8/16/2011 8:7

Going Home To the Reservation

Not being a Native American, I can't fully understand the experience of going home to the reservation. And yet, yesterday when I biked to the intersection of highways E and EE on the Oneida Reservation, and went into the Oneida Nation Museum there, and looked at the exhibits, and saw the maintenance and museum staff people working, and watched the video tribute to Purcell Powless, and then rode back on Lambie Road, I thought it felt like going home to the reservation.

I had the same feeling watching the movie Frozen River (which is set on and near the Mohawk Reservation in New York). That struck me as odd, not only because I'm not Mohawk but also because I've never been in upstate New York. It never was home. How could it feel like going home?

Obviously, the sense of being "home" is not dependent on knowing the place or the people who are there or on having close genetic ties -- since none of these apply. Any of these connections may help to establish a sense of being "home", but my experience suggests that familiarity and past associations can equally be antithetical to the sense of being at home.

What is it, in actual reality, that we want to find when we try to "go home"? What is the actual reality of home for us? Right now I'm not entirely sure. I think I could play the game better if I knew the answer.