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Author Topic: Appropriation or ancestry?  (Read 4887 times)

Sharainthemiddle

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2015, 10:43:33 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181540
Guess I'm just over thinking it!!
I don't know; I think it's a reasonable struggle, and one I'm glad you've asked, because I've been struggling with it for a while now. I was raised thinking I was 'white', but I knew there was indigenous heritage - I just assumed, based on my grandmother's stories, it was waaaay back in the tree from me. When I was 27 she passed and her family came out of the woodwork (she'd walked away from them when I was very small ) we came to find out we are actually Metis, even though I'm a pasty-butt too. :) I feel very weird about claiming any of it, although I feel like it ought to be restored - my dad's cousins are all Metis, it's just his 4 siblings and his / their offspring that aren't.

Materialist

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2015, 09:51:08 am »
Quote from: Sharainthemiddle;181763
I feel very weird about claiming any of it, although I feel like it ought to be restored - my dad's cousins are all Metis, it's just his 4 siblings and his / their offspring that aren't.


 The result of racism perhaps? Were the Metis traditionally restricted to lower socio-economics levels, making it necessary for "passers" to rewrite family history to stay within the middle class?

Sharainthemiddle

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2015, 11:14:44 am »
Quote from: Materialist;181774
The result of racism perhaps? Were the Metis traditionally restricted to lower socio-economics levels, making it necessary for "passers" to rewrite family history to stay within the middle class?
Yeah.  I know my grandma's family were crazy dysfunctional. My father and his siblings grew up in an environment where the (large) extend family were always drinking and then fighting amongst themselves. His cousins' bbqs and get-togethers still pretty much end in police visitations. His one uncle in particular was one mean, drunk, abusive, misogynistic dude. I think problems with him were ultimately why she walked away, although no one knows what finally pushed her over the edge.  I know too she was shamed by peers for being french (she also looked native) when she moved to BC from SK at 12. She never spoke it again. Her parents apparently always stressed the french, and to forget the indian; that would have been due to the racism, and fear of things like residential school and losing white privileges, like attending the Roman Catholic church. :/

Floofy Bunny

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2015, 04:31:02 pm »
Quote from: Sharainthemiddle;181763
I don't know; I think it's a reasonable struggle, and one I'm glad you've asked, because I've been struggling with it for a while now. I was raised thinking I was 'white', but I knew there was indigenous heritage - I just assumed, based on my grandmother's stories, it was waaaay back in the tree from me. When I was 27 she passed and her family came out of the woodwork (she'd walked away from them when I was very small ) we came to find out we are actually Metis, even though I'm a pasty-butt too. :) I feel very weird about claiming any of it, although I feel like it ought to be restored - my dad's cousins are all Metis, it's just his 4 siblings and his / their offspring that aren't.

 
Reading this reminded me of this article I read this a few years ago:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/stephanie-georgopulos/2014/05/coming-out-as-biracial/

Not quite the same, but similar themes. I like personal stories that explore complicated cultural issues, and this one does just that. I think she writes assertively, but also acknowledges the privilege of passing. Maybe some food for thought?

Materialist

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2015, 09:24:18 am »
Quote from: Floofy Bunny;181784
Reading this reminded me of this article I read this a few years ago...


Thanks for posting this. Proves that humans are only 30% of the way up on the evolution scale.

Aubren

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2015, 08:18:18 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;181647
If you choose to go on the private research route, a couple guidelines: read books written by a tribal member, for the tribe. Not ones written by white people, or by a tribal member for white people. The latter two I've found to be of very poor quality. Second, you will need to learn the language. Manitous only get into a relationship with people who speak the language


I disagree with this. First of all, most Native Americans HAVE to rely on these books to remember forgotten heritage. Are they twisted? Yes.

But not every Heathen abandons the Eddas simply because they were written by a Christian. Rather, many look at it with a critical eye. That's what should be done.

Moreover, some information can be gleamed from books that the modern tribe won't tell you. For example, the Osage museum on the rez shows a full traditional wedding gown. Even pictures of brides.

Nowhere do they mention that it's a French military uniform. I had known it was European only from reading books by white people.



Also, what is it about books by Natives for white people that you find distrustworthy? If your wanting to learn about your heritage after living fully in European culture, isn't this the best way to start?
Does an adopted Japanese-American learn about their heritage by starting out with English translations of books for Japanese by Japanese?
 
Perhaps a book by Japanese-American for Japanese-Americans, but it's not the same as the example given. Books by Natives for Natives are written with rez members in mind. Or  members who are still kept close to their traditional/pan-neo-Native culture.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 08:26:29 pm by Aubren »
Wazhazhe

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2015, 09:22:26 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181530
I'm a fairly new pagan and being Canadian, I'm a huge mishmash of different cultures... mostly European (Irish, Scottish, French and Scandanavian).

