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Mixed Blood or Part Native American

Updated on March 26, 2013

Mixed Blood or Part Native American does that make you Native American?

Do you have a relative or relatives who are/were Native Americans, American Indian, or First American? Does that make you a Native American or does that not? Does that make you a Mixed blood, half-breed or part Native American?

Photo by Firebear all right reserved.

These are questions that many people face each day. They have been told by their family that one or more of their relatives were Native Americans. That answer can be clouded by what people say and so hopefully reading this will help you understand a little more about the issue.

Who I Speak For

In no way do I want to imply that I am speaking for all Native Americans or for a certain tribe. This is what I was taught by my Choctaw Grandparents and Great Grandparents. Many of things I talk about are also from the teachings of Elders from other nations that I have met through my lifetime. What I learned I teach.

Native Americans Relatives

Many of us have been told by the older members of our families that one of our ancestors was or is Native American.

Are you a descendant of a Native American

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Native American

  I believe that calling First Americans by the name Native Americans, which is considered to be politically correct, is not correct. Everyone born here is Native American.

Where did the money go
Where did the money go

Blood Quantum

How much does it take to be Native American

The Bureau of Indian Affairs in most cases requires that a person be ¼ Native American or more to be a member of a Nation. That is not true in all Nations but is true in most of them. If you are not enrolled in a Nation but you can prove you are ¼ or more blood quantum from one Nation it is not enough for you to enroll in a Nation. First you have to make sure your family member is on the Dawes Rolls. Then to be eligible to enroll in a Nation you have to send all your paperwork and proof to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be certified to enroll in a tribe. So the decision in most cases of who can and who cannot enroll in a tribe is made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs not the individual Nations. You have to be a certified Indian to enroll in an Independent Nation.

If you grow up living on the Nations Land (reservation) where your family has lived for generations, speak the language, know the culture but because intermarriage with other races you fall below ¼ blood quantum in most cases according to the government you are not Native American.

As a result of this you have many people who because of Oral Traditions (what they have been told by their families) know that their ancestors were Native American and in their hearts and minds still follow the traditions they were taught are told by the government and society that they are not Native Americans.

Blood Quantum Laws is legislation in the United States and only in the United States that defines membership in Native American tribes or nations. "Blood quantum" refers to the amount of ancestry of a person who has Native American Ancestors.

You walk where our Native American Ancestors walked
You walk where our Native American Ancestors walked

Are we Indians or Native Americans

What do you call us.

My family does not call themselves Native American we identify ourselves by the nation (what others call tribes) that we come from. For instance, if you ask me what tribe I am from, since there is Choctaw in the family on both my mom's and dad's side of the family, I will say I am from the Choctaw Nation.

Being Native American, American Indian, First Americans (the term I like), Indian or any other label that has been applied to us by others is not the way we identify ourselves. We identify ourselves by the nation we are part of just as someone from the United States would not go to Europe and call himself a North American instead of identifying his Nation.

I know right now it is politically correct to call us Native American but most Native American people I talk to prefer American Indian or, as I do, prefer First Americans.

What do you think we should be called?

What do you think is appropriate for people to call us?

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Time for healing waters to flow
Time for healing waters to flow

So where does that leave us

Who are we

The government says that you have to have a certain blood quantum to be called a Native American but most Native Americans say it does not matter what your blood quantum is.

Photo by Firebear all right reserved.

My Great Grandfather said that is not about what runs through your veins it is about what is in your heart. Is it not time to let go of past restrictions placed on First Americans by our government and allow people to walk their path with respect and in the best way possible without judging them for what they are or what they are not?

Taos Pueblos best baked pies in the world through the screen door
Taos Pueblos best baked pies in the world through the screen door

Part Indian

You are or you are not

Have you ever said to someone "I am part Indian." My suggestion is to not say that to one of our traditional elders. If you do you will end up in the embarrassing place that a doctor up in Oregon did when he told an Elder that he was, "Part Indian."

Photo by Firebear all right reserved.

This doctor like many people had been raised knowing that he was "Part Indian" but did not know much else.

It was not until later in life that not only did he understand being, "Part Indian" is like being, "Partially Pregnant". Either you are or you are not. As the Elder told the doctor if you are, "Part Indian" then you could have the part that is Indian cut off and then you wouldn't be "Part Indian" anymore.

It is not about what runs through your veins it is about what you believe and the way you act. It is about honoring our Grandfathers and Grandmothers and keeping a way of treating others with respect, having a connection to Creator and a respect for Mother Earth.

So consider what you say when you tell someone that you are "Part Indian" because there are no "Part Indians".

Native American Sweat Lodge
Native American Sweat Lodge

Okay where do we go from here

When I was younger the Elders told me something that I had a hard time completely understanding. At the time I was caught up in the, "How much Indian are you" thing. I had to live a lot of years before I figured out what they were saying. Now that I have got to the age of the Elders that taught me I finally understand that it is not what is in the veins that matters but it is what is in the heart that is important.

