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Controvery sells, they say

  It appears to be true that controversy sells - look at the headlines. 

  There's a management tool used in some seminars in which each participant chooses an adjective to go with their first name.  The adjective must start with the same sound, & preferably the same first letter, of the first name.  My first name, in the majority culture, anyway, is Carol.  And the first word that comes to mind with my first name is "Controversial".  My life has been this way since my conception.  My birth mother got me with an Ndn man, not with the white man she was married to - so I can honestly say, "I'm a real bastard".  ;-)  In the Ndn Way, there's no such thing as 'bastardy', nor is there a stigma attached to having a child for some man you aren't married to.  Our word for child in Lakhota is "wakanyja" (say, "wah-KHANH-yjza"); it means 'mysterious gift'.

  In my case, that's certainly true - I have always been controversial, and a challenge.  Smart, one to take initiative, not one to ask 'Captain, may I?', outspoken, and not one to try to pass as white..  I've always gone my own road.  Those few times when I've been tempted to follow the herd, my unchi (grandmother) would tell me, "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, you should only do it if you think it's the right thing for you to do.  Walk your own road!  You'll get farther in life."  She was right.  We who walk our own road our own way don't necessarily have an easier life, but we do get farther towards our goals & with fewer detours.

  I decided to learn to read & write when I was a bit under 3 years of age.  I started pestering adults to teach me & it took 6 months before I persuaded one of them to teach me.  Her name was Nancy Brill; she was a neighbor going to college to be a teacher.  She was hesitant, but I argued that to be able to teach one so young to read & write was breaking new ground; isn't that what teaching is for; and could she come up with any fact that would prove I could not learn to read & write before the school system said I could?  She replied that I was going to be a lawyer & that she thought my teachers were going to find me a challenge - but she taught me.

  In a week, I had zipped thru all the truly bor-ing "Dick, Jane, Spot" books & was reading the children's books in the local library.  The librarian said I was 'too young' to get a library card, so for a little while, I had to get an adult to get books for me.  Given the rate I devoured books at, it wasn't long before my birth mother was pestering the library to give me a library card of my own so I could check out my own books.  At 3 I couldn't walk to the library alone, but I could certainly go in alone while the birth mother did other things near by.

  Then things got interesting.  Controversial.  I read everything in the children's section & started on the Young Adults or Teens section.  The librarian said I could not check out books from those areas because I wasn't old enough.  I got people to help me.  When the librarian found out, she cancelled my card.  Then she cancelled their cards.  Didn't stop me though - made me more determined.  I wanted to know what she was keeping from me.

  By the time I was "old enough" to read the books in the Adult section of the library, I had set a record for most library cards cancelled so a kid could read freely.  All of my Aunties, most of my Uncles, various cousins, friends of the family, my grandmother - you name it, we had someone in the category whose card was cancelled for the 'crime' of helping a kid read freely.

  And that was just the beginning.



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