Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who Is A Real Native American?

I recently received a comment on one of the posts I made back during Carnival. Molly's view is that I am not Native American and neither is anyone else who is not "100% Indian". I think what she wrote contained some very valid concerns and also some claims that reflect the ways in which NA cultures have been altered as a result of hundreds of years of oppression. I wanted to address it in a post because I don't think that I've ever really made it clear (on My Private Casbah) what my feelings are with regards to the competing claims about who is and isn't authentically Native American.

I use a couple of abbreviations that some might be unfamiliar with so here is an explanation of them:

NDN, NA=Native American
rez=Native American reservations

Molly,

Fortunately for the majority of us NAs, you don't get to decide who is and isn't Native American. There is nothing that you can say that changes the fact that, like you, my ancestors were also NDNs. You may not like it, but it's still reality. If you're sick of this constant "bull" about who is and isn't NA, then why are you contributing to it? Did I bring this conversation to you or did you voluntarily come here and contribute to this conversation.

For me, there is no controversy. I have no one that I need to prove myself to. I have no desire to compete for scholarships that others need more than I do. My scholarships were merit-based. The reason you go to college on a NA scholarship isn't because our people have suffered genocide. It's because society is trying to make it seem as if these little bits and pieces of chump change are enough to compensate for the injustices that are still going on to this very day.

Do you understand the "divide and conquer" concept? Is it really me that makes you to have to compete for scholarships? If the government dealt justly with NA nations, would you be forced to rely on scholarships that you may or may not get depending on who else applies? Who created these concepts about some people being certain percentages of a particular ethnicity? Was it Native Americans or was it the government who sought to limit the number of NAs that they would acknowledge in order to weaken treaty agreements? Do you know the history of the blood quantum concept?

You may think that you could not be mistaken for any other ethnicity but you are quite wrong. What a person is interpreted as being depends more on where they are than what they look like. The features you describe are also found in MANY, MANY other ethnic groups. And we should also take note of the fact that there are many other folks who consider themselves "100% Indian" who have features that are a lot different from yours. Your features are not the same as the average Quechuan. Does this mean that one of you is not a Native American? Several of my family members have straight hair, straight noses and copper-colored skin. Does that mean they are more NA than me? Not necessarily.

You are not "the face" of many NA generations. You are just one face of many NA generations. We--those from different NA nations--have always had a variety of features. Your view of what a NA looks like seems to come from the idealized caricatures created by non-Native Americans. The idea that there is one certain NA look stems from the idea that we (all NDNs) are just the same. We are not. We are many separate groups spread out across two continents and the majority of us do not look anything like the classic "tv-indian". If you do, that's great! If you don't, that's still great! Either way, it doesn't prove that you are more or less NA than anyone else. You are certainly entitled to your opinion but opinions just don't trump facts.

By the way, this idea that the slavery of others can be considered "rent" is the very same one that Europeans used as their excuse for enslaving NAs. They took NA children away from their parents and put them in schools where they used them as slave labor in exchange for the indoctrination they were given along with room and board. I don't care if it was their school and their food. It didn't make their enslavement any more ethical or acceptable. My view is that it is an immoral thing to enslave anyone, regardless of any one's ethnicity. If you claim that it's justifiable to enslave another group, it is only a matter of time before someone says that it's justifiable to enslave the groups you belong to.

You claim:
"You cry out what about the freedman who you enslaved.

This is simply a lie. You won't find any place I've ever made a statement close to this. Do you know why? It's because it's nothing I've ever said (or written). I understand that many groups have engaged in slavery throughout the millennia for various reasons. As is almost always the case in such situations, inter-ethnic marriages did take place (I don't use the word breed in reference to people because I find it rather demeaning, even if it is technically correct). You may be unhappy with the fact that most NA nations accepted the children of these unions as NAs (as they rightly should), but, as I said earlier, it doesn't change the facts. Is there any reason why other people should adopt your views about who acknowledge their heritage?

Given the near subsistence existence many NAs still experience, I can understand why you might be upset about having to compete with others that you don't consider to be "real Indians". Yet, in my opinion, the real tragedy is that any NA is stuck in a situation where education is only possible when and if some other group decides to throw them some scraps and bones in the form of scholarships that aren't even numerous enough for all NAs who reside on reservations. Of course, if rez NDNs weren't kept poor by a government that refuses to honor the hundreds of treaties it made, then folks might have the opportunity to expend more energy on obtaining some kind of meaningful reparations for the injustices suffered by both of our NA ancestors.

I won't ask why you're so upset and I don't consider you long-winded--certainly not in comparison to me, at least! Your anger is justified. You and other rez NDNs should, in my view, be the recipient of NA scholarships before any person who isn't experiencing the sort of economic hardships that you must deal with. At the same time, I am happy for anyone who doesn't just deny their NA ancestry because someone else wishes they would.

Sure, some people with "not too distant NA grandmothers" may not have the same experiences as you but then there is more than one way to be an authentic Native American. I have known plenty of rez NDNs who have made a concerted effort not to learn anything about their heritage. I have also known plenty of NDNs who never lived a day of their lives on a reservation but have devoted decades to the preservation of NA customs and traditions. Which one is more NA than the other? Is it determined by whatever you think? Is it determined by the racist and unscientific, European-created blood quantum nonsense? Is it determined by how economically advantaged or disadvantaged their family is? None of those things by themselves define NDNness and some of them don't contribute anything meaningful when trying to determine a valid definition for it, in my view.

Personally, I don't put any stock in percentage game because I've taken the time to figure out how it came about and how it was carried out. I think that at least part of the NDNness definition has to do with how much one really cares about the preservation of NA cultures and the hardships faced by those NDNs still alive today. I think that it also has to do with how much you know about your heritage. Of course, actual NA ancestry is part of it but that's something that can't be quantified. Culture, life, identity--it's just much more complex than any one government or individual can fully account for.

41 comments:

Natalie said...

It is so sad to me that people with shared backgrounds would go against each other this way. Obviously different NA groups have different histories because they were spread throughout the continent. But still, why would anyone want to deny the heritage of another? I understand that there may be threat of competition for resources but, to me, competition never was a bad thing. It makes people try harder (to a certain extent at least).

While I know my great grandmother was part NA, I don't claim it as my heritage because it isn't a history that has been passed down to me. However, it could have very well been. If it had I certainly would be upset by someone telling me it was no longer something I could embrace.

Molly said...

I understand you completely, and none of what I said had anything to do with any particular comment you made. It was a comment I was compelled to make in light of being a pure Native American by DNA and seeing many issues arising on reservations with other intruding races. And yes All Natives share common features, down to the bones and DNA that distinguish us from others. Believe me us Natives can sense each other very well. But yes, externally looks can be misleading. DNA matters though. I guess you have to be a forensic anthropologist or geneticist to understand this. I major in both. I receive scholarships not from a white man, but from my own Reservation. You see we take care of each other.

My only concern, and my concern does arise from my ancestor's concern, is that all other races need to understand that regardless of what heritage you adopt or inherit it is our DNA (archaically referred to as "blood quantum") that makes our bodies and dictates how our children will look and what genes they will pass on. You cannot possibly deny the fact that interbreeding and looks themselves have caused many individuals great grief in life. Especially in America. I cannot tell you how many times people are asked "what race are you?" or assumed to be a race.

Breeding, not necessarily good or bad, is impactful. And DNA is the dictating factor. Not to sound like a Nazi. But to me as a member of race representing a small percentage of the population, due to genocide by murder, disease, and assimilation, I feel Native Americans should strive to preserve and reabsorb each other genetically. Increase our numbers, so we as a genetic group do not fade. And I feel many other races do not like this.

Let me give you a true scenario. I had two friends in college one was very caucasian looking and another looked well I guess some would say Mexican. They got their DNA analyzed by an institution located in Sarasota, Florida (Ancestry by DNA). Now, both considered themselves to be fully Native and want to be tribally enrolled. They have family members who look Native and they treasure their traditions. I mean really treasure traditions. But the results surprised them. The Caucasian girl had 0% Native American DNA, some one was telling falsehoods in her family. The Mexican-looking girl only had 15% Native American DNA. She also had 55% Northern European DNA and 30% African American DNA. Ok so what is the big deal. She almost had a nervous breakdown when she found this out. She could not believe she was part African American. I felt she didn't want to be African. I was right. She until this very day will not acknowledge it.

And this sadly is what I feel ails American society. By default if an individual feels they can get away with it they will pull towards being a Native American because well who knows, what are the benefits? And it can become so absorbing that the individual claims to be full Native American. This is a genetic lie.

I guess it also comes down to a discussion we had in a race relations course. Why is it if you have one drop of black blood you are black, and why if you have one drop of Native blood your not Native?

It comes down to what society puts in the minds of its people. Don't be African it's bad, be something else try Native if you can pull it off. I feel this is done a lot, not by everyone, but a lot of people. And real Natives by DNA (100%) do not like deceit. It's like if a Eurasian girl who looks caucasion, but knows she is not starts dating a white man who only prefers caucasion women (his personal right), and their child comes out looking Asian (it happens). Well, now this man is pissed because he was lied to. He has a right to know. Especially, if he asks. And we all know that on dates men eventually ask "what background (race) are you? Everyone has a right to choose how they share their DNA.

It is important if you are mixed to state that you are mixed, acknowledge it, and not "dip" toward one side (thank you Bob Marley).It is misleading. And I feel from what I see, hear, and come in contact with on the reservation that many other non Native races are trying to dilute themselves in Native blood.

bint alshamsa said...

Natalie,

It is very sad to me too but I think it is almost inevitable--almost. It's similar to why some impoverished white people will support ideologies that pit them against other races when really, due to many factors, they may have more in common with them than they'd like to believe.

I also think that competition can make people try harder but I do think that this has it's limits. When one group has a huge advantage over the other and the obstacles really are basically insurmountable, even for those who try very, very hard, then I think that the end result may be a whole lot of bitterness, especially when the group that lost out feels that they have tried harder than those who do wind up with the "winning" side of the deal.

I feel you with regards to why you don't really claim NA as your heritage. I am also of French descent. In fact, I'm directly descended from the General Lafayette that several US cities are named after. But I generally don't feel French is a major part of my identity even though I have spoken a variety of French-laced English my whole life, I know exactly who many of my French ancestors are, and I've eaten more frog legs and nutria rats than you can shake a stick at. The reason is that, down here, almost everyone enjoys French cuisine, speaks at least a bit of French even if they aren't French. In other words, I don't eat frog legs or speak French because my particular ancestors taught me to do those things. I do it mostly because it's a part of the general culture here. Doing those things doesn't fill me with any feeling of being connected with my French ancestors but that may not be the case for others here in the same area.

It would be nice if people got to the point where they didn't feel like they need to try to force others to make the same decisions in order for them to feel comfortable with who they are. Me being who I am is enough for me. I don't need to try to make being a woman or being an American or being Native American into some ultra-exclusive club where I am the ultimate gatekeeper.

bint alshamsa said...

Hello again Molly!

Thank you for coming back and sharing more of your views about this subject with me.

It seems like you hold some mistaken ideas about genetics and cultural identity although I'm sure that if you continue with your studies, you'll probably work through many of them eventually. In my experience, as a person who has tutored many people (from elementary school-aged children to PhD candidates), one doesn't need to be a forensic anthropologist or a geneticist in order to understand how DNA works. Heck, it doesn't even require a college education of any sort, to be honest. I've taught my daughter the basics of how DNA works and she hasn't even reached high school yet. A simplified explanationn that works for many people uses a box: The box is filled with pieces of paper with different colors on each side. If you open up the box, you won't see all of the different colors that may be contained within it. Instead, you'll only see those pieces of paper that are near the top of the box and of those pieces, you'll only be able to see those colors that are right side up. The genotype would be all of the pieces of paper and all of the colors contained within the box. The phenotype would be only those pieces of paper you can see from outside of the box and only those colors that are right side up on the visible paper pieces. In other words, genotype is all of the genetic traits that an organism might have expressed. Phenotype is only those traits that are expressed. See, you don't have to be a geneticist to understand that! However, if you feel like you don't have the ability to explain these concepts in laymen's terms, feel free to use the more technical ones. I assure you that I have acquired the education necessary to use them with you in return so you don't have to worry about confusing me.

Incidently, if you receive scholarships from your own reservation, then how are NDNs who don't live on reservations responsible for who you have to compete with for scholarships? Even if your nation chooses to make such scholarships available to those who aren't "pure" in your eyes, then isn't that still them taking care of each other? On the one hand you complain about having scholarships go to non-rez dwelling NDNs but then you don't blame those who made that decision. Instead you blame those NDNs who, like you, are simply seeking to fund their education as best as they can. That just isn't rational. But that's separate from the arguments that you are making about DNA, so I'll go back to addressing that now.

Yes, all NAs do share common features but those features are also shared with many people who are not NA. As research has shown, there is more genetic variation within members of the same race than there is between members of different races. As far as science is concerned, there is no such thing as a "pure" member of any race. This is a concept that exists solely in the imagination of some individuals.

Science can not determine what race some one is. Race is not biologically determined. It's culturally determined. In other words, trying to apply concepts like race to biological realities just doesn't work. Blood quantums are not the same as DNA. The former is not just an archaic term that means the same thing. Blood quantums were never scientifically established. It was a completely arbitrary system determined by non-Native individuals using several (many) different subjective standards.

You say that I "cannot possibly deny the fact that interbreeding and looks themselves have caused many individuals great grief in life". Actually, I'll go one better than that. I don't even buy into the idea that what you stated is a fact at all. In order to deny the fact, it would have to be a fact and it just isn't. It isn't heritage or looks that have caused multi-ethnic people this grief at all. It's bigotry that causes the discrimination that multi-ethnic people experience.

The fact that someone gets asked about their race or may have witnessed others making assumptions about their race isn't what's problematic. It's the attitude held by some that their mistaken ideas about racial purity have some basis in fact and, therefore, justifies their racist notions.

What you call "breeding" is only as impactful as racist people try to make it. Being a multi-ethnic woman has only enhanced my life. I don't wish that all of my ancestors came from some particular part of the world. I really enjoy having such a varied background. Most of the other multi-ethnic people that I know and certainly all those in my family seem to feel the same way.

Being in a multi-ethnic family means that I have a personal interest in pursuing justice and equality. My sister is Japanese. Do you think that makes me more or less likely to excuse it when people engage in "yellowface" roles on t.v.? My daughter is also multi-ethnic. Do you think that makes me more or less likely to teach her to hate people based on their appearance? You see, I gain so much from being who I am that I wouldn't trade it away even if I could, even if it meant that I'd never have to experience racism ever again.

