My Nephew’s Body will be Buried Today

“It will always be important to have a community
of people who support each other and work together
for the struggle.  Yes, for the struggle for all people.”

Bruce McQuakay

Memorial Day weekend, 2017

Seven years ago, on Fathers’ Day, Bruce McQuakay and I saw one another at the annual Delta Park pow wow. Bruce, who described himself as Tlingit and Apache, was not a father yet – that was still two years out. This past May 10, his daughter turned five. A few weeks earlier, her father, my nephew had been struck by a car to die of cardiac arrest in the ambulance to the ER.

The story is the story. For now, its details are less relevant than the fact that Bruce is no longer in form – that so many miss him so deeply – that he has touched more lives than he could have known in profound and positive ways that live on. In ways that advance healing in the “struggle for all people.”

Here are a few of Bruce’s words. Shared here in honor and gratitude for this young man – a man who I watched grow from childhood, close and dearly enough to have the privilege of knowing him as nephew.

This story is an excerpt  from Bruce’s generous interview – on Valentine’s Day, 2009 in Albuquerque. He had agreed to be part of my project 100 Voices – Americans Talk about Change.

I’ve known Bruce since he was 8 years old.  Now he’s 26.  He’s a young Native American man.  When we spoke, he was working with the Sage Council in Albuquerque, engaged in defense of water and sacred sites, with particular emphasis on initiatives of Uranium mining.

Bruce’s face held his trademark smile. He has a moustache now. We sat in the car and the day’s light poured through the window onto his red jacket. 

“I count on our community staying together.  I guess the diverse community I have become part of.  Especially places like here in Albuquerque, there’s other organizations we work with.  There’s a Hispanic, Latino, Chicano group that we work with.  And now being part of a Native American organization, I think we’ve recognized that we need to still maintain connections with other diverse groups. There’s a lot of things that will affect us all together that really don’t see cultural or color lines. Poverty that doesn’t see any race.  There can be poor White people, poor Asian people, poor Hispanic people, poor Native.

“So I think maintaining unity in that sense, that’s something that I’d like to stay with us – something that we can maybe even bring into the next generation.  The things that are important, that will always affect us like valuing and taking care of community over all, just a bigger picture.  Having a community that will support each other that will work together – for the struggle, I guess.  For the struggle for all people.”

Rest well, dear and courageous one.

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