Photo by Firebear all right reserved.

We will see great changes when people begin to accept people for who they are and not for what they are.

Physical anthropology and biology says that races are groups of humans based on physical traits that get transmitted by the genes not by blood. Culture is what we do and why we do it along with beliefs that we learn and transmit through social communication. An ethnic group is a group that identifies itself with others because of culture, such as Irish or Germans, or Native Americans.

Who we are is defined by the Culture we immerse ourselves in not by what genes that were or were not transmitted.

Come Join Us At Our Fire
Come Join Us At Our Fire

Where we hang out

A community of like minded people

You are welcome to come and join us at our fire where we follow the teachings of our Grandfathers and Grandmothers.  We would be glad to meet you and talk to you.  See you there!

Photo copyright by Bo Tipton.

We publish a newsletter on a regular basis.

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Mosholatubbe Choctaw Chief
Mosholatubbe Choctaw Chief

Be who you are not what others say you are

It is what you know not what others say

It does not matter what you are the thing that is important is who you are. If you are proud of your Native American heritage and want to embrace the teachings of your Ancestors then do so and do not let anyone stop you. It is not about what you look like or don't look like it is about what is in your heart.

Photo in Public Domain.

The way we are taught about the teachings of our Ancestors is by our Elders. If you sincerely look for a teacher to help you learn one will come to you. It happens every time.

What about if you are drawn to Native American teachings but you know that you do not have any Native American Ancestors? Again it is about what is in your heart not what is in your vein. Seek out an Elder who will teach you.

What if you want to trace your genealogy and don't know how. Stay tuned there is a lens coming about that.

While you begin or on your journey of learning I have listed two books below that will help you understand and look at Native Americans in a new light. Take time to read them.

When we speak we put our words on the wind for others to hear. When we write we put our words on leaves for others to read.

What you say is important - Share your words with others.

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    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 5 years ago

      First lens off to a good start.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

      This was worth the wait...so simple yet powerful with truth. The Political correctness of what to call Native Americans/Indians/First Americans is often confusing. A couple of your graphics made me laugh...the BIA one and take care of Indian Country :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great topic!

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Susan think you for stopping by. I appreciate it.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @KathyMcGraw2: Think you Kathy I appreciate you remarks. Also all the tips you give me are appreciated.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @AnnaMKB: Anna I appreciate you stopping by. Your right the debate is heated among everyone involved even Native People. One thing that Canada has that the U.S. needs to do is have Status and Non-Status First Nation people. Non-Status are the ones who are not enrolled in a Nation for what ever reason. U.S. only recognizes what Canada calls Status.

      It will be interesting where this goes.

      Again thank you for stopping by and for your comments.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      Interesting article. I learned some new things, such as the term blood quantum and preferences for terms to use in talking about American Indians. Appreciate the education.

    • profile image

      CatJGB 5 years ago

      Very interesting. I am from NZ and the native Maori people there have a very strong culture and it exists alongside "pakeha" (white people) culture and society very strongly. And for the most part peacefully......but not always.

      There are many New Zealanders who claim Maori blood in their heritage, I'm not sure how the Govt likes to classify people though.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @CatJGB: One of the members of our community here is from NZ also. His family moved here when he was a teenager. His Great Grandmother was Maori. He has told me many stories about there culture although not with out some prejudice but with much better treatment then Native People received here and in Australia.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @AlleyCatLane: Alley Cat always great to have someone from KeyWest stop by. Thank you for the visit.

    • profile image

      Ladyeaglefeather 5 years ago

      I love this lens. Very interesting. I am 1/4, my grandfather's mother was full.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @Ladyeaglefeather: Hello Lady Eagle Feather always grateful when you stop by. That explains the name. Good to get to know you.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

      Firebear, thank you so much for this interesting article about First Americans. I agree that to be a real First American it is in your heart. You have to be proud of who you are and where you come from. I learned a lot and looking forward to read more of your lenses :)

    • SorinVelescu profile image

      SorinVelescu 5 years ago

      I believe that it doesn't really matter what % of your blood is First American, it's what's in your heart that matters.

      Cheers.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @TheLittleCardShop: Thank you for stopping by and you are right. It is what is in the heart.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @SorinVelescu: Sorin you are exactly right the thing that is important is who you are not what you are.

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these great resources.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 5 years ago from Houston

      Congratulations on your first work at Squidoo. Nice job. Looking forward to more of your work.