With regards to the scenario that you gave: Frankly, it just doesn't make any sense. What they looked like has nothing to do with whether they are NA. That only matters to those who erroneously believe that what makes someone NA is how they look. Your scenario doesn't provide enough information to even determine whether or not they are truly NA.

The fact that the "caucasian-looking friend" had NA traditions means they were acquired at some point. How so? It doesn't mean that someone in her family was telling falsehoods. Not everyone who is NA has a particular genetic profile. NA nations do not now and have not always determined who was NA according to the same standards and certainly not according to the standards that you are trying to apply.

I think that your friends may want to try getting their DNA analyzed elsewhere because if they received the results that you are saying, then they were cheated. DNA analysis only tracks patterns. There are clusters DNA patterns in certain areas but this can't determine whether or not someone is a NA because NDNness is not just determined by DNA patterns. If so, then many of those who are denied enrollment would have to be accepted.

Sure, some people don't want to be considered Black. But there's no proof that this is the case with the majority of Black people. Instead, what I see more often is cases like yours where people don't want to deal with the reality that many Black people also belong to some of the same genetic pools as they do. The friend that you labled "Mexican-looking"--although this makes no sense to me since Mexican people come in every single shade and hue as that other Black, White, and Native groups do--sounds like she has some issues that need to be worked out because nothing that a DNA analysis says erases her heritage or makes her family traditions less authentic.

You ask the question "if an individual feels they can get away with it they will pull towards being a Native American because well who knows, what are the benefits?" Well, the short answer is that this culture exoticizes being Native American. For some the idea of being NA evokes notions of stoicism and ancient, mystic powers and fecundity. It has nothing to do with the reality that most NA people face today. For others, it is a way of connecting with a genetic past that exists even though they may not know exactly which ancestors they got those genes from.

I also wanted to comment on what you wrote when you said "And it can become so absorbing that the individual claims to be full Native American. This is a genetic lie." This is especially interesting to me because this applies to what you wrote about yourself in your first message to me.

Genetics can not prove that you are 100% Native American because no one is. As we would say here, C'est ne pas possible! If you are studying genetics, then you should know that all human life originated in Africa. All human beings on this planet are at least partially African. That includes you and every other person who calls him or herself Native American.

You may feel like you are "100% Native American" or "pure Native American" but you are not. Now, you are the one who will have to determine why it is that you feel the need to deny that your ancestry contains lots of genes that did not originate in this land but it from what you said (about people being so absorbed with the idea of being NA) it sounds like you may have just as much to work out as those you criticized.

In your race relations course, it's surprising that you guys didn't learn that this "one drop" rule never did work and it still doesn't. There are plenty of people who have African ancestry of some sort but are still not Black. I have a friend who is Scandinavian and Egyptian. Does she get labeled Black? Does anyone ever even assume that she's Black? Nope. She's so fair-skinned with a Mid-western accent that strangers never question her about her race or background unless they hear her speaking Arabic.

It's true. There are some people who would like to not be Black. There are also lots of NDNs who would like to not be NA. The majority of people who call themselves Latin@s are of NA descent too. Why don't they claim that part of their heritage? It's because they understand that while society does exoticize it, in reality, much of society still doesn't consider Natives to be their equals.

Your examples show the problem with trying to mix concepts like race (which is not scientific) with genetics (which is science-based). Look at the example of the "Eurasian girl who looks caucasian, but knows she is not". If she's Eurasian, then she IS Caucasian. Being Asian doesn't cancel out the Caucasian in her. Likewise, being Black doesn't cancel out the Native American in me--or in anyone else for that matter.

You may think that "everyone has a right to choose how they share their DNA". Yep! I believe that. However, it is their own responsibility to find out why that's not something that the average person could tell you even if they wanted to. How many people on this planet really know their exact genetic make up? With the exception of that cadaver they used for the human genome project, the answer is: next to none.

It's a bit baffling that you'd claim men eventually ask what background you are since you claimed that you couldn't be mistaken for any other race. I think the fact that you have been asked this question shows that what I wrote is true: What race people think you are is more determined by where you are than what you look like.

If a person really is afraid of sharing their DNA with people who might have DNA that doesn't originate in this country, their only choice is to simply not procreate because no matter who they have children with, those children will be no more genetically "pure" than anyone else on this planet.

Since you mentioned Bob Marley and Buffalo Soldiers in your other post, I figure you might like this quote:

"If you know your history,
Then you would know where you coming from,
Then you wouldn't have to ask me,
Who the 'eck do I think I am."

brownfemi said...

Why is it if you have one drop of black blood you are black, and why if you have one drop of Native blood your not Native?

while there is racism in this logic, as bint pointed out--I believe that since this "rule" came from the U.S. government, that it is a rule more based in the interests of the U.S. rather than an individual--specifically, the U.S. decided back when black folks were slaves that they could be 1/32 black, 1/320th black--1/10000 black, and they were still slaves.
The U.S. is ALSO the entity that decided that native peoples would have to "prove" they were natives--native peoples are the only peoples in the u.s. that must carry a card to prove their identity. and it just so happens native peoples sit on the greatest amount of natural resources left in the u.s. as well--resources that the u.s. has a vested interest in aquiring--mining, nuclear waste, nuclear testing--if native people's with their bothersome treaties were no longer here in the world, the u.s. would have total control over that land. so it makes sense that it has become harder and harder to "prove" indigenaity.

Molly said...

Let me ask you this in all your educated dictation I have not once seen you refer to yourself as an african american (minus the one BRIEF instance you first mention and only once mention that you are black in your last post), but isn't that what you are. It is what I see. No denying that. What do you see when you look in the mirror? If you were one in a line-up made up of yourself, a japanese women, a white women, and a native american women and a diverse group of individuals were asked to pick out from this line up who is the african american I bet they would pick you. Does it bother you that I just said that? Are you ashamed of being african amercan? You never once mentioned in your ORIGINAL response to my original post anywhere that you were part african american. You kept referring to yourself as an NDN. You keep calling yourself an NDN.

I like to keep my rhetoric brief and to the point. I sense your wiseness, your wit, and your cunning. I also sense you sarcasm.

Let me be fair to you since I invited myself into a conversation with you. I have some questions for you, please answer them as brief as you can with whatever comes to your mind first. If we all evolved from africans (our common ancestor) then following that theory of evolution we also evoled from apes. True or false? Are humans apes? Should we as apes lose our clothes, start hanging from trees, dumb down our intelligence, and act like chimpanzees, gorillas, etc. ? We are human are we not? As part of human history we migrated correct? As humans can we be distinguished by our phenotypic differences? As humans can we be distinguished by our genetic differences (at least by scientific standards)? In nature do genetics partially dictate our ability to survive (excluding environmental factors)? Is race important from a medical standpoint? Is race important from a social standpoint? Is race important from a historical standpoint? If I am two races how many races should I claim? If I am two heritages what side should I claim? What race are you? What is your heritage? How do you identify yourself racially?

I want to clarify some things before a become further misunderstood.

First, when I said you are ONLY native american if you are ONLY native american, by ONLY I meant just native american, 100% native american. If I am 50% native american and 50% african american that does not equal 100% native american. It equals 100% native and african american mix. Mix was a key point. If you are mixed you should indicate that you are mixed, then elaborate if you feel you must. If I was part white and part NDN, should I go around part of the day saying I am white and neglecting to also mention I am NDN as well? Why deny half, a quarter, or part of what you are?

As you made your impassioned response to my ORGIGINAL comment you called yourself an NDN, what about your african ancestors? Should they be denied? If I had not seen that picture of you on this website I would have for certain have thought I was debating a moot point with a 100% NDN. You see, you mislead me by never mentioning you were african as well. In that one comment alone, where you evoke so much emotion, you lacked the sense to say you were african. In that one comment alone you forgot who your ancestors were. A piece of you got left out. THat one comment aside from everything else was missing a piece of you. If that one comment was put into a bottle, cast into the sea, and later read by someone unfamilar with this site, they would never know you were black as well.

You said "NDNness is not just determined by DNA patterns." NDN is a race and it can only legitimately be determined by DNA patterns. See for yourself. Go to http://www.ancestrybydna.com/welcome/. Here is the institution you seem to feel lacks the credentials to decipher race. You are well informed, but marvelously misinformed as well. If NDNess is only a culture, heritage, or in "the heart" (as I have heard others say) than should we negate the genetic existence of NDN people. DNA can be used to determine ones race(s).You said "If so, then many of those who are denied enrollment would have to be accepted."
True many would have to be accepted and many would have to be denied. To say that deciphering one's racial quantity by DNA is false, IS FALSE. And proceed to teach the elememtary box model to me.I had to laugh. Here is some info from the ancestrybydana cite my two wonderful friends referred to when they got there DNA analyzed. "Purpose:
Very few of our ancestors remained in one part of the world; most migrated to different regions and population interactions and mixture over the past 50,000 years has been fundamental in shaping modern-day society. As a result, our geographic origins have become more complex over the generations. Possibly you are adopted and have an interest in better understanding your heritage. Or perhaps you are wondering if you are of Native American descent. Many of our clients simply desire to explore and confirm their family's genealogical profile. The Ancestry Certification Analysis provided by AncestryByDNA™ delivers these results and a wealth of additional backup analysis to be kept for generations to come.

Scientific Basis
AncestryByDNA™ has been developed to take advantage of a patented scientific breakthrough in DNA analysis that allows genealogical research to now be done very cost-effectively. Because of this breakthrough, BioGeographical Ancestry (BGA) research is now available to the general public.
Our scientists have discovered a method to focus DNA analysis on only those regions of the DNA that are meaningful in determining the anthropological origins of an individual's ancestry. These Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs) are used to quantitatively estimate the BioGeographical Ancestry of an individual. For example, one person may obtain a 90% European, 10% sub-Saharan African result while another may obtain a 100% East Asian result.

This powerful DNA analysis technology is currently in use by forensic scientists, crime laboratories, and medical examiners worldwide."

DNA can distinguish the races. It is a very important tool utilized by scientists to catch criminals, trace ancestry, determine human evelution, etc. How do you think they deciphered that an african american was the common ancestor for all mankind? THey analyzed the DNA.
As we began to change from our common african ancestors due to migration and isolation we evolved several different genetic markers that coded for different proteins. As this field of research is futher explored scientists begin to understand that as humans of different racial groups we have different body chemistries, more suceptibilities or less suceptibilities for certain genetic disorders, etc. DNA makes us different, not too different, but different enough. Here is a fact. I cannot make you believe what I am saying and I doubt you will. I find that you have diluted yourself a bit in your debate with me. You are of a mixed racial background are you not? Do you tell people that you are mixed? If so how much? Are you half, a quarter, etc.? You are part african are you not? Should a person who is half black and half native american claim to be just native american?

Now a compliment for you. I see your picture. Not to butter you up, but I see a beautiful african american women. Could you have native, caucasian, asian ancestry? Yep. But you identify physically as an african america. I in all honesty would never take you as being NDN. And it would be a travesty of human history to deny that there are physical differences between the races? You seem to be down playing these inherent physical differences.

I have never and will never make a claim that any race is better than another. If I did, those individuals who hold that same ideology that the white man had when he said about my race; that we are dumb animals, would have every right to do so. But that is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now don't laugh about this please. I was watching Flavor of Love. I know not the best show, but I find some comments that are made about it in the classroom interesting. There was a character named Payshintz who kept going on and on about being Chinese. It was all she talked about. A charater named Bootz told her she needed to stop going on about the chinese thing all the time and more or less ( it was more crudely stated) get in touch with her blackness. She did not like being told this and left the show. She cried racism. I think that, though she is entitled to her opinions, she was shunning her blackness. Bootz was sick of it. She embraces her blackness and sees her obviously african american housemate diluting herself and expressing herself only as an asian.

Back when there was slavery white men used to rape black women freely. The children of this rape were described in terms of higher yields. The more white in the slave the better. They divided and conquered (I am using a bit of your terminology) the slaves by separating the group. Some were "house slaves" and others were "field slaves" . With time resentment grew and it can still be felt today. Some with whiter features look down on those with darker features. Do you deny the existence of this behavior? It is the "slave masters" mentaliity. I saw this tyoe of behavior on Flavor of Love Charm School. Sapphyrie is a beautiful african american women, but on a recent episode one of the lighter skinned african american men began chasing the blonde white girl Pumpkin around. He made an insulting remark that triggered an argument between hisself and Sapphyrie. He called her a "gorilla' and said she should stamp her face in some dough and make gorilla cookies. Now, i know where that word "gorilla" comes from. It is a whitemans derogatory word for an african american. Just like he called us natives pigs and animals. When slaves got their freedom those who found it easy to pass themselves off as white or even NDN did so. Do you deny this? Thus, the perpetuation of a lie to escape persecution. You could very well be a victim of this, living in the south, especially. Louisiana. In Virgina Walter Ashby Plecker, the state physician in the 1900s, reclassified all races as either white or "colored". He did so because he believed all non white races had in some way mixed with african americans. As a result (and I have researched this as part of my dissertation by interviewing museum officials) many native americans and asians lost their racial identities having been reclassified as negros. Should they have accepted this fate? Should they have even cared? According to you they shouldn't. What is the big deal there is no real differences between the races, right? Wrong. These people did care. According to my research most of those individuals were outraged that there racial identity was taken from them. They felt it was what made them unique. it set them apart (not above) from others. Their racial identity had been stolen from them. What was worse, most were afraid at that time to claim their true race because they thought the government would arrest them. Now, when the new system of racial classification was instituted, many non native americans (who were in fact african americans) began to claim native american ancestry in order to escape racial persecution. This is all true. You can deny it, but it is a fcat. That is why today the BIA wants so many individuals to get there blood quantified (and I bet you soon it will be DNA analyzed) and to name a not too distant tribally affiliated ancestor (who was on the tribal roll)to gain tribal admission. Thus, getting tribal benefits and being let into our sometimes secret society. There are things some real NDNs won't tell outsiders, or those who are not full NDN by blood.


On another note. Please do not misconstrue what I say. If you cannot understand what I am saying, or it sounds confusing just ask and i will reexplain. I compete by merit for scholarships on my reservation. These scholarships are held by the Native american Institutions. as part of our scholarship we meet and discuss issues important to our culture. I have noticed a RECENT increase in the number of OBVIOUS AFRICAN AMERICAN and CAUCASIAN individuals at these meetings. Are they tribally enrolled? Yes. Are they 100% NDN, no. And they do not claim to be. If they did us 100% NDNs would laugh and see them for there lies. But they are getting an NDN scholarship. Now, couldn't those african american+NDN students have also competed for and received an african american scholarship. Yes, but they did not. Why? Because they want to be considered NDN, not black. Denial. Scholarships, merit based, are few and limited when they are funded by tribial institutions who lack the types of funds the government offers. The more individuals competeing for an NDN scholarship the less there is to go around. I feel that these individuals who have african ancestry should try to explore other sources of scholarship as well. But I know they did not? Why? If they had they would not have received the NDN scholarship, which is offered to those who have no other source of income to pay for "full time" dedicated college work, but by ,merit deserve a right to go. I could work till my hands bleed to fund my college career, but my coursework and disseratation would suffer.

