I originally wrote this column about two years ago and I realized my original introduction to the world of Native Nerdom was tucked away in archives. I felt it was relevant to revisit my original words with the relaunch this year of indian Country Today. So much has changed in two years and I can hardly imagine how things will continue to progress. I have added a few updates to my original article.
I look forward to my fellow #NativeNerd friends to return each week. If you have a suggestion or story idea you would like me to explore, send me a note in the comment section below.
As a young Mohawk Kid, growing up on Compton Blvd. in Los Angeles – yes, that Compton – I remember receiving my first issue of MAD Magazine in the mail. It was my first magazine subscription. I had saved up for it, and had asked my dad to mail in a check and then I waited for what seemed like forever to receive the first issue, although it was probably just six weeks.
I remember my favorite book not by the name, but by the content. It was a cool science book, with funny questions related to science, such as the reasons for swirls in a person’s hair, the makeup of water in its various forms, gas, solid and liquid, and so on and so on.
I used a microscope in my room to look at ants, used a magnifying glass in the summer sun to burn paper and instead of playing with my toys, I took them apart with a screwdriver.
I read tons of books and comics, I lived at the library and spent as many summer days looking up book titles as I did in taking the bus to the beach. Of course in those days, we used file cards to look up the books. The world has changed so much.
Yes, I am a Native Nerd.
Today, in addition to being obsessed with my Mohawk culture and the origins of my ancestors, I am also obsessed with my newest Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphone and its accompanying S-Pen. I also have a Galaxy S9+ for business.
Technology is a conduit in some ways to my Native connection to this world.
I love the heartbeat of Mother Earth as it sounds booming through the grounds of a pow wow just as I love photographing it with my Canon DSLR with accompanying 18-200mm lens and battery grip.
If I had to choose, I would choose my culture first but the Creator has never asked me to choose. I am lucky to live in a world of Native culture and Native Nerdism. I love this world of media, I love this world of Google Chrome as my web browser - and yes I know some Mozilla Firefox aficionados would laugh at me. (As a watcher of one of my YouTube videos replied to me recently: I’d rather boil my own head in water than use Google Chrome. I love it.)
I also love the world of Android and love the fighting between the users of the iOS and Android platform. I think Apple is fine, but enjoy the ability to unlock or “root” my Andriod device, which means I can use an outsourced phone operating system. Of course Samsung has decreased this flexibility with Knox security, but it is what it is.
So, yes I am a Native Nerd. Right now on my desk, I have figurines of Marvel characters such as Spiderman, Venom and Wolverine. (Yes, I hate that Hugh Jackman is over 6 feet tall and Wolverine from the X-men comics is much shorter.) I am THRILLED that Venom is a journalist Eddie Brock. I can identify.
Yes I have held comic books worth thousands of dollars in my hands. (I didn’t buy them, just held them.) I have hundreds of comic books now encased in plastic covers with acid free cardboard backings.
I have seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens twice, I probably own about 20 comic oriented t-shirts my wife bought me. I have been to countless premieres of Marvel and DC comic book movies and will go to many more. I have also watched all of the Marvel movies three times each on average - likely more.
I would like to think all of this qualifies me as a Native Nerd.
Join me won't you?
Follow fellow Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling associate editor for Indian Country Today at @VinceSchilling
Make sure to use the Hashtag #NativeNerd