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Raiders and Producers

In the western part of what is now the United States there once was a beautiful valley in which lived a large tribe of injuns. They weren't dumb injuns by any means. I guess you could say they were working class injuns. Not necessarily blue-collar injuns, since injuns at that time weren't really big on collars, but good citizen-type injuns. They didn't really understand the relationship between nuclear potential and world peace nor did they care much about the legal ramifications of using a registered trademark on the Sunday School bulletin. They did understand, however, that the harder they worked the more they had. If they wanted to eat better, they had to grow more corn or reduce the local buffalo population by a steak or two. To have nice clothes or teepees, they had to spend the effort necessary to transform fur-bearing animals into hides.

This injun tribe had some cousins that lived over the hill. The small tribe of over-the-hill injuns weren't dumb either. Their philosophy was, however, a little different. They believed in the principle of leverage. That is to say, they couldn't see planting corn and building things, which they didn't enjoy, when their neighbors were already doing that. They, rather, spent their time playing war games, which they did enjoy. Then, when their industrious neighbors got through growing and harvesting their crops in the fall, they simply put on the obligatory war paint, charged over the hill and took a year's supply of food and whatever else they figured they wanted.

Now the productive-type injuns didn't particularly approve of the situation, but the raiders never really asked them their opinion. What's an injun to do?

While they worked during the summer, they would talk. "Howa mongola bugga cowolga." Injun Clyde commented one day while working in the cornfield. Loosely translated, that means "I have observed that sometimes life really isn't fair."

"Ichschmally nitchi-bali." His father replied. That means "Pay attention that you pull up the weeds and not the corn."

Clyde continued undaunted. "Here we are working our almond-colored fingers to the bone and for what?"

"So we can eat, son, so we can eat." Clyde's father sighed. He was painfully aware that his son was considered somewhat of a canoe-rocker among the members of the tribe.

"But as soon as we get all this corn grown and harvested, the raiders are going to come over the hill and steal it."

"They never do steal all of it," Clyde's mom pointed out. "We'll still have enough to live through the winter and plant next spring."

"Of course," Clyde patiently explained. "If we starve to death, who's going to grow their corn next year? The effective parasite won't kill his host."

Biology books being a rarity in the days before the one teepee schoolhouse, no one had ever heard of parasites or hosts or even toilet paper for that matter. But the concepts were all familiar ones.

"So what would you expect us to do?" the medicine man asked. He had lived with the situation for many moons and a few million bushels of corn. "We could always just quit producing. If we weren't attractive targets, they might not bother us."

That seemed like a viable alternative except for the part where everybody starved to death. That did meet with some opposition, welfare having not yet been discovered.

"But even without the starving part, it's the principle of the thing," Clyde protested. Clyde was big on principles. "Why should we have to sacrifice the things we are capable of having just so someone will leave us alone? We'd just be trading one unpleasant situation for another."

One of the young braves offered a suggestion. "Well why don't we put up a fight?"

That viewpoint met with pretty much universal acceptance. Even those on the other side of the cornfield who couldn't hear the conversation got excited because everyone else was. Then they got to talking about it and discovered that revolution has its risks. Nobody liked the idea of getting a brightly-colored arrow in his red skin. After all, these guys were professionals. Besides, if they put all their efforts into defending themselves, who was going to hunt and grow the food?

In the end, everyone pretty much agreed that it was a lot less trouble to just produce a little more to make up for what the raiders took.

Every year during the growing season and again after the fall raids, one injun or another brought up the issue. Every year the tribe got excited and determined that this year they were going to put up a fight. And every year that determination lasted about as long as the nature-scented roll-on deodorant that they made from pine gum and buffalo brains.

So we see that there are two types of injun. There are those who actually work to produce something and those that just profit from the efforts of the producers.

Yep, we've come a long way since the days of the injun.

Frank Leany

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