Now, you write a bit about yourself in your profile. But you do not know me and so I feel you may have some assumptions about who I am. My name is Molly Debassige. I am 24 years old. I am 100% Ojibway. I am happily married for seven years to an 100% Ojibway man. We have a beautiful 100% Ojibway son. I love my community and am educating myself at an off reservation university in Vancouver, Canada for the betterment of my people. I seek tolerance for all races including my own, but I would like to see more NDNs marry NDNs to make more NDNs with 100% NDN DNA. This terminolgy sounds funny I know, but what I am basiaclly saying is that I want the race of people known as NDNs by DNA to once again overflow abundantly on our land. I do not want us to fade out as a genetically unique people. I want other races to understand that when you tribally enroll and are 25% NDN but more of another race you are contributing yourself and your foreign genes to our DNA. We would love to reabsorbs our people back into our race and enhance its numbers. But I see that many non tribal african, asian, and caucasian individuals who are not really NDN at all maybe 1/256th if that is even true forcing themsleves into our lives. Some will be so insistent as to even sue if they cannot be enrolled. I have heard the stories, and I have no reason to disbleve my brethren.
I only hope as a people we can genetically survive and begin to grow again as we once were before Europeans brought themslves and slaves upon this continent.


I want to leave this long post with 3 quotes:

Oscar Wilde: "Whoever tells the truth, sooner or later will be caught doing it."

My Spin: "Whoever tells a lie, sooner or later will be caught doing it." ( A word of advice to you, saying DNA cannot prove racial identity and percentage is a lie and I caught you telling one.)

Zora Neale Hurston ( a famous african american writer): In her famous prose "How It Feels To Be a Colored Me" ----"I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief."

Anonymous said...

WOW!you know I have always wondered if indians were prejudiced against other indians who were mixed but now i know its tru. i got my dna analyzed to and i found that i was 45% indian. I tried to get enrolled in my tribe but they kept givin me the runaround like i was some kinda wannabee. finally, i was able to get in. i got my card and enrollment number i was so happy. but i notice how prejidice they are against me. i am part white, but i look indian. Molly i fit your list of criteria for what an indian looks like to a T . well guess molly feels i'm not 100% indian. So do i deserve a right to call myself indian? i have never fit in with my white friends but i thought a tribe would except me because i look so much like a typical pocahontas. to my dismay i get shunned. now i feel ashamed i paid over $300 to be a part of something that doesn't want me. i am part navajo but i won't admit that anymore. now, i realize its better not to if people like molly feel the way they do. its just like the whites.

bint alshamsa said...

Hi Molly,

It's so good to see your words again. Last night I worried about whether or not I had done a good enough job letting you know how much I value your input on this. It's because I think that your words have something important for others to see that I made this into a separate post instead of just leaving it behind on an old post that most people might not ever look at again.

I wish that you had a blog of your own. It certainly seems to me that you have enough to say about yourself and your life to make it quite interesting. There aren't enough Native American voices regularly appearing on the internet and there is no reason why yours shouldn't be among them. Of course, I want you to keep coming here for as long as you want to but that was just something on the side that I wanted to say. Now I'll get to addressing what you have to say, okay?
-------------------
I hadn't thought it necessary to identify myself as African American more times in the conversation. It was my belief that the fact that I'm Black is what sparked this conversation in the first place. Do you need to hear me say it? Okay!

I'm Black
That's right! I'm Black
I--bint alshamsa---am a BLACK woman
For those who don't know: I am the prettiest shade of caramel brown that you will ever see in your lifetime
My daughter is a yummy shade of cafe au lait and no matter what else she is, she is also a BLACK girl.
My momma may be the color of a butterscotch candy but she had enough color in her to make me so that makes her BLACK too.
My grandfather fought in World War II. He was dishonorably discharged because he would not change his paperwork to say that he was white.
He finally cleared his name but he never got over the sorrow of serving a country that only valued him if he would deny the fact that behind that milky skin of his, there was a BLACK man inside
I will always remember my BLACKNESS because if I don't, then the world will surely remind me
Besides, it would be a shame to betray my ancestors and make their voluntary suffering all for nothing
Some chose to pass but others chose to see their BLACKNESS even when those--who judge with their hatred instead of with their hearts--only saw whiteness or NDNness.
My passe blanc grandfather chose to stand with his people even though he was genetically less black than many of the people who stood in judgement of him
If some one asks me what I am, I will always tell the truth.
But meanwhile, while they are busy judging with their eyes.
While they are busy seeing black,
I am just busy being
BLACK.

There! Whew! Is that enough for you? I certainly hope so. I tried to use the word BLACK as many times as I could in each sentence. Now when you look at this set of posts you can always go back and see me proclaiming my blackness, loud and clear.

It certainly doesn't bother me that when you look at me you see a Black person. Isn't that what you're looking to see in the first place? I put my picture on this blog, even though many people choose to keep their faces unseen when it comes to the internet. I love what I see when I look at that picture. I see myself, looking healthy, with a gorgeous head of hair, and a nice smirky smile. I'm wearing my favorite pair of glasses and the blue t-shirt that my daughter loves. You can't see it in the picture but it has a pretty print on the front of it. I know that you might be new to visiting My Private Casbah, so it's understandable for you not to know much about how I see myself. I have lots of pictures where the lighting is much better and I suppose I could have used one of them if I just wanted to appear as light as possible. But I like this picture best and it never occurred to me to judge what picture to use based on how light or dark my skin looks.

I certainly don't see myself as wise or cunning. I hope that I am witty as least some of the time. At least that might prevent people from being totally bored if the do take the time to read what I have to say.

You asked me to answer some questions so I guess I'll tackle that next.

If we all evolved from africans (our common ancestor) then following that theory of evolution we also evoled from apes. True or false?
False. Humans and apes have a common ancestor if you look far enough into the past but this common ancestor was not an ape.

Are humans apes?
Nope.

Should we as apes lose our clothes, start hanging from trees, dumb down our intelligence, and act like chimpanzees, gorillas, etc.?
If it makes a person happy to hang from trees and act like a chimpanzee or gorilla while they are naked as the day they were born, that's perfectly okay with me.

We are human are we not?
Yep.

As part of human history we migrated correct?
Our ancestors migrated. I've moved around a bit but now I'm settled right back where I was born.

As humans can we be distinguished by our phenotypic differences?
We can be distinguished from other species on earth today, if that's what you mean. If you are asking whether or not we can tell what race someone is just by looking at them, then the answer is no.

As humans can we be distinguished by our genetic differences (at least by scientific standards)?
We can be distinguished from other species using scientific standards. However, even scientific standards can not determine what race some one is. Race is not a concept that is logical nor is it one that is determined using a set of uniform standards around the world. Therefore, science is most unhelpful when trying to play the "guess that race" game.

In nature do genetics partially dictate our ability to survive (excluding environmental factors)?
Yes, genetics do play an important role in affecting our ability to survive.

Is race important from a medical standpoint?
Only inasmuch as people's beliefs about race affect the way they live their lives.

Is race important from a social standpoint?
For many people it is.

Is race important from a historical standpoint?
It depends on whose history you are examining. Race has played an important role in some cultures; In other cultures, race is not even a concept that they ever adopted.

If I am two races how many races should I claim?
That is a question that no one can answer for you. You have to determine what race(s) you should claim.

If I am two heritages what side should I claim?
Like the question above, this is something that you have to decide for yourself. I don't see it as anyone else's rightful position to tell you what you should think about your heritage.

What race are you?
It depends on where I am. In different parts of the world, race is defined according to different categories than in other places.

What is your heritage?
I am Black--My father's side of the family traced one of our ancestors to the Ibo people of Nigeria.
I am Irish--Part of my mother's family came here during the potato famine.
I am Native American--The Native American ancestors we know about are Crow and Blackfoot.
I am French--One part of my ancestry can be traced back to the Lafayettes.

How do you identify yourself racially?
I identify myself as a woman of color.

I'm more than happy to answer more questions if you want to ask me something.

You state that "If you are mixed you should indicate that you are mixed, then elaborate if you feel you must". Perhaps you could explain why you think that any one owes a perfect stranger any information at all? If someone is THAT curious about my background, then they can take the time to get to know me and then ask or they can just make whatever assumptions it takes to make them feel better about themselves.

If you were part white and part NDN, then it would be up to you to decide how much information you wanted to give the world about who you are. I don't feel like you owe the world any explanations at all. Who you are is okay with me no matter where your ancestors came from. If you want to tell me about your heritage, then I'd love to hear about it but I certainly don't feel entitled to receive such information from every person I encounter on the internet or any where else.

You claim that I denied my African ancestors. Uh, that doesn't make any sense. If I were trying to deny some part of me, why would I say that I'm mixed with anything? You claim that I misled you but, if anything, you were misled by your own preconceived notions about what Black people and NA people are supposed to sound like and look like. If you're looking for 100% Native American people on the internet, you'll never find them because these only exist in the imaginations of those who feel the need to divorce themselves from reality. I'm not sure why you think you were misled by me when you admit that you could see from my picture (which is visible on every page of this blog) that I am Black.

You may feel, and it seems that you do, that race can only legitimately be determined by DNA patterns. However, yours is just one definition of how race may "legitimately be determined". DNA patterns can only tell you that you have genetic similarities with certain other people that they've tested. It can not determine what race society will consider you to be. It is society that determines one's race, not biology. It's not a matter of credentials, even though there are a lot that the average consumer may need to know before purchasing services like this. It's a matter of what information these tests are capable of proving.

You asked, "If NDNess is only a culture, heritage, or in "the heart" (as I have heard others say) than should we negate the genetic existence of NDN people." Well, I already answered that question. In fact, in my first post, I explained that, to me, actual NA ancestry is a part of determining who is and isn't NDN.

You keep saying that DNA can be used to determine one's race but you haven't explained what led you to believe that's true. Maybe if you elaborated on why you believe that, we could get a bit further in this conversation. If all you keep saying is "It does! It does! It does!", that won't prove anything.

The problem with these private companies that offer to analyze your DNA for a fee is that they often hide so much in the fine print that people are not really clear about what they are purchasing. They have decided to cash on what has become a lucrative market: Americans who feel disconnected from their roots and who seek the answers to some of life's questions: Who am I? How can I find my proper place in the world? Where can I find a feeling of belonging and unconditional acceptance?

At different points mankind has sought these answers from different sources. Some have looked to nature. Some have studied religious theories. Some have turned to other people. Today, people also have the option of turning to science.

Each of these sources have certain advantages but they all have one thing in common. In order for them to definitively answer these questions in a satisfactory manner, the seeker has to believe that it (the source) offers the ultimate truth.

The problem is, because everyone finds "ultimate truth" from different places, we are sometimes going to clash about whose answers are more legitimate than all the others. Now, I'm rather fond of science (as I think you are too) but there are millions of people who don't care one bit what DNA analysis says. I can't even count how many people I've encountered who study their religious texts and then want to force the rest of the world to believe that all the other religious books and all the science books are false because their religion is from "THE God" who's infinitely smarter than all of the other religions and all of the world's scientists put together. They are just as certain as you seem to be that they hold the only legitimate answers about how we should see ourselves.

It seems you are putting a lot of confidence in what this AncestryByDNA place says, so let's examine their claims.

From their F.A.Q. page:

Race in general usage includes both a cultural and biological feature of a person or group of people. Given the fact that physical differences between populations are often accompanied by cultural differences, it has been difficult to separate these two elements of race.

Notice they are stating that race is not simply determined by biology. Their admission of the fact that race has a cultural feature of it simplifies what I said earlier: What race one is considered depends on where they are, what culture they are situated in. If one gets the opportunity to visit outside of America, it becomes clear that the whole world isn't using these Black, White, Red, Yellow labels that many people here have a tendency to believe in. "Physical differences between populations are often accompanied by cultural differences" because at times populations have been (to some extent) geographically isolated. However, the one thing that is nearly universal is that eventually different populations receive influxes of people from different areas. This is true on every single continent on Earth.

Here's another quote from AncestryByDNA:
Over the past few decades there has been a movement in several fields of science to oversimplify the issue declaring that race is "merely a social construct". While, indeed this may often be true, depending on what aspect of variation between people one is considering, it is also true that there are biological differences between the populations of the world.

Notice this part also acknowledges the information that I stated before: Race is not biologically contructed; It's socially constructed. In other words, it's a concept that people have created with their imagination in order to help them make sense of the world. When it comes to science, notice what it says: "there are biological differences between the populations of the world". It doesn't say between the races of the world. The reason why it doesn't say that is because race isn't what determines whether or not biological differences are going exist between two people or two groups.

It goes on to say:
Generally, we see that alleles found in one population are also found in all populations and the alleles that are the most common in one are also common in others.

Now, this explains that most of the alleles in our genes are the same ones as those found in other populations--this includes all those folks who we might consider to be some other race from us. In other words, though there are some genes that are found in particular populations with greater frequency than in other populations, for the most part our genetic material is the same as everyone else's. With the Human Genome Project, it was shown that race really doesn't describe the biological reality. There is an interesting paper on this topic that references several other projects which leads to the conclusion that trying to use race to establish anything only results in showing how race just isn't applicable in determining genetic patterns. Since you're a science fan like me you might enjoy it. I think the language is such that even those without an in-depth understanding of science can comprehend it. It's called Changing the paradigm from 'race' to human genome variation.

You wrote:
DNA can distinguish the races. It is a very important tool utilized by scientists to catch criminals, trace ancestry, determine human evelution, etc. How do you think they deciphered that an african american was the common ancestor for all mankind? THey analyzed the DNA.

This is simply not true. The determination that humans originated in Africa by analyzing the age of skeletons found around the world. So far, the oldest of these comes from Africa. Most of these really old specimens can't even provide us with DNA, at least not using the current technology that we possess.

Molly, it's true that science has discovered that we have genetic differences. That's something we both understand. However, it has also found that those differences are not determined by what race people are considered. For instance, some Jewish people have a genetic background that exposes their offspring to Tay-Sachs disease. At one time it was thought that this disease was just found in Jews. However, research has shown that it found with the same frequency in other populations as well. If the presence of these genes could identify people as members of one race, then it would mean that French-Canadians (also known as Acadians though we call them Cajun here) were the same race as Jews. Does that even sound logical to you? Have you ever heard anyone say that French-Canadians are the same race as Jews? The presence of genes that are also found in other individuals is not proof that people are the same race.