I recently got into doing my family history and went quite far back on my mother's side. My grandpa was French Native and that is the side I went quite far back on. I know that there is Iriquios, Cree and Metis.
Isn't Metis just a term for a mutt?

The most important thing is knowing which exact tribes you are from, how they play out in your genealogy, and if you are eligible to be a member or are one by default.
With me, for example: I am Osage (Wazhazhe/Niukonska) by default. I had an ancestor on the annuity roll, and all of my children-no matter the race, will be Osage unless the Osage Nation changes their determination system/eligibility of citizenship.

But I am not Kaw, because I am less than 1/32 of that nation's bloodline.

Furthermore, just because you have a distant ancestor from a tribe doesn't make you eligible for that tribe, even if you fit their blood quantoms.

For example, the oldest known Osage in my lineage was quite possibly a Pawnee. She was adopted Osage, which means she's essentially an Osage citizen who defected from the Pawnee Nation.
Does having her in my ancestry make me Pawnee? I could never be eligible for the Pawnee Nation even if she was 100% pure blood and closer to the present in my lineage. Because she was an Osage citizen.

It's important to remember that Native American Nation's previously saw themselves as nations: you could be eligible for citizenship no matter your race; so long as you pledged to learn the religion, language, social order & norms, etc.

Nowadays, due to United States racism & self-preservation to keep our race from going extinct, modern Native American nation's are more like "ancester/blood-groups" intent on preserving the culture that keeps them alive and healthy (as opposed to deteriorating from colonial effects deemed positive by the colonial powers).

Quote
My cousin, who is dark skinned because her mother was Indian (from India), is quite involved in the native community in the area and married a native man. We are not close so I don't feel like I can talk to her about these things.

She really embraces her native side and I have uncles and cousins that have Metis status and are somewhat involved in the Native community. However because of tragic family history, the family is not involved with each other (and because of the very dark happenings - I do not want any involvement with them).

She is able to pass as Native American due to her looks. (Did she get a lot of Indian jokes?)
This is a problem within the modern Native American culture: racism.

Let me give an example: Let's say you're 1/8 Native American.

If you're 7/8 Asian (of any type, but especially those with epixanthic folds), you'll pass well enough. You'll look nearly if not full blood, and that is the best kind of Nat.Am.
If you're 7/8 black, you'll pass the Skin Test (TM), but if you got kinky hair, the anti-blavk Natives will dislike you.
If you are 7/8 white, you're "probably a poser". Even if born on the rez, you might be rejected. Even if you have (a) dark parent(s).

She might be proud of her status because she gets support for it. She is able to be a part of the community because they accept her hybrid status, in part because "she looks like one of us".

Just for the record, there are many Natives who accept pale-skinned Native Americans, it's just hard to weed out the posers who twist every word you say from those who genuinely want to know the truth.
At the powwow I went to the other day, there were quite a few white passing dancers amongst the many obviously Nat.Am ones.

Quote
They are all darker-skinned but I feel because I got my dad's very white skin that I "should" stick to the European bits.
That's you being scared of cultural appropriation and insecure with your heritage.


Quote
At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs? I feel awful even asking this question, like I should just forget it and stick to my Celtic/Scandanavian heritage.

As mentioned above, figure out your exact history and see if you are eligible to be a member/citizen of any of the nation's you are related to.
If you are, proceed as usual, handle the hybrid stigma by knowing a lot about your tribe's history & cultural practices; modern, colonial, and pre-Columbian. (You don't HAVE to do it. It's just useful in the rare occasion when someone accuses you of/hints that you're a poser with Cherokee Syndrome).

If not, learn your tribe's ways anyway. Most tribes are closed cultures, and you need to figure out what line you draw on respecting that.

Regardless of what you are, you should become an ally for Native rights, attend powwows, and learn & visit (if possible) the nations you descend from.

It sounds like you want to do this, but are scared of appropriation.
For me, the worst things about appropriation are consumerism & not being involved in tribal life.
I have met people who knew a great deal about the Lakota (with no heritage) and Cherokee (with declined membership heritage), and I accepted them as heavily informed people.
But if you're sharing those beliefs with whites without being pushed to do so (say, to alleviate stereotypes) or getting werewolf tattoos wearing eagle feathers...then...no. You're did so well, but then you did it wrong.


As a hybrid (1/16) born & raised off-rez, making the steps to being a part of your culture can seem like a tightrope. Whether it is or isn't depends on the response of the people in the around you and within yourself.



