Dan Green “the electric indian”

I dedicate this story to those who were my friends and family by choice.

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When I was a young boy my family gave me the nick name “Goober Pea.” I was always listening to my grandpa Clay’s favourite singer, Burl Ives. I would put ol’ Burl on the turntable and listen to his vinyls for hours on end. I would sing along with Burl to many songs: Frosty the Snowman, Mr. In-Between, and Goober Peas.

“Peas, peas, peas, peas, eating Goober Peas. Wouldn’t it be delicious eating Goober Peas.”

Burl sang this song and my grandpa would tell me that it was about World War I and how the soldiers just wanted to come home, so badly, to eat their delicious big beautiful green Goober Peas cooked for them by their moms. I loved my granddad, and I loved eating peas. I loved the color green, it tasted so great.

My auntie Linda made me a handmade stuffed felt Goober Pea. Every time auntie Linda would see me she would grab my face and kiss my cheeks and say “I just love you so much Goober Pea.”

I would smile inside. Auntie Linda always made me feel so loved. I was filled with green Goober love. Auntie would pick peas from her garden and we would sit their joking and laughing and eating peas while singing the anthem: Goober Peas. But, i will let you in on a little secret, Goober Peas were not exactly as I was told what they were. They were not actually green, nor were they peas.

Goober Peas are more accurately described by Johnny Cash when he sings with Burl Ives. They are Peanuts.

But life was not always so great. I had experienced many abuses at home. I was exposed to grotesque physical and sexual violence, drug addiction and alcoholism in our family home. My step dad’s beatings got so bad I had to leave home.

After I had left home at age twelve, I ended up living on an old Metis settlement community and two Indian Reserves. I was a white boy rejected for being an indian, and accepted by the Indians because I was an indian; at least an indian by heart.

I hate myself so badly I had been hospitalized several times for suicide attempts. By the age of fourteen I was hospitalized a total of six months for three separate overdoses. After my second hospitalization I was released into my parents custody. I hated them and did not want to be near them. When I was released it was early December, 1989.

One night as I was sitting in the basement alone, I was hurting inside so bad that I just wanted to die. I was alone with a room full of Christmas lights. I took one of the strands of lights down from the window. I pulled out my knife and cut off the end and stripped the wires bare. I took out every single light bulb and smashed them with my closed fist against the wall. One light bulb at a time. The shards of glass embedded warmly into my knuckles. One of my favorite feelings was the burning sensation I would get, as I would pick out the glass from my knuckles. That was a habit, I started at the age of thirteen.

I turned on the radio to listen to my last song as I truly intended to die that night. It was a Testament song called Envy Life playing on the midnight metal show. Chuck Billy, the lead singer was a fucking big Pomo indian.

“Make sure your reach does not exceed your grasp. All that is to be done before you act. In a pact of invoking spirits from your past. You’re as good as dead. The lost souls of time. Envy life. Envy life.”

I took the end of the Christmas lights and plugged it into the wall, the other end I slowly put into my mouth. Then a bright blue spark snapped and bit my lips and the music stopped, lights went out. I heard the breaker in the wall above me slam. Then I heard my parents moving about upstairs. I quickly jumped up and turned the breaker back on. I touched the burnt end of the wires together and there was no more juice. I knew it was time to leave again. I packed my stuff and vanished into the wind.

After years of roaming the northern parts of BC and Alberta, I made my way down to the big city of Vancouver. I had many adventures. Some of these escapades ended me up in juvenile facilities for two years. When I got out I was 17 years old.

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I headed back up north for a short visit so I could go get my friends from Moccasin Flats, the Metis settlement, and bring them to Vancouver with me. I had been placed in an apartment by child welfare after getting out of juvvy.

I was feeling more rebellious than normal, because I had decided to be ‘straight-edge’ when I got out of juvenile facilities. I was drug and alcohol free for a little over a year. I was angry and pissed off. I was not going to be held back, beat up, pushed around, nor told what to do by anybody. I was rebelling.

