I had just gotten my salad for lunch and was looking for a place to sit when I heard a friendly voice, “There’s room here!” I sat next to the woman enjoying one of Diane’s Funnel Cakes. I asked where she was from. After she started talking I had to move to the ground across from her – keeping my head turned toward her was hurting my neck and I didn’t want to miss a word of her story.
Cann was at the 2012 DNC as a Delegate from Washington State representing The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation. “Immigration? All this talk about immigration. What about 200 years ago? You Europeans were immigrants!” This wasn’t said with even a hint of malice. She laughed seeing the irony of the debate. She proudly showed me her flag, explaining the twelve Bands that make up the Confederated Tribes and the 14 member Council that governs it.She told me how the Bands had been gathered and put on the reservation, which now encompasses a little more than a million acres. I commented that sounds like a lot, but . . . She interrupted, “But it used to all be ours.” And again the laugh and, “But we’re all here now, that’s in the past and we have to get along! That’s why I’m here!”
She was proud to help out 5 or 6 other Delegates who couldn’t attend the convention and had phoned her to be their voice.
And she was loving being in Charlotte. “I was dieting but with all these different kinds of food?!” She swept her arm toward the food vendors. “I can go back to dieting on Sunday.” Everything she said was punctuated with a good-natured laugh and huge smile.
Cann is a long-distance truck driver hauling diesel fuel and gasoline. At one time, for another trucking company with over 1000 drivers, Cann was the only female driver. She told me of the time in her life when a dispatcher wouldn’t give her a load. “We had to be there at 6:30 in the morning. Other drivers got routes but never me. I think he thought I’d leave. Well I got there at 6:30 every morning and waited. After twelve days he finally gave me something.”
“You know, it takes the length of a football field and half to stop one of those trucks? It’s most dangerous when we’re empty and all we have are the fumes. I have to watch everyone on the road. If someone pulls in front of me too close, who do you think is going to lose? One time this man cut me off. I called the police. I had a description of him and his license plate number. He saw me on the phone and probably knew what I was doing. He got off at the exit and I told the police which one. Now when he sees a fuel truck he probably wonders if it’s me!”
Cann wasn’t always a long-distance truck driver. She’s also done short distances. But short runs on the west side of the Mississippi don’t pay like cross-country. She was a single mom, raised two children and at one point was down to her last $400 before she started driving trucks. She also went to college and for awhile worked as a paralegal and a public defender on the reservation. “I like to help my people on the reservation. At 3:00 this afternoon I’m helping on the Habitat House. They were looking for volunteers who weren’t afraid of a little work and were willing to get their hands dirty. So I said, ‘Why not?'”
We somehow got onto the topic of cars, specifically Beemers and wondered about the draw of those expensive cars. I wasn’t at all surprised when Cann said she was a pick-up kind of woman. Our conversation had to end when she left for a meeting, eager and ready to experience as much of the week as she could.
I asked if I could take her picture. She said she’d meant to get her hair cut before she came, but she’d been out on the road and hadn’t had time. “So I said this is what it will have to look like!” When she gets back home she’ll be going out again so she’s not sure when it will get cut. I think you’ll agree, Cann Kariores is beautiful even without a haircut.
I never did catch sight of Cann during the speeches. I was a little disappointed at first, but then again, she was a Delegate, and inside the convention, all the Delegates become one and have one voice.