Intruding On Native American Heritage

Source

On Indian Heritage...

It’s amazing how the passage of time changes people’s minds and attitudes in these United States. Should that be attributed to the populace being better educated – or perhaps less, just generally more lenient, a liberal mainstream press, or changing moral values? A prime example of all of the foregoing is the current attitude regarding people of Native American heritage – and those who “wannabee.”

At the time of this author’s birth – 1937 to be exact – it was prudent to be white, American and protestant (WASP) and if that wasn’t the case one lied about it! Having done a bit of research on my family; I’ve found that my sainted Granny, who raised me, went to great lengths to cover up my Native American heritage which came from my father.

When my mother and dad started “courtin’ “ my Granny started fuming, fussing and threatening as family heritage was a huge factor back then and in a small town of 250 rural folks; everyone knew everyone else’s family tree. All her efforts eventually resulted in my mom and dad running off and marrying at the end of their senior year in high school – before the diplomas were handed out. Gossip had it that my mom was pregnant and they had to marry – which time deemed untrue – but the fact that the wedding proved to be by choice and not necessity only added fire to Granny’s anger. In her Victorian mind why would anybody marry a “halfbreed” that didn’t have to?

Back then anyone of other than “pure Anglo Saxon” heritage was definitely discriminated against. The possibility of the “tainted” blood being Native American resulted in one being known as “half-breed” no matter how much Indian blood was involved. My dad definitely was part Comanche – no doubt about it – and therefore he qualified for that unkind monicker. Whether Granny ever gave him any semblance of a chance – or not – is not included in our family history but from what I learned from my aunts it’s most probable that she did not. In her mind her son-in-law was a “half breed,” her daughter had married beneath herself, the family was not only disgraced but ruined socially, her family’s long established bloodline was tainted and the future looked very bleak for her long recognized and revered Texas heritage.


Chief Two Eagles
Chief Two Eagles | Source

Everybody's Gonna Be An Indian, Too...

I’m told her favorite disparaging comment was: “My God in heaven – our family was with Sam Houston at Washington on the Brazos and now this!” Apparently being there with Sam Houston was of great social significance back then (before my Granny’s time but considered very important to her family’s history). I’ve often wondered if any of those Washington on the Brazos residents were aware that Sam Houston was an admirer of Indians, friends with many of them and retreated to live among them from time-to-time. I feel sure, if any of them were aware of this they attributed it to the fact that Sam was an avid drinker – actually a drunk most of the time – so he probably didn’t know what a faux paux he was committing. I’ve always felt he knew exactly what he was doing, got drunk and lived with the Indians to get away from up-tight, judgmental and racially biased constituents like my early family!

Be all that as it may; the poo-poo definitely hit the fan when my mother quickly became pregnant with me. From that point forward my Granny made my father’s life a living hell – which quickly resulted in my parents separating and divorcing before I was even born. Mother’s pregnancy was traumatic – she nearly died – and that added even more fuel to Granny’s angry fire. My aunts said the day I was born Granny’s first remark (after she was assured my mother would live) was: “Well, as the child looks like a papoose there’s no way she can ever deny her tainted blood.” Seems I was born with a full head of black hair, skin darker than acceptable for a white child, and in time an iron will – which Granny also attributed to my father. So, that was the general attitude about Indians 74 years ago.

My, how all that’s changed. Suddenly Native Americans are admired, written about, celebrated – and would you believe – everyone wants to be one? There’s more white Indians than one can shake a stick at and they all approach it differently. Most white people, attempting to wear the Native American mantel and professing those beliefs actually ascribe to what’s known as “New Age” beliefs (although they’re blissfully unaware of it or don’t even care) and know little or nothing about tribal ways of beliefs. Some are intelligent enough to read a bit and attempt to present their fake knowledge to other uninformed individuals. They dress up in moccasins and feathers, dance and drum and do everything possible to inject themselves into recognized Native American Tribes – and American Indians themselves? They recognize these “wannabees” and want no part of it.