But you know, as an eclectic, I'd say do what you want in private. Figure out where all of your discomfort lies & test out what makes you comfortable.
Does it make you uncomfortable, but you want to be comfortable? Figure out what makes you feel like it's problematic, then go from there. Fix it or keep it.
Does it make you comfortable? Keep doing it.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 09:29:11 pm by Aubren »
Wazhazhe

Sharainthemiddle

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2015, 01:20:16 am »
Quote from: Aubren;181850
Isn't Metis just a term for a mutt?
There is a political difference. Metis, with a capital M means you can trace your ancestry back to a historical community like the Red River settlement and an existing modern Metis community accepts you as such, so you are entitled to whatever harvester rights or official recognition your province offers,  as per the Powley Test. and metis, no capital, means 'mutt' and you are mostly at this point  SOL for recognition beyond self identifying. In my case, there is no known tribe, so I am not first nations; I'm Metis (big M) and qualify with that alone. You are legally either First Nations, or Metis, even if you are both.


Quote
The most important thing is knowing which exact tribes you are from, how they play out in your genealogy, and if you are eligible to be a member or are one by default.
With me, for example: I am Osage (Wazhazhe/Niukonska) by default. I had an ancestor on the annuity roll, and all of my children-no matter the race, will be Osage unless the Osage Nation changes their determination system/eligibility of citizenship.

But I am not Kaw, because I am less than 1/32 of that nation's bloodline.

Furthermore, just because you have a distant ancestor from a tribe doesn't make you eligible for that tribe, even if you fit their blood quantoms.
Exactly.

Materialist

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2015, 11:23:28 am »
Quote from: Aubren;181848
I disagree with this. First of all, most Native Americans HAVE to rely on these books to remember forgotten heritage. Are they twisted? Yes.

 
"Pan-neo-Native culture" is one of the problems: writers who pretend every clan and tribe is the same, when in fact rituals and stories vary for each clan, and are completely different for each tribe.

Writing books for the white religion consumer market can easily lead to pandering to spirituality stereotypes and New Age trends. And one wonders what the point is: since these are tribal ways only meant for the tribe, and are not open to anyone else, why try to get white people interested in it?

Another hazard of white people writing about someone else's culture (outside of homogenizing) is the misinterpretations of what is being seen and heard (the so-called "cannibal dance" in the Pacific Northwest being a big oops), and Christianizing agendas-such as viewing Hopi prophecies as confirming the Book of Revelations.

To disagree with your disagreement: most tribes have cultural preservation programs and a means to publish educational materials. Dependency on stuff white folk wrote down isn't necessary anymore.

Aubren

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2015, 11:08:48 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;181870
"Pan-neo-Native culture" is one of the problems: writers who pretend every clan and tribe is the same, when in fact rituals and stories vary for each clan, and are completely different for each tribe.
No, I'm not talking about classical white material.

Native Americans do the pan-neo-Native thing too. It's different from the white-stereotype version, but I consider it problematic as well.

For example: dream catchers, tacos, two-spirits, fry bread, eagle feathers.
The first three are all from one to a handful of select tribes.

Fry bread is a direct result of colonization, the ingredients being given to starving reservation dwellers (who were both being  intentionally starved & given food to by the U.S government).

Eagle feathers were common, but now extend to tribes thst didn't originally have them.

But all of them are now "traditional" according to many modern Native Americans.

For the record, I have seen quite a few books highlighting the differences between the tribes. Typically Native American  encyclopedias. That's never enough and it's not done to my satisfaction (there's always an element if them being different cities from a country rather than different nations on a continent; try as they might. Well, except for the Inuit-Yup'ik/North American/Central American dichtomony.)

I was pointing out these books, as well as books about singular tribes.

Quote
Writing books for the white religion consumer market can easily lead to pandering to spirituality stereotypes and New Age trends. And one wonders what the point is: since these are tribal ways only meant for the tribe, and are not open to anyone else, why try to get white people interested in it?

I agree with you on the former.

As for the latter, it depends on when the book was written.
Preservation or as useful notes for missionary work & politics, back in the day.

For modern readers, there are many reasons. The classical exotic culture curiosity you can find in most geography/social studies textbooks.
For religious perposes, as you said. Or for historical knowledge, including learning about your ancestors.


The latter is why I turned to old books.
In the modern Osage language, Wa.Ka^.da (The Great Mystery) is now associated with Yahweh (A religion all about "getting to know God!")

Christmas, instead of the alternative "pine tree day", is now officially Wa.Ka^.da's son's birthday".

In^.Lon^.Schka is the most revered traditional holiday. It was introduced by the Kaws, and some important songs aren't in Osage, but in quite a few other languages.

I haven't ever been in the Nation long enough to understand exactly how the religion plays out.
But what I can observe is that it's a far cry from the religion multiple books state.

