It all started on Monday. Their chairman got on the radio and started to rant. He ranted about everything from the tribal courts to the victims of rape and child abuse whose cases are not being heard in tribal courts. The more he talked, the more pissed off she was getting.
Victim, violence, justice - the words all started to run around in her head until they ran right into the memories she tries to lock away. I am 71 years old, she thought. What the hell do they know about justice. What they hell does he know about rape? I was raped at the age of 2, again at the age of 13, again at the age of 16, and again at the age of 17. Where was he when I was raped? Where were they all? Instead they sit there, talking on the radio fighting each other. Where is my justice!
She was sitting in her kitchen playing solitaire as usual and looked out her window. Her house sits on the corner of X and Y on the reservation. To do the famous "loop" there is no other way but to drive by her house. All she sees looking out that window is a hundred homemade signs that have been put up by people running for tribal council. His sign was pointed right at her.
She took her gold cigarette holder and screwed her cigarette into the end of it and lit up. She switched the legs she had crossed and drank a cup of coffee. She couldn't get the memories out of her head. Damn him, its my Monday! Everyday I work to get these memories out of my head and there he goes talking on our damn radio station about stuff that does nothing piss everyone off! What does he know about rape!
The phone started to ring off the hook. She knew that the party line was hot; hot and pissed off as she felt. Her neighbor, another Angry Ojibwa Woman, was on the line and she asked her if she had heard. Yes, she heard. Yes, she agreed, they are a bunch of idiots. Her friend starts talking about how ashamed she was to hear it on the radio. She agreed, thinking silently that this was just the start of her day and she could bet just the first of one of these types of calls which messes up her whole day's plan for working to forget those memories. Doesn't he know how much energy it takes to forget! What does he know about rape?
Phone calls came in all day. By the end of the day, the sun was started to fall past the graveyard of election signs. His sign was still pointing right at her.
She worked all week to forget. She washed clothes. She hung them out on the line. The Fall air was cool. Her knuckles were red. She would look at her hands thinking about how they were part of her body when she was being raped as a child. What they hell does he know about rape? Where was he when I was being raped? There was nothing she did that week to get the memories out of her head.
Friday came. She got herself up out of bed. She put her feet on the cold laminate floor. It was cold in her house. Her bed faced the X and Y corner. Staring right at her, was his sign - looking right at her.
She still had her onsie on. She slipped on her mocs. She put her gold cigarette holder, cigarettes, and lighter in one pocket and cards in the other. She grabbed her keys. Got in her car. Started it up. She could see her breath. She drove down the highway. Pissed. What does he know about rape?
She parked in the tribal office parking lot. Got out of her car. Walked passed the secretary-treasurer and into the chairman's office. He looked up and stretched out his hand to say hello. She stood there. Looking at him, she laid on the floor of his office with her hands in the pockets of her onsie. She refused to speak.
That was Friday. Now, as she sits naked in her cell, she still has her cards and her gold cigarette lighter. The gold cigarette lighter was hers. It was special. It had special memories. You see, when she was younger, she was a fighter. She would go to D.C. She would fight. Not on the tribal radio station. Not in the tribal newspapers. Not against her own people. She fought where it matters against those who matter.
She knew about rape. She knows what being a victim means. She knows that no tribal court in the world could have helped her if she was raped on a reservation. She knew that the only ones to provide justice to the people were the ones she had to fight and they were in D.C. What they hell does he know about rape?
"I want my damn coffee!" she yelled. She could see a couple of the jail cooks who were also Angry Ojibwe Women looking through the small square window of the door. They smiled and said they would get her some coffee; giving her a thumbs up. They knew that there were no men that were going to come through that door.
She had to laugh, no one questioned her walking into the tribal office in her onsie and mocs that day. They just nodded her through. He didn't even say anything. He just wanted to shake her hand and have her sit down and talk like nothing was going on in the world. What they hell does he know about rape?
The cooks came in and brought her a whole pot of coffee, fresh cream, and sugar. They also brought in her lunch. A hot beef sandwich with mash potatoes that was piled so high, it could have fed 10 people. A fresh made pumpkin pie with whipped cream. They sat down. Like we were all having coffee together at her house. They wanted to know everything.
She asked them, do they know where the Tribal Judge was and if anyone could get a hold of her? They said, no, she is nowhere to be found. They said, the jailers were frantic. They don't know what to do. She knew, silently, that the Tribal Judge would not be found. Not that weekend, not Monday nor Tuesday. That the Tribal Judge would most likely be sick. They picked up the empty plates and said they were cooking something even better for supper.
The next few days, no one entered the jail cell. What were they going to do, come in and try to dress her? She looked at her knuckles again, this time she would fight them. She wasn't going to let anyone touch her this time. Monday came around, no arraignments. The Tribal Judge was sick. Tuesday came around, no arraignments. The Tribal Judge was sick.
On Monday evening, the cooks came in and told her that the chairperson was pissed. He wanted her charged with "rioting". She giggled to herself, "A one woman riot!"
After lunch on Tuesday, the cooks came into tell her that if she got dressed they will let her go. Smiling, she got her onsie and her mocs and got dressed. She grabbed her gold cigarette holder, the one that she got from Senator Humphrey the year everyone fought in the War of 1968 in Chicago. She put it in the right pocket of her onsie. She put her cards in the other pocket. She was ready to go.
She got home, sat back on her bed and looked out the window. He's damn sign was still staring right back at her. However, it was being partially hidden by a new sign that was put up while she was gone. She got up and looked closer. It was an election sign for tribal judge.
She slipped off her mocs and crawled back in bed. As she starting dozing off into sleep, she said to herself, "What does he know about rape!"