Of Half-Breeds and Wannabe's: Native American Envy in Children

The Rumor

Copyright © G. Wasdin All rights reserved.

One of the first things I learned about my then husband-to-be was that his mother’s family had some Native American blood running in their veins or at least that was the story they had heard. The family found it exciting and honorable to think that one of their ancestors was an aboriginal. It was quite a turn of events from the early twentieth century for anyone to actually have pride in a mixed heritage of any kind, but especially Native American.

Shame and Rejection

I had a friend who was unfortunate in having been born half Cherokee in the nineteen-twenties. His Native American, known then as Indian, father either left his Caucasian mom or passed away. With no way to support herself and in rapidly failing health, she returned to her parents’ home with her two “half-breed” children.

Wally, her son, remembered well his and his sister’s icy reception by the maternal grandparents. Their mother had brought unspeakable shame to her birth family. The desperate mom and her children were taken in grudgingly and the children were not allowed to play near much less look out of a window lest the neighbors see them.

Times did gradually change and as Wally came into later middle age he sought out his roots and connected with his tribe. He was accepted and given an Indian name and he collected all the accoutrements necessary to honoring his Native American family. He then began to travel and speak, especially to children’s groups, about his ties to the original human inhabitants of the new world. His looks were definitively Native American and dressed in full Cherokee chief regalia he represented his tribe well, but he never recovered completely from the scars of rejection in his early days.

Where is the Evidence

In speaking to my mother-in-law about her supposed Native American genealogy I found that she nor any of the family at that time living could pinpoint a tribe or how far removed they might be from a pure blooded Indian relative. She and I would talk of tracing her roots, but life was busy and we never did and she is no longer of this world.

Lack of firm evidence of my husband’s connection to the American Indian in no way slowed the passing on of the family’s belief that they were “part Indian.” So when our first child was born, she began to hear of this wondrous link to the fascinating Native American world.

Around the age of five, she began pestering me one day about what time her daddy would be home from work. She wasn’t usually too cognizant of time, but this day was different as she continually asked me how much longer before her father would be home.

Finally, her unsuspecting dad, walked through the door. She was on him in a second and without delay asked…

“Daddy, which part of you is the Indian?”

Copyright © G. Wasdin All rights reserved.

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Comments 19 comments

tony0724 profile image

tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

OMG ! Children do ask just the funniest questions sometimes huh ? Nice close out on the hub !

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks so much, tony0724. You just never know what those little minds are thinking!

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

Very nice article and a subject close to my heart. In Canada, the aboriginal people have argued for and successfully obtained lands, education rights and monies. There are still huge problems and poverty.Progress is being made, but nothing can take away their scars from what their grandparents, great-grandparents and even parents have gone through. About fifty years ago (if my memory from textbooks serves) the children were sent away to schools, far from home -- unprotected -- and suffered greatly for it. And for hundreds of years -- just like here in Hawaii -- the Aboriginal people of Canada had their fishing and hunting ways of life taken away from them. Thank you for your article -- and touching ending.

By the way, the LDS church has Family History Centers (FHC) in every city. Non-members use the facilities even more than the members and are very welcome. If you or I or anyone goes there and asks for help to obtain clues and then research the genealogy of your husband, someone will sit down and help you. They have vast resources on aboriginal peoples of every country. They have had 92 to 200 cameras going around the world for the past some-35 years, obtaining photographs of every kind of government, church, and non-government records they were allowed to do (as years went by, countries such as Poland and Russia invited them in for that service and always copies were left for the office or government body that allowed it.) The records are stored on microfilm in the base of Granite Mountain in Utah, safe from every risk. These can be accessed by ordering a microfilm to your nearest FHC. Much of it already is digitized so that you can view it at home on your computer if you know how or on computer at the FHC. Additionally, the whole repository (the largest of its kind in the world) is projected to be completely digitized with the help of volunteers (like you or I) at home involved in the Indexing Program where each item, each birth record, etcetera is checked and rechecked and triple checked before being put up for viewing. So, first step, if your husband is ever interested -- or you or your daughter when grown up -- is to sit down with a family history consultant at the Family History Center near you. It's all free.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks, Pamela, I knew the LDS church had extensive genealogical records but never thought about them having files on aboriginals. I love studying and preserving family history, but it is time consuming and at this stage of my life, I don't have a lot of time for it. Hmm, maybe it could be a school project, then I could better justify the time!

