Peace and Tranquility – David Lohrey

My sixth-grade daughter Jenny feels sorry for the Sioux.

She’s learned two things in school as far as I can see: to

stop sucking her thumb and to pity anyone who doesn’t

drive a Volvo.


Her teacher resembles the woman who used to clean houses

in my parent’s neighborhood in East Memphis, a heavy-set

gal who could cook real good but could never stay for supper.

We all loved Estella but she believed the earth was flat.


Jenny’s teacher told her all Native Americans were fine people 

even the ones who scalped her great-great-great grandmother 

no more than 300 miles west of St. Louis, Missouri 

on a wagon full of crockery that had lost a wheel.


Miss Ackerman said she didn’t believe the Native Americans

meant her great-great-great grandmother any harm. She believes

if they did it, it was an act of resistance and all resistance is heroic,

because what that means is that all they wanted was a better life.


Jenny told me the other boys and girls laughed when the teacher

said her grandmother was probably a racist. She said that was

the reason they had to kill her. She said the Native Americans

were fighting back and all they wanted was their dignity.


She said the other kids were right to laugh. She said racists deserve

to die. She said you can spot a racist from a mile away. Racists

can be found on wagon trains heading west. They can be found

on plantations, too, and in the White House, and in fine restaurants.


Jenny’s been taught that dolphins are fine, too, especially those

that learn to fight back, like the one that bit the arm of Jennie’s

little friend. Native Americans are just like dolphins. They love

peace and tranquility and clean air.


Gee, dad, why are people so mean to dolphins who never did anyone 

any harm? Why are people like that? What about the Comanche? Is it 

true they buried white men in the ground and urinated into their gaping 

mouths? Teacher said they deserved it; they were racists, too.