October 10, 2007

Rogers not recognized as Cherokee

Ware:  Will Rogers' overlooked Cherokee rootsAlthough this story is known to many Cherokees, Rogers' tribal ties are not recognized by most Americans. At the time, the public was troubled at the prospect of accepting an Indian who did not fit their expectations. He led a life that seemed non-Indian to his white fan base: he was a cowboy; he was wealthy; he ran largely in non-Indian political circles; and, according to his blood quantum, he was more Scotch and Irish than Cherokee.

Most scholarly and popular discussions of Rogers focus on this blood quantum, a measurement suggesting that his physical mixture of blood tied him to various artistic and historical traditions, though he was raised solely in the Cherokee Nation. When considered in this light, Rogers seems a victim of what might be called "Cherokee grandmother syndrome," a vague genetic connection some white American citizens call upon to show a largely meaningless connection to Native America. The effect pulls him into a non-Native world, ultimately erasing his connection to Cherokee traditions.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
How well from experience writerfella knows the essences behind this particular article. It likely should be called "The Will Rogers Syndrome.' A Native gets an education, ventures into the modern world, functions there with opportunity in a modern capacity to some fair amount of fluidity, and he/she then becomes accused of abandoning his/her roots and thus is called a Quisling by the Native community from which he/she has arisen. Yet, if one remains in that community, self-identifies as Native therefore, and then attempts to achieve the same kinds of things, he/she is eschewed, minimalized, and shunned by EuroMan's modern world as a less-than-useful acorn fallen not very far from his/her oak. At once, you are bedamned if you do, and condemned if you don't. *sigh* writerfella guesses that 'The Will Rogers Syndrome' should join 'The Indian Crawdads Syndrome' as yet another inexplicable, ineluctable, ineffable, and 'resistance is futile' piece of neo-classical Native culture...
All Best
Russ Bates

Anonymous said...

Will Rogers always made a point to let people know he was Indian. He grew up in the Cherokee Nation. The fact that white people didn't "see him as Indian" means very little when it comes to what he was and wasn't.

tracyJ said...

i suppose i suffer from "will rogers syndrome". my native blood is barely visible although it is intrinsic to who i am. and that's the bottom line. sadly, as long as natives or any other non-Euro descended American believe their achievements will be minimized by "EuroMan" ...they are doing themselves and their children a HUGE disfavor by projecting this preconception onto all of us. who is doing the minimizing? you or your neighbor? ...until proven wrong, it is healthier to assume people are not judging you by the standards of yesteryear. let's move forward people.