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My story is a familiar one to many people of mixed heritage

Having darker skin and wild curly hair people often made assumptions, incorrectly regarding my race or actually ask about it. It is something my sisters and I have always sort of laughed about.

Is it actually polite to randomly ask strangers, "What are you?" Glibly retorting, "I am a Pomeranian!" never really seemed to satisfy them, so I wonder.

At some point I did get sarcastic. Growing up in "Indian Country," one wouldn't think we would have stood out but we did somehow, the frizzy hair throws people off.

I am Native American, American Indian, First Nations, whichever, I don't really bother worrying over terms. Much of my time is trying to ensure the survival of my tribe and I do not have the luxury of arguing over the little things. When speaking with other NAs I say "Native," or the name of my tribe when referring to myself.

At some point people decided to call my tribe Delaware after the Delaware river which is how we are known today. The word Delaware appears on our seals, on our flags and what we are known as by the the BIA.

We never use that amongst ourselves or in our hearts. We are Lenape. I am Unami Lenape.

To the Government I am "blah blah blah legal decendant of blah blah blah on the rolls of blah blah blah on blah blah reservation in blah blah year." God forbid they admit I *am* NA, "decendant of NAs" is the legal jargon for those they are hoping will just go away and get out of their hair, rather than do things like sue them and win.

I am also Irish, with some mixed European heritage. I have some far distant cousins in England who some of my family members have met. My family moved to America in the 1700s. My English cousins were delighted and amazed to meet their Indian cousins as my family was delighted to meet them.

We still email one another now and then. Our experiences are very different as a result of the choices of our ancestors at that moment. It is a very long time, but when we communicate it is as if it was merely decades we have been separated rather than centuries.

I sometimes wonder if my (several greats) grandfather as he was getting on that boat would ever imagine that his decendants would be communicating with the decendants of the family members he was leaving behind.

As a Native it is impossible not to experience racism as it is a branch of my government.

However, it is sometimes so insidious you barely recognize it.

My daughter came home from school, they had watched Peter Pan during their movie treat and she was doing "war cries" out the windows on the way home.

"Darling, real Indians do not do that. You are a Real Indian not a fake Indian."

I haven't heard her do that since, dd seems to like the idea of being a "real Indian" more than "war cries", but I am still upset that film was chosen. Why would they do that? Why would this film be seen as appropriate?

As a parent, I tend to notice things more. In my care-free days, I might just have avoided something that bothered me but now I am more vocal in my dissent.

I do not want my daughter to have the same experiences, the same feelings that I did.
 
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