HomePeopleNative Americans and Travel

Native Americans traditionally had their hunting grounds. Many had a nomadic or pastoral lifestyle, but that didn’t mean that they simply wondered aimlessly from place to place looking for food and shelter. Rather they knew the secrets of a certain wide area and realized the benefits of moving from one place to another to take advantage of natural resources. The most famous example of this is the hunting of the buffalo.

When the white man arrived on the American continent he brought with him the notion of land ownership. Native Americans have an idea of belonging to the land, and to having rights to use land, but not of owning land. How could you own land that lasted forever, while you lived for a few brief years? Such is the twisted logic of the white man.

I am a Native American. Both my parents are Native American. I grew up on a reservation and went to community college. I then studied law and got an intern job. Before embarking on a career in litigation I decided to travel abroad. I decided to try Thailand.

On arriving in Bangkok I noticed that 99% of tourists in Khao San Road were young and white. I didn’t like the area: it seemed fake and bad value. I decided to move to China Town. I stayed in a famous Boutique hotel in China Town called Shanghai Mansion. It was an amazing place with antique furniture, striking Chinese decoration and an indoor water garden. I also loved the food in the hotel restaurant.

Walking around China Town I was often mistaken for a Thai person. I guess it is the dark color of my skin. Once this confusion was cleared up I found Thai people to be very friendly. I went out for a few drinks with Thai people I met. I loved sitting on the street eating noodles and sipping on a cold beer.

Thai people in a way reminded me of the best qualities of Native American peoples. They valued family and friendship. They struggled to make money, and yet they were not simply materialistic. They valued their religion and their customs but were also open to experiencing new cultures and customs.

One Thai man I spoke to called Top was a street artist struggling to survive painting portraits on the street. He said he hated the way many foreigners stereotype Thailand and Thai people. He disliked the reputation Bangkok had as a regional sex capital. He also thought it was sad that foreigners tended to all flock to the same few places such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Chiang Mai and Krabi. There were many other wonderful places to visit in Thailand. I wish I had had time to try some of his suggestions. I could also relate to how he felt trapped by stereotypes.

I have felt the same way all my life.