Many whites (which I understand the Lakota Indians call “wicusu”) present themselves as medicine men, elders, chiefs…and the list goes on and on. Many offer spiritual advice and services on the internet and in person. They conduct sweat lodges, which when attempted by amateurs can result in great injury and even death to impressed but unknowing participants. I’ve even read that some conduct the “sundance” which is definitely a most sacred ceremony to Native Americans and extremely dangerous to those who are not skilled nor educated on the subject.

There’s also many articles and opinions on Native American “religion.” It’s always been this writer’s understanding that American Indians have no “religion” per se but a way of life based on the earth and peacefully co-existing with all living things – honoring both the Elders and Wakan Tanka (Sioux language meaning “Creator”). Yes, some Native Americans ascribe to the white man’s religions but some remain true to the old ways. I’ve recently read of Indian schools established for the specific purpose of assuring their youngsters not only know and understand the old ways and their heritage but know and can speak their native languages.



Chief White Eagle
Chief White Eagle | Source

And, so it appears, the white man is once more attempting to usurp the last of the red man’s possessions – his heritage. The Indian nations – and the U.S. Government – have attempted to establish a way for the red man to maintain his heritage through recognizing the tribes and their sovereignty. Those of absolute American Indian heritage have been issued “Indian Cards” which declare them unequivocably a member of their respective tribe and eligible for the benefits thereunder. To qualify for such a card one must meet certain criteria such as proof of heritage through the Indian Rolls, DNA or being able to directly and without doubt tracing their American Indian heritage through public records.

Although assured and convinced of my Native American heritage I have not and will not apply for an Indian Card and know other “white” people who have the same attitude. Why, one asks, would someone not take advantage of such a great benefit if one is eligible? I can only state my own reasons. Having traced my heritage I’ve found that my actual Indian bloodline is in the far distant past. Is there enough Indian blood involved to qualify for an Indian Card – most probably – but it’s not sufficient in my mind – to jump on the Native American bandwagon and attempt to take from others what is rightfully theirs and so minimally mine.

I’m sure my sainted Granny is spinning in her grave right at this moment because I’ve committed her greatest embarrassment and sorrow to the written word and it’s now public knowledge so there’s no reason left for me not to tell the rest of the story. I’m inordinately proud of my Indian heritage and my father from whence it came. I’m also delighted that with age; I daily look more like an old Indian woman. I claim my heritage proudly and without any reservations whatsoever. I sincerely wish my heritage was such that I could claim greater kinship to the Native Americans I admire so much but it isn’t.

Sioux Chief Black Thunder
Sioux Chief Black Thunder | Source

The Great Indian Leaders...

I’ve never been inclined to claim spiritual insight or total understanding of Native American culture or ceremonies although I admire it greatly. I have studied and attempt to know and understand Native American history and what’s going on among the tribes today. I dislike and abhor those whites attempting to latch on to customs, ceremonies and heritage that in no way belongs to them – especially the greedy ones who are selling their services to unsuspecting white wannabees not only in this country but Europe and all over the world.

If I could claim one trait – be it Native American or otherwise – it would be that I can spot a phony from miles away – including Indian imposters -- and I base that on several criteria. I’ve never met a real Native American that will offer to share treasured Indian ceremonies with a white person. I’ve never met a real Native American that sells spiritual services. I’ve never met a real Native American that offers to share tribal information with those outside their tribe in casual conversation.

Real Native Americans have close family and tribal ties and can trace their heritage for generations and do not hesitate to share that information with other Native Americans when identifying themselves. Phony Indians have some good stories but they’re rarely provable or based in fact and are always sketchy at best. “Wannabees” have no problem at all with sharing their family history with anyone that will sit still long enough to listen. I feel sorry for the great Cherokee Nation as usually this is the only tribe a Wannabee can name (or perhaps has heard of or can pronounce) so they attach themselves to the Cherokees – not always but a lot of the time. There’s a whole lot of stuff out there, pertaining to American Indians but promulgated by whites, that should be relegated to what one steps in rather than what one listens to.

