I was three years when I learned to read. I had three sisters and one brother. we lived in a Spokane Indian reservation in eastern washington state. By most standards we were poor but one parent usually found a minamum wadge job.
My father, who is one of the few Indians who went to Catholic school on purpose. He bought his books by the pound at Dutch's Pawn Shop, Goodwill, and salvation army. Our house was filled with books.
I can remember picking up my father's books before I could read. The words inside a paragraph worked together for a common purpose. They had some specific reason for being inside the same fence.
I remember picking up a superman book.In one panel, Superman breaks through a door. I look at the narrative above the picture. I assume it tells me that "Superman is breaking down the door." I pretend to read the words and say, "Superman is breaking down the door."
A smart Indian is a dangerous person, widely feared and ridiculed. I fought with my classmates on a daily basis. We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid.
I read books in the car when my family traveled to powwows or basketball games. I read the books I borrowed from the library. I read the newspaper. I am still surprised I became a writer. I was going to be a pediatrician.Now, I write novels, short stories, and poems. I visit schools and teach creative writing to kids.They refuse and resist. "Books," I say to them. "Books," I say. I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds. I am smart. I am arrogant. I am lucky. I am trying to save our lives.