Hello I am Vincent Schilling. April 25th is my wife Delores birthday and I am writing this in honor of her. She is an amazing life partner and my wife has been there for me when everyone else in the world might have been otherwise.
I am who I am because of her.
In honor of this beautiful and amazing woman, I thought I would share the qualities of a wonderful partner. She is the one who showed me these things with her selfless actions for our near 25 years of marriage. I hope to be a fraction of what she has been to me.
This is my experience. I hope it helps you.
They want what’s best for you - even if it makes things more difficult for them.
My wife encourages me to do what’s best for me, and many times it makes things a bit tougher for her. Maybe it hurts for me to hear the truth and I resist. She could have just said ‘do what you want, but she knows what’s best, and heroically chooses a more difficult, but seriously more beneficial route. That is incredibly unselfish. In our early marriage years, she told me to quit my job as a warehouse manager to pursue my dream of writing and producing content. She believed in me to pursue my dream. That wasn’t easy for her. What a gift.
Any arguments or disagreements boil down to the best interests of your partner
My wife tells me many times to do the best thing possible. But an argument should always have at its core the best interests of each other. She always does that for me. For example, I want to dress casual and go somewhere, and depending on the situation she might say, “Vincent, you should probably dress more appropriately.” I may pause, but she’s always right. And listening to her has been beneficial more times than I can count.
They are there to keep you in check
Married men statistically do live longer than single men. Why is that? My wife keeps me in check. And trust me that is a great thing. One time I wanted to jump on a trampoline with boots on, she said, “I have a bad feeling” … I fractured my foot. Yeah ... I deserved that one lol.
They encourage you to love yourself for who you are
My wife compliments me all the time. It’s incredible. She has told me so many times how amazing my Indigenous features are. How handsome I am, how funny I am. I used to hate my nose as a teen, but now I love my Native features. I feel confident for who I am. My wife gifted that to me.
They see how amazing you are even when you don’t
My wife tells me all the time how amazing I am. I swear I am hard headed … she is my hero. I used to portray that I was awesome, but because of her, I really do feel it. I am so so lucky. And she is amazing too.
They are an arrow pointing you in the best direction
My wife Delores always knows when I am rolling into the side rails, she is ever present, telling me to wake up and get back on the road. Trust me again, I need this too.
They are there to remind you about striving to be your best self and encourage you to be your best self
We’ve had long conversations on how to be my best self. She reminds me of my ancestors, the people I speak with, what people might think if I do a or b. She encourages me to be the best person I could possibly be. And those times I might want to let things slide off track, she encourages me to stay the course.
They are your cheerleader
My wife is my biggest fan. I am completely blown away by how incredible she is and want to support everything I do as well as tell the world. It’s incredible. She even made these post-it-note pom poms once and cheered me on for an accomplishment.
They are there to share your struggle to make it easier to manage
She is always willing to listen and share my struggle. Even when I want to carry it … is when she tells me to talk. … we share things to travel the journey of this life together. She is my angel.
They are there to love you
All said, she is there to love me. To show me she feels wonderful about spending her life with me. We are married 25 years as of July 13 2021. And I have to tell you Del, I couldn’t imagine my life without you. You made me who I am you encouraged me, believed in me and never gave up on me. I wish I could tell you I love you to the depths of how much I feel you have shown me.
On January 20, 2020 (last year's Super Bowl) I shared a series of tweets expressing my opinion as a former sports editor and as a Native American journalist about the Kansas City Chiefs who were playing opposite the 49ers.
I dubbed the 2020 Super Bowl — due to the Kansas City Chiefs’ participation — the #AppropriationBowl.
This year, the Chiefs are playing against the Buccaneers.
But I digress again to last year, which initially prompted this conversation this is continuing into 2021.
The tweet from 2020 said: " So the #Superbowl this year is the @49ers and the Kansas City @Chiefs. As a former Sports Editor, and as a Native American journalist, I have a few things to say about this #AppropriationBowl. First, the Chiefs are not honoring Native people. I'll explain in a #Thread.
In the thread, I explain that the Kansas City Chiefs did not get their name from a Native American, but rather a non-Native businessman and former Kansas City mayor, H. Roe Bartle who founded a Boy Scout “Indian tribe” organization that taught “Indian values” at away from home camps.
As I have previously reported on the Native news site of which I am now Associate Editor, Indian Country Today, the Mic-O-Say was founded in 1925, under the leadership of Harold Roe Bartle, a former Scouting leader for the Cheyenne Council of Boy Scouts in Casper, Wyoming. Bartle, who claimed he was inducted into a local tribe of the Arapaho people, was also given the name Chief Lone Bear by an Arapaho chief, according to a “Mic-O-Say legend.”