A very good example of misinformation by whites pertaining to Native Americans is what’s known about Sitting Bull. That famous man was not a chief (as usually stated) but a spiritual advisor, very wise, intelligent and with great reasoning power pertaining to earthly things. His intelligence, insight and spiritual dedication has been ignored and neglected by white men in favor of his being a chief, a great warrior and enemy to all whites. Proof of his great insight is the fact that he finally, in desperation, led his people into Canada, where they lived in peace and tranquility for years, while the great Indian Wars raged in the United States.

The famous Crazy Horse is today described by whites as bigger than life and twice as mean. Truth of the matter is he was of average or maybe even slight stature. His skin was lighter than most Native Americans and he had brown, not black hair. His face was scarred, he was much given to spirituality and he was, by nature, a quiet man – slow to speak and even slower to act. It’s reported he had great insight into the way white men thought because of his penchant for prayer and spiritual guidance. Much of what’s been presented on this man indicates he was a loud-mouthed, rabble rousing savage – probably because of what’s become known as “Custer’s Last Stand” -- and nothing could be farther from the truth. He was murdered by white soldiers at an army fort after he and his people surrendered to white soldiers – orderly and peacefully -- and yes, it was murder and nothing less.



A gathering of Indian Chiefs
A gathering of Indian Chiefs | Source

And today...?

I find it amusing when people discuss the gambling casinos and wealth some Native American tribes now enjoy. Seems the opinion of some whites is the American Indian may have suffered greatly at the hands of the white man and the United States government in the past BUT everything’s all square now as they’re all rich. What a fallacy. The American Indian is still the most mistreated, downtrodden segment of society in this country today. Not all are rich and some are desperately poor, lack proper medical care and live in abject poverty. In spite of all this Native Americans are a proud people, treasure their heritage and desperately try to protect it. However, after all these years, and what’s transpired, one can be certain they recognize and understand their adversary.

“Hello there! I’m the U.S. Government and I’m here to help you!” That’s exactly the statement that’s being made to every citizen of every ethnicity in these United States this very day.

Before you buy into that one – check it out by getting references from any Native American!




More by this Author


Comments 28 comments

sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 4 years ago

Very well said.


RachaelLefler profile image

RachaelLefler 4 years ago from Illinois

I agree with you that the "wannabes" are wrong to claim a cultural heritage that's not theirs, but I think some people are legitimately interested in participating in Native American religious ceremonies because they're seeking spiritual guidance outside of Christianity. This isn't a bad thing, the Native American spirituality is more earth-centered, has more gender equality, and gets people in touch with a more natural, peaceful, and authentic experience of being human. That's reason to proudly share information about your beliefs to others, not to play keep-away with them. A religion should be able to be practiced by anyone who agrees with it's principles, not reserved for members of an ethnic group.

I'm a UU and while I claim no Native American heritage, I did very much love the book Animal Speak by Ted Andrews (about communicating with animal spirits) and the book Spirit Song by Mary Summer Rain (about her experiences with a wise old Chippewa shaman). What books like that have to teach people to me is valuable enough that it should be shared by people of all races.

Anyway, I definitely think it's sad that everyone is running around claiming to be part Cherokee. I think a lot of it has to do with white guilt. I guess you feel better about your ancestor's racism if you know that not all of your ancestors were white. It's still wrong and stupid of these people.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Hi Angela Blair, I always enjoy reading your hubs! I remember taking a 20th Century American Indian Aesthetics course at OU and learning all about Native American artists. There are so many talented Native American people and it is sad that the Casino industry has overshadowed this! Thanks for sharing! Take care, Kelley


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hello RachaelLefler - Appreciate your comments and you make some very good points. Sharing books, etc. is always a good thing among ethnicities. My point here is the charlatans that claim Native American heritage to make a buck (in fact many) and conduct ceremonies that are potentially dangerous aren't "sharing" anything of value but are, in fact, not only misleading their followers but many times endangering them. Actually, when one thinks about it my dear Granny was presenting me as something I wasn't -- Anglo Saxon when I was part Indian -- but not for profit -- her reasons were definitely personal and based on ethnic bias. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Kelleyward -- how very right you are -- there's some magnificent Native American artists -- not only painters but in all genres of the arts. I think my wicked sense of humor takes over when thinking about the casinos/gambling industry owned by Native Americans -- they probably laugh all the way to the bank. Thanks so very much for commenting. Best/Sis


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Here in Arizona, Indians despise the term 'native American'. They much prefer 'Indian' or their tribal names. And why not? White Americans love everything 'Indian', even if it's not true!

