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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Who Decides Who's an Indian?

So what of the rest? I see academics, bloggers and keyboard philosophers, both Native and non-Native, attempting to design Litmus Tests for who is ‘Indian’. While we can argue about intention, the results are still the same.

An individual may meet the test of one, and not another. Here: let me use myself as an example. I was born and raised on the rez, and I still live here. I'm enrolled in a federally recognized Tribe. I go to ceremony, know my heritage, and do my best to keep our sacred ways. I've dedicated my life to the service of the Oyate (the People). Heck, I even make bomb taniga and frybread and I've never dated a non-Native man in my life. But…I am not fluent in my Native language (although I'm trying). I have degrees from western institutions of higher education. I wear western clothes most of the time and have a penchant for designer shoes and handbags (like ones that will set off my Russell Means T-shirt, dentalium and beadwork nicely). Also, my mother is white (despite her thick Rez accent) and in the middle of winter, wow, I'm pale. Despite identifying as Native and having many witnesses testifying to such, there are a few who would say I don't meet the test.

Today, Natives lie all along this continuum, positioned at various levels on the 'Indian-ness' scale.