April 11, 2011

WNBA drafts 1st "full-blooded" Native

Nevada basketball:  Robinson makes WNBA history as first full-blooded Native American to be drafted

By Jim KrajewskiNevada senior Tahnee Robinson described being drafted as "overwhelming."

The guard was the 31st overall pick in the WNBA draft on Monday. She was selected by the Phoenix Mercury and immediately traded to the Connecticut Sun for a third-round pick next year.
And:Robinson is the first full-blooded Native American player drafted by the WNBA. She is descended from several tribes, her mother is Pawnee and Eastern Shoshone and her father is Northern Cheyenne and Sioux. Her family still lives on the Wind River Reservation in Fort Washakie, Wyo., the same reservation where she grew up.I believe Indian Country Today doesn't allow the word "full-blooded," so it phrased the news a bit differently:

Tahnee Robinson Makes WNBA HistoryJim Krajewski of RGJ.com reported that University of Nevada senior Tahnee Robinson has become (among quite a few firsts) the first entirely American Indian to be drafted in the WNBA. The superstar guard was the 31st overall pick in the draft on Monday, selected by the Phoenix Mercury and then traded to the Connecticut Sun for a third-round pick next year.

Robinson is originally from the Wind River Reservation in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Her mother is Pawnee and Eastern Shoshone, and her father is Northern Cheyenne and Sioux. On Wyoming’s Star-Tribune’s website, Jack Nowlin wrote that Robinson is the first Wyoming-born player ever drafted by the WNBA (she is also the first player from the University of Nevada ever selected.)
Comment:  For starters, full-blooded Indians are pretty rare these days. And few people can be that sure of their heritage.

If you go back eight generations, you'd have 256 ancestors. How many people know their family trees perfectly and can swear they have no ancestors from another race?

More to the point, tribes don't distinguish between full-blooded and part-blooded members. (In theory, that is. In reality, one group may be prejudiced against another.) People are bound to the tribe by historical and cultural as well as biological ties.

Therefore, many Indians would say her "blood" doesn't matter. If she was raised in the cultures(s), she's an Indian regardless of her blood.

Changing "full-blooded" to "entirely" doesn't make the point any clearer. If anything, it makes it less clear. Someone who's only 1/16 Indian by blood could be "entirely" Indian by upbringing. And the other way around: Someone who's full-blooded could be entirely non-Indian by upbringing.

The real "first" worth noting would be the first Indian drafted by the WNBA. In other words, the first tribally enrolled member regardless of blood. Robinson may be the first to qualify for that too, although the articles don't say. But being the first "full-blooded" Indian is a rather minor first.

For more on Robinson, see Tahnee Robinson Is Sullivan Award Finalist.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, they should have used a different wording in the article. Rather saying "full-blooded" they should have just left it out and mentioned "Native American". Its very rare these days to find a "Fully" bloded Native American though there are some out there, especially where tribes are secluded. I look Native but I'm not "full-blooded", I'm from Umatilla rez. Shoni Schimmel of U of Louisville is enrolled Umatilla.

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

http://sports.yahoo.com/wnba/news?slug=ycn-8276403

Robinson takes winding road to the WNBA

Anonymous said...

I do not know who wrote this, but it, unfortunately, is a shameful and ignorant twist on this young lady's amazing accomplishments. Blood degree is an inherently discriminatory ideal and should have no place in intelligent communications...

Anonymous said...

I believe that Ryneldi Becenti, Navajo was the first full blooded Native to be drafted into the WNBA. 1997 Phoenix Mercury.

CCree said...

Sharing Brian Hillis statement:
Fact Check: Ryneldi Becenti would be the First..

In 1994, Becenti was playing professional basketball in Sweden. She also played in Greece and, briefly, Turkey. She became the first Native American to play in the WNBA when she played for the Phoenix Mercury.[1] In 1997, she signed with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA as a free agent and played in their inaugural season.[4][5]

In 1998, she was drafted by the Chicago Condors in the American Basketball League.[6]

Not to be a 'Buzz Killer'

But Good For Her!

Anonymous said...

Ryneldi Becenti was actually the first full-blooded Native (Navajo) to play in the WNBA. She played for the Phoenix Mercury in 1997.

Anonymous said...

Need to get your facts correct. She is not the 1st full blooded Native American drafted in the WNBA. There was Reyneila Becenti who is a full blood Navajo from Fort Defiance who was the 1st full blooded Navajo to be drafted.

Anonymous said...

The person who wrote this probably was tired of all the bandwagon Indians with a great great princess somewhere down the line. So they felt glad to actually see a full blooded Native out there.

Celeste Terry said...

Have we forgotten about Shoni Schimmel?

Anonymous said...

So happy for Ms. Robinson! As for the "Indian" comment, we're not from India.. And for "full blooded" part, there are many full blooded natives on reservations we were forced to stay on centuries back, unfortunately, we're irrelevant to today's society. This is coming from an indigenous woman. All I say is, educate yourselves before saying anything.

Victoria said...

I think it's a great observation! People have no idea how hard it is for a full-blooded Native, especially one that looks like one. We have different expectations, more exposure to real reservation life, less opportunities, and more negativity and exposure to every stereotypes of Native American life. These days, half-breeds are more publicly accepted than full-bloods, so before you call ignorance, look at it from our perspectives. We're proud we can trace our lineage, and proud when we accomplish anything positive! I believe she's accomplished an amazing feat for being a full-blood!

