The Californian dream ‘
Photo: Copyright 2021, FX Networks.
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book of poetry, Postcolonial love poem, Natalie Diaz breaks down the mathematics of Native American life in the United States: âNative Americans make up less than 1% of the American population. 0.8 percent of 100 percent. If one is the loneliest number, how much is anything less than one?
Towards the end of this same poem, Diaz exclaims: “I beg: Let me be alone but not invisible. “ Indigenous peoples are often numerically reduced to an invisible population through the magic of statistics like those mentioned above. This is part of the reasoning often used to justify a lack of representation of Native Americans in popular culture – some people would argue that there are simply “not enough” Native people around anyway, so why go anywhere? time and money to do a show just for them? It’s a way of turning lonely people into invisible people.
This sense of loneliness and invisibility weighs heavily on Indigenous peoples, especially our youth, and this is part of the reason Indigenous peoples celebrate Dogs Reservation so vigorously, if visibly. Many of us are ultimately seeing indigenous peoples authentically represented publicly. And while Dogs Reservation Certainly gives us a lot to celebrate through its portrayal of Indigenous joy and laughter, producers and writers have not shied away from portraying these most overwhelming aspects of Indigenous life. This week’s episode, titled âCalifornia Dreamin ‘,â is more of a nightmare than a dream, illustrating the intergenerational trauma experienced by Aboriginal youth.
Like Diaz, I want to come up with some numbers to contextualize this week’s episode. Statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that among Native Americans, 40% of those who commit suicide are between the ages of 15 and 24. Aboriginal adults aged 18 to 24 experience the highest suicide rates. – superior to any other racial or ethnic group. The CDC has since said that the disproportionately high rates of depression, mental illness and suicide among tribal youth constitute a “crisis.” This crisis is the result of hundreds of years of genocide and colonization. Meanwhile, the United States implemented policies such as residential schools, relocation and reorganization of tribal governments, all of which were aimed at wreaking havoc on Indigenous cultures and families. It is the tumultuous backdrop of Aboriginal life. And what makes this story so heavy is that It’s not only the story – Indigenous dispossession is In progress. Today’s Aboriginal youth have been swept away by history.
In an instant, all that heartache and trauma can crumble during mundane moments in life – for example, during a driving test. And that’s where we start with this episode, with Elora waiting to take her driving test at the DMV. Elora has failed the test three times already, but she’s hoping for a different result this time around: “Four is the holy number,” she jokes with a DMV employee. She has also just daydreamed, looking at a picture of California on the wall. At this point in the series, Elora feels isolated from her friends, each of whom has a more supportive network of direct family members. The fact that Elora shows up alone at the DMV, with no parent or community member to cheer her on, is telling.
After exiting to begin the exam, Elora is shocked to find that her instructor for the test is trainer “Cukuce” Bobson (played by Bill Burr), and we find out that he was Elora’s trainer (of Classes Elora is a former floor ball star). After a brief exchange where Bobson asks why Elora suddenly left the basketball team (that was so she could raise money for the crew to fly to California), the two jump into the car. from Elora’s grandmother and leave.
Other important numbers that appear in the episode include number zero, which is the number of mirrors that Elora’s car has at the start of the test. Before leaving, Elora grabs the mirror from the glove box and puts it back in place with duct tape, much to Coach Bobson’s dismay.
Despite their best efforts, the two passengers in the vehicle were unable to remove their trauma. During a parallel parking test, Elora bursts into tears, admitting that the reason she has failed the test so many times is that she has no one to help teach her to drive. But Coach Bobson is also keeping a secret – we find out he’s been trying to find his estranged daughter, who is struggling with an addiction. While showing Elora how to parallel park, Bobson receives a call indicating that his daughter has been spotted at a nearby hotel and he hijacks the car. Shortly after, the two arrive at a nearby hotel and Bobson comes running up, guns. Several shots and a taillight erupted later, they accelerated.
Another missing person casts a shadow over Elora and Coach Bobson: Elora’s late mother, Cookie. After getting away from the shooting, the two head to Kenny Boy’s scrapyard to fix Elora’s car. There, we find out that the car crash in which Elora’s mother died was caused by a drunk driver. âWe tried to get Rodney to [Cookieâs boyfriend at the time] not to drive, âBobson tells Elora, and he mentions that his uncle Brownie even started a fight with Rodney in an attempt to stop the couple from leaving. This is frightening news, especially since it comes in the middle of Elora’s own driving test.
Throughout the episode, we watch Elora as she tries to keep her grief at bay. The sudden death of her friend Daniel has brought her feelings back to the loss of her mother, and she appears to be lost in a tsunami of grief that tries to drag her down. It’s overwhelming when someone is there, and then like that, they’re gone. Everything suddenly becomes messy, and it becomes harder to imagine what it was like while they were still there. “There is before they die and after,” Bobson told Elora, “and ripples in between.”
From there, we’re drawn into the episode’s most devastating sequence: a flashback to the moments leading up to Daniel’s suicide and Elora’s discovery of Daniel’s body. We see Daniel and Elora’s night at the honky-tonk, which starts off pretty well and slowly disintegrates as Daniel gets more nervous. Daniel is impulsive, emotional and stubbornâ¦ in other words, he’s a teenager. As the night progresses, he stops dancing with Elora and starts dancing on his own. It’s an act of desperation – he can’t go home, it’s not safe there, and there’s nowhere else he can go. Daniel finally explodes when he finds a dancing, screaming and cursing cowboy before running for the door. Daniel feels lonely and invisible, and he feels there is no one to turn to.
After leaving the honky-tonk we see Elora and Daniel’s final exchange and what we can only assume are the events that happened just before Daniel met Leon (who we saw as a flashback in episode six). Elora makes Daniel promise to text her, but in the end, he never does. Later, she finds him dead just outside the gang’s hideout. This is the reason why Elora is so angry, why she feels such a desperate need to get away – her life is more like Daniel’s than Bear’s or Willie Jack’s or even Cheese’s. She has to get out before the city swallows her whole.
Despite the dark tone of the episode, the compassionate feelings we see between Elora and Coach Bobson are a source of hope. While the knowledge that Elora has learned about her mother’s death is painful, it provides her and her former trainer with an opportunity to bond with the shared loss.
Maybe in another timeline, Elora stays on the basketball team and becomes something of Coach Bobson’s daughter. But, unfortunately, that’s just not the way it turned out. That bittersweet, haunting feeling permeates the episode: knowing that things could ended differently, if not for the currents of a history of colonization that never ends, which makes us all swim in the sea. For those of us caught in these currents, it is difficult to catch other castaways. But we keep trying.
â¢ Can we just say how amazing all of the cast has been this season? The last episode Paulina Alexis and Jon Proudstar showed us immense vulnerability, and this episode Bill Burr and KawennÃ¡here Devery Jacobs are put to work!
â¢ More numbers: Did you know that 73% of the world’s beach waste is plastic? You can thank the character Ansel (played by Matty Cardarople) for that one. Bless this spectacle for giving us much needed lightness.
â¢ The last and perhaps most important number to pay attention to is that there is only A episode of Dogs Reservation left. What’s going to happen? Will Elora get off the ship and join Jackie’s gang? Will Bigfoot make another appearance and we know if he’s behind the spontaneous catfish heads of the fields? Willie Jack curse again? Okay, so the latter is pretty much certain. But I can’t wait to see where we are next!