Beautiful Muckleshoot 

By Mary Jo Jacobs


Note on ADDRESSING Model concepts mentioned in this story

The following author refers to concepts illustrated in a model developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Pamela Hays in 1996. The ADDRESSING model is often used by mental health practitioners to develop multicultural awareness and cultural trauma therapies in counseling sessions. It organizes cultural characteristics by category, and then again by Agent and Target status.  Simply put, Agents have power and social advantage, whereas Targets do not.  These high status/low status interactions are often experienced in one-on-one conversations, however they may also amplify in effect to the point that an entire national economy and societal functions are affected by Agents excluding or withholding access and participation from Target groups.



I’ve known that I am a member of the Target group in the rank of Indigenous Heritage, as
early as seven years old. My Dad let me know of our situation. Growing up with my Dad I was only an Agent in the National Origin Rank. Like many things in life you don’t understand or know what something is like until you experience it yourself. My most memorable experience of oppression I have personally faced as a Target member in Indigenous Heritage is when I was in high school. I had an interaction with one of my teachers with the class as an audience.
I am Indigenous and my tribe is Yupik from South, West Alaska. My Dad lost his
language and culture when he was 5 years old. He was still proud to be Indigenous when I knew him. He definitely had the Need to Belong with other Native Americans and their culture. So, we went to Pow-wows often. We would camp at them in tents by our cars in designated areas. Pow-wows were hosted all over the state and in many other states. One year we went to a Pow-wow every weekend over the summer and traveled all over Washington.
Some Pow-wows were held at school and some of the schools were on reservations. My
sister and I would run all around the Pow-wow allotted area, sometimes the surrounding area, and play with other kids. When we didn’t play we ate salmon or Indian Tacos, which are beans, lettuce, onions, tomato, sour cream, cheese, and your choice of sauce all on a piece of Fry Bread.
At one Pow-wow there was a woman who provided simple animal costumes and set up
an inflatable salmon balloon. She allowed the children to wear a costume and come inside the
salmon, so she would tell us a Traditional story each round that we went to Salmon. I went to
almost every story telling that day. I don’t think I heard a duplicate story all day.
When I was about 9 years old I began to learn how to Fancy Dance, a Plains Indian
traditional dance style. I had my own custom regalia with a decorated shawl. I would compete in dancing competitions in my dance style and age bracket. One time I won Second Place.
At some Pow-wows there are ceremonial events going on both in the arena and to the
side of the main Pow-wow area.
There are many vending booths set up at Pow-wows where people can sell their
traditional art, music, jewelry, beadwork, beadwork supplies, photos, and even toys. There are also informational booths. These booths help guide people to school programs, financial assistance, volunteer programs, cultural meetings, and more.
I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people like me at a young age. I was able to
experience Collective Self-Esteem when I was at these events and gatherings. Through these events I was able to practice my Empowerment Target Skill and be in a safe space for me.
My Dad was my access to this safe space. Attending a pow-wow we saw a Family go
through a loss of a family member. They were about to perform a ceremony at the Pow-wow. They took the time to remember their loved ones and receive gifts from the community to help them with the grievance. I asked my Dad about this ceremony. He mentioned that after this ceremony’s Pow-wow is over the family can’t return to any Pow-wows for a year.
My Dad passed away when I was twelve years old. After he passed I didn’t go to Pow-
wows. I went once or twice in the span of several years. Even after the year long grievance period I couldn’t bring myself to regularly go. I’ve lost my group and my support.
Me and my siblings moved in with our, Agent and Non-Indigenous, Aunt and Uncle.
After four years with them I was a sophomore in High School. English was my worst subject in High School. I was never excited to go to my English class. My Sophomore English teacher was
Bipolar, so she had her moments which didn’t make my experience in class any better. Though she is a Target in the rank of Disability she is an Agent in the Rank of Indigenous Heritage.
One English topic we focused on this year was surrounded by the book “Smoke Signals”
by Sherman Alexie, A Native American whose tribe is based in Spokane, Washington. I had seen the movie in the past and was excited to watch it in class. The Teacher was trying to set the scene. She knew I was Indigenous and volunteered me to help her in her lesson today. “You’ve been to reservations before, what was it like there?” She asked.
Remembering my many trips to different reservations growing up, where I felt Collective
