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Forum Home - Who Belongs? A personal Story. (Kinda Long)
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|03-20-2006, 11:30 AM||#1|
Pow Wow Visitor
Who Belongs? A personal Story. (Kinda Long)
Just read the thread how "Your Thoughts about Hobbyists." I am new to the forum, but in my short time here I have already seen many posts regarding who belongs in the circle vs. who does not. There seem to be varying opinions amongst both white and native people. If possible, I'd like to share my story so that some may have a differant or new perspective on the issue.
I have dealt with these issues all my life. As a "mixed-breed" most whites don't understand you and some native's do not accept you. In particular if you look "white" as I very much do. Light brown hair and green eyes can stick out like a sore thumb in the circle. This can be a difficult situation when it is your native ancestory that calls to your heart and soul.
Some of us are required to live a double life so to speak. I do not, nor have I in a long time lived in or around indian country. Most of the people I work with or live near are NOT native. I exist in a "white society" for the most part. However, that does not mean I have rejected my native ancestory. I embrace it.
My grandmother on my mothers side was Southern Cheyenne. My grandfather a German Immigrant. My biological father was a "hodge-podge" of european decent. My father passed when I was very young and my mother re-married a Kiowa man who became my father as I knew it. He initially lived on a reservation in Oklahoma, but actually was adopted (not legally) by my grandparents when my mother and he were in their teens (Long story). Initially my mother left, married, moved to Chicago, and had children. However, after my biological fathers death my mother moved back home to Oklahoma where eventually she married my step-father. My step father was very connected to his tribe and other native peoples at this point and I was very much accepted, inspite of my appearance, by them. We eventually moved to the Texas panhandle where we lost connection with a lot of our friends and family by mere distance. It was here at the suggestion of my father I began with the Kwahadi BSA group, which was mostly white folks with a few natives. I enjoyed the things I learned and the dancing, but YES they were much more of a hobbyist group than anything. It never really felt right to me. I enjoyed a lot of things from the BSA, but the shows (as they were called) I at times found well...disrespectfull and lacking. I left out on my own and began to attend POW-WOW's when I could, draggin my wife (who is 1/8 Arapahoe and my girlfriend at the time) with me. My step father was a wonderful supporter and it seemed he knew everybody. My wife knew little to nothing of Native Heritage inspite of the fact native blood ran through her veins. Her eyes were really opened.
Anyway, I seemed to be accepted about half the time and rejected about half the time as an adult participant at Pow-Wows. Those who rejected me weren't interested in my history, my tribal connections, etc., the only concern seemed to be I looked "white." I always found it ironic that my sister looks very much native, but has little to no interest or desire to embrace her ancestory. However, because of her appearance she was always MUCH more accepted when within a native setting than I. She is no more NDN than I, she just looks the part.
Anyway I move to a large city in Texas and had children of my own. My step father passed a few years after my move and I allowed my life to take me away from the circle for a long time. I was blessed with a daughter who is also embracing her native ancestory and who helping me to again return to where I belong. I have yet to step back into the circle since those days about 20 years ago. However, I desire it with all my heart and feel it is forthcoming. I admitt though, I do have concerns and mixed feelings because of how I look and some of the attitudes of some people years ago.
I would ask that anyone of you who read this who believe that peoples of mixed ancestory do not belong, consider what you would do if you found out tomarrow someone in your ancestory was white. Would that change who you are or how you felt about yourself?
As there are more and more interracial marriages, and more and more people move away from the reservations, there will be more and more people who are of mixed decent. Should those who choose to ebrace their native heritage be excluded if they look more white than native? I would hope not. The color of ones skin, hair and eyes is just that...color. We are who we are based upon those paths we choose to take. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Comments (good or bad) are encouraged.
|03-20-2006, 03:11 PM||#2|
Hi there! Welcome to pws.com. I think you would have a better response to this thread if you post it in the native news and issues forums. Hope you enjoy yourself on this site as it can become addicting!
|03-20-2006, 03:18 PM||#3|
Pow Wow Visitor
I am still learning my way around here.
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