    • Sara Valor profile image

      Sara Valor 5 years ago from Breezy Hills

      Hello Firebear, Thank you so much for writing this for us. There are many of us out here wandering around and not sure what to do, but to follow the heart inside that leads us. I have a 1/4 blood quantum of Cherokee all maternal sides. As far as I know there is no tribal number for my great grandmother. Io only know her by the name she chose or was given to her by her husband many years ago. I do consider myself Cherokee even though there is no number or label applied to us. I always have and have always wished there was someone who Knows the things we should know close by from whom to learn the things I want to know or understand the feelings inside me.

      Thanks so much for writing this and sharing the info with us. I'm at a total loss of what to do other than wait for the desert to bloom like a rose...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I don't have any Native American blood, but I am very native. A Sioux lodge was my dwelling for the better part of a year at one time. It was a spiritual experience and I learned a lot about the native people by living as they once did. - Love your lens, and will be looking forward to reading more article by you. Thank you for sharing. :)

    • Sara Valor profile image

      Sara Valor 5 years ago from Breezy Hills

      @Sara Valor: Sorry, my mistake...I am 1/8 Cherokee, mother being 1/4, mawmaw 1/2 and grandmother being Cherokee. Her family here called her Elzada. Mother's father was adopted so, I am unsure of his line.

      There is some on daddy's side, I've heard them speak of Blackfoot and Creek. I think that maybe his father's family someone was from one tribe and someone in his mother's family was from the other tribe.

      However, both my mother's father and father's father were cousins. Their father's brothers (though which brother my mother's father belongs to is unknown to me) and their grandfather the same man. (this is the story I know from childhood of my mother's father since, his death a few years back even mother knew no different.)

      So...I'm Cherokee

      :)

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @Sara Valor: The thing to remember it is not about the paper or number that you do or do not have it is about what is in your heart that is important. There is always someone somewhere that you can learn from. Send me a message and maybe I can help you find someone to teach you.

    • bofirebear1 profile image

      bofirebear1 5 years ago

      @anonymous: One thing that living in a typical dwelling like a tepee does is teach us that what we thought was important is not that important after all. Thanks for stopping by to visit and the next lenses is almost here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very well put and good information.

    • jerrynotpit1 profile image

      jerrynotpit1 5 years ago

      I look forward to reading more lenses from you. Good Information!

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 4 years ago

      Interesting lens with good information. All of those I know refer to themselves as "Indian". Many of the elders I know do not even know the language, as they were sent to "Catholic" schools as youngsters and forbidden to speak the language. I was taught Lakota by a special man named Paha Ska. It is true, it is not what is in your blood, but in your heart. I look forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing. Thank you also for visiting a couple of my own Native American lenses.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I enjoyed reading your story and learning more about you and your people. Thanks for sharing a great story. Blessed and added to my lens...Squid Angel flinnie.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 4 years ago from New York

      Great lens - very informative and nicely done. I enjoyed reading your story. Blessed and featured on "Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo." Thank you for sharing.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Very educational and enlightening lens that puts in perspective the influence that labels have on a people, a culture, or any group that does not fit the definition of an All American( only in sports)...I have been Colored, Negro, Black, and now I'm African-American!

      Native American is the correct and proper term because native to me means "I was here first."

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Whatever labels we apply, we should be all good human beings. Apart from being good and practicing good, it is always good to know the ancestory and cultural heritage.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Names and nomenclature does not fix who we are! :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      It's fascinating to see the thinking on this. Thanks for explaining it.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 4 years ago from California

      So good to see you again, and I love listening to you ;)

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Beautifully written article. It is odd that the government agency could designate who is and who is not Native American. I say, let the tribes decide.

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 4 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      A very interesting and informative lens. I have known about my Choctaw heritage since I was a young boy. At first I was very excited about it since I was a big fan of Westerns. The excitement wore off when I realized that being Choctaw was just something that I was like being Italian/Irish/French/German. That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee in most places. :-) Besides, no one I went to school with cared.

      TonyB

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @tonybonura: We have walked some of the same roads. I have a lot of Irish and some Cherokee mixed in with the Choctaw. If you watch the westerns then being Indian wasn't such a good deal as we were the ones killed off in the movies. I have a bunch and I mean a bunch of kinfolk who live in your part of the world especially up around Greenwood, LA.

    • TheGoodHut profile image

      TheGoodHut 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing. Important insights here. Over ten years ago, I went on a vision quest in eastern Oregon. My experiences during the quest became a part of who I am to this day. Blessings.

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @TheGoodHut: Yes Vision Quest changes you. We put people up on the hill here every year and they come down different to say the least.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 4 years ago

      In Canada there are many programs run by the government now to support the First Nations cultures. My neighbor is a Native Carver. I love to learn about the different customs.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      A well written and clarifying article.