Self-Esteem, I wanted to use my voice to educate her and my class and to understand what being Indigenous can be like for me. I wanted to use my Empowerment Skills when I told her and the class that “I’ve been to the reservation Muckleshoot several times and I loved it. It’s filled with family oriented people and there is a great sense of community and culture there. I always enjoy going to the reservation.”
This is not the point she was trying to make. “But what was the reservation itself like?”
She pressed.
“Exactly like I said I’ve been to many Pow-wows on reservations.” I replied.
She waved her hands in the air as she said “The Reservations are poor. They are run down. There are all kinds of problems on the reservation like drugs and alcoholism.”
I was shocked and stiff in my seat. I didn’t know how to respond and I didn’t. She just
went on and didn’t care what she had just said and how it affected me. I began to feel Angry. I felt hot and could tell I was going to sweat through my deodorant. There was about an hour left in class.
What should I do? Should I say something? I start to bounce my knee up and down fast
trying to think of what to do. I need to talk to my school counselor about this. No, although I do live with Agent, in many ways, Parents I don’t know how they will react. I’ll only create drama that they don’t want to deal with. Plus I don’t know if they will even be on my side.
I need to switch classes. No, the counselor would still get my parents involved. The
counselor may talk to the teacher and the teacher might have an intense mood swing and heighten the situation. I can’t run from this anyways. I’ve got to see what more she has to say.
I am still stiff, sweaty, my knee is bouncing, as I glance at the clock just about every min,
and half listening to the teacher. When it’s nearing the end of the class. I slowly pack my backpack one item at a time for every other minute that passes. I can’t act on my anger. If I address anything right now I will yell. This will shock everyone because I am one of the quietest students in the school of 4,000 students. If I were to yell I would start crying. This crying would last hours.
I can’t do anything about this right now. There are ten minutes left in class. I haven’t
made any eye contact with any of the students since the teacher made her point. I watch the second hand round the clock as the class is about to end. The second the bell rings I don’t let the teacher finish her sentence, and stand up fast and am out the door.
When I left that day she saw the way I stood up to leave, but never talked to me about it
or thought any more of it. I was only an Agent in the Addressing Rank of National Origin and Social Class. I’ve had plenty of situations where I felt oppressed. When I’m angry I run. I was able to continue taking her class and was even assigned to take English with her my Junior year. On the first day of Junior year our whole class “wasn’t” assigned a teacher. We all waited outside the locked door wondering where the teacher was when the tardy bell rang. Five minutes
later she opened the door and cheered that we got to be a class together again this year. “Aren’t you all excited?” she said and hugged each of us as we entered the room. I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Well maybe not some of you.” She said after she saw how I reacted. And that was that.
I am currently an Agent in Age and National Origin Rank. The point my Teacher was
trying to make was that Reservations are poor and don’t have their stuff together. She was sharing this knowledge and utilizing the Common Knowledge effect. It’s common knowledge that Reservations aren’t always in pristine condition. My single knowledge on reservations was not taken into account. I may have been Obedient to her lesson that day and followed a cultural script, but I think I was acting on Survival skills toward her Indifference skills. This event made me feel Ostracized from my new found Agent membership in the Social Class that I held.
Though I was practicing Survival Skills I’d prefer to say I was practicing Strategy Skills.
At the moment I had no Indigenous support around me. I didn’t have the energy to say that most reservations are poor and in bad social states because of the land given to them and the lack of resources that are provided for them. Reservations don’t have access to many American resources. The Reservations are run by oppressed people. That’s not what the Book is even about.
I didn’t do anything then, because of Social Facilitation. I was not practiced at talking to
Non-Indigenous people about being Indigenous. I didn’t know how to respond to her statement. I’ve thought about this moment in my life several times this last year and want to write her a letter. I think at some point in the future I will find the courage to write a letter and send it to her. That will only affect one life. What I should look into is encouraging certain school curriculums. Through this event, I’ve learned that lack of courage can hinder your attempt to stand up for yourself to make change.
Works CitedNieto, Leticia. Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment A Developmental Strategy to LiberateEveryone. Cuetzpalin, 2021.“Social Psychology for Beginnings at NSC: Fall 2021.” Noba, 2021,