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I wore 14 holed doc martins. Green Army short and pants, usually shorts. Long sleeved black shirt that was a few sizes to big for my skinny frame. I had chewed holes into the sleeves in order to wear my sleeves like gloves, that way when I was skateboarding and wiped out, I would have a little protection on my palms. When it got cold my fingers and knuckles would swell up. I had gotten frostbite when I was about fourteen from hitch hiking highways in the north in the middle of winter. I think I permanently damaged my hands. I still have pain in my hands today when its cold. I shaved my long thick hair into a Mohawk that I dyed green.

The night I dyed my hair green my friends and I got into a huge fight with my neighbors. My friends had come down with me to the Vancouver area; to my apartment in Surrey.  My neighbors were gang bangers. We ended up beating a guy severely. Then later that night him and his gang attempted to do a home invasion on us, at my apartment. The end result was that me and my skinny Metis friend Jason, who was like a brother to me, ended up getting arrested for shooting one of the guys.

There was news cameras and police all over our yard. That next day when me and Jason were back at the apartment with everyone else,we watched the news and burst out laughing. “A party in North Surrey got out of hand last night when this man was arrested for shooting another man.”

There was me getting put into the police car with my long green hair, green doc martins, green army shorts and black long sleeve shirt. I looked like a hoodlum. Obviously Jason did not look as crazy as I did because he did not make it into the news that day. Robert was laughing so hard as he sat there with his arm around his girlfriend Amanda, “hahaha there is Dan Green the electric indian.”

After that day for the following months, years and decades I was known as Dan Green ‘the electric indian.’

Many of my friends like Robert have died while suffering from abuses that they lived through. Only a few friends have gone on to be successful in their careers. Jason is a respected cook, artist/artisan, and an amazing musician.  Me, well I have become a writer by my own rebellious virtue.

To this day I can be seen wearing green shirts, shorts, hoodies and pajamas. I ride a green bicycle and I love eating peas. I still hum the Burl Ives tune in my head some days. I love visiting my auntie Linda who still calls me Goober Pea. All while, back on the rez there are still a buncha people still thinking about that crazy electric indian named Dan Green.

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About Daniel Gallant

Daniel is a social worker (MSW,RSW) and is a current student of law, who is also an emerging writer and has been published internationally in literary journals. Poetry is his primary creative processing tool, and also has published creative non-fiction (auto-biographic). He has a B.A. in First Nations Studies. I am a consultant for media, scholars, and government bodies about violent right wing extremism in Canada and a trained counsellor; Daniel offers services to individuals seeking to leave violent extremist lifestyles, and facilitates public speaking on matters of resiliency. Daniel presents Scholars from the Underground Blog in order to promote transformation and to contribute to create safe spaces in society for true cultural transformation. Canada has to move from a racist nation to an inclusionary society. We are blessed to live in a space and time where we can now talk openly about these social issues. Daniel welcomes you to is Blogosphere. http://scholarsfromtheunderground.com

2 responses to “Dan Green “the electric indian””

  1. Linda Nan Nichols says :

    Aww, Goob, you make me cry. You were the sweetest little boy there ever was, a joy to be around. I am so sorry for the terrible things that happened to you as you grew up, I usually heard about them much too late. After Uncle Dave died my life changed so much and you were so far away. I am sorry, sorry I didn’t know and sorry I didn’t do what needed doing. I know you said you forgive me, but I have a hard time forgiving me. I am so proud of how you’ve used those negatives to become the amazing man you are today.

  2. Daniel Gallant says :

    Auntie Linda,

    It has been sometime since you have written this comment on my blog. You truly have been one of the strongest and most loving forces in my life. I love you and miss you so deeply. I often wish you were still alive, and your integrity was strong, is strong. I watched you suffer from the actions of others and you held and poised yourself with such dignity in face of the biggest challenges in your life. You won. You are one of my heroes auntie. I miss you and I love you, and if there is indeed a god, I hope you have arrived there.

    godspeed auntie.

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