January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #2768
I am not sure if anyone else struggles with this, but thought I would share…
When I was young my mother told me that my father was NDN, I was so proud to know that this was part of my roots. However, I did not grow up knowing my father, so I had no family history, stories, etc… My love for this part of my heritage is very strong. I have practiced the traditions in my heart and in private, but (my dilemma) I have found it hard to attend Native gatherings (Pow wows etc). Because, I never had family ties to my NDN roots growing up, I felt I could not attend these gatherings. In fact this summer, (would I have been able to make it to the OBSN Pow wow) would have been my first.
I read an excellent book once called “Neither Wolf Nor Dog,” and the NDN elder spoke of wannabe Indians (that was the last thing I wanted to be called), but felt (feel) that because I am not an official member of any tribe and did not grow up on the reservation or in a tribe, I could not attend else I would be seen as a wannabe. I have strong features and am asked often my nationalities; people are always curious when you rattle off nationalities and NDN comes up, they ask what tribe and are you a card carrying member? I am not an official member of any tribe, but I am grateful for these roots and the impact they have made on me as a person.
Well, I will quit rattling on… maybe there are others out there with this struggle and maybe there are those who have advice for those of us who have this struggle…below is a link to a great story.
ShirleyJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24528
Welcome to the club! Many of us here are in a similar situation. Some of us only have an oral tradition and no paperwork to ‘prove’ our heritage. Some of us can ‘prove’ our Indian heritage by our DNA tests. (Which some NA’s will not accept.)
But most of us are in the same boat as you. We have NA heritage but are not card carrying, Reservation Indians. As a result most ‘real’ Indians will not accept us.
You have come to the right place because we understand. And that’s one reason this community exists.January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24529
Nice point and post Shirley…I had previously read that exerp and found it most poignant. I think that as Barb said, you are not alone in that “boat”. I too feel like the “white speck in a brown sea” at pow wows but just muster up and sit and watch and enjoy and embrace the whole of it. The majority of ppl attending never look twice in my direction because I , from a physical stand point look about as Non NA as they get. I have yet to have anyone ever ask me about my ancestry at such a function…they most likely assume I am there as an outside observer I would imagine. I recently took part in a research study and they asked me for my racial classification/s and I replied: German Quaker, Irish & Native American…and then I got a very quizzical look and was asked : What did you say? I repeated myself and he said: but you don’t LOOK the least bit Native American, are you kidding me? To which I replied: what does a Catholic look like? or a Jew? or a Smith? or a Firefighter? or a mother? what about a test taker? or how about a person with Muscular Dystrophy?…do you suppose they all catagorically LOOK exactly the same or a specific WAY? Gee, when you figure that one out…get back with me….that will be just ground breaking now won’t it???? He was pretty much speechless and directed me to another room. Assumptions are just that. Definitions are ill-defined and people are biased and uneducated in many ways. I think that when a person actually says: I am PART this or that they are primarilly just using that word, Part, as an indicator that they have more than one heritage or racial designation via ancestry. If a dog is the result of a pekinese and a poodle he is called a Peekapoo and so on…so why is there no such designation for us, as humans? We just have to say we are MIXED yes? (or part ….there’s that word again!) Being a part of anything to some measure just doesn’t make a person feel whole now does it? Part time employees don’t get benefits like Full timers do…and chicken parts are not as wholesome as a full stock clucker . The descrimination is endless and ongoing…but, on a cheerful note: we, as genealogists are aligned in our thinking and we truly get it…we have walked that walk and heard all the talk….and we are all well on our way to discoveries. So, belly up to the pow wow circuit…take a friend or ally for support and get into the groove of it…it is a beautiful, spiritual experience well worth the initial social angst. Or better yet…come and sit beside me…the smiling pale one with blonde locks! I won’t bite or judge but I may make you giggle your butt off or get up and dance with me. *wink* Take care…ty again for the touching and tellling post~~~~LaurieJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24530
Thanks Barb and Laurie… I do feel at home here at Saponi Town and relish the history, genealogy and family stories brought by all. I would be proud to sit with, dance and yes, laugh my butt off with you laurie and anyone here. I knew I was not alone in my struggles, it just feels good to vent sometimes, if you know what I mean.:)
ShirleyJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24531
Shirley…I know what ya mean…jelly bean! Vent on sis! Take care~~~LJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24532
