Sen. Warren’s DNA means nothing to #ICWA #NativeTruth #WeAreStillHere

When I heard the drum at this powwow in Wisconsin, when I was 12, the sky opened up and my heart fell in. I was adopted out to strangers but I would find my family, no matter what. (My memoir is now retired. I will be rewriting soon.)

BY LT

What? Back so soon with breaking news?

Yep.  First, I want to thank my friend and blogger KC for asking me to think about and share my thoughts on what it means to have Indigenous ancestry and the recent headlines about Elizabeth Warren.  Next, I defend Sen. Warren’s right to claim her ancestry.  It’s hers! Heck, many Americans do have some American Indian ancestry, too. But what you do with it is what truly matters.

We are all mixed, one way or the other.  American, so heavily colonized, is very populated with mixed people.  We have (hi)storians to blame for not explaining much about this stark truth and reality.

For me personally I was not raised in a tribal community setting, though I had many Native people around me when I was growing up.  Being adopted out, I struggled until my 30s with identity and isolation, but no longer. I met my birth father and did a paternity DNA test with him when I was 38. The history he shared with me, that was what I needed, at that time. But words and blood tests DO NOT make me who I am or the direction of my life’s work.  My Oglala Lakota relatives made sure of that. They were in my life years prior to my finding my father who is mixed Shawnee-Cherokee-Delaware-Euro).

What is required of us:

Once you attend ceremony, once you pray in your language, once you show humility to elders, and once you work for them, and when you learn it’s not “me” but “we” – it is then you are made a relative and accepted as family.  Then you are in tribal community (which is American Indian tradition on Turtle Island). It may take many years, because it should.

As the following story by says, “Half a century ago, the Standing Rock Dakota scholar Vine Deloria Jr. wrote, “Whites claiming Indian blood tend to reinforce mythical beliefs about Indians.”

Falsely claiming Native American identity is a white American tradition, with a deeply racist past.  – Nick Estes

Warren is not living her life as a member of any tribal community, yet like so many, she seems to romanticize the idea of her blood being Indian.  She was raised with her family in Oklahoma, with her history, but she was not enrolled with the Cherokee Nation, who determines their citizenship based on Dawes Rolls, not DNA.  If the Cherokee tribe wishes to change that, and enroll her, it’s completely up to them. (She’ll have years of unlearning and good history lessons ahead.)

To my knowledge, what Warren did with her “ancestry” all these years, was she helped herself.  To my knowledge, she did not assist any tribal nation or community, and in fact, she has not even helped the tribes struggling right here in Massachusetts!  What we are fighting for in this century, like Standing Rock, federal recognition, sovereignty, treaty rights, water rights, protecting Bear’s Ears, ending destruction by mining, pipelines, poverty, all of that – where is she?

This is a new hashtag campaign: #NativeTruth  #WeAreStillHere

If Elizabeth was in her community, she’d know this: Blood quantum is an invention of the governments to widdle us down to “not enough Indian.” (Wiping us out on paper. Gone, erased.)

I actually know many lost Native adoptees who use the DNA test to get their family name, and slowly worked their way back to their tribal families. Some are back on the rez, while others join their urban Indian communities. (I do not recommend or trust the DNA testings or the data they collect and sell. Those TV ads are false and misleading. Very few Indians will submit to giving DNA though some scientists took it without their consent.)

When is a DNA test useful? My adoptee friend Rhonda did a DNA test with an uncle (her birth father’s brother) to determine if she was a family member, and she was – then she was enrolled in her tribal nation. DNA can connect you with a living tribal member, if you were adopted out, or fostered. That is very very helpful.

So, Sen. Warren, it’s not the amount of blood.  DNA doesn’t make you Indian. If you belong to a community (urban or reservation), that makes you a member of that tribal community.

BIG READ:  How Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test hurt our struggle (and took away the news coverage of what matters): READ

Intercept podcast: the last two segments are so good – please do listen!

If you do have Indigenous blood, if it is loud, it won’t leave you alone.  If this speaks to you, then find and join an urban or reservation community and work for them and work with them, and think a new way: “we” not me.

And ask them what you can do and please do what they ask respectfully.

Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related!

xoxox

A new address for my blog: American Indian Adoptees

THIS REALLY MATTERS: Native perspective: Sherry Treppa: Why #ICWA is critical to the health of native children and tribal communities

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Charles Eastman and the Reformers | I’m reading | The Big Isms

By Lara Trace

I hope you are all enjoying the winter … (I’m FREEZING HERE) … and do avoid politics as much as you can. (yeah, sure… kidding)

My research project on the reformers in Indian Country (and Dr. TA Bland) must take more of my time so please excuse my absence from blogging.  Still I will have some history to curate and share of course…(see my note below)

Here’s a sample of what I am working on:

   Probably the best known American Indian reformer was Charles Eastman, a Santee Sioux. After being sent to a Christian boarding school like most of the reformers, Eastman “blazed a path of distinction” through an Ivy League college and then through medical school. He was an agency physician at Pine Ridge, S.D., had a private medical practice in Minnesota and co-founded the Society of American Indians, which published the Quarterly Journal, the main vehicle for American Indian commentary.  Eastman also wrote nine books, including a popular and influential autobiography.    “His books brought traditional Native American culture before a broad non-Indian audience and played a crucial role in cultivating a sympathetic audience for Native concerns,” Hoxie wrote in the book, “Talking Back to Civilization: Indian Voices From the Progressive Era.”  In addition to criticizing the actions and policies of the Indian Office and other federal programs, Eastman and his peers proposed many alternatives for bringing Indians to “civilization.”

The Reformer Charles Eastman

Charles Alexander Eastman was a Santee Dakota physician educated at Boston University, writer, national lecturer, and reformer. In the early 20th century, he was “one of the most prolific authors and speakers on Sioux ethnohistory and American Indian affairs.” 

Charles Eastman and his wife separated in August 1921, possibly because of opposing views regarding the best future for American Indians.  Elaine Goodale Eastman stressed total assimilation of Native Americans into white society, while Eastman favored a type of cultural pluralism in which Indians would interact with white society while retaining their Indian identity, beliefs and customs. (this is only one theory on why they separated…)

More at Wikipedia

I’m reading

During 49 of the 72 years between 1789 – 1861 the Presidents were Southerners.  All of them were slave holders.  Two thirds of the Speakers of the House and President pro tem of the Senate were Southerners.  At all times prior to 1861 the majority of the Supreme Court were of Southern origin.  Six of the eight Supreme Court Justices appointed by the Tennessean Andrew Jackson (The Indian Killer) and his hand-picked successor were Southerners, including Justice Roger Taney, author of the notorious Dred Scott decision.

Taming the Antislavery Revolution
James Oakes, Dec. 11, 2017, Jacobin
Review of Adam I. P. Smith, The Stormy Present: Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846-1865 (Chapel Hill, 2017)

By any reasonable standard, the violent overthrow of the largest, wealthiest slave society on earth ought to qualify as a revolution. Four million slaves were liberated during the American Civil War and with that the labor system of the South was radically transformed. Abolition was immediate and uncompensated. The “Slave Power” was overthrown, ending decades in which the South held disproportionate sway over the federal government. The Constitution was fundamentally restructured by three amendments that abolished slavery, redefined citizenship, banned racial discrimination in voting, and forever altered the relationship between the federal government and the states. The revolution secured the triumph of wage labor, paving the way for the Industrial Revolution of the late nineteenth century and with it a Gilded Age of capitalist plutocracy.

How did this happen? Ask a random group of American historians what caused the Civil War and they’re likely to reply in unison, “slavery.” Push them to elaborate and they’ll probably cite the southern secessionists who were as clear as could be that they were leaving the Union to protect slavery.  But protect it from what? Was the North actually threatening slavery? Ask those questions and the same historians are likely to break out into rival and occasionally angry camps. On one side are those who insist that when the war began, northerners had no meaningful antislavery convictions to speak of. Emancipation was forced on an unwilling North and a reluctant Abraham Lincoln, either by the slaves themselves or by the exigencies of war. A few years back one historian of the secession crisis actually claimed that the slaves were freed “inadvertently.”

On the other side are those who see the rise of antislavery politics, culminating in the triumph of the Republican Party, as a major cause of the Civil War. Different historians stress different aspects of this  process, but there is widespread agreement that antislavery politics not only split the nation, it also divided the North. Republicans ended up fighting a two-front war — against the South, obviously, but also against northern Democrats. This conflict within the North was epitomized in the famous series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and his Democratic rival Stephen Douglas. continue…

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We picture archives as airtight troves of information. But with redactions, codes, and scribbles, there are plenty of ways for mystery to wriggle in.

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Check out the Intercept podcast – it will blow your mind too!
I had other blogs going but now they are done/gone/history.  (Some were for my mental well being)

Starting in January, I’ll be posting just once a month. I have more work to do.

XOX LT

I’ll be starting a new website: The Big Isms (facing racism and sexism) in January 2018 (an offshoot of THE MIX) : https://thebigisms.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/first-blog-post/