(For the record, the best descriptions come from Francis La Flesche, so there are tons of accurate details https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_La_Flesche)


There's also the fact that, now that racist New Age concepts have spread, it's important to educate non-Natives on actual beliefs, so that they'll stop claiming that it's our wonderfully magical, feminist stuff.

Quote
Another hazard of white people writing about someone else's culture (outside of homogenizing) is the misinterpretations of what is being seen and heard (the so-called "cannibal dance" in the Pacific Northwest being a big oops), and Christianizing agendas-such as viewing Hopi prophecies as confirming the Book of Revelations.

To disagree with your disagreement: most tribes have cultural preservation programs and a means to publish educational materials. Dependency on stuff white folk wrote down isn't necessary anymore.

Yes, but how biased our the cultural programs? Osage seems to be quite neglectful.

...Also, you can't expect people to NOT write about their experiences. These misconceptions are hurtful. And there is the fact that "they can't misinterpret what they don't see". But it's a little late for that, in most cases.
In which case, educate them of what it really is and hope for the best.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 11:18:26 pm by Aubren »
Wazhazhe

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2015, 10:55:41 am »
Quote from: Aubren;181917
No, I'm not talking about classical white material...


Thank you for this very thought-provoking response. Making use of older sources (read: pre-neo-pagan/new age era), I can see the reason for that. I came across a book by Alanson Skinner last night, and he seemed an honest and transparent fellow.

I also popped over to the Wazhazhe's website as well and found it mentioned that the tribe had territory in southern Illinois. I hadn't heard of this-from what I've read they were intermittent hunting and war parties. Unless that's what was meant-traditional hunting territory. Anyway, I wish to investigate this further and am wondering if you know of a good history of your tribe?

Morag

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2015, 07:36:20 am »
Quote from: Aubren;181917
Native Americans do the pan-neo-Native thing too. It's different from the white-stereotype version, but I consider it problematic as well.

For example: dream catchers, tacos, two-spirits, fry bread, eagle feathers.

 
Just as a note, the term and concept of "two-spirit" was come up with as a way of combating homophobia in Native communities. There was a belief that homosexuality and transgenderism were European things that had been forced onto tribes and had no place in Native lives, when the truth is that LGBT people have existed in Native communities for a long time, since well before colonization. Framing those identities as two-spirit was a way to reach reconciliation, and dispel the idea that homophobia/transphobia was the same as anti-colonialism.

So yes, it is a pan-neo-Native concept, but there's good reason for it, and I'd hesitate to call it problematic, myself.

(Source: an academic book on queer Native identity I read while doing my First Nations Studies degree that I can no longer remember the name of because of too many concussions. I'll try to find it back. Idea was corroborated by other reading done in the course of my studies, and by discussions with people who had experience in that area.)
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Materialist

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2015, 12:44:54 pm »
Quote from: Morag;182002
There was a belief that homosexuality and transgenderism were European things that had been forced onto tribes and had no place in Native lives, when the truth is that LGBT people have existed in Native communities for a long time, since well before colonization.


It's problematic because heterosexuality and homosexuality didn't exist before the 19th century. Before that, there was no concept of sexual orientation. And transgenderism didn't form until the 20th century. These are modern sexualities and genders, products of modern, not colonial or pre-Columbian, cultures, and projecting them onto such is inaccurate to say the least.

Maybe a tribe or two had a word that translated to "two-spirit", but that would have only applied to those cultures at that time-the social structures of surviving tribes are often completely different.

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2015, 10:16:27 am »
Quote from: Materialist;182032
It's problematic because heterosexuality and homosexuality didn't exist before the 19th century. Before that, there was no concept of sexual orientation. And transgenderism didn't form until the 20th century. These are modern sexualities and genders, products of modern, not colonial or pre-Columbian, cultures, and projecting them onto such is inaccurate to say the least.

 
They didn't exist as identities and/or lifestyles as we understand and experience them today, but to say they did not exist at all, even if our contemporary understanding is vastly different runs the risk, to me, of erasing queer histories or ignoring how queerness was differently stigmatized (or not) in how we interpret the past today.

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2015, 08:24:23 am »
Quote from: Floofy Bunny;182086
They didn't exist as identities and/or lifestyles as we understand and experience them today, but to say they did not exist at all, even if our contemporary understanding is vastly different runs the risk, to me, of erasing queer histories or ignoring how queerness was differently stigmatized (or not) in how we interpret the past today.

 
I would say it goes beyond running the risk of erasing queer histories and actually flat out does.

(Thank you for making this point; I am lacking energy to an immense degree right now and did not have any to string words together coherently. Your post gave me a jumping off point to form my words.)
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