Hi, I read what you had to say and I know how you feel. I wasn’t raised knowing I was part NA but I always felt it in my heart and I’m just lately confirming I am part Cherokee and I guess Saponi too(Blackfoot). I have been to 2 Pow wows the last year or two and I was real nervous but when i got there no one made me feel out of place. A lot of the people with BIA cards that had booths didn’t look like NDN’s to me to be honest and i knew they were.Actually I thought a lot of the people there looked like my Mom’s side of the family where I get my “blood” from.These were both intertribal powwow’s and I don’t know what others are like? I know with the Cherokees in general if you have a drop of Cherokee blood they consider you Cherokee but I know some tribes don’t feel this way. I don’t know if I can make it to the OBSN Pow wow but I want to go really bad and I wonder about acceptance too. But if you are of NDN blood whether or not you have a card from the US Gov’t saying you do or not doesn’t change the fact that you are NDN and that thousands of years your ancestors were living here. And to me you look like you could pass as a full blood and its obvious your Native American and I’m sure they will see that. I know how you feel though and I guess we’ll have to follow our hearts and just go back to our heritage and I have a feeling they will see our hearts and accept us. I hope to see you there. Especially to me since its supposed to be the 1st on Tribal grounds and with the traditional village and from what I hear way out in Nature? Thanks, Jeff in St. LouisJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24535
For a long time I have lived my life in fear of getting called “wannabe” and such as all that. In fact much is the reasoning for staying away from Pow-Wows and interactions with outside Native communities. Many in my family have similar leanings. As I get older though I am finding that by doing this to myself, living in a bubble, that I am not celebrating my heritage in a way that is satisfying enough for me personally. I have been to two or three Pow-Wows my whole life and all in the DFW area here in Texas. Recently I have decided to make the plunge so to speak and learn the Pow-Wow and dances and etc. I’m going to dance for my ancestors and those like us that have no cards or recognition. I hope to do this in the right ways.
I guess time will tell where this will lead, but I am going to continue to face my fears. 2006 was my year to face fears of all kind. 2007 is the year I intend to test the courage I learned. Some times you just got to go and give it a try and see what becomes of it all.
Oh!, and I one thing that I have learned about the “wannabe” term is that some Indians call each other that even if the Indian being called this name is a card caring member of a Federally recognized tribe. It is like the “N” word that African Americans call each other. It is a way for some to feel like they have some kind of one up-manship. Politics!, ugg.
I have been told that most the ones complaining about “wannabes” and ect. are the ones seldom at ceremony or following a good path anyway. So if I ever run into these few idiots out there I will take them with a grain of salt and ignore them, for they really are nobodies in their own communities.
The phrase I wrote many years back now springs to mind. Evil is an outer manifestation of an inner struggle. I am going to keep that in mind as I take this plunge into Native country. Let’s go diving, shall we? 😀January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24536
My husband was born from white Canadian parents who were Scottish by blood. They were Canadian by country, but Scottish by blood hearitage. He was accidently born here in the U.S. when his mother was here on vacation. So he is a U.S. Citizen, but his blood line is Scott.
He always loved the N.A. way. And before his brain hemmorhage (sp?) two years ago, could walk quieter than any person I ever knew. He was an incredible woodsman and had a knowledge of natural ways that aren’t taught, they are just ‘known’. As a teen ager he lived with a Canadian Indian tribe, and almost married one of the young women there. Then his parents brought him back to the States.
After he and I married, we had N.A. friends who hated whites. They accepted us because I have N.A. blood. But my friend said something so sweet to me one day. She looked me in the eye and said, “An Indian is one who is an Indian in their heart and soul. Danny is more Indian than most ‘real’ Indians I know.” It was a huge compliment to him and an acceptance of him as an “Indian’ even though he doesn’t have one drop of N.A. blood in him. 🙂 Many have said it here too. It’s what’s inside of you, not what you look like, or even blood quantum that makes a true Indian. 🙂
This same woman taught me how to do peyote beadwork. (Only because I have N. A. blood in me. She would not teach white people.) Actually she just taught me the first three rows and then didn’t teach me anything more. I learned everything else I know about peyote beadwork by experimenting. After a few years went by I asked her why she never told me about thread sizes and bead sizes and things that would make my learning experience so much easier. She just looked at me and said, “If it’s in you – it will come out.”
I feel the same way about being Indian. “If it’s in you – it will come out.”
I quit trying to prove myself to anyone years ago. I finally realized that I don’t have to convince anyone who I am. I am who I am. And that’s ok with me.