You asked me: You are of a mixed racial background are you not?
Yep

Do you tell people that you are mixed?
Occasionally. It all depends on the situation. Most of the time I let people assume whatever they want because I don't much care what they think I am.

If so how much? Are you half, a quarter, etc.?
Despite what people may want to believe, race can not be quantified in individuals.

You are part african are you not?
Yep, me and everyone else on this planet--including you.

Should a person who is half black and half native american claim to be just native american?
That is for them to decide. It is not my decision to make for someone else. If they only want to call themselves NA, then that's fine with me. If they only want to call themselves Black, then that's fine with me too. If they want to call themselves Mixed, that's cool with me. If they want to call themself a ham sandwich, then that's a-okay with me.

It's quite kind of you to say that when you look at my picture you see a beautiful African American woman. It made me smile to see that. I haven't seen a picture of you but from your description I'm sure that you have just as much reason to look in the mirror and see yourself as an amazingly beautiful Native American woman. I certainly hope that this is what others see when they look at you because I know that this is how you want to be seen. I see that you are proud to be who you are. I think that's wonderful. I am happy that there are people like you in the world. You, your genes, your traditions, your culture--all of it is of value to me and worthy of preserving. I have no desire to play down the differences between people. You don't need to look like me and I don't need to look like you in order for either of us to be who we say we are and to be proud of that heritage.

Here's a funny story: Throughout my young years, I was around a lot of White people and I have always been the darkest person in my family. So I grew up thinking of myself as a very dark-skinned girl. When I got pregnant, I kept on picturing what my child would look like. Would it be a girl or a boy? Would it look more like me or like my partner (at that time)? In all of my ideas of what the child would look like, I pictured myself having a fat little chocolate-colored baby. I have always loved the look of babies like that. My best friend, had given birth to a pretty dark brown baby a year before and I just couldn't wait to take care of my own.

After nine months, I promptly went into labor three days before my due date. In the hospital my mother and my partner were in the room for the birth. After they had delivered my baby, the doctors passed her to me. When I looked at her, I was gobsmacked! She looked so different from what I'd pictured that I was a bit confused. My poor baby was so light that her face looked almost translucent! I could see all of the veins in her face. After a few minutes of holding her I couldn't help but ask. I finally asked my mom "She is going to get darker, isn't she?" My mom laughed at me and said "Of course, silly!"

She was right. My little girl did darken up some but not nearly as soon as I thought she would. As a baby, she'd be in her stroller as we took little trips downtown in order to get some fresh air and exercise. I can't even tell you how many times people asked me if I was her babysitter because they thought that she was too white to be my baby. I could have spent my energy getting angry about their assumptions because it IS rude to come up and make those sort of remarks to a perfect stranger. However, in my eyes, all that mattered to me was that she was my daughter.

My genetics helped make her. At least half of what she is, biologically, came from me. I don't need her to look like anyone in order for her to be a part of my family--the next generation of those who will learn our traditions and customs, the descendent of many different people from all across the globe--and she will be taught to be proud of who she is no matter what other people want her to be (or not be).

I haven't seen any of this season's Flavor of Love episodes. I have known people like the Payshintz person you're describing though. There can be a lot of pressure for people to downplay their Blackness. Just think about the stereotypes that people here have about Asians as opposed to Blacks. In the minds of many, Asians are viewed as "model minorities". Like Native American women (e.g. Pocahantas depictions in the theater and on t.v.), Asian women are also exoticized. It can be difficult to walk the line between showing pride in one's heritage and being seen as bragging about what amounts to something that most people really don't have much of an interest in hearing about you. Where I think we differ is with this idea that talking about one side of one's heritage means that you have diluted yourself. To me that just isn't so, because you can be proud of both but that doesn't mean that you owe it to anyone to tell them about your entire lineage just because you feel like talking about one particular part of your heritage.

I definitely agree with you that the system of slavery in America played a role in the establishment of "shadism". Down here in Louisiana, we had one of the most complex hierarchical systems regarding what freedoms and opportunities a person of color had based on how White they were considered to be. However, I don't blame the gen de coleur libre (free people of color) for the effects of this system since they weren't the ones who established it or enforced it. Given how long it was in existence, it's no wonder that people of color are still dealing with the after-effects of this racist system.

You said, "When slaves got their freedom those who found it easy to pass themselves off as white or even NDN did so. Do you deny this?"
It's nothing to deny because it isn't accurate in the first place. Sure there were some who moved around and attempted to "pass" as white. Mostly though, this was exaggerated as a scare tactic used by racist White people to warn other Whites about the dangers of allowing passe blanc people too much freedom.

You claim "You could very well be a victim of this, living in the south, especially Louisiana".

Well, I suppose nearly anything is possible but if it's possible that I'm a victim of this then it's also possible that you are too. Heck, it's possible that all people who are claiming to be Native American are just living a lie and perpetuating a huge conspiracy to make the entire world believe that Native American people still exist. All of that is possible but is it probable?

In order for what you're suggesting to be true, it would require that all of the records my family has and all of the records that are and were independently collected by various sources for the past couple hundred years are the result of some plot to create a girl who could produce documents designed to fool the world into thinking she's a Black/Irish/Crow/Blackfoot girl. But if these people who didn't know me and didn't know each other, people who lived hundreds of years before me and had no idea what I would be like, folks who had no interest in what some stranger's descendents would call themselves--if all of these people were capable of carrying out a giant conspiracy like the one that would have been needed for my family to have all of the information that we have about our heritage, then we have no way of proving that there was no giant conspiracy designed to fool you into believing that you are Native American too.

With regards to this Plecker fellow, it has nothing to do with me unless I were actually descended from one of those who he attempted to reclassify. Do you have any information that leads you to believe that is the case because my family tree certainly doesn't show that?

You ask me whether people should have accepted his classification system and whether they should have cared about what he said. Well, as was the case with your other questions about what other people should feel, my answer is basically the same. It is for those individuals to decide how they should feel.

Instead of assuming what I think, perhaps you should read what I actually said. Did I ever claim that they shouldn't have cared? Nope. That's something you made up in your own mind. My belief is that they were free to continue seeing themselves as they did prior to this Plecker person making his opinions about what they are (in the same way that you are currently doing with those who aren't "pure" enough to you).

You say that many African Americans who were not Native American began to claim that they were NA in order to escape persecution. Well how in the world could that be the case? NDNs were being persecuted just as much as Blacks. You can claim that these people were not NA but what proof of this do you have? Do you even have any idea of how many Blacks are estimated to have NA ancestry as well? Geneticists have estimated that over 15 million Americans are of NA descent. That's not even counting all those who already self-identify as NA.

Here's some articles on it:

More Blacks are Exploring the African-American/Native-American Connection

Racial Demographics of the United States (Native Americans)

Black Indians (Afro-Native Americans)

Heart of Two Nations

The Blending of the United States

Maybe you'll have an easier time believing what I've said if you see it come from an "official" NA source. Here's an article you might like:
Genetic "Markers" Not a Valid Test of Native Identity

What the BIA wants is a double-edged sword. Will those who are already enrolled also be tested? If so, what will happen when it is found that those who are enrolled are not as genetically similar to Native American populations as those who are not allowed to enroll? Will they be kicked out?

It is a known fact that tribal rolls were not all created by Native Americans. Do you understand the reason why they were created in the first place? In her comment on this post BrownFemiPower gives a good explanation for why all of this began.

Those enrolled NDNs who look "OBVIOUS AFRICAN AMERICAN and CAUCASIAN" to you are just as entitled to scholarships that are reserved for Native Americans. If you want there to be scholarships based on who looks the most NDN to you, then perhaps you should mention this during the discussions that you have. Personally, the comments about "100% NDNs" laughing at those who don't meet your standards is pretty funny to me considering the fact that none of you are "100% NDN" and if you laugh at those who acknowledge their multi-ethnic heritabe it's pretty pathetic because you are too are mixed, whether you want to acknowledge that or not.

So you think that some NDNs should apply for non-NDN scholarships. Well, that's just your opinion and you are entitled to it but you haven't shown that they are any less in need of help as you are. You could apply for scholarships intended to help women. Does that mean you'd be doing something wrong if you decided to accept a scholarship that a man wishes he could get?

Molly, I am glad to get to know you. I really hope that I can some how persuade you to perhaps start your own blog. You are obviously dedicated to helping your people. The internet needs more Native American women. If you don't like the fact that there are so many multi-ethnic people talking about their Native American heritage and being viewed as the face of NDNs, then the only solution is to put yourself out there.

If you want to see more NDNs marry other NDNs, then I support you with that. I see nothing wrong with people choosing to decide who they will marry based on their strongly held beliefs. And there's no denying that in this society, it can be very challenging to be in an inter-racial relationship. Some people want to avoid that particular path. It's understandable. However, not all of us feel that way. Not all of us NDNs feel that we have to produce some sort of genetic proof of authenticity in order to be acknowledged as cultures that are worthy of preservation.

If someone wants to do everything in their power to gain acceptance into a tribe and they have the documents to back up their heritage claims, then I see nothing wrong with that. If it were you in that situation, I would support you in gaining the recognition that is so obviously important to you.

If you're concerned about "foreign genes" in your DNA, then it's already too late. In fact, it was always too late because there isn't a soul alive who isn't sharing the majority of their DNA with those people you don't want to compete with.

By the way, Europeans didn't bring slaves onto this continent. They brought PEOPLE. Furthermore, science has shown that people from all over the world were migrating on and off of this continent before Europeans even realized that it existed. Their genes are a part of those you seem to think are a "100% NDN".

Seeing as you share my love for quotes, here's some that came to mind while writing this post:

"In world history, those who have helped to build the same culture are not necessarily of one race, and those of the same race have not all participated in one culture."
-Ruth Benedict

"At the heart of racism is the religious assertion that God made a creative mistake when He brought some people into being"
-Friedrich Hertz

"They are social pariahs, irrationally ostracized by their communities because of medically baseless fears of contagion."
-Stewart Oneglia

"On an altar of prejudice we crucify our own, yet the blood of all children is the color of God."
-Don Williams Jr.

slythwolf said...

Hi, I'm here via your post on Feministe.

Thank you for posting this. My college roommate is Native American, on her biological father's side, and her adoptive dad is Native American too. When we were at school she joined the campus NA organization, but she only went to one meeting. Nobody would talk to her except to tell her to go away, because she has pale skin and red hair. It really hurt her to be rejected that way and I spent a lot of time talking with her about it for the rest of that semester. I wish she had been able to have that connection to a culture and heritage she claimed as her own.

bint alshamsa said...

Slythwolf,

Sadly, so many NDNs have come to believe in the bigoted stereotypes portrayed in the media. I've had to deal with people like those your room mate encountered. Unfortunately, unless NDNs can get past these issues, the culture will die out completely in just a few generations from now. It's in the best interests of all minorities, with regards to self-preservation, for us to stop playing these "paper-bag test" games.

Jain113 said...

Who is a real Native American? Well I can honestly see the argument on both sides. Molly has a few good points and so does Bint. However, you both seem to lack a general understanding of culture as it applies in this case. Culture can best be described as those values, customs, languages, norms, institutions, and arts passed down from generation to generations. I believe Molly has the advantage here.As far as we know, she lives on the reservation, possibly soeaks a Native Amertican language, performs religiuos and instituation obligations to her tribe, as well as, understands Native American culture as a whole much better than we ourselves can truly claim. What right do we have to assume she does or does not represent Real Native Americans better than WE Native Americans. I have a grandfather who is full-blooded Cherokee. Though I share a knowledge of some of the superstiutions, stories, and foods from the tribe through his teachings, I will never fully grasp what it feels like to be a REAL Native American, or What it is to be a REAL Native American.

The truth is all of us who have never lived on a reservation may never fully understand the cultural aspects of Real Native American society and every day life. We can't just read history books, visit powwows, adopt a few cultural symbols, basically taking a "Bird's Eye View", and simply claim we are REAL Native Americans. We are decendents. Yes that much is true. No amount of education can teach anyone what it is to fully experience someone elses culture. It takes a lifetime at worst, or years and years of learning alone in a culture of many who like Molly may not be as accepting of what is perceived as "outsiders".

bint alshamsa said...

Hello Jain113,

Thank you for your input. I don't really see what led you to feel that neither Molly nor I have a good understanding of what culture is. I am aware of this general definition that you provided and it seems to me that, from her comments, Molly understands it too.

Why is this an issue of advantages to you? I'm not sure that this is something that could even be measured/determined objectively. To explain why, consider this hypothetical example:

Native American #1 lives on a reservation but is ashamed of their ethnic background and prefers not to identify themself as NDN unless forced to do so. They live in an environment where many people seek to learn the language of one or more of their ancestors. However, #1 has a job that pays very little (perhaps due to predatory practices on the part of non-Native employers). Because their job pays very little, #1 has to work many hours and has little to no time to devote to becoming multi-lingual.

Native American #2 does not live on a reservation (perhaps due to racist policies enacted by non-Native politicians) but they do live among others who also share their ancestry. Though they needn't do so, they refuse to deny their NDN ancestry. #2 does not have to work as hard as #1 in order to care for their family. They don't live in an area that values the learning of any language other than English. However, #2 has a great interest in learning the language spoken by some of their ancestors. #2 has more free time than #1, so he/she can spend more time becoming proficient in the language they chose to learn.

Now, of the two, who really has the greatest advantages? We could say that #2's financial situation provides her with the upper hand or we could say that #1's environment provides her with the upper hand? There is no objective way of determining the answer to this question.

You said "As far as we know, she lives on the reservation, possibly soeaks a Native Amertican language, performs religiuos and instituation obligations to her tribe, as well as, understands Native American culture as a whole much better than we ourselves can truly claim."

Well, since you don't know me, you have no way of determining how much I or any one else understands "Native American culture". I don't know anything about you but I can understand why you might be quick to claim that you don't understand much about this issue. Here's why: There is no "Native American Culture". Those who refer to themselves as Native Americans are made up of many different nations. We do not have one shared culture. The Inuits lived, governed and worked in a manner that was quite distinct from how the Incans lived, governed themselves, and worked. Their customs were different. Their languages were different. Their art was different. One could have lived their entire life as a Quechuan, among other Quechans, speaking only Quechua, married to another Quechuan, parenting little Quechuan babies. Yet, their culture would share next to nothing with the Ottawa even though both are Native American.

I say all of this to explain that just because Molly may be quite familiar with her NA culture, there is no reason to believe that she is at all familiar with my NA culture. The only way your comparison could work was if she and I were both of the same nation, which we are not.

What right do we have to assume she does or does not represent Real Native Americans better than WE Native Americans.