Great Hub as always, Angela, and voted way up!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Thanks, Will -- I've been unable to ascertain exactly what designation is preferred, at least here in Texas, by card carrying Indians. I do know the charlatans are out en masse and making a financial killing -- while actually killing a few misdirected believers along the way in their phony sweat lodges and sundances. Yes, "palefaces" now seem attracted to any and everything "Indian" and seem determined to interject themselves into anything/everything bearing that label. Just strikes me as foolish and ill advised -- my opinion only! Your comments are astute as always and much appreciated. Best/Sis


RachaelLefler profile image

RachaelLefler 4 years ago from Illinois

I hate all the phony psychics and mystics out there! Those people are dangerous.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Rachaell -- you are so right! I do believe there are humans who "'know" things -- perhaps they are able to utilize a part of their brains others don't/can't. I have no belief whatsoever in those who charge for their "skills" -- just another con artist making a fast and easy buck. Best/Sis


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Very interesting, thank you.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I used to tell people I was a member of the caw-ka-shon tribe. Some actually said they had heard of it, until I spelled it out:

Cau-ca-sian

Caucasian


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"I’ve always felt he knew exactly what he was doing, got drunk and lived with the Indians to get away from up-tight, judgmental and racially biased constituents like my early family!" - Haha - I love this perspective!

"Some are intelligent enough to read a bit and attempt to present their fake knowledge to other uninformed individuals." - Do You think a white man cannot gain knowledge from First Nation's elders? And if they gain some of that knowledge, is it no longer genuine knowledge because they are white? I am a little confused here.

"I’ve recently read of Indian schools established for the specific purpose of assuring their youngsters not only know and understand the old ways and their heritage but know and can speak their native languages." - Yes, this is true. I know of Cree and Ojibwe communities here in Ontario who teach their own language. It is being revived indeed. Well, for the longest of time First Nations people were not even allowed to speak their own language or practice their spiritual ceremonies.

"And, so it appears, the white man is once more attempting to usurp the last of the red man’s possessions – his heritage." - This White Wolf does not agree here because the statement is too general. : )

"I sincerely wish my heritage was such that I could claim greater kinship to the Native Americans I admire so much but it isn’t. " - Kinship does mean a blood relation but it also means affiliation. Thus, if You can affiliate and connect with people of the First Nations, who is really sitting there to count your percentage of Native American blood? I have had people of the First Nations tell me that I am "more Native than them". I certainly carry no Native American blood but in Spirit - we are All One. I come from a line of ancient mountain people - the Dacian people and I am Native myself, just not Native of North America. We are all Natives though, Natives of Mother Earth and if we can realize that, we would see that only our tribes differ. The Black, Red, Yellow and White flag signifies that quite well, in my opinion. We have to respect one another, to show love, to share knowledge - independent of colour, language or whatever.

"I dislike and abhor those whites attempting to latch on to customs, ceremonies and heritage that in no way belongs to them" - Everything belongs to everyone. We are all children of the Mother. We All come from Wakan Tanka - mitakuye oyasin.

"The American Indian is still the most mistreated, downtrodden segment of society in this country today." - Yes, the Pine Ridge Reserve comes to mind immediately for me. Then, there are Reserves such as Hobbema or Attawapiskat here in Canada terrible living conditions ... much work needs to be done ...

About Attawapiskat (First Nations Cree Reserve) I have written at least four or five articles. Here is a taste if You have the time: http://hubpages.com/politics/No-School-for-the-For...

And for a brighter read, here is my take from the first Pow-wow I ever went to, three years ago. I go every year now and I have close friends at Dokis First Nations. At least the photographs You might enjoy: http://hubpages.com/travel/A-trip-to-a-First-Natio...

Interesting perspective You gave in this piece of writing. I am happy to be able to have learned about your thoughts. I am sure other people are of the same opinion as You are.