Would I like to have a paper trail? You bet. But not so I could convince people who I am. I know who am and that’s ok with me. 🙂January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24537
This inner struggle evokes strong emotion in me, looks like others as well. There is some excellent advice here, I think there will those who do not accept those of us who are not enrolled tribal members, but I agree with Scott, we must have courage. I would like to be able to share in the spiritual uplifting, renewal, etc that can be found in these ceremonies. Someday, I believe I will. I liken this to being a Christian; you can be a Christian in your heart, but when you go to church you can celebrate your beliefs as a community.
Thanks Laurie, I truly look forward to your posts; your words always hit home.:)
Barb, Thanks for sharing….sounds as if your husband was quite a catch! You were very fortunate to have found this woman who was willing to share the culture with you.:)
Jeff, I had planned on attending the OBSN Pow wow, but my daughter graduates that weekend, but will be going to NC in July. Thanks Jeff for sharing and the kind words.:)
Scott, I have read your phrase at the end of your posts before. Your words must have subliminally attached themselves (ie,the title of this post).:)
ShirleyJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24540
I knew macrame, she knew peyote. She wanted to learn macrame and I wanted to learn peyote. It was a good trade 🙂January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24543
I knew macrame, she knew peyote. She wanted to learn macrame and I wanted to learn peyote. It was a good trade 🙂
You were both blessed then:) …the women in my family are very nontraditional, so I learned to ride horse, drive truck, frontend loader etc. I would love to someday enjoy beadwork.:)
ShirleyJanuary 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24544
I would love to someday enjoy beadwork.:)
I already knew how to do loomwork. I learned that when I was a small child. She taught me ‘peyote’ beadwork. Which does not require a loom and is often used on sacred N.A. items such as fans, pipe stems, etc.
If you ever find time to bead, I can point you to some free instructions on the web. Most of them are not N.A. They are contemporary beadwork. But the basic technique is the same.January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24557
Hello, well this subject ties into several others, all being how to relate to our ancestors and feel comfortable around and in settings that we did not grow up in or with.
First , this site is about bringing people back together and we should keep that in mind, when we finally get all of our genealogies back to that common source many people will see just how related we all are.
Those papers that still seem to allude us will show up when they are intended to do so, the best times chosen will be when we need them the most.
In Canada we have a segment of the population called by the French originally as “Metis”, these are people of native and euro descent, and no matter if you only have an inkling of blood quantum you are still Metis, mixed blood has no definition you either are or you are not.!
So when my relations in the USA and Canada, I mean all of you that read this, and accepts that this position of being mixed is a perhaps where we should be looking and not looking for “NDN” recognition we will be that much closer to building a community of the ESDA.
Which brings me to my next point, the ESDA, (Eastern Siouan Descendants Assc.) will one day lead the way for a very similar path such as the Metis assc., and the Metis Federation.
The British Crowns office, the House of Burgess is no longer operating, however once our genealogies are done and we trace back to the early tribal people that we descend from we will be able to go before the Queen’s representative now in Ottawa, Canada.
In doing so and requesting that our ancestors be recognized as who they are and not something else (they were governed by the British!) achieving that recognition then we can then go before what ever US governing body and ask that they review the paper work and that of the Crowns position, reminding the USA officials that “they” ( The Queen’s rep.) were and are the House of Burgess. Requesting a very similar vote of approval mirroring the Queen’s position then we will have the grounds we need for recognition and community building not matter what state or province our members reside in.
The ESDA membership will then have the opportunity to stand up and say “see we told you so!”
Hang in there folks, we just need to complete our families histories and get organized!January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24558
That certainly puts a wonderful light on what our goals, as a community, are Tom. We are not only looking for our own private roots, but our collective roots. And as we find our private roots, they most certainly intertwine with others in this community. Several here have already experienced the joy of finding ‘cousins’. This site is more than ‘just another N.A. genealogy forum.’ It is community. Thank you for the reminder Tom.January 28, 2007 at 10:31 pm #24560
dovelady wrote: That certainly puts a wonderful light on what our goals, as a community, are Tom. We are not only looking for our own private roots, but our collective roots. And as we find our private roots, they most certainly intertwine with others in this community. Several here have already experienced the joy of finding ‘cousins’. This site is more than ‘just another N.A. genealogy forum.’ It is community. Thank you for the reminder Tom.
I too agree, thanks Tom for shining a light on our purpose here. The whole idea behind finding our roots is community, and this is a wonderful community; we are family.:)
A note for Barb: When I a few more of my chicks fly the nest, I will make time for some beadwork; I will let you know.:)
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