February 06, 2009

Determining Indians = waste of time?

In Tired of Phony Indians, a reader complains about my posting:I am really saddened that anyone could judge another by the AMOUNT of blood they carry. It just goes to show that whites are not the only ones guilty of unjust judgment. By what right does anyone decide who is Aboriginal? We are all related (Msit Nokamaq)(Mitake Oyasin) means the same thing in all three tongues.My response:

I have the right of every free-thinking individual to make rational and logical judgments based on the facts and evidence. Unlike you, I can determine who's an actual Indian in many cases. Occasionally it's hard, but often it's easy.What a waste of time to sit and worry about who is and isn't native. There are better things to do.Do you think we should consider anyone who claims to be an Indian an Indian? A New Age wannabe who exploits and bastardizes indigenous cultures? A phony tribal member who uses up the government resources devoted to Natives? An academic or artistic fraud who takes paying work from genuine Indians?

Well, I don't. I can think of lots of cases where it's important to distinguish between real and fake Indians. If you can't, you haven't been reading this blog long enough.

Get involved, whoever you areGet involved and teach the younger generation before the knowledge is lost.Don't we need to determine who's an Indian first? No?

Well, that's good to know. So you don't mind if I declare myself an Indian? And teach young Indians everything I know about being Indian?

In my case, you won't have to worry about losing the knowledge. Because I've gotten most of my Native knowledge from books and articles. Any time you need to relocate this Native lore, you can go to any library and do it.

If there's anything I don't know, we can hire someone from Shamans 'R' Us to fill in the gaps. We can tell how knowledgeable he is by how much he charges for his services. If his claims seem phony...well, we won't worry about it, because a real Native would never lie to us.

Because the truth doesn't matter, right? As long as we say we're Indians, that's good enough. Why waste time asking for blood quantum or tribal enrollment or community acceptance? Just take our word for it.

You, me, Ward Churchill, Chief Illiniwek, Cher, Dick Cheney, Osama bin Laden...we're all related. We're all Indians in one way or another. We're all qualified to teach young Indians how to be Indian.

Proud of my heritage, whatever it isOne last thing regardless of how the world views you, you are either proud of your heritage in the face of bigotry or you hide it.Again, don't we need to determine someone's heritage before we can be proud of it? No?

I'm proud enough of my Anglo heritage. But you've said it's a waste of time to judge whether I have any Native heritage to be proud of. So we'll skip the judging stage and go straight to the teaching stage. I'll teach all those young Indians everything I know about them.

Whether they're Navajo, Lakota, or Cherokee, they'll learn about the Great Spirit, tipis, totem poles, medicine wheels, peace pipes, smoke signals, flute music, and other key aspects of Native culture. By the time I'm done, they'll have as much authentic Indian knowledge as I do. And take my word for it, that's a lot.

Does anybody not get the point yet? Or should I continue mocking this poor fellow? I can do this all day long, you know.

For more on the subject, see Rob Doesn't Understand "Mutts"?

Below:  "I just found a Cherokee princess in my family tree. Please give me a government handout and let me open a casino. And cast me in the next Twilight movie."

No comments: