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Old 09-13-2006, 09:53 AM   #1
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What makes an Indian an Indian?

I've done alot of reading and web cruising the last few days, and spent alot of time on the phone, partly about this question. Hopefully I am not going to open a too big of a can of worms....but I want to sit and listen to the opinions and reasons of others.

Is is genetics that make an Indian? genetics and paperwork from the Feds? A certain percentage of Indian genetics VS other races in a person? Something else? Let me know what you think and WHY. I am trying to understand. Thanks, Leann
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Old 09-13-2006, 08:19 PM   #2
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First, Indian isn't one identity; it is hundreds of individual tribal identities. In my opinion, tribal identity is 3 parts culture and 1 part political.

Culture is not a code word for "feeling Indian in my heart." Yes, ethos is internal. But, worldview does not arise or exist within a vacuum. Your kin transmit culture in every action and word. And you mirror culture in every interaction within and without your culture group. It is in the thousand things you do that are different or the same as the dominant culture. It is in: how you treat your mother-in-law or your mother's sister's daughter; rez slang; table manners; body language; or how you spend your paycheck.

Most of all culture in rooted in community. Without a community recognized role you're not part of any culture. You're part of X, Y or Z culture because that group acknowledges your connection through kinship, action and reciprocal responsibility.

A CDIB or tribal card doesn't make culture, but it does make a political identity. As was pointed out earlier in an excellent post, history has given Native nations and the invader's governments a unique series of relationships. The cards, IRA governments, and 4000+ Native specific laws (at least in the US) are a legacy for good or ill of this relationship.

This political distinctiveness is an important part of tribal identity. While the relationship has often acted to destroy the culture of the people, it has also made a separate experience which has ultimately kept Indian people from being subsumed by the ebb and flow of the dominant culture (even if in some cases that has only been accomplished by making us stronger than the invaders).

Genetics play only two roles in the whole picture. First, if you are phenotypically non-white -- or more specifically, non-Northern European -- you will partake of some degree of prejudice in the dominant culture. This has been part of tribal identities since 1492, shaping contemporary Native culture. And to a great degree, it is a component of Native life which is not experienced by those that can "pass." Second, the political constituent of tribal identity is largely based on social-Darwinist ideas of descent. Therefore, it equates rightly and wrongly cultural identity with "blood".

Because exogamy tends to reduce the number of culture transmitters the home -- or more exactly increases the influence of outside cultural influences -- it's come to be a pop belief that racial/tribal identity is genetic. However there is no gene that can substitute for Indian parents teaching language, religion, and art to their children.

Last edited by OLChemist; 09-13-2006 at 08:28 PM.. Reason: Dang it someday I'll learn to proofread before posting
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Old 09-13-2006, 09:15 PM   #3
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"(feeling)Indian in my heart."

I AM SO SICK OF THAT SAYING..I ARGUE WITH MY MOTHER ABOUT THAT ALL THE TIME...SHE AGREES WITH THAT AND I DO NOT...BUT WE ARE ALL ENTITLED TO OUR OWN BLAH BLAH BLAH

I PERSONALLY LIKE THE FACT THAT HERE WE HAVE STATUS CARDS AND IF ARE LESS THAT 1/4(OR WHATEVER IT SET AT...IM NOT REALLY SURE *L*) THEN U CANT HAVE NDN STATUS.
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Old 09-13-2006, 10:01 PM   #4
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Posting on Powwows.com makes you an Indian!

Ayzzzzzzzzzzz

Not only do you have to be an Indian in your heart, you must be one on your tribal I.D. or treaty card.........................ennit?
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...that's so true....so, so true...
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Old 09-13-2006, 10:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ntownn8ive
Posting on Powwows.com makes you an Indian!

Ayzzzzzzzzz

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Old 09-13-2006, 10:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by **Brown Eyed Gurl**
"(feeling)Indian in my heart."

