Today is National Voter Registration Day
Since today is National Voter Registration Day, I’m sharing my voting story. It has been revised and shortened for a presentation I will be making as part of Native Vote Action week for Elementary students. PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE AND VOTE. No one person is perfect, but if we do not contribute our vote to those who most closely represent our interests we really can’t complain if those who don’t at all care about our interests in up in the decision making positions.
Grandmama’s Dream – Valiant Ones Transform Events – VOTE!
Once, it is said, in a time when change arose unexpectedly like a rainbow on a sunny day, a storyteller named Windsong made her Saha’s dream come true. This is her story.
Windsong was also a college professor. She worked at a large university in Pennsylvania. But every year at spring break, Windsong returned home to First Mesa to visit her Grandmama. Since she was a very little girl Windsong helped her Saha bake. Windsong peeled and cut fruit while Grandmama’s strong hands kneaded dough.
Saha often said, “Life is like a pie. You have to take time to gather all of the right ingredients. The people you choose to be with, the actions you choose to do must be mixed with love and care to bake a good life.”
This visit Windsong was going to talk to Grandmama’s students about the history of voting and why it was important for Hopi people as well as all Americans to vote.
Grandmama said, “So, how are you going to make voting interesting for my students?”
Windsong was quiet for a few seconds, smiled, and said, “I’ll approach it like you always do Saha, like I’m baking a pie. I’ll show them that to make America work and to make Hopiland work,we have to combine all of the ingredients in the right balance. The ingredients for voting are the right to vote, the ability to vote – to be able to read and write, and to be registered, to have good people to vote for, and then to vote. Right?”
Her Saha said, “Right.” And stretched out the dough to prepare for her pie.
Windsong began by asking the students why do you think it is important for adults to vote? Voting is important because it is how people select how they want to live in the country. When people vote they choose people who make laws that effect water, taxes, driving, travel, health care, education, and jobs.
This country celebrates the Fourth of July as the date it declared its freedom from rule by England in 1776. But, even though the Declaration of Independence said all men are created equal, the U.S. government was not set up to allow all men – (women weren’t even mentioned) – to vote or to participate in government. Every group of people in this country, except wealthy white men who owned property, have had to fight for the right to vote.
Windsong ended her presentation by saying, “The U.S. is a work in progress like every country. What is important to remember is that ideals and visions only succeed if people continue the hard work that keeps those ideal visions alive. We must always remember that our ancient traditions teach that all life is sacred, and only through the daily practice of kindness, patience, generosity, humility, and courage can any government or people flourish.”
The next morning Windsong woke up and found Grandmama sitting at the table writing quickly. When she finished she said.
“I had a very strange dream last night. I was sitting at a round table with a sword in the middle. The sword changed into a pen and paper. Then I was standing at the head of a long table on top of First Mesa beating a drum, chanting, ‘Valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events.’ You appeared and stood next to me and began chanting with me. Then one at a time other people appeared, stood around the table, and joined in the chant. Asian-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, black people, white people, and Native Americans. We stood around the table chanting, ‘Valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events.’ Then the Corn Princess appeared carrying a tri-colored corn cob, red, white, and blue. She walked up to each of us and touched us on top of our heads with the corn cob. We became beams of light bursting over the mesa in all directions and a double rainbow appeared over the mesa.Then I woke up.”
Windsong said, “That’s a wonderful dream Grandmama, and I have a friend named Penny Cho, she does traditional Japanese dances and interprets dreams.”
Windsong called Penny and told her about the dream. Penny said, “Let me think about it a few minutes and I’ll call you back.”
Penny called back and said, “The first letters of the phrase Valiant Ones Transform Events spells VOTE. I think the dream is about organizing all of the different groups of people in the U.S. to come together and register all the diverse people to vote. Your Grandmama’s dream was about empowering the USA to become a true rainbow nation with all of the diverse races and cultures organize to vote and make this country a better place for all of its people.”
And so it came to be, that Windsong and Penny found all of the people Grandmama dreamed about and they began to organize their communities.
Aisha and Jamal Hafiz were Arab-Americans and organized their communities. Socorro and Manual Hernandez organized Latino communities. Adam Stewart was a paraplegic and organized the differently abled community. Javon Taylor, a black football player and Francine Bordeaux organized black communities. Lolana Kaikala, from Hawaii, organized all of the people in the islands who can vote. Hannah Zubinsky organized women. Amita Jaya organized the East Indian community. Adrian Hughes, coordinated Native American voter registration drives.
That year more women, diverse people, and more Native Americans than in history voted. Each year more and more positive political change happened from the seeds of Grandmama’s dream. More women and people of color were elected to state and national offices and governments reflecting the many colors and cultures living in this nation.
Our environment improved with a flourishing of alternative energy and conservation of natural resources and habitats. The economy was stronger than ever in our history with poverty on a steep decline. Our health care system developed into a wellness promotion system available to all citizens, and prisons closed for lack of inmates. The Defense Department became the Peace Department and assisted our citizens and people around the world experiencing natural disasters, mediated peace negotiations, and coordinated refugee relocations. Finally, our country took the lead in nuclear arms reduction and enforcing the pursuit and prosecution of illegal arms sales.
On the tenth anniversary of Grandmama’s dream, all of the organizers finally met on First Mesa. Windsong’s Saha, beamed seeing the manifestation of her dream. Once again, she had combined a variety of ingredients and spices mixed with patience and care to bake the perfect American pie.