April 03, 2011

Indian identity matters to Indians

Educator Debbie Reese discusses the 2010 Census data and what it tells us:

"Multiracial" identity and American IndiansA few months ago, the Times ran another article in which college students reported being mixed, some of them with Native heritage, but that none of those distinct identities mattered.

Identity matters for those of us who are raised Indian. We work very hard at maintaining our nationhood and our sovereignty, and, we work to protect the integrity of our traditions from being exploited by people who don't understand them....

The students interviewed for that Times article mean no harm when they say their Indian identity doesn't matter. It doesn't matter--to them. But it does to me, and it does to Native Nations. The students' well-meaning embrace of a mixed identity, in effect, obscures a lot, and in that obscurity, it does do harm. It contributes to the lack of understanding of who American Indians are....And it takes the US down a merry melting pod road where we all hold hands and smile in ignorance.

Ignorance is not bliss. It is ignorance.
(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature, 3/30/11.)

Comment:  For more on Indian identity, see Oprah Winfrey the Indian? and Black/Red: Related Through History.

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