Bartle often wore a headdress and went by the nickname chief in social circles. When the Dallas Texans football team was looking for a new home, Bartle invited Lamar Hunt, owner of the Dallas Texans to Kansas City, and the team eventually became the chiefs, named after Bartle.
The Kansas City Chiefs got their name from a non-Native man who liked to play Indian.
As I expected, I got a lot of heat for my opinions. The tweet had received over 10,000 likes and 4,700 retweets in a few days, but of course, the most fun was the 1,600 replies.
In the series of tweets, I asked people to respect my views. I also complimented the athletes for reaching their levels of athletic prowess and more. But I also stated how the stereotypes portrayed are harmful and problematic.
Though I may compliment the players, I am not going to hold back in calling out the heads of the NFL who ignore harmful behavior. To roughly quote a friend, “being complicit is accepting the behavior.”
Specifically, I wrote, "I am waiting to see championship behavior from the world of sports in terms of respecting Native culture."
I have asked myself too many times, how can Roger Gooddell, as the head of the NFL, sit idly by and watch these horrendous stereotypes be portrayed? How could executives at the Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead Stadium, in any way, shape or form, allow the Tomahawk Chop?
We talk about champions in sports. We talk about championship behaviors and taking a stand for your team, and sometimes winning when faced with insurmountable odds, but are we too afraid to offend our fans that we allow a race of people to be stereotyped?
A real champion stands up to opposition when they know it is the right thing to do.
The right thing to do is to absolutely not allow stereotypical behaviors into stadiums. The Tomahawk Chop should never be allowed, nor should stereotypical face paint, fake “Indian” costume adornments or anything of that nature.
I am realistic. I don’t expect the Chiefs to change their name anytime too soon. But I would implore them to stop allowing something such as the tomahawk chop at games. I don’t see this as an easy task either. As CEO and Chairman of the Chiefs, Clark Hunt recently appeared on his wife’s Instagram with a fake headdress proud of the fact he was once elected “Cherokee Chief” of his Christian camp. (see below)
But no matter how much I write, no matter how much proof I provide that Native mascots hurt Native youth, who suffer from the highest rates of young teen suicide in the nation, people will still tell me to get over it. People will continue to tell me that “they are honoring me” with their costumes, the Chiefs — or any other Native-named sports team — and that I am lucky I am even talked about at all.
If you think you are honoring me. Let me explain why you are not.
In my tweets, I spoke of my Mohawk grandmother, who spoke fluent Mohawk before she ever knew English.
I wrote: "But I think of my grandmother, who was so afraid to be Mohawk, she never uttered a word in her language to me. Lest I also be stolen away to boarding school. I only ask for respect."
When my grandmother was a little girl, she and her sister were forced into a residential school. My great-grandmother was told by the nuns that she must get a job before she could have her children back. At the school, my grandmother suffered horrible abuse. She never talked about it. Due to her silence, I don’t know the school, or where it was.
When my great-grandmother returned with a job, the nuns said things had changed, and her daughters had been signed over, and that she could not have them back. My great-grandmother resisted and came back in the dead of night. She had to take her own daughters back.
Such a story fills me with real honor.
My great-grandmother went against the opposition, to do what was right.
But the story doesn’t have a happy ending. My grandmother lived in a horrendous fear of being a Mohawk woman. Being Native was dangerous. When she came of age to have children, she fled in fear to California. When I was born, my grandmother watched over me for the formative years of my childhood. But because she was afraid, she never shared her fluent Mohawk language with me. She never shared our Mohawk songs or traditions she knew. She did sing to me, but the songs were all in English.
She was desperately afraid I would be labeled an Indian child and thus, I might be taken against her will to a boarding school.
So in contrast, while my grandmother was too afraid to be a Mohawk. Too afraid to be an Indian, I have people telling me that they are honoring me by doing the things they do at a Chiefs game. They say ‘get over it’ or ‘My relative or neighbor is Native American, and they like it.’
So I will say one last thing. I find what my great-grandmother did, risking everything to save her daughter, as something that honors me. That is the warrior blood in my veins.
If you want to compare a fake headdress to that same honor, I question your outlook.
For the record. I won’t be watching the game.
Vincent Schilling is a Native American, enrolled Akwesasne Mohawk. He is associate editor Indian Country Today. He also hosts the Native Trailblazers radio program with his wife Delores Schilling and is the Vice-President of Schilling Media, Inc. He is a U.S. Army veteran officer and book author. He is also a Human Rights award winner for his work on Native American issues. He is on Twitter @VinceSchilling