[FONT=Comic Sans MS]I AM SO SICK OF THAT SAYING..I ARGUE WITH MY MOTHER ABOUT THAT ALL THE TIME...SHE AGREES WITH THAT AND I DO NOT...BUT WE ARE ALL ENTITLED TO OUR OWN BLAH BLAH BLAH

FONT]

I agree. Too many times I have seen people come to these pow wows here that are 1/128th Cherokee or maybe even all white, and say "but I am ndn in my heart"

Then i just have to ask... So what do you do about that?

It really throws them for a loop. One guy almost started a fight with me, which I walked away from because I guess I was more ndn in my heart than he was. What a comparison that could be eh? How much of a percentage of ndn is in your heart? Do you feel that way all the time or only at pow wows?

Most of the people I know that make statements like that, go home and live the same life as any other European American.

IMHO, its more about the path you walk and not only how you look to other people, but how you look spiritually, as well as genetic makeup that makes you ndn. Everyone of you have to admit, that there are some fullbloods out there that have fallen off the path. There are people out there that do not have a drop of NDN blood in them, but for all likenesses could be because they walk that way spiritually.

History is full of people that were adopted into the tribe, many of them have gone on to do great things. The only one that comes to my mind right now, (because its an Anishinaabe story) is Grey Owl. He was adopted by Ojibwe, lived the life of Ojibwe as it was in the early 1900s (that is the period he lived in) and he went on to be a great spokesman for the conservation of the natural habitat of the Great Lakes region, even after he was exposed as being white.

Myself, I live my life the way I can. I try to learn Anishinaabe traditions and live them, spiritualyl and physically. Nothing else fills that viod in my life, no other spiritual way works for me. And I am not taking pieces and bits that just work for me, and mix them with other stuff. I learn strictly Anishinaabe traditions. Yeah I work and have a regular job, have to have some way to pay the bills cause I dont have enough Shinob blood to get any tribal benifits, even though my mother does. Even though we are moving up to Minnesota in a year or so, she doesnt want to move to the rez even though she is entitled to that 1 acre of land there. I will never see that acre, and I have to live somewhere.

Just because I cant live on the rez doesnt mean I have to forfiet a traditional life though. I have friends there, people that run lodges, people who are Mide. Then there are the dances, thats all I need.

Derek
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Old 09-14-2006, 12:41 AM   #7
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I just want to be very clear here: I am NOT saying you are Indian if you "feel Indian in your heart." I am saying it comes down to culture and community acceptance and participation.

Sorry, if I was unclear or am being unclear about your comments.
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Old 09-14-2006, 08:43 AM   #8
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"Because exogamy tends to reduce the number of culture transmitters the home -- or more exactly increases the influence of outside cultural influences -- it's come to be a pop belief that racial/tribal identity is genetic. However there is no gene that can substitute for Indian parents teaching language, religion, and art to their children. " OLChemist

Thanks for you reply. It's obvious you have given it alot of thought. SO----what if the genes are there, but what happens if the culture stuff has been deliberately NOT taught several generations ago, and thus lost? Is an individual not an Indian then? (not being confrontational....but parent/grandparents/great grandparents hiding their background was very common here East of the Mississippi. If the gov't found they were Indian, they would lose houses and land and animals and get shipped to parts unknown).
Leann
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Old 09-14-2006, 11:47 AM   #9
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What makes you Indian?



"To me, "

(Disclaimer): This is only "my" reasoning.....


"If you...."(In my best Jeff Foxworthy voice),


...." EVER did the knock, knock dance, with an INDIAN in INDIA..."

"Your kids will DEFINITELY ... AND...beyond a reasonable doubt - BE INDIAN!"





AND ...

*ahem


You can always brag ...




" YOU HAD INDIAN DNA IN YOUR JEANS!!! "



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Old 09-14-2006, 12:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe
What makes you Indian?



"To me, "

(Disclaimer): This is only "my" reasoning.....


"If you...."(In my best Jeff Foxworthy voice),


...." EVER did the knock, knock dance, with an INDIAN in INDIA..."

"Your kids will DEFINITELY ... AND...beyond a reasonable doubt - BE INDIAN!"





AND ...

*ahem


You can always brag ...




