When my husband was a little boy, he and his friend Jeff went to Boy Scout camp. I didn’t know Mike had even been a Scout until we had been married for a couple of years, and I only found out because it came up when we had dinner with Jeff and some other childhood friends.
Apparently, these two future executives were very awkward 11 year olds, and in keeping with their lack of general outdoor prowess, they pitched their tent downhill from everyone else. Which would have been fine had it not rained or had they remembered to dig a trench to divert the water around their tent like the handbook instructed.
Alas, it rained. And those poor scouts, who were the youngest at the camp, ended up embarrassed, soaking wet, and way out of their element — which was decidedly indoors.
The funniest story from that nightmare camp-out is as follows: Mike was supposed to meet up with some other scouts and a leader to work on earning a badge. But because he couldn’t locate the group, he ended up wandering all over the campground for what felt like hours. Finally, he just found his way back to their soggy tent where he hid for the rest of the afternoon, thus missing out on his chance to earn the coveted... wait for it...
Orienteering Merit Badge.
Tween Mike Miller getting lost on the way to Orienteering with a compass in hand should’ve at least earned a merit badge in Metaphor or Irony. Perhaps they could have called it the Columbus Merit Badge.
We’ve certainly given that “navigator” a lot of credit for getting lost 527 years ago, haven’t we? Especially since he brought with him disease, slavery and genocide all while proclaiming that he “discovered” the Americas, which was news to the millions of people who had lived here since time immemorial.
And despite centuries of havoc stemming from Columbus basically running into someone else’s shore, they are still here. How blessed are we to live in a state with such rich Native American culture all around us? Many of our friends, neighbors and family are citizens of not just Oklahoma, but of dozens of sovereign nations who have persevered and even thrived in the face of colonization and cruelty.
For the first time in our city’s history, Muskogee will officially celebrate tomorrow not as Columbus Day, but as Indigenous Peoples Day. It’s fitting that we do so, because most of us live on stolen land. It is important to remember how we got here — and not just the white-washed version my directionally-challenged husband, his buddy Jeff, and I were taught in grade school back in the '80s.