Recently, my wife and I visited a former student friend from Bishkek. She lives about 35 minutes away from Karakol. She invited us over for lunch. But first, she wanted us to visit the school where she is teaching. She was conducting a performance with her middle school students. She really wanted us to see the rehearsal on this particular Saturday. We arrived in the village of Kyzul-Soo and found the school where our friend and her students were rehearsing. She greeted us at the entrance of the school and promptly lead us to the concert hall. We heard the roar of preteens echoing through the halls. We arrived at the concert hall where there were at least 40 kids. Screaming, running, laughing, giggling, whining kids were everywhere. She yelled at all the students to get in line for the rehearsal to start. After about 3 minutes of getting the students in place, the presentation started. A couple girls started the formal greeting and explained what the presentation was about. It was difficult to hear their little voices without a microphone. They introduced the first skit and then a squad of kids came out to the stage. They were dressed as American Indians and Pilgrims.
The pilgrims were surrounded by the savage Indians. The little Kyrgyz boys dressed as Native Indians howled and pranced in circles around the Kyrgyz dressed pilgrims. They poked and prodded them with their sticks and bows and arrows. I thought to myself, “Everybody, all over the world, thinks of me this way.” I looked at my wife and we were both amused. Even my little Apache son, Ryan, was amused by the Indian and Pilgrim skit. The Indians put the pilgrims on their knees and one particular pilgrim stood up. It was Christopher Columbus. It was difficult to hear the dialogue. From what we could see, Columbus made peace amends with the American Indians and then everyone was happy and no one was killed. I looked at my wife and just smiled. The teacher came to me after the skit and asked if I could add anything to the play. Since I am a “real Apache”, her students thought I might add some good input to the skit. I smiled and said, “I am not from the east coast, but it looks like you guys are doing fine.” Afterwards, the kids asked a ton of questions about being an American Indian. I could have told lies: we still live in Tipi’s, we dress in leather skirts and head dresses, we eat only what we hunt, and we still fight the “white man.” But I really shouldn’t corrupt such young minds. Overall, it was a great morning and I had a few laughs over how this country views Native Americans.