" YOU HAD INDIAN DNA IN YOUR JEANS!!! "



Terrible trying to be all serious here and you have NDN in the Jeans!!!hahahaha

You know that is why there are so many "Part Cherokees"
Because they had NDN in there Jeans!!!!
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Old 09-14-2006, 01:06 PM   #11
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Josiah says...."You know that is why there are so many "Part Cherokees"
Because they had NDN in there Jeans!!!! "

(grin!!!) Funny! Problem is, there are alot of us out here with Cherokee and other tribes contributing to our DNA pool. We've hav medical or Dental issues and when told we are Indian and start to poke around in the family tree, we raise alot of questions and have alot of "AHa!!" moments. We have alot of white.....but there's the grandma that was the product of a rape of a young Miami gal by the county sherriff, and adopted out to a white family to hush up the scandal. And the MIL who was raised on a reservation that I have SEEN on a map, and have talked with others and locals whe know of it, but it has "dissappeared" out of Ohio History. BIL is enrolled in a Cherokee tribe. Lotsa stuff like that. The Fed have Hubby listed as an Indian. But to lotsa folks, we are "wanabe NDN's." We figure Hubby and siblings are 75%...but various tribes. SO I am repsectfully trying to figure it all out.
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Old 09-14-2006, 01:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoMe
What makes you Indian?



"To me, "

(Disclaimer): This is only "my" reasoning.....


"If you...."(In my best Jeff Foxworthy voice),


...." EVER did the knock, knock dance, with an INDIAN in INDIA..."

"Your kids will DEFINITELY ... AND...beyond a reasonable doubt - BE INDIAN!"







AND ...

*ahem


You can always brag ...




" YOU HAD INDIAN DNA IN YOUR JEANS!!! "



is that before they hit the washer?? oops
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:19 AM   #13
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what makes person ndn is
a) you have to have the blood now if your 1/16 or lesser than that dont even bother...my nephews are 1/8 to me there still ndn but i would strongly encourage them to marry someone is full blood..

b) you have to participate in yar community/culture...i see so many ppl especially some of my relatives who sit on their duffs and dont even bother to participate ...to me their apples

c) you dont have to be raised from birth to be ndn...alot of ndn's now in days were never raised at birth but make a come back and start learnin

d) you do not need to be recognized to be ndn...i know tons of ndn's who are full blood and take part in community dances and such and to me their still ndn

e)the tribe itself doesnt have to be recongized...im saying this because they might have a reason why they never became recongized and as natives we have to respect their reasons ...there are tons of tribes (who arent wanna bees ) that arent recognized cuz they figure why bother and they stil hold onto their culture.. now those fake tribes that try to seek recognition and their nuthin but white ppl wearing colored fake feathers and walking around sayin their instant ndn those are the tribes you have to be weary of...or get a good chuckle out of..

soemthing like this new dna test thingy is a bunch of crock to pawn ppl outta their hard earned $$$

f)now do ya have to believe in native faith in order to be ndn? answer is no...it would be a nice thought if we al believed in it but thats a biased view from me..as long as one participates in their community and passes down their culture its all said and good

g)do you have to dance in order to be ndn?answer is no...alot of ndn's don't dance at powwows for many reasons

