My Reacclimation To Tribal Life.

by R. Dale Potrykus
(Lapeer, Michigan)

R. Dale Potrykus

R. Dale Potrykus

When I was young, about 5 or so, I lived near Detroit in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. I had no idea of my past heritage other than the knowledge of my Great grandmother being Native American, no one ever spoke of tribal life. My grandfather had to pretend to be white to avoid the problems of peoples prejudices of that time period. From my father's work he had made some friends that were native in their ancestry, and through time, the bonds strengthened. Then Tragedy struck, one bright sunny weekend we had decided to go boating in Lake St. Clair. A sudden thunderstorm came up out of nowhere while we were out swimming at Sand Island. When we tried to leave, the waves were so intense, that the boat stuck a rock as it went between a couple of swells and hit the bottom of the lake. The operator of the boat, unfortunately, was lost in the incident. My father, as a close friend of the family, and my mother who is of native culture, and the family of the lost boater, accompanied him up to Bay Mills reservation for his funeral. This became my first introduction into Tribal life and culture. As a family, we were adopted into the tribe as if we had always been a part of it. For the many years that followed, we spent all of our vacation time, and many of my summers learning from the elders, and participating in the rituals, ceremonies, sporting events, and pow wows of the tribe. It taught me a great deal of my life's lessons, and how to see things differently from most people outside of native life. Differences that have stuck with me over the years, even though I lost touch with them, only to see them reappear as I reattached my self to the culture that was taught to me from childhood. Although I am only 1/8th Ojibwa, I am 100% native in my lifestyle.

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