May 21, 2012

Why Warren wants to be Native

Elizabeth Warren’s true American lineage

By Bernie QuigleyIndians come to us as dream guides, spirit guides and, like Sacagawea, actual guides to our most important journeys at once physical and metaphysical. Those who have made these journeys tend to honor them. C.G. Jung, when watching Americans leave their factories, said we the paleface had come to walk "like Indians." One early commentator said we, like the Indians and unlike the Europeans, live without fences. We play Indian as children to call up the intuitive feminine. We name our cars after the noble and brave “Grand Cherokee.” We call to the spirit of Geronimo going into battle. When we want our heroine true, like Katniss, we put a bow and arrow in her hand. "We are all Americans here," said Ely Samuel Parker, the Seneca Indian, aide to Grant at Appomattox, suggesting that with the bloodshed at Bull Run, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville and Cemetery Ridge, we sanctioned our place and belonged here with the Indians.

The first poetic vision of Europeans in the new world was that of James Fenimore Cooper, who conjured Natty Bumpo. He had an "Indian name"—he had several: Hawkeye, Deerslayer, Pathfinder—indicating that he had been "reborn" in the new world in the Indian spirit. It is the oldest and most important myth in the American canon of our folklore, from Lone Ranger, who died and became "born again" via agency of an Indian shaman, and Fox Mulder, who returned from the dead via Indian intercession in “The X Files,” born anew with the past burned away in death, to enter a new age under the flag of the White Buffalo.

So Warren's claim to be "part Indian" is correct in mythical terms. Every old-school white Oklahoman is in this regard even if this in nominally not true. But it is not a lie to want to be Indian and to imagine your ancestors were. It is to be free of Europeanism. Emerson saw the laggard Europeanism within the Yankee mind as a curse of the unformed American, living half in shadow. It would bring temptation unnatural to us raised free in the forest; fascism, as in Italy, Spain and German, and the perennial virus of French nihilism.
Comment:  This essay really applies to any wannabes and probably some Indians too. Elizabeth Warren just gives us another excuse to talk about the role of Indians in America's mythology.

For more on Elizabeth Warren, see Warren Ineligible to Be Cherokee and Native Question Warren's Claims.

For more on Indian in our imagination, see Mythical Indian = "National Mascot" and Why Wannabes Wanna Be.

Below:  We're all Indians--at least according to mascot lovers.

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