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  • Mixed race...where do I belong?

    My mother (may she rest in peace) was half Japanese, half Bangladeshi. My father is Hopi. I need help figuring out where I fit in.

    Being multiracial is difficult. In many ways I think it is harder than simply being a minority. I'm a mixture of minorities, so I look different from everyone else no matter where I go, and I don't feel like I truly belong anywhere. I am extremely envious of people who know their place in the world.

    Because my mother died when I was young, I was raised in the Hopi culture of my father. I love my Hopi heritage and want nothing more than to carry it on. The problem is that I feel like I am unable to do this because of the way I look. I clearly have genes from Asia and India. The evidence is right here on my face, and it is undeniable. Thus I feel that Native people will automatically view me as a hobbyist or a poser, because I am obviously "something else."

    This is an issue that causes me a lot of depression and anxiety. What can I do to honor my heritage without being immediately shunned and mistrusted by Native people because of the way I look?

  • #2
    I feel this needs further clarification. I don't mean to imply that all Native people are unfairly suspicious of others, but this is something that has affected me a lot during my life. For example, at the most recent powwow I went to with my father, I was sitting on the sidelines watching him dance when I noticed an old Native woman glaring at me and shaking her head in disapproval. She whispered to some of the men seated beside her, who looked like elders, then gestured at me. The men looked over at me and narrowed their eyes. I wasn't even dancing or wearing Native regalia; I was just sitting there politely watching my father perform. I felt very embarrassed and turned away.

    I wanted to go over and tell them that I had a legitimate reason to be there, that I wasn't just posing or hobbying or trying to steal someone else's traditions, that in fact I have a considerable amount of Hopi blood and was raised in Hopi culture. I also wanted to point out that although I look a bit more Asian than other Native people, all indigenous people of the Americas descended from Central Asia. But I was too shy. This is the type of situation I am referring to when I say, "What can I do to honor my heritage without being immediately shunned and mistrusted by Native people because of the way I look?"

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    • #3
      a struggle...........

      I totally understand where you are coming from! I am also part native plus irish & english...... growing up I was shunned a lot from both people on the reserve & the "white" people. I felt I did not fit in anywhere & its something very hard to deal with. People who are supposed to be of you own blood & race are supposed to protect & support you. It was some words from my doctor actually that helped me!we talked a lot about it & he said so you are not red, you are not white, you are pink & that means you are your own colour, your own special person, you are not made to fit in, rather stand out........ So be the best pink person you can be!!! So thats what I did...... But it really bothers me when I see other natives/whites/blacks etc putting each other down :( racism works both ways. So maybe you are here to be stand out & educate people on being labelled (or not being labelled) & what it is to be of mixed race......... I think a lot of people native & non-native need some educating in this subect. Find you peace within you! You have nothing to prove to anyone, be proud of your roots!

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      • #4
        i hear alot of stories of people being shunned......but never seen it..........i have a feeling most people feel shunned before even mixing it up with us and look for more reasons to feel that way.........maybe its because you are a stranger.....

        the solution is stop being a stranger.....help an elder to thier car, ask anyone if they need help loading their truck, doing dishes, gathering firewood ect ect......make friends first then the acceptance will come
        "I on the trail of a possible good Indian lady and she is reported to like the old way's and she to believes in big family and being at home with kids all the time"... - MOTOOPI aka WOUNDED BEAR

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by banglahopinese View Post
          I feel this needs further clarification. I don't mean to imply that all Native people are unfairly suspicious of others, but this is something that has affected me a lot during my life. For example, at the most recent powwow I went to with my father, I was sitting on the sidelines watching him dance when I noticed an old Native woman glaring at me and shaking her head in disapproval. She whispered to some of the men seated beside her, who looked like elders, then gestured at me. The men looked over at me and narrowed their eyes. I wasn't even dancing or wearing Native regalia; I was just sitting there politely watching my father perform. I felt very embarrassed and turned away.

          I wanted to go over and tell them that I had a legitimate reason to be there, that I wasn't just posing or hobbying or trying to steal someone else's traditions, that in fact I have a considerable amount of Hopi blood and was raised in Hopi culture. I also wanted to point out that although I look a bit more Asian than other Native people, all indigenous people of the Americas descended from Central Asia. But I was too shy. This is the type of situation I am referring to when I say, "What can I do to honor my heritage without being immediately shunned and mistrusted by Native people because of the way I look?"
          Since you have your father there, it might be a good time to have him introduce you to the people who you want to know more about you. Then as [MENTION=171008]milehighsalute[/MENTION] suggested, do something helpful to gain their respect for you. Probably the next best thing is not to sulk away feeling rejected, but to become more active and participate somehow. You already stated that you have accepted the Hopi way of life. Carry on the ways and tradition.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by banglahopinese View Post
            I feel this needs further clarification. I don't mean to imply that all Native people are unfairly suspicious of others, but this is something that has affected me a lot during my life. For example, at the most recent powwow I went to with my father, I was sitting on the sidelines watching him dance when I noticed an old Native woman glaring at me and shaking her head in disapproval. She whispered to some of the men seated beside her, who looked like elders, then gestured at me. The men looked over at me and narrowed their eyes. I wasn't even dancing or wearing Native regalia; I was just sitting there politely watching my father perform. I felt very embarrassed and turned away.

            I wanted to go over and tell them that I had a legitimate reason to be there, that I wasn't just posing or hobbying or trying to steal someone else's traditions, that in fact I have a considerable amount of Hopi blood and was raised in Hopi culture. I also wanted to point out that although I look a bit more Asian than other Native people, all indigenous people of the Americas descended from Central Asia. But I was too shy. This is the type of situation I am referring to when I say, "What can I do to honor my heritage without being immediately shunned and mistrusted by Native people because of the way I look?"
            if youre talking this kinda sheeit around indians then i could see why no one would want to talk to you

            i know alot of hopis.....who were you raised around that co-sign this? where do they reside? ...............i really dont think a mix of ndn and indian would make you look THAT much different.
            "I on the trail of a possible good Indian lady and she is reported to like the old way's and she to believes in big family and being at home with kids all the time"... - MOTOOPI aka WOUNDED BEAR

            Comment


            • #7
              [MENTION=216523]cayenne13[/MENTION]

              Cayenne, it was nice to hear from someone else who is mixed race. I appreciated reading about your experience, and I'm sorry you have often felt shunned by both white people and people on the rez. Maybe I need a change in perspective. I'll try to use my multiracial identity as an opportunity to "stand out & educate people on being labelled (or not being labelled) & what it is to be of mixed race," as you suggested.

              Comment


              • #8
                I would very much like to wear Native clothing with pride. I would like to dance at powwows. I feel like I have a right to honor my heritage without being rejected and viewed with suspicion.

                [MENTION=171008]milehighsalute[/MENTION] and [MENTION=14319]xTekno[/MENTION], I have always been shy, but I will try to come out of my shell a little bit more and interact with the Native communities. I hope they will accept me if I am kind and sincere.

                The problem is, Hopi tribal enrollment requires 1/4 blood quantum, which my father meets but I do not. Will I be negatively viewed if I am carrying on Hopi traditions but am not an official member of the tribe?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by milehighsalute View Post
                  if youre talking this kinda sheeit around indians then i could see why no one would want to talk to you

                  i know alot of hopis.....who were you raised around that co-sign this? where do they reside? ...............i really dont think a mix of ndn and indian would make you look THAT much different.
                  Why is it "sheeit?"

                  If you read my post, you will see that I said I was too shy to say anything. So obviously, I am not talking about this around Indians or anyone else. It was something I thought because I felt embarrassed and awkward, and like I needed to justify myself. But I didn't voice it.

                  Also, it is my Japanese Asian heritage that makes me look "THAT much different," not my East Indian heritage. When people give me funny looks at tribal gatherings, I always assume it's because my Asian features make me stand out. Again, that's why I thought to myself that all Native Americans descended from Asia at some point, therefore having these features shouldn't set me apart so much. But as I said before, I kept quiet.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What makes you think ALL Indians descended from Asia? Did the Hopis teach you that?

                    Just asking.


                    Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


                    "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

                    Mr. Rossie Freeman

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by banglahopinese View Post
                      Why is it "sheeit?"

                      If you read my post, you will see that I said I was too shy to say anything. So obviously, I am not talking about this around Indians or anyone else. It was something I thought because I felt embarrassed and awkward, and like I needed to justify myself. But I didn't voice it.

