The biggest difference between being NA when compared to ANY OTHER ETHNIC GROUP in this country is that THIS IS OUR LAND. Our ancestors from over 500 hundred years ago, and many more recent ancestors, ARE ALL BURIED ON THESE LANDS. I am speaking of "the western hemisphere before 1492" as my father would say, having grown up with his expression of "indigenous people of the western hemisphere before 1492" all my life, not that you would know that. Our creation and behavior stories, songs, medicines, biology (e.g food our bodies are used to eating), etc. are RELATED TO PLANTS & ANIMALS FROM THIS LAND. We don't have tigers or elephants in our stories. Many NA's cannot process milk (cows are not indigenous to our lands see: http://www.visualnews.com/
I mention these points because NA's cannot go somewhere else in the world and find an active, thriving culture. Hey, we can hardly find one here in the "Americas" for our own Nations (tribes)! In terms of cultural survival, if I (the parent) do not teach about our heritage or find an active community, our cultural traditions will die. Just because I am not actively practicing everything right now, does not mean it is not my plan. Even first communion in a Catholic community doesn't happen until a kid is older. I am still learning about who I am and what it means to be NA in a country which doesn't acknowledge its treatment of NA's.
What I do know, is that if my child wants to learn about being German, for example, there are many, many resources in Boston (German Consulate, Goethe institut, German-American Association, German language classes, etc.), not to mention going to Germany. That is NOT an option for the Native American heritage.
Just because you have seen SOME of who I am, doesn't mean you know ALL of who I am. Now that I have a child, I am forced to consider more of the world and how I want to raise that child. A strong sense of identity is essential to healthy development. My child is Native American, no matter what, and will probably face damaging stereotypes, like all NA's do (see: http://www.thepolypost.com/
Here is a quote that makes an important point, "An Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors this Halloween I was going to write an eloquent and well-reasoned post today about all the reasons why it’s not OK to dress up as a Native person for Halloween–talk about the history of “playing Indian” in our country, point to the dangers of stereotyping and placing of Native peoples as mythical, historical creatures, give you some articles to read, hope that I could change your mind by dazzling you with my wit and reason–but I can’t. I can’t, because I know you won’t listen, and I’m getting so tired of trying to get through to you." Along those lines, here are some things people say to NA's http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Navigating all that he needs to know about being NA is OUR OWN COUNTRY, will be difficult enough. Our child needs to find sources of PRIDE that counteract the NA negativity. I have learned a lot from my family about how to establish a positive identity. I am still learning. Long hair is a part of this process. BTW, I am also learning about Special Needs from my family, because I have to for our disabled child, and my family members have 25 years experience and certification in this area. Were you paying attention to my family when they brought up our child's language delay and how our kid could get services starting at age 3? I was. This is a part that I, as a parent, with access to information on special needs and NA heritage, can help our child with.
Here is a story about the "6th sense" that long hair provides backed up by U.S. Military experiments. Hair is an extension of the nervous system, it can be correctly seen as exteriorized nerves, a type of highly evolved ‘feelers’ or ‘antennae’ that transmit vast amounts of important information to the brain stem, the limbic system, and the neocortex. Not only does hair in people, including facial hair in men, provide an information highway reaching the brain, hair also emits energy, the electromagnetic energy emitted by the brain into the outer environment. This has been seen in Kirlian photography when a person is photographed with long hair and then rephotographed after the hair is cut. When hair is cut, receiving and sending transmissions to and from the environment are greatly hampered. This results in numbing-out .
Here is a hair story from among a nonNative community. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/