Well, everyone has the ability to assume whatever they want. However, assumptions are not facts. As a matter of fact, this is what I also told Molly who engaged in the very behavior that you are criticizing. The title of this post was a reference to Molly's insistence that she could look at me and determine whether or not I am really NA.

I have a grandfather who is full-blooded Cherokee.

Unless you have a listing of every single one of your grandfather's ancestors for the past 9,000 years (at least), there is no way for you to determine whether this is true. If you do not have such a listing, then you simply don't know whether or not any of your ancestors ever married or procreated with someone who was not among those who came to make up the Cherokee nation.

That's the problem with trying to use this outdated and unscientific full-blood/blood quantum concept to figure out what someone is. Native Americans were mixing with people from other cultures even before this racist and imperialist policy was enacted. By the way, did you know that it was imposed on NDNs by non-Natives with the express purpose of confiscating Native American lands and abolishing Native American sovereignty?

The truth is all of us who have never lived on a reservation may never fully understand the cultural aspects of Real Native American society and every day life.

I know you may believe what you're saying but think about this: Have Native Americans always lived on reservations? How can these reservations, that NDNs were herded into against their will, really represent NA societies? These reservations are a reflection of the treaties that America has reneged on, combined with the results of having NA sovereignty repeatedly encrouched upon. In other words, they were created by Non-Natives for the purpose of exploiting NDNs.

Reservations aren't the way they are because this is how our ancestors believed in living. If you round up a bunch of squirrels and you put them in a cage with hundreds of other squirrels, do you think that you'd actually get to see how squirrels act when they are free to come and go as they please?

We can't just read history books, visit powwows, adopt a few cultural symbols, basically taking a "Bird's Eye View", and simply claim we are REAL Native Americans.

Fortunately, many of us don't have to do that at all. Some of us have been taught who we are from the very beginning of our life. Our dinner on a Saturday night is what you and others might call a "cultural symbol". My aunt's "tall tales" might get called NA "superstitions" to you. But for us, it was and is just us being ourselves.

Do you have to claim to be human in order to be a real human? Does it take a lifetime of being a human for you to come to understand that you are a human? No, you are what you are regardless of what some one thinks you should prove to them. I suppose if I were looking for acceptance from some one, then their views about me might be meaningful. However, since I'm satisfied with who I am, I really don't ever feel the need to provide "race credentials" to people in order to feel qualified to be who I am.

JainaRealSista said...

Hi Bint,

Well, I guess I must apologize to you for being so incredibly stupid. I guess I am unable to be right in any of my points I guess Bint Alshama is the only one who is correct on this subject. Granted you are unwell (possible mentally) you must have soooooooo much time on your hands to truly manipulate every word everyone says for your own "soul improvement". Thank God we have bloggers like you who incessantly comment on other peoples sites like my own (check yourself). I never refuted anything you said even when you posted a comment on my blog. But I guess we call your case the TROUBLE with an EDUCATED and PERVERSE mind.

You took every oppurtunity to insult me as a non Native BLACK WOMAN of African American descent with African American culture (I unfortunately cannot claim a tribe), whatever that means if there is no such thing as a Native American race or culture I guess there is no African American culture either to be fair, so I am just giving it back.

I may not be native, but I know a few. They may not have chosen to live on a reservation, but it was what they were given and they made the best out of it. I find many Natives to actually embrace there reservation, the ups and downs that go with it. Perhaps you can not understand this being a BLACK women like myself my sista as I see you stated on a previous response. I get mixed signals from your posts. But I notice you are consistently insulting to anyone who defines Native American's as a race or culture. I thought a tribes of Natives UNIFIED long ago in order to overcome the racist separatist views that you hold.

And why is it so bad to live on a reservation? Oh, let me guess you must be an expert on that too. Blah BLah. Well, Bint too bad so sad.

Thank God you are not the last say on who is a Native American or not. I actually agreed with you because I thought Molly was a bit abhorent. But maybe now I know why.
Gosh you are so insulting.

All I was saying was that today's Natives have a culture that is Native American. There can be seen similarities between many tribes across the two continents of the Americas even straight back to there most common ancestors in Siberia. But I am sure you doubt this. That's alright I'll give you another couple of hours to resort to maniacally searching the internet in an effort to refute anything anyone says to support Natives as unique communities separate from those not on reservation and in the community.

I like Native Americans. Like Asians I have found them to be quiet, spiritual, natural people. They are also very beautiful with long, dark, straight, silky hair. Skin the color of dark orange brouwn, beautiful eyes reflecting the Asiatic contour, and bone structure out of this world. Oh, yes but you may find that this too is all false. There is no such thing as a Native American. There is no Native Culture. My grandpa wasn't native either I guess. I am black just like you. Wow! Now that sounds just like you like it. I'll bet!

bint alshamsa said...

JainaRealSista,

Why on earth are you apologizing? I certainly didn't ask you to. With regards to me being "unwell (possibly mentally)", thank you so very much for the laugh! I'm going to have to find a way to highlight this observation of yours in another one of my posts some time soon. I kinda like the implications of it. Perhaps if you comment here long enough, you'll also see why I view the concept of being "unwell" as, well, just plain silly!

I have no idea what blog you are referring to because I can't recall ever holding a conversation with you before today. However, it was YOU who came HERE and decided to participate in this conversation on MY blog. Given that fact, should you really be surprised that I actually responded to what you wrote?

Check myself? Okay. Well, I've had a bath, so I smell good. Check! I combed my hair so my 'fro is still tight. Check! And I even brushed and flossed after dinner so my breath shouldn't be all that hot. Check! I guess I'm good to go, then!

I never refuted anything you said even when you posted a comment on my blog.

If you told me what blog you're referring to, perhaps this might have some significance for me but otherwise, what is the point in even saying this? If you disagree with something some one says, then why shouldn't you refute it, especially if it's something you feel strongly about? I'd be extremely interested to hear what's so "PERVERSE" about me? By the way, I love how you put that word in caps. I didn't know I was getting enough action to even be considered kinky, let alone "perverse"*.

My goal was not to insult you and I am truly sorry if that's the impression you came away with. Writing in a "friendly" manner is certainly not my forte, as you've so keenly picked up on. I've tried to adjust my words accordingly but it's hard for me to change my old habits.

Just because I disagree with you on something doesn't mean that I think you don't have a lot to contribute to the conversation. I welcome people disagreeing with me. Even if I respond to something you wrote and you still don't agree, feel free to come back and disagree with me some more. My standards here are pretty relaxed (i.e. lazy) when it comes to what I'm open to discuss and hash out with those who are sweet enough to visit in the first place and take the time to comment.

What I had to say to you had nothing to do with you being a "non Native BLACK WOMAN of African American descent with African American culture". We are all members of cultures and I don't really see any of them as being superior or inferior to others. Cultures certainly exist. What I was explaining is that the monolithic labels that mainstream America may slap on minority groups doesn't actually reflect the great diversity/uniqueness of these different nations and ethnic groups. I just don't think that a Dine' person and a Choctaw person should be lumped into the same group because most of the people in this society are too lazy to find out how different the two are. Just like Black people have hip hop culture and Jazz culture and religious cultural elements that are not identical to each other, the same is true of Native Americans. There are Central American cultures and North American cultures and Amazonian cultures. And though the people in these groups may all be Native Americans, they aren't the same as each other.

I think that their identity should be respected. Just as I want people to respect my wishes when it comes to what they call me, I think others deserve this as well, in return.

They may not have chosen to live on a reservation, but it was what they were given and they made the best out of it.

I'm sure many of them have. I think the majority of rez-dwelling NAs would fit this description. Likewise, the same is also true for those NAs who do not live on a reservation. However, that doesn't mean that any of us have to refrain from speaking the truth about how things got this way. We need to make sure people stay aware of what caused the breakdowns in society that we often suffer because of.

Perhaps you can not understand this being a BLACK women like myself my sista as I see you stated on a previous response.

Do you realize how bigoted this statement was? What is it about being a Black woman that would make some one unable to understand that some people choose to embrace their situation? If anything, being a woman of color makes it even easier to understand and (probably) makes it much more likely for one to have been in the same situation, especially given the fact that both Blacks and Native Americans were subjected to the same imperialist forces in this country.

I get mixed signals from your posts.

That's funny too! "Mixed signals"! Well, maybe you get "mixed signals" because I am a "mixed" person. You see, there is nothing mutually exclusive about Blackness and NDNness. From what you said about your background, it would seem that you too have a mixed ethnic identity.

But I notice you are consistently insulting to anyone who defines Native American's as a race or culture.

Well, what you say you noticed never occurred. I'm going to state what the facts are even if some folks come here just to tell me how sure they are, in their own mind, that race is a scientific concept and that culture can be quantified. What would you prefer? Am I supposed to just act as if all of the facts to the contrary simply don't exist? If some one is looking for me to just tell them that they are right no matter what nonsense they say, then they will undoubtedly leave here quite disappointed.

I thought a tribes of Natives UNIFIED long ago in order to overcome the racist separatist views that you hold.

Uh, what "racist separatist" views do I supposedly hold? You do realize that I am in an inter-racial relationship and my daughter has mixed ethnicities and so do most people in my family, right?

And why is it so bad to live on a reservation?

You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding. Oh goodness, if you don't know what's so bad about life on reservations, then you'll probably need to go and find out before you're able to figure out why Molly was so upset about having to compete with NDNs that she didn't consider to be pure enough.

Thank God you are not the last say on who is a Native American or not.

Yes, thank God indeed! No one is the "last say" on who is or isn't a Native American.

There can be seen similarities between many tribes across the two continents of the Americas even straight back to there most common ancestors in Siberia. But I am sure you doubt this.

Perhaps you ought to get the facts before you convince yourself that you know what position I'll take. Of course there are similarities between many tribes but there are also similarities between groups all around the world. Here in southeastern Louisiana, there are similarities between elements of the Vietnamese communities and the Cajun communities. Both have incorporated elements of French culture so now all three have similarities. However, that doesn't mean that the Vietnamese are the same ethnicity or race as the Cajuns.

I like Native Americans. Like Asians I have found them to be quiet, spiritual, natural people.

Arrgh! Okay, this is quite possibly the most aggravating type of statement that some one can make about Native Americans or Asians. Go directly to Blue Corn Comics. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. To avoid the ignorance tax along the way, feel free to follow that with a trip to see Rita Pyrillis' "Sorry for not being a stereotype".

And just in case you thought that your Asian stereotype was valid, maybe you ought to understand where it comes from:

Reading Derald Wing Sue's Racial Microagressions and the Asian American is a helluva good start and Stereotype of homogeneity might be a good primer too.

You aren't doing people of color any favors by turning them into TV-Indians and Geisha-girls.

They are also very beautiful with long, dark, straight, silky hair. Skin the color of dark orange brouwn, beautiful eyes reflecting the Asiatic contour, and bone structure out of this world. Oh, yes but you may find that this too is all false.

It sounds to me like you've watched Pocahantas one too many times. There is no universal "Native American look". We cover two separate continents, for goodness' sake! We come in every single skin color. Some of us have straight hair. Some of us have curly hair. Some of us tend to be short. Some of us tend to be tall. Saying NDNs and Asians are "quiet, spirit, natural people" is the equivalent of some white person coming up to you and saying that they've met lots of African Americans and they've found them to be chicken and watermelon-loving tricksters who all have skin the color of coal and shiny white teeth with the perfect bone structure for picking cotton for hours on end. Do you get it? It's not really a compliment even if the person thought they were saying something sweet about you. Instead, it reflects their ignorance about the group they are referring to. Instead of recognizing their diversity, it exoticizes them.

Please, give up the stereotypes for your own good. It doesn't do anything but hurt whatever point you are trying to make here because it just doesn't match up with reality. If you don't believe me, then check out the links and see what these other folks have to say about this.

bint alshamsa said...

By the way, you might be interested in checking out one of my favorite blogs:

Zuky

It's owned by an awesome Asian (Chinese) blogger by the name of Kai. He writes a lot about the typical depictions of Asians in Western soceity. You might find his views quite challenging.

Molly said...

Hello Bint,

It's Molly once again. I thought I would return a post in regards to your last post to me. Well, you certainly have expressed to me as many times as possible that you are a Black woman or better stated a woman of colour. I never really liked the terms Black and White, especially when sometimes people refer to me as Red instead of Native American. I never really look red unless I am in the sun too long.

As the term Native American applies to me, regardless of DNA, Natives are the aboriginal peoples of the American Hemisphere. As far as history can conclusively acknowledge no African Americans existed in the American Hemisphere prior to European colonization. Thus, I separate African American peoples from Natives every chance I get, so that people come to understand and respect that we are two very different racial and cultural groups.

Though I do not know what it is to be an African American in American society, I do know what it is to be an Indigenous woman. Understand Natives unlike Africans had their land taken from them, genocide was committed upon us, rape, our hair collected as trophies, I have stories you won’t even believe. Africans, however, have a land that is still Africa though they are estranged from it no one keeps you or any other African American from returning to or exploring your native land. Liberia, though an attempt gone wrong, was an attempt to put Africans back on Africa if they wanted to go and return to the continent of their ancestors. Slavery though wrong enhanced slave number through cattle like reproduction. Basically, while we Native were being killed off African slaves were being mass produced to serve the Caucasian peoples insatiable hunger for free 24 hour servitude. My a ki Anishinabeg was taken from my people. We live on a reservation and sadly to say our waters are polluted daily with carcinogens that are causing malformations in our pregnant women’s fetuses.
Like I said I share many features with those of my own tribe, those of surrounding nations, and those of Quechua descent. I do not know what you mean by the avg. Quechua? Can you elaborate what an average Quechua looks like just to humor me? Then again due to the degree of racial mixing in N. and S. America as well as the Caribbean islands there is great variance among the Native American groups. I think it would be felonious for you or I to claim what Natives North or South, East or West looked like prior to colonization. But to the best of my knowledge, my tribal ancestor's knowledge, and in light of my strict genetic (purebred if I may say)and cultural upbringing we (my tribe as well as all Native American tribes sharing the features you implied were “mere caricatures” of European concoction)are the best representatives and of the original Indigenous peoples.

That being said when yourself and other mixed individuals claim to be Natives regardless of to whom or where you may claim this you are misrepresenting what I believe to be true Native Americans.

On the same note misrepresentation is a big deal to me. Like you I feel certain caricatures of Natives have a negative impact on myself. I do not look like a Disney version of a Native Woman, nor do I resemble FSU's mascot. But I do have features that like other Indigenous people distinctly set me apart from African Americans, mixed African Natives, mixed Caucasian Natives, and Asians etc. Of course there is physical variance among local populations let’s say the Asian Hemisphere. Ok, so we have Japanese and Filipino. They look different, although some important similarities exist, but still they genetically evolved separate from African Americans for thousands of years on the Asian continent. Thousands of years of physical isolation can produce great defenses between groups of people physically and culturally. Thus, many people of colour consider themselves to be a race. Undoubtedly, racial classification varies wherever you may go, however, racial variation and classification itself is important from a human perspective. Humans have mastered the skills of facial perception, identification, classification, recreation (i.e. art) And regardless of whatever websites (be careful the internet is not the best source of information) or literature you or I consult always remember there are two sides to every scientific argument. And facts can change. In a few years solid evidence may prove me wrong, you wrong, or one (if not both) of us right. Wasn’t it only 168 years ago that as a matter of scientific FACT skull caricature could be utilized to prove Racial Intelligence, and with that it being scientific fact and all the African American was classified as the lowest form of intelligence. Today’s facts may be the futures mistakes. Though this statement may seem contradictory to me being that I am a scientist, my science is not rooted in some insane Nazi-ish attempt to prove Natives are a different human subspecies. My research is purely rooted in medical research for my people. And yes, Native Americans as a race are genetically (though genetic variance among racial groups is tiny) different from Africans, Caucasians, and Asians.

I also noticed you have a diverse Creole background. I once complained you kept calling yourself an NDN (I do not like the word Indian as I am not from the Indian subcontinent, nor do I like the abbreviation NDN: just a personal objection) many times without saying Black. After saying it so many times to me I felt bad I brought it up. You didn't need to exasperate the fact that you appear African American. Nor do you need to constantly mention it and I am sorry if I made you feel you had to do it that many times. I don’t see you as caramel coloured, in your main post pic you are a bit darker than that, of course depending on lighting in one picture you actually appeared cafĂ© au lait.
You have every right to say you are a Native American without mentioning you are black where ever you may be. Even if you are in another country where some people don't know what a Native American is you have every right to say you’re an NDN. Of course, seeing as how to me at least you appear African American these people may come to identify Native Americans as African peoples.

You mentioned having Irish and French (Caucasian) ancestors. Just wondering do you ever say you are a Caucasian woman? I mean you have Caucasian ancestry? And seeing as how you live in America a Europeanized country you inadvertently have adopted some of the European Caucasian culture as well? Even on our reservation has some Caucasian culture slipping in. So, do you ever say at any time without mentioning you are African American or Native American that you "as a Caucasian woman" ......?
We have mixed bloods on the reservation as well, but they are mostly Caucasian mixed with Ojibway. We have a few African and Ojibway mixes as well, but we do not consider them nor any other mixes to be representatives of the “original peoples”. I consider myself a representative of the original Ojibway people because my ancestors never left the reservation, never interracially mixed, and we are isolated to a degree from the tribe to the North. I am the first to leave the reservation in my family to get a college education.
Of course though the "original peoples and their pure decendents" are different from mixed bloods we Natives share the custom in many tribes of considering all men equal, all of us brothers and sisters no matter our situation, and all animals are equals and brothers and sisters as well. That is not to say we are all different.

bint alshamsa said...

Molly!

You came back! I'm so glad; I thought that might be the last I'd hear from you. So, have you thought about the idea of starting your own blog? Please say you have! Even if you don't think you'd have much time between classes and family life, it would be wonderful if you could just have a place where you could write about your views on Native American issues when you found the time. These are a few of the NA blogs that I visit regularly:

American Indians in Children's Literature

Native Unity

Wampum

Writeous Sister Speaks

From what you've written on my blog alone, I think that you could create a blog that is at least as interesting as these.

With regards to the idea that there is no proof of an African presence here prior to European colonization, there are some signs that this might not actually be the case. Here's a link that might interest you:

Muslims in America: The Early History
Pre Columbus & Pre Slavery Years


Science has established that Columbus most definitely was not the first person to travel to the Americas and, as time passes, we learn about even more groups who were a part of the population that existed here prior to European colonization.

Understand Natives unlike Africans had their land taken from them, genocide was committed upon us, rape, our hair collected as trophies, I have stories you won’t even believe.

This isn't quite true. Africans did have their land taken away from them. Not only was that land taken away but, like Native Americans, we were moved to whatever places colonists were able to force us into. Like Natives, we were raped, beaten and brutally slaughtered. I think we should remember that it was the same group of people who were oppressing Natives and Africans. They didn't see either group as humans, fully deserving of dignity and freedom.

Africans, however, have a land that is still Africa though they are estranged from it no one keeps you or any other African American from returning to or exploring your native land.

I've met others who think this is true but it's no more true for us than it is for you. Some would say that NAs are free to move off of reservations and that no one is stopping them from going back to those areas where they used to live. All you have to do is save up your money, convince the people who are there now to give you the piece of land you want, and buy it from them right? Well, of course, you and I know that this is quite unrealistic. Once Natives and Africans were captured and removed, these lands were taken over by others. Convincing everyone to move off of that land and give it back to the descendents of the people who once lived there is no more possible for us than it is for NAs to convince everyone to move off of the island of Manhattan and give it back to the decendents of those who once lived there.

Liberia, though an attempt gone wrong, was an attempt to put Africans back on Africa if they wanted to go and return to the continent of their ancestors.

Likewise, reservations were an attempt to give NDNs some land for them to live on that was in the same continent as that of their ancestors. How has that worked out? In both instances, the goal was not to give us back our homeland. The goal was to move us to a place where white society would not have to deal with all of the injustices that we were fighting against. Just stick us some place--never mind the fact that the areas provided were NOT the same places we came from even if it was on the same continent--and then when things don't go so well, they can just say it's our fault that these societies didn't thrive. I'm just not buying that. Sticking NAs in reservations and sticking AAs in Liberia does not excuse all of the wrongs that have been perpetrated against us and after so many years of disenfranchising us, they have a responsibility to fix the problems they created before they can just say it's our fault if life on a rez or life in Liberia isn't just peachy.

Slavery though wrong enhanced slave number through cattle like reproduction. Basically, while we Native were being killed off African slaves were being mass produced to serve the Caucasian peoples insatiable hunger for free 24 hour servitude.

Molly, this just isn't true. Have you ever heard of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade? Did you know that of the 25 to 40 million Africans taken from Africa, only around 9 to 12 million actually made it here? And of those that did arrive here, nearly a third of these were dead within the first year. If you still think that we were just increasing in number, and none of these deaths ever occurred, then why did the trans-atlantic slave trade continue for so long? Why would they need to keep getting Africans from Africa when it would have been much cheaper to just switch to a slave trade that existed only within the country?

I know you mean well, Molly. I can tell that you are saying what you do because you believe it to be true but, like they do with NAs, people have a lot of misconceptions about what actually happened to AAs during this period. And it hasn't changed much. Today, in my state, I live in an area called "Cancer Alley". Can you guess why? It's because of all the factories that spew so much pollution that the cancer rates are through the roof. Every day I wonder if the pollution here has something to do with why I have developed such a rare cancer. And I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that this place has a higher concentration of people of color than most parts of the USA. As usual, the majority of people in this country care very little when it's people of color--people like you and me--who get sick and die and watch their children die needlessly, just so that someone else can get rich.

Like I said I share many features with those of my own tribe, those of surrounding nations, and those of Quechua descent.

You also share many of those features with people who are not NA. This idea that all NAs are of one group didn't originate with NDN people. It was a nice excuse for grouping NAs from different nations into mixed dumping grounds and attempting to force NA nations to abide by treaties made with other nations.

'Cuz see, since you're all one group, then you should be satisfied with what the other NDNs agreed to. Oh, and since those other NDNs like it over there in that land you've never lived in, then we're sure you and your nation will love it too--So get to trekking!!

I do not know what you mean by the avg. Quechua? Can you elaborate what an average Quechua looks like just to humor me?

Well, they vary in appearance too, but here's one such person:

Link to the photo

Then again due to the degree of racial mixing in N. and S. America as well as the Caribbean islands there is great variance among the Native American groups.

There is no evidence that the variety seen in NA nations is solely because of "racial mixing". However, there is proof that there was a great deal of variety within NA populations thousands of years before European colonization. Here's some info on this: Skulls in South America Tell New Migration Tale

I think it would be felonious for you or I to claim what Natives North or South, East or West looked like prior to colonization.

Actually, due to modern science, there is quite a bit of evidence regarding what Natives looked like. This is discussed in the above link.

But to the best of my knowledge, my tribal ancestor's knowledge, and in light of my strict genetic (purebred if I may say)and cultural upbringing we (my tribe as well as all Native American tribes sharing the features you implied were “mere caricatures” of European concoction)are the best representatives and of the original Indigenous peoples.

I understand that you may want to believe that Molly. I honestly do. But that just doesn't make it so. The facts show that NA people do not and have not looked the same for thousands upon thousands of years, if ever at all. This idea that NA people all look the same is no different than the stereotype that all Black people look the same or all Asians look the same.

when yourself and other mixed individuals claim to be Natives regardless of to whom or where you may claim this you are misrepresenting what I believe to be true Native Americans.

Well, you are certainly entitled to believe that I am misrepresenting what you believe to be "true Native Americans". However, when you and others like you claim that the racist theories turned into policies forced upond NDNs by non-NDNs should be believed in, I believe you do a great deal of damage to my people--my Native people especially. And that is why I continue to make the history of these beliefs known.

But I do have features that like other Indigenous people distinctly set me apart from African Americans, mixed African Natives, mixed Caucasian Natives, and Asians etc.

Molly, you may want to believe this but where is the proof? Where are the facts that back up your claim? Do you have any proof, any proof at all, that there aren't any mixed Natives, African Americans, or Asians that share the same basic features as you?

They look different, although some important similarities exist, but still they genetically evolved separate from African Americans for thousands of years on the Asian continent. Thousands of years of physical isolation can produce great defenses between groups of people physically and culturally.

If this were true, then why are there no barriers to these groups reproducing with each other? If the periods of isolation that you believe existed were enough to produce great differences, why is it hospitals can transfuse people with blood from donors who are considered to be a different race from them? Why can organs be transplanted into other people even if they are considered different races? If the differences between these groups was significant, then this would not be possible.

Undoubtedly, racial classification varies wherever you may go, however, racial variation and classification itself is important from a human perspective.

It is only as important as we as humans decide to make it. Race has absolutely no biological importance or significance.

And regardless of whatever websites (be careful the internet is not the best source of information) or literature you or I consult always remember there are two sides to every scientific argument. And facts can change.

There can be a multitude of arguments but that doesn't mean the facts change. Race has always been a social construct and no amount of theories can turn that into a biological reality.

Wasn’t it only 168 years ago that as a matter of scientific FACT skull caricature could be utilized to prove Racial Intelligence, and with that it being scientific fact and all the African American was classified as the lowest form of intelligence.

Nope. This was just one of many unscientific theories that have floated around in different circles in the past. It was never a fact.

My research is purely rooted in medical research for my people. And yes, Native Americans as a race are genetically (though genetic variance among racial groups is tiny) different from Africans, Caucasians, and Asians.

If your research claims that Native Americans are genetically different from Africans, Caucasians, and Asians, then your research is not scientific because science has proven--over and over again--that there is more variation within the races than there is between the races. In other words, you're probably more genetically similar to some one who is the same height as you than you are to someone who is simply another NA.

Nor do you need to constantly mention it and I am sorry if I made you feel you had to do it that many times.

Well, I appreciate that apology but I want you to know that I do understand why this is important to you. NA culture is threatened in several ways and there isn't one solution that will solve this entire problem. To me, part of the problem, perhaps the greatest part of it, is that many NA people don't have the opportunity to learn enough about their ancestry for them to develop a deep appreciation for it.

This society (the Western world) emphasizes European culture as ideal. People of color (Latin@s, Blacks, Native Americans, Asians) are viewed as inferior and our customs are considered unimportant or even "primitive". When our kids go to most schools, they aren't going to study that much about people that look like them. They'll learn about Columbus and George Washington but not Tecumtha and Mansa Musa. They'll have Christmas parties and at best, they'll devote a coloring book page to Kwanzaa and maybe let them make construction paper hats while they play tv-indians at Thanksgiving time.

That being the case, it's valid for people to fight for the right to keep their cultural identity. The last thing I want is for Native or African culture to disappear. My belief is that most of the best this country has to offer came from these two groups (along with the contributions of other people of color too).

You asked me if I've ever said that I am a Caucasian woman. Well, as a matter of fact, I did have an incident kind of like that not too long ago. I was on some one's blog and there was a discussion going on about racism in politics. The owner of the blog was defending this particular incidence of racism and I was saying how wrong it was and how much I dislike the way some white people who call themselves feminists see nothing wrong with defending other white people, even when racism is involved. Well, I guess the blog owner came to my blog and looked at my picture but didn't take the time to read anything about me or my background. So, on her blog, she responds to me by saying that I'm racist against white people and my comments prove it. Well, you know what happened then, right? I told her, "You know that's pretty interesting considering the fact that I'm partly white." She got pissed off because it kinda proved that what she was saying was pretty ridiculous. I could only chuckle inside. I hadn't even mentioned what race I was at all and the only way she'd have thought that she could call me racist against whites was if she went and looked at me and assumed that I'm just African American.

Over the years, I've thought a lot about whether to identify myself as NA. I mean, I know what I am, so it's just a matter of whether I'd identify myself as that when the issue of my race/ethnicity did come up. For me, there are a few factors to be considered. I could just call myself Black and ignore my NA background. I mean, it would make things much easier on me as an individual. It would save me the trouble of having people want me to give them a complete ancestral break down of who came from where in my family. I could just say I'm NA and deny that I'm Black too but then that would be kind of silly (and definitely disrespectful to my ancestors) because the first thing people are likely to think when they see me is that I am Black--or disabled, but that's a whole other conversation. I could just claim that I'm White and nothing else but even if I were light-skinned enough for anyone to believe that, I'd never, ever do that because of the pain that my grandfather went through because of his skin color.

The thing is, when it comes to racial identity, there's power in numbers. How much funds groups receive often depend on how big a percentage (of the total population) that group is. So if we say that only those who live on reservations--and are not mixed with anything else--should be considered Native Americans, then the US government will set aside fewer funds specifically for NDNs. On top of that, giving in to the percentage policies can only result in one thing--THE EXTINCTION OF NATIVE AMERICANS AS A RECOGNIZED GROUP. If you visit no other link in this post, you should see this one

Blood Quantum: A Relic of Racism and Termination

by Jack D. Forbes. If Native Americans are to remain a politically viable entity, then we'll have to abandon the racist blood quantum system. It's really a matter of survival. Knowing that, I wouldn't dream of abandoning my NA heritage at a time when it's never been more vital to our continued existence.

Molly said...