Shannon Lusty said...

Im glad thay they put in the article that she was full blood Indian. I would be wondering what tribe she was if it wasnt included. Its pretty cool. When one of my tribes makes tv commercials, they always use people that dont resemble anyone of my family members. Im wondering "What percentage blood are they?, 1/32?"

Anonymous said...

Indian.... It's "Native American "Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Reyneldi Becenti Is The 1St Native Drafted. Hello??!

Dustin said...

"For starters, full-blooded Indians are pretty rare these days." This statement is simply not true. Rare these days? I'm 100% sure that tribes issues CIB's (Certificate of Indian Blood) in conjunction with tribal enrollment. This leads to the second false statement: "...tribes don't distinguish between full-blooded and part-blooded members." If this were a fact, blood quantum wouldn't factor into being enrolled with a tribe.

Sina said...

No doubt :/ jus change tha word to "Jewish" to see how silly & stupid classifying ppl by their "blood-line" is :)

Anonymous said...

Ryneldi Becenti was first full blooded (Navajo) Native American - please do your research

Anonymous said...

Hello - Ryneldi Becenti - Full blooded Navajo played for Phoenix Mercury

Anonymous said...

What about Ryneldi Becenti played for Phoenix Mercury (full blooded) Navajo (1 tribe)

Anonymous said...

how many of these Americans are full blooded Americans not a DAMN one of them excuse my French,English,or what ever or where ever you came let this young and obviously talented lady play her her ball its her hearts dream

Anonymous said...

"there are still some out there"
What's that suppose to mean?!! Yeah there are more than a few ... take a drive through SD and get enlightened on the subject a little.

Jay Charleyboy said...

Full-blooded, half-blooded...any Blooded. what difference does it make on the court?. and you call yourself a journalist...haha

Anonymous said...

white girls can't jump that is why

Anonymous said...

Thought in order to be full-blooded that both parents had to be both from the same band/tribe. Both of her parents should be full-blooded.

Anonymous said...

Although inspiring, the contents of this article is incorrect. There are tribes that do discriminate between full, half and part blood. Unless dealing with non-natvives, most "Native Americans" don't refer to themselves as such, especially the elders. And just like all matters of race some tribes discriminate between each other, except when white people are around. I am full blooded native. Born and raised on a reservation. Educated off the reservation and a working engineer.

David Decker said...

These big corporate businesses need to quit every time something like this happens with these Newe that make a draft or that are in Sports Media! America has a Sickness and is Infected with Racism, Hate, amongst many other things. Remember America " We The People" we also have Constitutional Rights also and still get looked over by the Government and I thought our and other Tribes were over this with American Government BS. still they don't like us and avoid our real issues and think that the only Newe People in Phoenix get all monies directly from Washington and we get second hand from The Phoenix Offices and this is BS to Our people need Health Care and other types of Insurance this should be owed to the Newe of America we still are P.O.W representatives at The White House make decisions for Tribes that have to deal with B.I.A and do not get treated Fair also I have been reading and this is Blasphemy form our Government the people who were Sworn to protect and take care of our Issues, Problems and Families!

james said...

Is she's an Indian she's an Indian. The correct term for publication would be "Native American." Full-blooded is an outmoded concept like "octaroon," a Louisiana word for a person who is one-eighth black….If I went around describing myself as a full-blooded white man my Native friends would crack up.

ML said...

As a Native American women from Nevada, I am proud of her accomplishment! As to her distinction of being a "full blooded" Native American, I honor her she is our future, maybe our Native Nation salvation. No way should she be distinguished as less that what she is a full-blooded Native American Woman!. Our Native children need her true story, they need positive role models, someone just like them from the Rez!.... JMT...Thank you

Anonymous said...

This topic is very hard to talk about. Either way you say it your wrong and right. I live in Canada and on a reservation and I'm a full blooded indian/ native so I know things are hard to discribe

Anonymous said...

I like the fact it said she's full blooded. We can't have white people saying they are native just cause their great grandma was a Cherokee princess

Anonymous said...

They left out her white blood haha

Rob said...

The problem here isn't my research, people, it's your reading. This posting is about the first Native drafted by the WNBA, not the first to play for it. Ryneldi Becenti played in the WNBA, but she wasn't drafted by it. She played in Europe first and then joined the WNBA as a free agent.

Shoni Schimmel came years after Tahnee Robinson, so she's not relevant to this posting.

As I've written many times, the terms "Indian" and "Native American" are interchangeable. Most Indians use the general term "Indian" for themselves. In fact, dozens of tribes have the words "Indian" or "Indians" in their official name--e.g., the Oneida Indian Nation.

If you don't think full-blooded Indians are relatively rare, Dustin, you need to specify what you mean. What percentage of today's Indians do you think are full-blooded? Cite a source for your claim if you can.

Tribes that determine membership by blood quantum care about it only at their chosen cutoff point. Depending on their rules, that means they distinguish between half and a quarter, a quarter and an eighth, an eighth and a sixteenth, or whatever it may be.

No tribe that I know of requires a blood quantum of 100% and would reject someone with "only" 50%. If you disagree, name a tribe with this requirement. Every other tribe would accept a blood quantum of 50% or more and would discriminate only at a lower level.