I met man who was a dentist for the Lakota Sioux tribe near Cheyenne. He was white and mostly took the job because the government forgave his college loans after five years. He said the Lakota treated him well and told him their word for white man was ‘wasicu’ which literally means ‘steals the fat.’ Fat stores life and energy and the white man was someone who ‘stole the fat out of the land.’
My wife is part Chippewa Indian. Though she has much closer tribal ties than many who romanticize the native Americans and claim tenuous kindred connections, she has mostly set it aside. I suspect she represents many of the descendants of alliances between the natives and the ‘fat takers.’ In her parent’s time it was not cool to be a ‘half breed,’ so they adopted the life and ways of the white man. It worked well for her family economically, but at some personal cost, I suspect.
Now that much of the fat is gone from the land, I wonder how long we can all live on the gristle. Judging from the homeless and hungry people showing up on the streets of my neighborhood, and the angry riots in Egypt where food prices are soaring, I think we may see a lot more anger over ‘fat taking’ before this chapter in man’s history is written.