Something I’ve been noticing among the online Native community that concerns me a bit.
I had to ask myself who the heck am I to judge another right? I mean, I’m just an Indigenous woman in the world who is cutting out her place within my own community, so who am I to judge someone for claiming a Native identity?
As I got to thinking about it more, my own people from my community can question me, so why wouldn’t I think to do the same? Seems like a fair question right? Don’t get it twisted, when it comes to the technicalities of it all, it’s not at all uncommon to question who is who within the Native community, NOT. AT. ALL. Not because we’re nosey or suspicious (well maybe a smidgen) but really its because we have ways. Although, I must add, it does give our old ones something to talk about, it really boils down to ways.
One of our ways and reasons in questioning who is who is based on how we can tell which family/band/clan a person belongs to. Creator’s heaven knows, Indian country is so small one of our relatives may have actually met one of our kin. Instead of 6 degrees of separation, it’s really only 1 person. Not all that 6 stuff. This may be presumptuous of me, but everybody knows somebody from where we call home right? It’s not entirely possible to be without clan folk (in Diné) or bands (in NiMiiPuu) because as Indigenous people, we are a community of The People.
So when and if anyone questions who one is, what they’re really wanting to know is who are your people, band, and clan. It’s actually quite alright and is customary. It’s also how our old people place who a person is and where they come from. In fact, as recent as two months ago, I was grilled by an elder. She asked who I was, who my parents were, and how they were related to so and so. As she started placing how and who I was related to, she placed where I came from and which band and region of NiMiiPuu I belonged to. See, that’s a natural part of being an Indigenous person, we like to know place. In education discipline, it’s a part of Indigenous epistemologies aka Place Based Education or falls under Participatory Action Research.
As of late, I’ve been reading people who claim Indigenous identity bio’s and when reading their timelines I question is this person really a Native or Indigenous or Ndn or whatever they self identify as or did they just fall in love with a Native and start claiming it because of their Native partner? Some who I have doubted didn’t claim Native prior and somehow got in touch with their Native spirit, more power to them. Further, if a person doesn’t know who their biological parent was and doesn’t know who they come from… are they really a Native? I personally haven’t met any of the ones claiming, sometimes I think I should become a blood quantum police, even better a tribal ID or CIB cop and request that to be their avi? Just sayin, who is to say a person is who they claim? For obvious reasons, my snarkiness will probably kick me in the ass later, but dang, who really is to say who’s Native and who isn’t?? It’s a tribal casino jackpot winner if you ask me… when and if it happens, we all win.
Which leads me to my next point in question… when I read a persons Twitter and see an individual has not, does not, nor mentions anything about their practice or ways, yet they go hard on their bio as this a Native, I become a skeptic. This also goes without saying, not everything should be tweeted especially ceremonial doin’s, but for the most part, when those that do share or post an IG photo of something relative to their roots and identity, I trust they are who they say they are. As it is, we are taught that ceremonies shouldn’t be tweeted, creator knows I’ve been scolded and rightly so. Those are ways. Personally, to see a person post consistently using slang that even I, seldom if ever use becomes weird and questionable.
Now I don’t tweet everything I do… Despite my erratic and often eccentric Twitter rants, most are as authentic as you will get from me. Well most of the time, but this also goes to share, at times, I cuss like Santa’s cussing elf and my mom doesn’t know I have Twitter account (she’s still trying to figure out Facebook) so I get a Pass. *catches breath*
But I digress. My questioning is mostly about people who claim they’re Native, Indigenous, Ndn, or what have you but they are not connected to their ancestral homelands, culture, language, most important, their ceremonial ways. From what I was taught and remember happening as a child growing up, family was integral. It’s where who we are is formed. I grew up Diné raised by my step dad’s family I learned the language and nuances because that was just what happened. It’s also what helped me want to learn about being NiMiiPuu and Nimiipuutimptki (the language). Coming from two very unique and diverse tribes is a fine delicate balance and has involved ceremony at times to help keep things Hozho.
Today I’m trying my best to understand how a person who may have not been raised with Indigenous culture and be disconnected, yet claim one? I don’t get it. Unless they are adopted and found out later and are researching/trying to find their roots, I do question those who were not subjected to an adoption. Some might say I’m being judgmental, they’re right I am. But let me preface that with a ‘I have a right to question’ especially those online coyotes when they start using words like “nation” or using slang whereas a year or so prior they did not. You see, authenticity is something that has a way of revealing itself. We might say words, but it’s actions that speak volumes. So much that it teaches us humility. I have learned being judgmental is also known as discernment. We make decisions based on these two words that are also associated with our gut instinct. How we judge a situation and discern right from wrong is also wisdom. It’s not just some random act, even coyote in all his cleverness knew discernment, what coyote did was try to trick one into believing he didn’t and in his cleverness, would outwit himself.
Long blog thoughts out loud short, online coyotes can keep reading other people’s TL’s, read books, and Google the heck out of some tribal knowledge, but what they lack and miss out on is the cultural teachings that can only come from elders. It’s a tried and true story, relative to that one guy, think his name is Winston or Ward Churchill, he really blew a gasket and short fused a few people and was called out on his trying to pass as a Native. Why not just say I’m from the Irish tribe? Or German? Or non Indigenous, how come no ones proud to be “European descendent”? Why not be proud to be settler ally? Instead they gotta be some chiefs great great great great grand-daughter? Idk it’s just weird to me. Now I know why some elders don’t want to be recorded and information is not to be revealed only to family.
If wisdom truly sits in places, me thinks the online coyotes need to sit down and shut the front door, but also, get with the program. If they’re truly as Indigenous as they claim, I would be remiss if I did not share, its important to reconnect with ancestral homelands, language, but also practice ceremony. Those things can only be found with the People and are things that one learns on their journey.