I'm glad to know that the original Canadian natives are progressing with their rights. It is a tragic thing that was done to the "Indians" of the USA and I am saddened to think that my ancestors might have been a part of it.

I appreciate you kind comments on this hub.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

U Neek, I love the 'which part of you' quote. Children say the most wonderful things. All of have ancestors who did something stupid or awful. We are the great melting pot and also have ancestors who were treated poorly too.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thank you, Dolores, for bringing out the fact that we all have had ancestors who have behaved poorly or were treated badly. I hate it when people are looked down upon because of something their forbears may or may not have had a part in, but just because they are of a certain ethnicity, religion, etc., are blamed anyway. I appreciate your reading me!

brianbel profile image

brianbel 6 years ago

This story is fascinating and echoes the sentiments of many who wonder "who are we and where did we come from?".

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks, brianbel. I guess there are some things we'll never know and sometimes that might be best.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Children do say the funniest things. Good story.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Yes, they can be quite entertaining! Thanks!

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this fine Hub. I am a quarter Cherokee myself, so I can relate.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

James, I'm so glad that mixed ethnicity is more accepted now and hope that no child will ever again have to experience what my friend did. Thank you for reading.

raisingme profile image

raisingme 6 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

Great Hub - this topic is an important one! The story of your daughter reminded me of when my youngest was in Grade 3. Her best friend then was half (in Canada they are refered to as) First Nations (native) and as such often left her regular classroom to attend First Nations classes. The two of them dearly wanted to attend these class together but my daughter's fair hair, blue eyes and the freckles across the bridge of her nose prevented her from being eligble - that is it did until the two of them concocted a story about my daughter being Metis. Totally duped the teacher! Little monkeys! The whole thing got blown when the teacher asked me to sign the consent form she had filled out for my daughter to attend the classes. When I told my eight year old she didn't have a drop of First Nations blood in her veins she was crushed. Much different from when I grew up and I hope it continues to improve! Great Hub!

mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

This is a very good story and it's sad that someone was looked down upon because of lineage. Now it seems that everyone claims to have Indian blood.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thank you mquee and raising me. It's great to see the turn around towards native Americans. Now if we can make some progress on the many other prejudices out there!

Walking Bear 4 years ago

LOL this story makes me laugh ... God and his sick twisted humor allowing the white man to do what they did without consequence. Now there generation still rules over over us . And we still have no homes or anything we can call our own. Our language our heratiage is almost gone. Yes i am a half breed and i was ripped off in life because i have nothing i can call my own. Growing up in Oregon in the 70's i was hated by both sides of the fence i was never really truly accepted. I am sort of now days but its to late for me because i have so much hate in me and every one knows it even when they meet me. Yes i did marry a full blooded german white women but she was horribly disfigured from 3rd degree burns and i think she thinks she can not get any one else ... But before she was burned she was very very beautiful . But i dont love her and she knows i hate whites and native and well any race. But she's lonely and i hate being alone some times and we did have a daughter i never have nothing to do with because she looks very white with blue eyes and blond hair some times i really hate her . but that's what i been taught growing up ..... O well i already know im going to hell ....

Tish4702 profile image

Tish4702 3 years ago

I just came across this post just a little while ago and love the story. So many times I have heard from people all about their family "history" which usually begins with how "their great-great grandmother's sister married an Indian, we think...". As you said, comparing that situation to less than a century ago when having ANY Native American blood was shameful. My husband is half Chiricahua Apache, on his father's side, and they have been able to trace that to 2 of his great grandparents who were among the band of Apaches that surrendered with Geronimo/Goyathlay in 1886. What I have found fascinating is how the racism has changed over the years, from one generation to the next. His great-grandfather never admited to being an Indian until he was in his late 60's, started drinking heavily, began speaking primarily in Apache and basically went crazy. His son-in-law (also Apache) refused to admit it outside of his living room. His sons and daughter would discuss their race with family and friends but hold back with stangers. Then the next generation, my husband and his cousins, most of whom are half white, are very open about being bi-racial and 95% of the folks we've run into find it interesting. what a change indeed.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 3 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

It makes me sad that you have had such a difficult life and live in such a lonesome state. I appreciate your taking the time to read my hub and comment. I will have you in my thoughts...and prayers, if that's okay.

U Neek profile image

U Neek 3 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

It is good to see these positive changes and I hope that the acceptance will continue to improve for all. Thank you for taking the time to read and to share your family's story.

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