“Welcome to Indian Museum, where all the villains of the past are preserved for your enlightenment,” said our Guide.
He was a tall, serious man with silver hair. He wore the somber blue uniform of Indian Museum.
“The Indians were fierce, alright. Real tough customers. But what force can withstand the righteous anger of the Nation?” said the Guide. “The Indians were vanquished so that the Nation might thrive.”
The tour Guide told the sad tale of the Indians, how they couldn’t adapt to the ways of the Nation and were eliminated for the good of all.
“But the Nation must preserve its past. So the Indians are kept for posterity in their climate controlled glass coffins.”
The Indians wear suits and dresses like ordinary Citizens. Infants were enfolded in their mothers’ arms. Like all the Indians, the children were lifelike, perfectly preserved. “Why do they do this?” asked a child on the Tour.
“Look around you. See how many Indians are on display,” the Guide smiled proudly. “The Indians of Indian Museum are the living lifeless. Gaze sternly upon them. Though they were vanquished long, long ago, they appear to have ‘gone to sleep’ just yesterday. There is the infamous Geronimo!” the Guide pointed to a glass case containing the corpse of a middle-aged man in a finely tailored suit. “There, the nefarious Crazy Horse! And Sitting Bull! And what would Indian Museum be without its beautiful Pocahontas?”
As the visitors gawked at the Indians and viewed video-taped reenactments of Indian battles, I approached the Guide.
“Welcome to Indian Museum, Mr.–” he paused to read my nametag. “-Engel. It is my pleasure to host such a hard-working citizen as yourself.”
I acknowledged the Guide’s professional flattery with a quick nod, then asked the question that had been burning in my mind.
“What is this place? These aren’t real Indians. They aren’t Indians at all.”
“Of course not,” says the Guide with equanimity. “Indian Museum is for the children. This is a place of education. The icons and metaphors we present to the children are far more…potent than some old headdresses and buckskins on wax statues.”
“Who are they?” I asked, pointing to a cluster of glass coffins.
“Terrorists for the most part. Bodies of derelicts unclaimed at the morgue. Executed prisoners. Though they were parasites in life, Indian Museum has given them a chance to contribute, in death, to the growth of the Nation. To become part of the culture which they, for whatever reasons, mistakenly eschewed.”
“Why are they dressed in modern clothes? Couldn’t you have at least put them in traditional garments?” I asked.
“The Indian of the tomahawk and tom-tom drum is irrelevant. Extinct. The modern Indian, the Indian that these children will experience in their lifetimes, is the Terrorist. Indian Museum has gone through great lengths to impress this reality upon the Nation’s young.”
The snack bar at Indian Museum offered Genuine Indian soft-drinks, sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, frozen yogurt and bottled water.
The concession stand sold Genuine Indian artifacts: pens, paper, wallets, Palm Pilots, lap-tops, pocket-books, house-keys, car keys, pipes, cigars, cigarettes etc. I bought a Genuine Indian rubber band and a box of Genuine Indian paper clips.
I returned to my tour group and fired the paper clips at our Guide as fast as I could break and load them. Guards came at me from all angles. Alarms sounded. The entrance and exits were sealed.
It was inevitable, once I shot off that first paper-clip, that my status at Indian Museum would change from “guest” to “resident.”
“I thought you were an Indian the minute I set eyes on you, Engel,” said the beet-faced, raging Guide, once the guards had me pinned. “I can spot you people a mile away.”
“Well, I must admit, I’m pretty handy with a make-shift bow and arrow,” I offered. “But honestly, I swear, ‘I will fight no more forever.'”
“We’ll put you on the second floor, third row, by the window. Next to Tonto,” said the Guide.
ADAM ENGEL will never leave Indian Museum. He can be reached in his glass coffin at firstname.lastname@example.org