                      Also, it is my Japanese Asian heritage that makes me look "THAT much different," not my East Indian heritage. When people give me funny looks at tribal gatherings, I always assume it's because my Asian features make me stand out. Again, that's why I thought to myself that all Native Americans descended from Asia at some point, therefore having these features shouldn't set me apart so much. But as I said before, I kept quiet.
                      i dunno about that.....i sometimes mistake my cousins from my pueblo side as asian all the time.....they have to remind me who they are

                      if your dad is known, and is considered hopi among his people then i dont see the problem.....just make it known who your dad is
                      "I on the trail of a possible good Indian lady and she is reported to like the old way's and she to believes in big family and being at home with kids all the time"... - MOTOOPI aka WOUNDED BEAR

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wow! I know exactly how you feel! I'm a mix of quite a lot, actually. Much of my heritage is minorities as well. People ask me what my heritage is, and they get bewildered because of how much is there! People like to stare and snicker at me, and even though I love my Native heritage and want to learn more about it, I'm afraid to.

                        I went to Disneyland not that long ago, and they had a store full of Native American themed trinkets, so I thought look around. The clerk (who was clearly Native) was looking at me really bewildered and somewhat mad, it made me uncomfortable. His assistant was also looking at me laughing. I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. It's not the first time this has happened.

                        The best we can do is just embrace what we are, even if it's uncommon and learn as much as we can. Our background is a unique thing, and it shouldn't make us feel any less human. I think it's a great experience to share our knowledge on our ancestors and they way they lived that some people do not know about. I'm sorry you don't have many to relate to, but I do understand where you're coming from. Maybe there's some type of festival where you can meet new people of different heritages. Who knows, you might meet someone with a similar background to yours.

                        I'm Native American, European, and Middle Eastern. I've never met someone with a background like mine. I kind of find it fun to talk with others about their heritage. When I tell them what I am, they actually seem interested in what I have to say for once.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by QueenSnowGrl View Post
                          Wow! I know exactly how you feel! I'm a mix of quite a lot, actually. Much of my heritage is minorities as well. People ask me what my heritage is, and they get bewildered because of how much is there! People like to stare and snicker at me, and even though I love my Native heritage and want to learn more about it, I'm afraid to.

                          I went to Disneyland not that long ago, and they had a store full of Native American themed trinkets, so I thought look around. The clerk (who was clearly Native) was looking at me really bewildered and somewhat mad, it made me uncomfortable. His assistant was also looking at me laughing. I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. It's not the first time this has happened.

                          The best we can do is just embrace what we are, even if it's uncommon and learn as much as we can. Our background is a unique thing, and it shouldn't make us feel any less human. I think it's a great experience to share our knowledge on our ancestors and they way they lived that some people do not know about. I'm sorry you don't have many to relate to, but I do understand where you're coming from. Maybe there's some type of festival where you can meet new people of different heritages. Who knows, you might meet someone with a similar background to yours.

                          I'm Native American, European, and Middle Eastern. I've never met someone with a background like mine. I kind of find it fun to talk with others about their heritage. When I tell them what I am, they actually seem interested in what I have to say for once.
                          was tonto in the store?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by xTekno View Post
                            was tonto in the store?
                            I'm laughing so hard, that's exactly how he acted!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              [MENTION=21858]Joe's Dad[/MENTION] The Hopi did not teach me that all Indians are descended from Asia. That's what I have been taught in regular public school. Researching the subject leads me to the same conclusion. Is it mistaken? If so, please correct me. I don't want to be spreading or believing in false information.

                              When I thought to myself, ". . . although I look a bit more Asian than other Native people, all indigenous people of the Americas descended from Central Asia," it's because I was feeling awkward and embarrassed. It seemed like I was being unfairly judged based on my looks, and I wanted to defend myself. However, I agree that it would have been a rude thing to speak aloud. I would never have actually said it. I hope anyone I might have offended by posting this comment can forgive me.

                              [MENTION=171008]milehighsalute[/MENTION] I'm obviously not going to post pictures of myself online, but to briefly describe my appearance: I have the fair skin and basic facial structure of Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif (from my Bangladeshi heritage), with almond eyes (from my Japanese heritage), a somewhat broader nose and high cheekbones (from my Hopi heritage). My hair is dark brown and my eyes are hazel. I feel as if I look totally mixed up, but maybe I'm just being too sensitive.

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