All the best!

Hoka-hey!


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

On a happy note, I also want to share a song I often listen to when I feel that I need to cheer-up and gather some strength. I wish it will have the same effect for You as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvGiYFOx5T4&list=PL...


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Thank you again(along with commentors) I reread this and learned some new insights again. I never really wanted to be a North American Indian, they were just my buddies so I probably acted like them. They would call me dirty names and punch me around, which was really cool because it made me feel like family. I suppose if we actually did much separation as youths, it was about like catholic and non-catholics, just not that big of a deal.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Ericdierker -- Thank you for commenting -- sounds like your Indian friends considered you one of them. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Will -- love your take on words -- thanks so much for commenting -- as always, Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Mr. Happy -- that you for your learned comments -- and the links for all of us to enjoy. Best/Sis


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

Great information on native Americans, thank you for sharing. Shared with followers.


cfin profile image

cfin 4 years ago from The World we live in

Great article. It makes me think of all those people who think they are Irish. They have never been, they represent Ireland with drink and corned beef (which I never had before coming to the USA), they think Ireland is a third world country, and really they are just playing up on it to get anger tattoo and act like a gangster.

It's humiliating. And for those who do have Irish grandparents, that's nice. For those who think its cool to wear t shirts portraying a stereotype created to destroy our image, that is just obnoxious.

I wish I could get more information on some burial sites and american attractions, but it seems that most have been destroyed or are not even advertised.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

What a fascinating article Angela. The treatment of the Native Americans is totally appalling and it is such a travesty it is shocking. I commend you on your article written from personal knowledge and values and too right you are proud to have a bloodline your granny was ashamed of. Congrats on a great story and insight.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Jainismus -- thanks so much for commenting and also for sharing with your readers. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

cfin -- I'm unaware of any American Indian burial sites being advertised as they're considered sacred and private. Many of the sites have been desecrated and are no more. If you'd like some good information on American Indians you might enjoy the book "Black Elk Speaks" -- thank you so much for commenting and I can certainly understand your feelings about "phony" Irish. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Susie HQ -- thank you for the kind words. As you said, the treatment of American Indians is now and always has been a travesty. The most recent incident in that respect is the murder of the Lakota-Sioux sacred white buffalo calf, Medicine Cloud. Both local law in Hunt County, Texas and the Texas Rangers declared "death by natural causes" and perhaps this is the greatest cover-up in recent history of great injustice/harm done to Indians. Thanks so much for commenting. Best/Sis


jeffry helms 3 years ago

Anglea, your a sephardic/ashakenazi jew and a wet one at that, the french indians were never "dark" skinned and made this country a "real " democratic society, when other countries bragged about it --we did it, and LET YOU AND YOUR FAMILY LIVE HERE, and you have the nerve to diss-claim us and dog us out ,when the french and indians saved you from being wiped out during world war 2-- most of our tribes do not have even have dark skin--maybe with a tan-- the french indians sacrificed everything -including their bloodlines for you-- and you treat us this way???? A number one hairstyle, no sugar or meat and some herbs--- I can turn any one french and indian male in a "native" in one week. When the french and indians left the native circles?? Our native americans who you think are natives?? Took people's from primate zoonotic std infection areas who have ties and associations to foreign organized drug fronts and fueled our std rates in the point of the highest per-capita in the nation.Their natural mates--the french indians are not around from discrimination from new arrivals like your family-- Not only that-- you your self have ties to foreign nationalist drug fronts. Angela you are not a good american


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I love these anonymous attackers who don't have the huevos to let us see who they are.

They are almost always liberals, and their English always stinks.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 3 years ago from Central Texas Author

Jeffry -- I find your comments unrelated to this Hub, argumentative, rude, accusatory and distasteful and therefore will accept no further comments from you.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 3 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Will -- ain't it the truth? Best/Sis


jeffry helms 3 weeks ago

Oh we know--you want you mayan/incan P.I buddies to steal the money so you can go on cocaine mexican vacations and buy a expensive dog that you'll probably put to sleep in 4 months.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working