Monday, November 4, 2013

Native American actor urges retention of traditions

Saginaw Grant
Actor Saginaw Grant, a Sac and Fox Indian who has played numerous Native American roles in the movies and on television, said at a Student Veteran Organization event at Grossmont College on Monday, Nov. 4. that every combat veteran comes home with hidden wounds caused by the things they saw or did.  However, he said, it’s important that they banish negative thoughts from their minds: “You can’t change those things by thinking about them.”

Grant, who had served in the Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict, said even after separating from the military service, veterans should continue to honor the proud military traditions that have been passed down for generations.  Likewise, Grant, who appeared in the 2013 movie The Lone Ranger as the Comanche Chief Big Bear, said that his Indian people should carefully listen and then honor the lessons that have been transmitted  for eons in their oral traditions.

His fellow Marines value being on time and being able to listen, he said.  They also conduct themselves with pride, no matter how harshly life might deal with them.

His Sac and Fox people value the gifts given to them by the Creator.  They welcome back the sun every morning, knowing how good it feels to be greeted at home following a journey. He said he personally thanks the Creator for letting him feel well, for the meals that he eats, and for letting him see the sky.  He added that he asks the Creator to let him show kindness to other people, and to demonstrate how friendly he can be.

In former days, he said, Sac and Fox grandchildren listened to the elders tell them about life, but today some are not interested in hearing. Some don’t show respect for elders. 

Likewise, he said, continuing in his theme of parallelism, some people don’t show military veterans the respect they are due for having volunteered to go into combat.  

This culture of disregard also extends to Mother Earth, from which people have taken so much—coal, oil, different minerals.  At the pace mankind despoils the earth, it will not last another four generations, he said.

He said his people traditionally believe that humans and animals once had the ability to speak to one another, but that animals withdrew themselves from the relationship because humans abused them.  However, animals still are willing to teach by example.  “Animals know more than we do about the weather, and about treating each other right,” he said.

Grant expressed hope that traditions and civility can be reclaimed because both provide life with its richness.  It was the culture of giving that prompted American Indians in Massachusetts to greet the Pilgrims, to provide them with fresh water and food, he said. 

He urged students who gathered in the Main Quad of Grossmont College to hear his address to find what they are good at, and then to develop that talent.  “When you do that you will find satisfaction,” he said.  “We have a purpose.”

The actor and lecturer concluded his speech with a story about the Creator coming down to see his work and meeting a dog and a turtle.   He instructed them to proceed from where they were standing to the base of a tree on the top of a mountain off in the distance.   The dog dashed to the destination, whereas the turtle took his time, three moons in fact.  The Creator asked the dog what he had seen along the way.  The dog responded he hadn’t really seen anything, he was so intent on getting there. When the turtle arrived, it took him four moons just to tell all the wonders he had witnessed along the way.

“You must take your time in life to enjoy your life,” Grant advised.  There are things that are beautiful to be enjoyed, he said.  “Enjoy your lives.”

Jason Diaz, vice president of the Student Veteran Organization, said other veteran events are planned throughout the week.  The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, Nov. 5, a Veterans Resource Fair will be held on the Main Quad, with photos of veterans in uniform being collected for a future mural. 

Wednesday, Nov. 6: Screening in Griffin Gate at 11 a.m. of the movie The WindTalkers, followed by a talk by Ivan Sam, grandson of one of the original Code Talkers of World War II.  That same day, there will be a Self Defense Seminar at the athletic fields. 

Thursday, Nov. 7:  Veterans Art Expose and the screening of Grossmont’s own produced movie, Bringing It Home  from 2-5 p.m. in Griffin Center.  Panda Express in the Grossmont Shopping Center will participate from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in a fundraiser for the SVO. 

Friday, Nov. 8: Rubio’s in the Grossmont Shopping Center will participate in another SVO fundraiser.