Did you know that African Americans have more genetic similarities with Caucasian peoples than they do with any other racial group? (Templeton et al. 1998)
Did you know that Native Americans have more genetic similarities with Asian peoples than they do with any other group? (Merriwether and Ferrell 1996)
Did you know that those only claiming Native American ancestry make up 2% of the American population? That those people only claiming African Ancestry makes up 12%? Did you know that ¾ of the African American population claim to have Native American ancestry? Did you know that Caucasian peoples (including Hispanic peoples) having been here before African Americans have more Native ancerstry than African peoples?
Did you know that of those ¾ of the African American population claiming Native American descent 90% have been disproven for lack of evidence (factual data in the form of an ancestor)?
Most of the people claiming Native American ancestors most of the time are just reciting the “tall tales” passed down through their family.
Ward Churchill claims to be of Native American descent, values the culture, and fights for what he perceives are his peoples. Yet, we reject him. The tribe he claimed descent from as well as all of us Natives (those who have heard of him) feels he is a fraud.
You once said, when I asked what are the benefits of claiming Native ancestry, “For some the idea of being NA evokes notions of stoicism and ancient, mystic powers and fecundity”. I think this statement may have great significance in your motivation to call yourself an NDN. This “cultural imperialism” African American and Caucasian peoples are practicing on us Natives is cruel. It does nothing for the original peoples but swallow us up.
Like your “box model” take a box and fill it with many black and white pieces of paper and a few strips of red paper. Mix it all up. Where did the red paper go? The black and white swallowed it up, obscured it, and made it disappear. You are the representation of these practices. You are an African American women with relatives who may have “straight hair” and decorate with “dream catchers and wampum” and thus declare yourself by words only to be Crow and Blackfoot (to claim Blackfoot ancestry is very popular amongst Caucasian and Black folks by the way).
Where did all the Native Americans go? African and Caucasian peoples gobbled us up, digested us, remade us in their image, and defecated us out as the new Blackindian and Whiteindian.
Also, I am not an African. It is not yet a conclusively proven fact that all races evolved from an African Ancestor. And since you disbelieve DNA can prove racial origin let’s gull with skull findings as a source of human evolution. Recent skull findings in Georgia (the country) (see Dmanisi) suggest an early ancestor of humans migrated out of Africa long before modern humans evolved. Prior to this finding scientists theorized that the first humans to migrate out of Africa had large brains and wielded stone tools. The stone tools found with the hominid remains at Dmanisi, however, are simple choppers and scrapers similar to the Oldowan set found in the Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. This implies that early humans with primitive technology were able to expand out of Africa. This early ancestor was skillful and is a likely candidate for another source of human evolution and migration not from Africa, but from Eurasia.
Also, unlike the 9000 year old Kennewick Man skull (which appeared European or Ainu in origin) and the 11,000 year old Luzia skull (which appear Melanesian), new 1.3 million year old Hominid footprints in Mexico suggest early Hominids existed in America and may strongly represent a new wave of human evolution on the American continents itself (Renne et al. 2005 and Gonzalez et al. 2005). This theory though still new has not yet been disproven and is joyously being researched by scientists like myself. Currently two hypotheses are being tossed around; either early Hominids existed in American as long ago as 1.3 million years ago before humans existed in Africa 160, 000 years ago thus, changing the earliest possible ancestors of modern Native Americans, or the footprints are not footprints at all (not yet proven). Thus, Native Americans may be a unique early mix that is very different than Africans and Caucasians. Very different! So, my common ancestors may be very different from yours.

Molly said...

You see Bint the problem with the sources you are giving me to compete with what I am saying are not academic. Thus, they are prone to erroneous and biased information.

For example:
Muslims in America: The Early History
Pre Columbus & Pre Slavery Years

I would expect this man to be saying this. Muslims would love that. We Muslims are the real Americans. Now, Osama Bin Laden can be the new Native American representative.

I have some better resources for you. Please consult them.

Long, J.C and Hunley, K. Gene flow across linguistic boundaries in Native North American Populations. 2005. PNAS. 102 (5), 1312-1317.

Starikovskaya, E.B. et al., 2003. Mitochondrial DNA Diversity in Indigenous Populations of the Southern Extent of Siberia, and the Origins of Native American Haplogroups. Annals of Human Genetics. 69 (1) 67-89.----“Many of the mtDNA halotypes found in Siberia are shared between culturally and linguistically distinct populations, indicating that extensive gene flow has occurred…since the early Holocene…providing major clues about the origins of Native Americans.”

Bonatto, S.L and Salzano, F.M. A single and early migration for the peopling of the Americas supported by mitochondrial DNA sequence data. 1997. The National Academy of Sciences. 94, 1866-1871.

(Agostini et al. 1997) Asian genotypes of JC virus in Native Americans and in the Pacific Island population: Markers of Viral evolution and human migration.

Here are some academic articles you may find challenging as it upends the hypotheses that all humans originated from a common African ancestor:

Wong, K. Stranger in a New Land. Scientific American Special Edition. 2006. 16(2), 38-47

A New Skull Of Early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Abesalom Vekua, David Lordkipanidze, G. Philip Rightmire et al. in Science, Vol. 297, pages 85-89; July 5, 2002.

Principles of Human Evolution. Second edition. Roger Lewin and Robert A. Foley. Blackwell Publishing, 2004

Here are a couple of articles regarding the Hominid footprints found in Mexico suggesting a new source of human migration in the Americas not Linked to human migration in Africa.
We may be more different than you think.

Ancient Human Footprints in Mexico? By Constance Holden in Science Magazine 2007 (academic)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4617466.stm (non academic)

Evolutionary Implications of Pliocene Hominid Footprints by Tim D. white Science Magazine

The face of the Quechua nation accurately depicted: The picture of the girl you sent me doesn't tell me she is Quechua.I do not know who she is to begin with. She can be some random person. She looks Mestizo at best.

These quechua kind of look like the people here on my reservation.

The Quechua of Peru
http://www.danheller.com/peru-quechua.html

The Quechua of Ecuador
http://www.unfpa.org/focus/ecuador/photos.htm

The Quechua of Bolivia
http://archives.tconline.org/Stories/march02/quechua.html

Some Brazilian Natives
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Brazilian-Indians.jpg

The Huichol of Mexico
http://indian-cultures.com/Cultures/huichol.html

The Navajo Natives
http://www.nativeamericans.com/Navajo.htm

The Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest
http://gallery.unl.edu/picinfo/8167.html

The Crow
http://www.frontiertrails.com/oldwest/crow.html

The Renegade Blackfoots of Montana
http://www.blackfeetnation.com/
The Ojibway
http://www.anishinabek.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=29

Myself
www.myspace.com/rcbell4211 (Beware of the Flash…I am actually much tanner than this pale version of myself)

bint alshamsa said...

Hey Molly, I'm about to reply to your posts but I just wanted to stop and say

Look out sexy momma!

That is one pretty picture! :)

bint alshamsa said...

Molly, you asked a few questions and I want to try and answer them all okay?

Did you know that African Americans have more genetic similarities with Caucasian peoples than they do with any other racial group?

Did you know that my Tabby cat and my mom's dog are more similar in height than my Tabby and my Siamese? Do you understand what I'm getting at here? Unless you state which paper you believe this information comes from, there's no way I can discuss them with you.

Most of the people claiming Native American ancestors most of the time are just reciting the “tall tales” passed down through their family.

I'm sorry you don't want to believe it but genetics prove otherwise. People could easily say the same about you. Would that make it true? Do you really think it helps people of color to play these games, Molly?

Ward Churchill claims to be of Native American descent, values the culture, and fights for what he perceives are his peoples. Yet, we reject him. The tribe he claimed descent from as well as all of us Natives (those who have heard of him) feels he is a fraud.

I am no fan of Ward Churchill. At the same time, the entire population of Native Americans have not elected you as our representative. You may reject whomever you please. That is your right. However, not everyone will agree with you nor should they.

You once said, when I asked what are the benefits of claiming Native ancestry, “For some the idea of being NA evokes notions of stoicism and ancient, mystic powers and fecundity”. I think this statement may have great significance in your motivation to call yourself an NDN.

Well, since you don't know me, I'm not surprised when you come up with wild theories about me. If you did get to know me, then perhaps you'd be able to tell what my motivations are. Since we're perfect strangers, my views about your motivations are no more important than your views about my motivations.

This “cultural imperialism” African American and Caucasian peoples are practicing on us Natives is cruel.

African Americans are practicing cultural imperialism on Natives? That's an interesting theory. Perhaps you could explain it a bit more.

Like your “box model” take a box and fill it with many black and white pieces of paper and a few strips of red paper. Mix it all up. Where did the red paper go? The black and white swallowed it up, obscured it, and made it disappear.

Wrong. The red paper is still there. It didn't disappear at all. Those who want to look for it can find it.

You are the representation of these practices.

You do realize that though I may represent this to you, that doesn't make it reality. I haven't swallowed anyone's genes. My genes are my own, just as yours are. I got my genes from the ancestors that chose to give them to me, just like you did. There was nothing surreptitious about how I acquired my genes.

You are an African American women with relatives who may have “straight hair” and decorate with “dream catchers and wampum”

And you're a ham sandwich with cream cheese and bacon. Get it? No matter what you call me, I am what I am. You can dislike the fact that I won't call myself what you want me to call myself but that's your problem, not mine. By the way, that dream catchers bit was hilarious.

and thus declare yourself by words only to be Crow and Blackfoot (to claim Blackfoot ancestry is very popular amongst Caucasian and Black folks by the way).

It's also rather popular for insecure Native Americans to call themselves "purebred" and "100% Native" even when they have no way of proving this.

Where did all the Native Americans go? African and Caucasian peoples gobbled us up, digested us, remade us in their image, and defecated us out as the new Blackindian and Whiteindian.

Nobody gobbled you, least of all me. If you had been gobbled up, then how is it you exist? How could you possibly be "purebred" if you've been gobbled up and defecated out (in your own terms).

Also, I am not an African. It is not yet a conclusively proven fact that all races evolved from an African Ancestor.

Testing has proven that the ancestors of all humankind was located in Africa. They're not quite sure which part of Africa but the fact that it was in Africa is agreed upon by the vast majority of the world's scientists.

Recent skull findings in Georgia (the country) (see Dmanisi) suggest an early ancestor of humans migrated out of Africa long before modern humans evolved.

Several humanoid species evolved from the original African ancestors. That doesn't change the fact that they were all African in origin. What sort of tools they used can only give us signs of how developed their societies were but it doesn't change their genetic background.

Currently two hypotheses are being tossed around; either early Hominids existed in American as long ago as 1.3 million years ago before humans existed in Africa 160, 000 years ago thus, changing the earliest possible ancestors of modern Native Americans, or the footprints are not footprints at all (not yet proven).

Molly, I hate to burst your bubble but this isn't saying what you seem to think it is. Having footprints does not qualify as proof of what made the footprints. Unless there are actual specimens to work with, there isn't even any way for science to determine who made them. Even if the footprints did come from a hominid, it would mean that the original ancestors of NAs came from Africa.

Thus, Native Americans may be a unique early mix that is very different than Africans and Caucasians. Very different! So, my common ancestors may be very different from yours.

I'm afraid not. If NAs were significantly different from Africans and Caucasians, then no "mixed blood" people could ever exist. Can a lizard and a horse sucessfully reproduce with each other? Nope. Do you know why? It's because they have significantly different genetics and that makes it impossible for them to reproduce with each other. That's what happens when species actually branch off from each other significantly. If NAs had been isolated for a significant period of time, with no influx of new people, then if a NA and an AA tried to reproduce, it would be just like the case with the lizard and the horse. The fact is, NAs were never isolated long enough to develop a genetic make up that was very different from the rest of the world's hominids.

bint alshamsa said...

Molly,

You see Bint the problem with the sources you are giving me to compete with what I am saying are not academic. Thus, they are prone to erroneous and biased information.

Molly, would you please be honest. The comment where I provided you with such information are still on this comment page for all to see. You simply chose to ignore it. It was you who tried to use TV shows and companies trying to sell products in order to prove your points. Now, I took all of what you said seriously when you were stating what led you to believe this stuff but now you're complaining that I didn't provide you with academic material? Well, that's just ironic, isn't it?

I referred you to science journals with multiple sources

Changing the paradigm from 'race' to human genome variation

That link alone provided THIRTY different studies--scientific studies--that show how ridiculously futile it is to try and use race to make inferences in biomedical and scientific literature. It's your choice to ignore them but you certainly aren't being honest by saying I haven't provided you with them. I had simply given you the link to this article because I thought that, since you claim to be a scientist, you'd be able to understand how to check out the sources without me needing to publish them all. However, if you feel like clicking on the link and actually reading the material is too difficult, then I'm more than happy to reproduce them in their entirety here.

I even provided you with information from NA groups

Genetic "Markers"-Not a Valid Test of Native Identity

I am more than a little bit disappointed that even this meant nothing to you. I could sit here and go on and on about credentials and brag about being a scientist myself but I've found that the people who brag the most are the ones who have the least reason to brag at all. You've mentioned how you are a scientist several times in this conversation. Why? What is that supposed to prove? When you said it the first time, I thought "Oh good! That means we can have a good conversation about this as people coming from the same academic background".

You mentioned the idea of us competing. Why is that? Why do you feel the need to see this as a competition? Do you really think this world is so small that if I'm not willing to bow down to your will, then you'll just wake up one day and evaporate into a puddle of water.

I would expect this man to be saying this. Muslims would love that. We Muslims are the real Americans. Now, Osama Bin Laden can be the new Native American representative.

Regardless of what you expect, can you disprove the information provided? I think it might be a good idea for you to take a breather before you go on to make any more bigoted remarks here. I would hate to have to reject a message you sent here because it contained blatantly racist remarks. However, I have a responsibility not to allow people to just use my blog as a place for them to insult every ethnicity that makes them feel insecure. Please, don't make me have to do that. I really don't want to do that. I have only rejected three comments in the entire span of my blog and I hated the fact that I had to do it then.

Accusing some one of being linked to or an advocate for Osamma bin Ladin is pretty despicable. I'm sure there are Canadians who engage in murderous behavior too. Would you like it if I said you were a shill for Canadian racists who seek to kill those who won't follow their commands? If you wouldn't want others saying that about you, consider why what you wrote would seem quite ugly to many people (including me).

The Evolutionary Implications of Pliocene Hominid Footprints article by White is an odd one for you to cite. It, in fact, backs up the clai that human life began in Africa. In this article, it discusses the fact that the hominid footprints were found in Laetoli, in northern Tanzania which is located IN AFRICA. So what was it you were trying to use this article to show?

Those were some pretty pictures you linked to. Are you trying to say that only Native American people look like that? If so, then you should be able to determine whether or not the picture I linked to was a Native American girl or not. Is she officially a member of the Native American race? You're the one that said you could tell what I am by looking at me. So do the same with her. Can you?