    • KandDMarketing profile image

      KandDMarketing 4 years ago

      Thank you. I now have a place to point to to clarify what I have tried to express all of my life.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Nice lens! I am Cherokee descendent and love my heritage!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      Beautifully created lens and powerfully written. I'm from the Osage Nation. My great grandfather married a white woman, so I guess some could say I'm mixed blood. But ever since I was a little one, I always identified myself as Osage Indian. I always believed that my heart was 100% Osage even though my physical features did not show that. I'm including your lens as a link in my "Life as a Native American Osage" lens. ~Blessed

    • Loganor profile image

      Loganor 4 years ago

      The Cherokee tradition has always been to adopt people from outside the tribe, and if you have one drop of Cherokee you are considered Cherokee, as much so as any tribal member.

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @Gayle Dowell: Thank you and you are right it is what is in the heart that matters.

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @Loganor: Very true what you wrote but that is also true for many nations.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 4 years ago from So Cal

      Thanks for the very important lesson. Now that we can prove that my husband is Kewa, we will try to see if we can get him enrolled. It's funny though, his adoptive parents always said he was Mexican while he always felt that he was from a tribe somewhere. Blessed

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @Ann Hinds: I hope you are able to do that. Anything I can do to help or questions I can answer let me know.

    • teresa-shatto profile image

      teresa-shatto 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for this lens. My Mother passed away about 4 years ago....and she was my link to our history. I wish so much now, that I'd have listened better growing up. She had so much to teach...and she herself told me many times, she wished that SHE"D have paid better attention too. You've made me feel like she's here in the room with me again. Brought back good memories. Thank you. I do not have enough "blood" in me to make the rolls...though my Mother did and was on them. Thank you again, very much.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens! Nicely written.. Thank you for sharing !

      ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @delia-delia: Thank you I am glad you enjoyed it. I have been enjoying reading your lenses and encourage others to do so.

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      River_Rose 4 years ago

      Thank you for writing and sharing this. My grandfather on my Dad's side was half Choctaw and really looked it. My grandfather on my Mom's side was half Choctaw and half Irish and looked more Irish. They were both great to know, although I didn't get to know my Dad's dad for too many years. I loved them both.

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @River_Rose: Sounds like my family. Choctaw on both sides and some look like the Irish grandmother and some look like the Choctaw Gradfathers. Some of my most wonderful memories were listening to them talk and tell stories. I am glad you stopped by.

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      An excellent lens. I too have Choctaw ancestor's. My great Grandmother was a full blooded Choctaw and married my Irish great Grandfather. They had 6 children, three of which looked Irish and three of which looked Choctaw. My Grandfather married a full blood Irish wife but two of their children bore Choctaw features. family histories are amazing. Thank you for a great lens.

    • bofirebear profile image
      Author

      bofirebear 4 years ago

      @CampingmanNW: That is what my Grandfather did married an irish woman. Some of us turned out the same. Yes family histories are amazing. One of my Choctaw kinfolks, a couple of generations ago, was a Choctaw Policeman and he ended up breaking his brother out of jail in Fort Smith, AR to keep him from getting hung for stealing a horse.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful article! It's truly nice and fulfilling to see other people embrace and display their Native heritage. My family are mixed-bloods, and since we do not have enough Native blood to enroll with our tribes, we have started our own tribe; The Una Tribe of Mixed-Bloods (founded 2009). Now we have 330 enrolled members, are supported and acknowledged by Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Mayor Kitty Piercy of Eugene, Oregon, and have gained attention by our local news station KEZI 9, where we were featured as a top story. It is important to leave something for our mixed-blood descendants to call home and be able to express their mixed heritage proudly. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. I am 55yrs old and it has taken me all my life to make peace within my heart and mind to the cold hard fact I will never be accepted in the eyes if Indian individuals of all nations as being Mohawk. The reason being is I haven't any real proof other than Oral History and a blood test . my Grandmother and her family did not register as Indian for fear of losing their basic American rights.

      According to my Mother, I am the only child out of four to identify with our lineage. My Grandmother always identified me as being spiritually deep. My family always knew that I loved and identified with Native American culture. It was just who I had always been. So when I became an adult I was mortified when I was referred as a wannabe for the first time. It was such a blow to my soul. I was very confused, because I was just being who I had always been. It was then I stopped sharing that information with anyone. It became a very private matter. It was my private pain.

      How I finally made peace with Who I Am spiritually is I met a Lakota Elder through a fluke introduction. He has helped me understand that my identity is only important as it relates to my responsibilities to my ancestors and my Nation. First on that list is to conduct my life in such a way that it honors my Family,my Community,My Nation. That's it. Honor,love and giving back. To take care especially those that are the most vulnerable , children , elderly,animals and our Mother Earth. To always ask the Great Spirit,Grandfather ,God,etc. etc.(whatever word that works for you) for guidance every day.

      So if you are someone like me,someone who carries the pain of being alone,not being able to identify oneself as Indian, please consider my message. It is Not about you. It is about the responsibility of being a Human Being!

      Thank you

      Lynne Spittle

      (Mohawk,Scottish,Danish mixed blood)

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