Rez Humor

Much has been written about Indian humor or Rez humor on the interwebs.  I'm basically going to say the same shit already said back to you. 

My dad would always say, "when things get tough, we (Injuns) will laugh, the harder things get the more laughter you'll hear."

Life was tough this year seeing a huge pipeline being built unlawfully just north of our Rez.  Everyday was misery on social media seeing what Morton County, Energy Transfer Partners, Tigerswan, State Reps, and the right wing populace was spewing and doing in North Dakota.  Historical trauma was happening in real time, I'm so glad Heitkamp passed that Trauma bill last fall then sat quietly while her State inflicted trauma, she may be able to see the future, who knows? Anyone it would be funny if it wasn't so sad. 

I kept thinking, why aren't we laughing? We should be laughing. My dad's teaching in the back of my head. Where the hell are all the comedians? Maybe they're out there making videos and making people laugh that I'm just not aware of? Did they become activists? (sigh) Fuck it, i'll try it.  I'm not funny, probably the 6th funniest friend in my friend group but if I try and fail so what at least my personal social media will be a little lighter.  I'm that dude that is quiet when the group starts dogging on each and telling exaggerated stories until I throw something in there and get awkward silence but I'm too addicted and not spiritually evolved enough to just get off of social media or the internet.  This is where the videos, posts, memes, and the shenanigans comes from; selfishly wanting to protect my social media from misery and make fun of behavior along the way especially my own behavior as well as maybe, possibly, making a few of the people on my friends list laugh a little. 

Humor can teach, make one think, be used as a social tool to reign in behavior, help deal with hardship and trauma if only for a brief moment, among other things. Much of the things I like to point out is that we say we want this thing over here, or we want to head in this direction or end up at this destination but we take this route over here that is the opposite of where we are headed.  That's basically it.  So we want to decolonize everything and continue our cultural reawakening, great! Why then are we uplifting womanizers, destroying the earth through capitalism, trying to free ourselves through Representative Democracy (foreign systems) and capitalistic ambitions all the while pushing our language, our health and access to healthy food; our culture, our youth, and education to the wayside.

Vine Deloria Jr, my favorite writer, (I'll find ways to insert him everywhere) said in his book Custer Died for your Sins, "One of the best ways to understand a people is to know what makes them laugh. Laughter encompasses the limits of the soul. In humor life is redefined and accepted. Irony and satire provide much keener insights into a group's collective psyche and values than do years of research" (Deloria, p. 39)

Deloria seemed pissed that when those "damn anthros" came to the Rez to study us that they left out one of the most obvious things, our humor.  We got the stoic thing stereotyped on us.  What makes me laugh is when some of our people "perform" for non-Natives and play into this stereotype but that's a different blog (or possibly a video) for a different time. Nonetheless, Indians laugh, even the gangster ones, the culture cops, the type A personality ones (the Dwight Schrutes of the rez AKA the BIA employees), as well as politicians and medicine people.  Especially medicine people.

Laughter is part of our past, present, and future.  It can lighten a lot of things on the Rez and in the world.  When things get tough, we need to laugh more, tease more, tell crazy stories, and exaggerate the hell out of things and laugh our way through it. We can honor our ancestors in this way I feel. Maybe I'm wrong but this is how I feel. A researcher (one of those damn anthros) said that humor is "culture -in-action." Word up I say to that.  I'll leave you with a Deloria quote from Custer, "When a people can laugh at themselves and laugh at others and hold all aspects of life together without letting anybody drive them to extremes, then it seems to me that that people can survive" (Deloria p. 53)


"Taking Humor Seriously: Talking about Drinking in Native American Focus Groups"