If you could look at me and make up your mind whether or not I am NA, then you should be able to do so with her.

Molly said...

Well, I am sorry you feel I am a bigot. You misconstrued and overreacted to the comment I made. I felt you to were bigoted at times. But, since I am a lady. I will say no more.

Thank you for the oppotunity to post on this site. I will no longer visit.

bint alshamsa said...

Molly, I am not saying that you are a bigot. Any of us can be guilty of making statements that are not exactly fair to other groups. I know I have done so in the past and I can not say for sure that it will never happen again.

This isn't exactly a site where women have to be "ladies". Just be who you are. If you do decide to visit again, feel free to post. You're always welcome here. I still hope that one day I will see you with a blog because I think your voice needs to be heard.

nativemoon said...

Hi there,

First of all I want to congratulate you on embracing life as you have. You are truly an inspiration. I realise I am extremely late in finding you, but I just wanted to thank you for being such an informed and eloquent voice in a world of prejudice and ignorance. Im a Nanticoke Indian myself and after a particularly nasty broadside elsewhere online today, I decided to see if there was anyone out there with well-thought, balanced views. I thank you very much and salute you - yours is a voice that more people need to hear. If you dont mind, Id like to direct people to this post from my journal. Your original post and subsequent answers to comments are refreshing to see.

bint alshamsa said...

NativeMoon,

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my blog! Conversations on this topic can get pretty heated, it seems but I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed reading it. You are, of course, welcome to link to this (or any other) post and I hope this won't be the last time you visit here.

Take care!

nativemoon said...

Thank you so much Bint 8)))

No it wont be my last time at all. I have enjoyed looking at the photos in your other journal (you have such a beautiful family) and I look forward to reading more from you *huggles*

Rob said...

Thanks for linking to my site, Bint. "Go directly to Blue Corn Comics. Do not pass Go. Do not collect two hundred dollars." These are words of wisdom. Everyone should live by them. ;-)

I skimmed through your debate with Molly. As far as I can tell, everything you said was basically right. Where Molly disagreed with you, she was, er, less right than you were.

Let's note some facts about who's an Indian. Historically tribes have adopted white and black people (captives, runaways, et al.) and made them full-fledged Indians. They didn't consider these people a lesser kind of Indian, so why should we?

These days, many tribes have imposed blood-quantum rules on their ranks. They've enrolled members who are less than 50% Indian by "blood." In other words, many Indians are now predominantly non-Indian biologically. Yet the government and the tribes themselves accept these people as Indians.

The Supreme Court has upheld the tribes' right to enroll people with little or no Indian "blood" as members. That's because an Indian tribe is a political entity, not a biological one. Nations don't determine citizenship solely by race and neither do tribes.

In short, I agree with the statement that says, "Race in general usage includes both a cultural and biological feature of a person or group of people." So do many Indians. "NDNness" is a political, cultural, and biological construct. It isn't solely biological.

P.S. For more on the subject, see Educating Russ on Who's an Indian. I think Russ is like Molly: a nearly "pure" Indian who think that makes him superior to other Indians.

Anonymous said...

Hey why all the arguing Indians are racially Asian, so lets get rid of the touchy Native American term since we all are American i think and just call indians asians. Oh yeah...I agree with Molly on one thing though y'all no more racial modifiers (black indian white indian terms segregate rather than unite!)

salishlady said...

I'd like to argue with Molly. One of my grandfathers is full blooded native, the other is half. Guess which one has medium-dark brown hair and olive (not copper) skin? The full blood. Why? because he is from the pacific northwest, where it rains a lot and our skin and hair are protected from the sun. We also have an over abundance of great food, so we had time to just sit around and entertain ourselves. He is also short and stocky with a pot belly, like 90% of all the other full blooded men around here. My othr grandpa was tall and had dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and copper colored skin. He was mixed Shoshone and Piute and various white ethnicities. But I imagine he would fit your description better of a real "indian" guess what else, NEITHER of them lived on the rez. I am the first in my family to do so. And you know what? I fit weren't for my non-rez living, mixed family, our language would be lost. Thats right, the off-rez natives preserved it.

Swade said...

I know this is a two year old string of conversation.......but I find it very interesting. In particular: the conversations you had with "molly"...I am 1/2 Choctaw (tribally Enrolled also) and 3/8ths African American and 1/8th European.....so I have a very Unique mix....I say I am Mixed-Racially.....but I am a Choctaw Tribal Member.....I know it's not a club....but as I noticed growing up.....a lot of "supposed" full-bloods are in denial about their "full-bloodedness"....most often they have a direct Ancestor of European ancestry but they choose to ignore it or omit it and state that they are 100% American Indian. I agree with "Molly" in some respect though being American Indian (whatever Nations)....is a Race thing.....we either have portions of it or not......being a Native American doesn't mean you grew up on a reservation or not or that you braid your hair......or if it's straight or curly or if your darker than the next person....it has to do with you DNA also......I am Genetically 1/2 American Indian...there is no Denying that.....but I do say I am Mixed...and not 100%.......just thought I'd throw in my 2cents.

TravelMugQueen said...

hey there bint and everybody,
I was really glad to find this blog, and the intelligent (and passionate) dialogue being shared on it. I was doing a Goodsearch for Native American phenotypic markers, and how valid they might be, and came across this. My brother and I are trying to sort fact from fiction in our family mythology about being part Mohawk. Although we have some of the phenotypic traits, the person telling us those stories (our mother) is/was batshit crazy, so we don't know what the truth is.
But I've always felt more Native than White, even though I grew up with taken-for-granted white privileges, I feel like I was dumped into this culture from outer space. But maybe that's just a result of being from an abusive family with lots of secrets. Anyway, I'm an anthropologist working as an archaeologist, and went into this because Anthropology ratified a lot of the beliefs I already had:" that race is a social construct, based on visual cues more than anything. It's a human-created definition and categorization because our lizard brains like easily definable categories. As you seem to know, human definitions rarely have anything to do with reality.
I wrote a blog on this pertaining to the Ward Churchill case here in Colo (if you followed that at all).
Beware- I cuss a lot. :)
http://green8legdbears.blogspot.com/
Love and light to you

Never_Giving_Up said...

The deceit that others wash over the truth with (while pretending to be 'against' deceit) is really sad. I wish people (including those who believe they are "100% indigenous" but are more likely of a latter arriving, lighter-skinned Mongoloid Asiatic type) would stop pretending that the words "black" & "indigenous" are two separate things when it comes to this hemisphere's indigenous population.

And not every "Black Indian" is the result of intermixing between Africans & Mongoloid Asiatic type "Natives". There were Black Indians here LONG before African slavery & these Black Indians were reclassified as "negro" & sold into slavery along with native Africans. If there are people who claim they can't stand deceit, then they should stop helping to continue it. And if they are going to judge indigenous authenticity based on appearance, then unless they are pure black like the original Aborigines of Australia who were the first to come here & populate this hemisphere (thus making them the TRUE indigenous), they are NOT "100% NA" either.

For those who would like to stop the spreading of this "you're black skinned so you can't possibly be a real 'native' of this hemisphere" deceit, you should have a look at this site which I found today:

http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/BlackIndians.html


It's very informative. And if you're truly against the spread of deceit & injustice, stand up for black Indians & fight for them to be treated justly.

Pohque said...

In recent years it has come to my attention that black, white, brown people are trying to claim they are Native Americans. And I believe the reason for this is not because they really believe they are. They want to be but there is a motive for their thinking. Several years ago before most of you were born it was natural for Native Americans to deny their culture and race. It was not accepted in the white world. Now for quite a few years it's been cool to be NA? Why do black and white people accept it now? For some kind of profit? You can quote all the science you want to and DNA but if you haven't lived it "Then you are not Native" I don't care what your blood DNA says. So now science has their DNA. It's now cool to be NA right? Only because you think you might get some land or some kind of profit from a casino. So Blitz or Bling or whatever you call yourself. You say we are all descended from Africa? I don't believe in so called science. So if you think we are African then maybe we should all go back to Africa? Or should we all label ourselves as Africans? Have you ever even been to Africa? Do you know the culture? Do you know the language? Do you know the dances? Do you know anything about your African culture? Go there and find out about it and get back to me. In the meantime, don't pretend that you are NA. You don't know shit about Native blood just like you don't know shit about African blood. And to that one person who says you don't have to live on a reservation to know what it is to be NA. Get a fuking clue! That's where the "CULTURE" is.

bint alshamsa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bint alshamsa said...

Pohque,

"In recent years it has come to my attention that black, white, brown people are trying to claim they are Native Americans. And I believe the reason for this is not because they really believe they are."

Fortunately, your belief doesn't establish their identity.

"They want to be but there is a motive for their thinking."

You also have a motive for claiming that you know what they are despite never having interacted with them.

"Several years ago before most of you were born it was natural for Native Americans to deny their culture and race. It was not accepted in the white world."

Some did. Some didn't. There was no single view that was "naturally" held by Native Americans.

"Now for quite a few years it's been cool to be NA? Why do black and white people accept it now? For some kind of profit?"

If you were familiar with Native American history, you'd know that black Native Americans have existed here for, at the very least, hundreds of years. They were accepted members of NA nations from the very beginning.

"You can quote all the science you want to and DNA but if you haven't lived it "Then you are not Native" I don't care what your blood DNA says."

Is there some reason why I or any other Native American should see your view as important? See, you haven't lived my life and you don't know me so you have no clue about what my experiences are.

"So now science has their DNA."

Wrong. DNA has existed since before homo sapiens arose on Earth. It's not "their" DNA. It's OUR DNA. You have it, too. In fact, you can't be a Native American without DNA, because it is your DNA that makes you human.

"It's now cool to be NA right? Only because you think you might get some land or some kind of profit from a casino."

Wrong. I already have land and I have enough money to suit my needs. Nobody in my family is even interested in being acknowledged by anyone else. We know who we are and that's enough. If you don't like it, that's your problem.

ctd.

bint alshamsa said...

ctd.

Pohque,

"You say we are all descended from Africa? I don't believe in so called science."

You don't have to believe in it. The good thing about science is that no one needs to believe in it for it to exist.

"So if you think we are African then maybe we should all go back to Africa? Or should we all label ourselves as Africans?"

Here's a novel idea: How about you label yourself in whatever way you want. I certainly have no interest in telling you how you should label yourself nor do I care where you go.

"Have you ever even been to Africa? Do you know the culture? Do you know the language? Do you know the dances? Do you know anything about your African culture? Go there and find out about it and get back to me."

*sigh* This is really sad. Do I "know the culture"? Wow! That is so spectacularly clueless that I'm not even sure how to respond to it. Look, Africa is a CONTINENT. Are you familiar with the fact that the Americas are full of groups with their own distinct cultures? Well, just in case you didn't know before, now you do. Now that we have that part straight, I can explain to you how the same is true in Africa. Because that is the case, there is no single African community that one can be familiar with that will make one "know the culture" any more than studying one Native American community will confer someone with knowledge about all of the other NA communities. They are all different.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, as a matter of fact, I do speak an African language and I have studied African cultures for over a decade and I am fortunate enough to have a family that was able to trace its roots back to a particular African culture. So, your little assignment doesn't really work on me, because I know who I am.

"In the meantime, don't pretend that you are NA."

I've never pretended to be NA. It would be impossible for me to pretend to be NA because I am one. Are you pretending to be a Native American?

"You don't know shit about Native blood just like you don't know shit about African blood."

I know that you wish this were true, but that doesn't make it so.

"And to that one person who says you don't have to live on a reservation to know what it is to be NA. Get a fuking clue! That's where the "CULTURE" is."

Feel free to get a fucking clue, yourself. NA culture isn't confined to reservations. Native American people take it with them no matter where they live. Native American cultures have existed outside of reservations for longer than it has ever been present inside of them. What do you think Native Americans did before reservations came about?

choctawnation said...

Pohque,

I am the one your saying should get a clue. Your funny, you sound like a typical bigot...so YOU have to grow up on the REZ to understand the culture your such a fool. You probably one of those desperate wannabe's or an Apple huh?

espeon_628 said...

I am not sure what my lineage is. My mom says that most people would say I'm white, because I have a biege or olive and fair skin appearance. My mom has dark brown hair that looks almost black and my hair is brown with many different colors in it. All I know is that I'm descended from the Cherokee tribe and I have European (mostly English, Scottish, and Irish) in me. But, I don't consider myself White or Native American, but just in the middle a mutt. The only thing that could prove what percentage I am would be a DNA test. I respect the Native American culture, no matter what. Do you think I should go for a DNA test? Who came up with it? But, you're right, Native Americans come in many different forms, rather it be African, Asian, European, or whoever. Just be proud of who you are not what people tell you.

Bryan J. Maloney said...

One of the comments said "being a pure Native American by DNA"--that is a turn of phrase spoken like a true racist eugenecist.

Why does it seem that very many NAs wholeheartedly embrace the genocidal "blood quantum" principle? After all, blood quantum is a method of genocide. Over time, setting the quantum at any minimum level you like, you will exterminate a people. Either normal intermarriage will reduce everyone to a sufficiently low level of "blood quantum" so the nation in question no longer has a legal existence, or the nation in question, in order to preserve some sort of existence, will enforce pedigrees and stud books, turning themselves into just another kind of farm animal and no longer really being people.

Either way, a nation of people is exterminated by means of blood quantum.

Jacqueline said...

This whole conversation saddens me more than I care to admit.
I'm a "white Indian" raised off-reserve by an "Apple" with the great fortune of having been trained by a Medicine Person.
My siblings are readily identifiable as NA, as is my mother. They look typically NA- as do my cousins, aunts and uncles. I have experienced the racism on both sides of this issue and bear the wounds on my soul to this day.
Not being allowed to take pride in either culture cannot even begin to be explained to those who have not experienced it. The best examples I have of this both involve assumptions made according to my appearance, one of which resulted in a Reservation Elder's Home nurse preventing me from seeing my grandmother for a full 20 minutes before my (NA looking) brother came out to find me and came to my defense and the other involved young Natives ripping sacred objects from my person, casting them to the ground and defiling them by stomping on them before an Elder came across the scene and rebuked them.
My family faced the residential schools, the forced adoptions, the starvation, the beatings and every other form of genocide aimed at us. Many still face the challenges presented with rez living and I have spent much time on several different reservations throughout my home province of Manitoba. To deny my right to say that I AM an indigenous woman only perpetuates the crimes committed. How does my having "less Native blood" make the crimes any more acceptable or me less deserving of recognition for what we have endured? How does it make the stories and ceremonies I have learned any less true?
My heart bleeds for the Nations which have accepted the oppressors laws as their own and continue their "great work" for them. May the Creator guide their feet back to the Red Path.