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Old 06-14-2013, 07:49 AM   #32
OLChemist
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Oh dear, my head may have to explode. I find myself agreeing with Joe's Dad and Zeke, simultaneously.


In the process of conquest and colonization, the ability to fix the boundaries our own cultural and social norms were severely damaged. Our institutions were attacked and normal modes of transmission of culture disrupted or broken. External definitions -- heathen, barbarian, blood quanta, noble savage, primitive, etc -- of "Indianess" were imposed. As a natural consequence, we have become excruciatingly sensitive to assault on these borders and obsessed with the us vs. them dialectic.

The irony (should you choose to view it so favorably) of this is that, in addition to some communities normalizing some really hideously damaging and dysfunctional behaviors, we have internalized some of the dominant culture's essentialist views of Native cultures. In our desperate attempts to counter the overwhelming negatives in the imposed definitions, we have seized upon rare elements of the good in these alien views. And we have rightly and wrongly enshrined those elements of the old ways that have survived attack. After all this trauma, we are -- as Zeke points out -- queasy about the risks inherent in personal and community self-definition. And understandably chary about inclusiveness.

After decades of relentless negative dominant culture stereotyping of our cultures, we've recast the dynamic as Native good, non-Native bad. We have eagerly put on some of Rousseau's discarded clothes. Conveniently ignoring for the moment that this is another romantic borrowing from an alien worldview. Should we then be surprised that some of the disaffected within the dominant culture should seize upon this and long to become the virtuous us?

Now to those who proclaim a Native heart: Can't you see where claiming inclusion is an imposition of colonial privilege? We have always included and enculturated outsiders. But we have made that decision. When you are claiming that you are Indian at heart, you are attacking our power to define our communities, by making yourself the gatekeeper. Why should you have that right? I can't just define myself as a member of a particular Native community by virtue of a few bits of DNA. I have to earn that acceptance. Why shouldn't you?


JD, how's that for typing like a white woman? Or worse an aging academic, LOL.

Last edited by OLChemist; 06-14-2013 at 07:55 AM..
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