whatever. Rude remarks will no longer foster Tonto compte.

I’m selling my body. If they price NDN bodies like NDN cars you still won’t be able to pay your way into a toilet!

I’m too broke to afford eBay, or to afford an ad in the paper, so I’m advertising here.

For sale, one used body, cheap. It could use a tune-up, has a few nicks and dings, somewhat high mileage, but runs fairly good. It’s durable, sturdy and dependable as long as you run it on premium fuel. Some hail damage toward rear. Best offer.

Why am I selling the old clunker? Because I’m sick and tired of constantly being judged by it. I’m sick of “friends” offering their rude and insensitive remarks. I’m sick of people and their totally appearance-based assessments.

And I’m sick of being their Tonto.

I just want to be a piece of cosmic fluff; mere spirit, light, character and intellect floating here and there, with no physical person for people to judge, inspect and insult.

People say and do the darnedest things.

A man I know walks up to me and jabs me in the gut with his index finger and says, “Man! You’re sure puttin’ on the pounds!”

Mind you, this guy could stand to miss a few snacks himself, and, he wants me to donate artwork for his charity. Does he think he’s scoring sunshine points with his comments? And besides, two of me could fit inside him! I wanted to say, “Yes I have put on some lard, but there’s a thin person inside me, yearning to come out and beat the living snot outta you.”

Being a civil person with low self-esteem, I passed off his remarks with a joke and changed the subject. I was his Tonto.

Often times, stupid remarks are racially motivated. Last week I mentioned to a gentleman that I was on my way to offer a Native American blessing over a couple of friends at their wedding. He said, “What are you going to use, a tomahawk?” I was so stunned by this, I couldn’t even reply. Tonto again.

Someone else recently noticed my thinning pate and said, “Wow, it’s gettin’ pretty thin up there.”

“And, your point is?”

“Well, most Indians don’t lose their hair, you know.”

I wanted to say to him that most white people aren’t as rude and insensitive as him, either. I said nothing.

A few days ago I wore what’s left of my hair in braids, as I often do. A man I’ve known and admired for years, a high-profile gentleman of distinction downtown, hollers at me from 50 feet away, “Hey! Looks like you’re an Indian today,” while stroking imaginary braids of his own. “All you need now is a feather,” he said, holding a finger up behind his head.

Would this same man walk up to Rocky, a good friend of mine who works at The Gazette, and say, “Hey, you’re lookin’ pretty black today. All you need now is a bale of cotton!”?

I don’t think so.

Again, I held my tongue.

What happened to common courtesy? Is it uncommon? My mom taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. But, being human and therefore very much imperfect, I also judge and assess friends and people that I meet We all do. We don’t have to SAY rude and hurtful things to each other, though.

I must admit, hard as I try not to. I’ve been guilty of that also.

I figure if it happens to me, it probably happens to a lot of people, in a lot of different ways, too.

A Northern Cheyenne woman I know needed work done on her 10-year-old car. She’s a firefighter, and a night dispatcher for firefighting crews and equipment. She works hard, long, late hours for her money. Her car needed the points, plugs, wires, cap and rotor replaced. She tidies up her braids after working all night and takes her car to a garage on Broadwater in the morning.

After sizing up her and her car, they quote her a price of $440.

Instead, she calls an auto parts store, gets the parts she needs for $40, and uses valuable sleep time doing the tune-up herself.

I admire her, because she refused to Tonto herself.

You remember Tonto the slow, dumb, inarticulate subservient to the Lone Ranger? He was everything that the white man always wanted in an Indian. No matter what happened or what was thrown at him, he never rebelled and never questioned the Lone Ranger, always bowing to the bidding of the all-wise white hero.

My Northern Cheyenne friend refused to go there, and I’m proud of her.

And, there is a bright side to all of this. For every rude person that comes along, there seems to be about 50 total strangers who will just walk up and say something nice. I’ll focus on them.

And maybe I’ll just keep this old body after all, and like my friend, tune it up myself. I’ll start by asking those with their rude and insensitive comments to get off my back, and think first before you say something that might be hurtful to someone. You’re not as funny as you think you might be.

I won’t be your Tonto any more.

This little gem was reprinted with the hind permission of the Billing Gazette from out of Montana. They can be reach at www.billingsgazettercom