I would not say that Native American identity is shaped by ethnicity, rather Native American identity was and continues to be shaped by specific tribal cultures and traditions. American Indians do not form an ethnic group, they are composed of thousands of independent nations, communities, and cultures that have very different and specific identities.
Similarly, I would not say that American Indian identity has been shaped by sovereignty, rather American Indian cultures and identities have informed and supported the use or appropriation of the Western concept of sovereignty. If we mean by sovereignty the right and power to make our own decisions, then sovereignty has been a part of Indian nations from time immemorial.
Tribal citizens have cultural, kinship, often spiritual ties to a tribal nation and to its history, goals and values. Tribal citizens uphold and obey the laws and traditions of an indigenous nation. Tribal citizenship carries a political commitment to take on the responsibilities and benefits of tribal government and tribal nationality. However, tribal citizenship requires cultural understanding of the indigenous nation, and knowledge of the history of self-governance. Indigenous nations are holistic with overlapping cultural, political, kinship, economic, and community relations and identities. Tribal citizens take on time-honored obligations to respect kinship, community, nation, and ceremony, all of which are overlapping and holistic.
Pseudo Science to Get Rid Of
Some excerpts below
Indians Who Aren't Indians
The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier ruling that says the Métis are Indians in constitutional terms, which implies a higher standard of federal responsibility. It rejected, however, the notion non-status Indians are in fact Indians under the Constitution, although it said Parliament could grant such status under some circumstances.
They may look like Indians, identify as Indians, associate with Indians, participate in Indian cultural affairs and pass on their Indian oral histories, they may even speak an aboriginal language, but as far as the federal government is concerned, they aren't Indians.
This paradox and historic injustice traces its roots to the 19th century and the beginning of the treaty system. A status Indian was someone registered under the Indian Act as an Indian, but for a variety of reasons many aboriginals never registered with the authorities.
Some aboriginals avoided the process out of mistrust, while other names were simply not recorded. Aboriginal women who married non-Indians lost their status, although that injustice was eventually reversed by the courts. Other aboriginals lost or gave up their status for a variety of reasons.
The Métis have a process for determining membership in their group, including self-identification, acceptance by the Métis community and records that verify ancestry. A similar method could be used for non-status Indians who want to reclaim their heritage and their rights.
9 Things America Needs to Understand About Native Values
- Honesty and Integrity
- Prioritizing Who Is Paid Well For What
- Appreciation for Women
- Natural Law
- Kinship and the Relationship Between All Beings
- The Sacredness of Life and Intention
- Mother Earth
The cultural complexities of contemporary Indian communities tend to confuse non-Indians who are expecting and often demand traditional cultural expression and personas from contemporary Indian people. If a person does not look and act like an Indian—usually a stereotypical image of a Plains Sioux Indian—then many non-Indians doubt the Indian authenticity of tribal member.
Reservation Indians usually have very secure identities, and so when non-Indians or ethnic Indians doubt their authenticity, reservation Indians often find these circumstances amusing. Ethnic Indians can be defined as persons of Indian descent who are not members of a tribal community and often their families have not have had contact with a home community for generations. For reservation Indians, authenticity is confirmed within the local reservation community. While for many ethnic Indians and non-Indians, Indian authenticity is determined by stereotypes and images that are common within American society.
There are more non-Indians in the U.S. than reservation Indians, and generally the views of non-Indians prevail. Non-Indian views of Indian authenticity drowned out reservation understandings of Indian authenticity. Before the 1980s, some times Indians often conformed to U.S. images of authenticity by dressing in Plains Indian clothes and headdresses, partly because otherwise they could not be recognized as Indians. Southern California Indians, for example, do not traditionally have powwow dances, but have dances and songs based on their tribal creation teachings that narrate an epic migration of ancestral birds who end by establishing the homeland of the people. Unfortunately, much contemporary discussion about Indian authenticity focuses more on U.S. definitions of authenticity than tribal understandings, which are less well known and understood by the U.S. public and many ethnic Indians.
Trapped in Our Ancestors Old Ways
From TLC: “The series chronicles the dramatic and emotional journey of Mary, Frank, Tamara, Qituvituag (also known as Q) and Nuala, as they embark on their high-stakes ‘escape’ from Alaska to explore the world outside their villages and small towns. Although they love their families and take pride in their heritage, they are yearning for more fulfilment and different experiences. Escaping Alaska captures their brave journey as they leave their sheltered lives behind.”
Native People, in All Their Glory: 20 Portraits by Ryan Red Corn
Working with Buffalo Nickel and on his own, Red Corn has built up a substantial portfolio of portraits of Natives; his subjects include entertainers and athletes, politicians and activists, kids and elders. Basically, everyone -- view gallery for a selection of some of his recent shots.
The word "Pagan" is a problem when applied to Native Americans
Beyond Assimilation and Nationalism: Walking in Two Worlds Is Necessary
Indians use a variety of strategies to manage their life prospects and identities. The old stereotypes of opposing traditionalist and progressive strategies do not capture the complexity of contemporary life choices, nor the consequences of tribal identity and commitments to sustaining tribal nations.