well this is my opinion ppl may not like it and all i gotta say is oh well.
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Old 09-15-2006, 08:24 AM   #14
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Thanks, Friend! I appreciate yours (and everyone else's) input----! Things are getting a bit clearer now.
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Old 09-25-2006, 12:36 AM   #15
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the teachings of my Grandfather are what make me NDN. For 9 great summers, I got to spend most of my summer vacations with him, and my 2 cousins that Grandfather was raising, Joe and Turtle. (Turtle became Turtle my 1st summer there because he was fishing and caught a turtle(duh) and lost a finger trying to get his hook out of it's mouth.) Grandfather taught us the ways of the woods,the animals and what plants were healing and thousands of other things. His stories he told us covered so much history and weren't just about the Cheyenne-he covered as much as he remembered and some of the stories were history that he had lived. I asked him once about Pocahontas and he gave me her true story. One moning I saw him facing the sun and praying. When I asked if he was praying to the sun, he said no. He was thanking the Great Spirit for another day and since the sun brought the day, he faced it when he said his morning prayers. He taught me to appreciate Mother Earth and everything created by her. To this day, I say a quick silent thank you to her when I see a rainbow, or a fawn or anything else from her world that makes me smile. After he died, I didn't get any teachings close to what he had taught me, but carried his lessons with me in my head and my heart. The last summer I was there, he told me that if I ever needed him, he would see me in my deams. Now, if I am stressing out over something, he will be there and we will walk and he will listen . I know a lot of people would blow that off as wishful dreaming, but it's him. He would on occasion smoke a pipe and when we have had a dream "visit" , I can smell his pipe. This and a ton of other things he showed and taught me are what make me who I am today-Cheyenne.
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:29 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeannB
Thanks, Friend! I appreciate yours (and everyone else's) input----! Things are getting a bit clearer now.
Leann
Leann,

If you have not already read it, I highly recommend you read a book titled,

Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads With an Indian Elder
by Kent Nerburn, New World Library, 2nd Edition, 2002, ISBN: 1577312333



Book Description
Kent Nerburn draws the reader deep into the world of an Indian elder known only as Dan. It's a world of Indian towns, white roadside cafes, and abandoned roads that swirl with the memories of the Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull. Readers meet vivid characters like Jumbo, a 400-pound mechanic, and Annie, an 80-year-old Lakota woman living in a log cabin.

Threading through the book is the story of two men struggling to find a common voice. "Neither Wolf nor Dog" takes readers to the heart of the Native American experience. As the story unfolds, Dan speaks eloquently on the difference between land and property, the power of silence, and the selling of sacred ceremonies.



Although a fictional story, the book gives many insights as to what it's like to be NDN today, in one area of the country anyway.
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Old 09-25-2006, 10:02 PM   #17
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Thanks! I wrote it down and will check it out on half.com. It sounds like an interesting read!
Leann
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Old 09-25-2006, 10:09 PM   #18
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How wonderful you had a grandfather that was willing to teach you! And I would be the last to discount your dreams. My Grandma was like that; she talked with her son who had died several months before, on the phone (of all things...!)! Some laughed and didn't believe her, but it brought her a great deal of comfort.
Leann
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Old 09-26-2006, 12:33 AM   #19
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Hi LeannB,

I'm gonna re-post some of what I wrote earlier on another thread (hope that's okay) because I think it pertains to this thread too. It was in response to someone else so when I say "you" I don't mean you, LeannB :)

A tribal enrollment card doesn't make someone an Indian, like Who Me said it makes you a tribal member. Being a tribal member isn't just an ethnic or racial identity, its a political identity. Tribal members are the only "minority" in the US who have this political identity because we are members of sovereign nations whose relationship with the US federal government was established through treaties and still exists today. This is why Indians are different than blacks, Hispanics, etc. Just because you have Indian blood or DNA, you aren't "rewarded with a CDIB" like you said. Its completely different, because you can be Indian and not be a tribal member.

Tribal member=citizen of a sovereign nation. Its like having a passport saying someone is Italian. You can be Italian-American, and no one will deny you have that Italian "DNA or blood", but you don't get "rewarded" with an Italian passport just because your great-grandma was an Italian princess :) Citizenship is a political matter, and Indian Nations have this same right of determining citizenship, just the same as Italy or any Nation.

My great-grandfather really was an Italian prince...well, he really was an Italian immigrant. Yet I have no Italian passport :-( I hope this analogy makes some sense to you.
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Old 09-26-2006, 01:01 AM   #20
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"A tribal enrollment card doesn't make someone an Indian, like Who Me said it makes you a tribal member. Being a tribal member isn't just an ethnic or racial identity, its a political identity."

good point to bring back up. people claiming native blood are the only ones i know of that try to demand anything. like you mention passports. i like that.

what gets me too is card carrying people acting so big and bad native stylin when their mom is white, wife is white, kids having babies by white or whatever then they act all heap big traditional injun like . talk about fawked up that's it.
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