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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Indian Identity - It's complicated in New England!

www.sjf.edu
By Trace A. DeMeyer

Living in New England (yes, it's still called that after 400+ years), I have come to understand how Native Americans here evolved through some of the most troubling, extreme and dangerous circumstances --- yes, dangerous.
Many non-Indians here have deeply-embedded fears of Indians, because of stories passed down in families.
Many New Englanders are of the mindset Indians are of the past, not the present. We are no longer a threat like we were in colonial days.
Today Massachusetts has no great track record of dealing fairly or honestly with its tribes. One example, the Mashpee Wampanoag had their federal recognition delayed over 30 years.
There are many more Indian people here who are not in federally-recognized tribes and have no identity card to show other Indians or the demanding media. 
This issue is affecting Senate-hopeful Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) who is running against Scott Brown (Republican). Elizabeth's ancestry is Cherokee. Her Cherokee ancestors might have been educated in New England, maybe at Harvard or Dartmouth. I don't know.
Since Elizabeth is not enrolled with the Cherokee, her lack of an identity card is a huge problem for the media and other Indians.
Really?
HEY! Indians in New England get it. She's one of us. We have our own stories passed down in our families, too.
Granted it's not easy to trace your ancestors from the late 1800s to secure that government-issued Indian Identity card. (My friend Russ calls his tribal ID, "My Holocaust Card.")
Why is Indian identity so complicated? 
Long-standing racism by state officials on the East Coast who wanted us dead - and a backlog of over 250 recognition bids sitting in the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington DC.  Delays are notorious. Tribal Elders who started the petitions are often dying before they see their petition recognized. 

In the 1800s, there was absolutely no benefit whatsoever if you were Indian. Saying you were could get you killed: After the Pequot War, hunting down the Pequot was common - there was a bounty on every Pequot - man, woman or child.  Bring in dead Indians and you get paid. The media never covers this.

So back to identity... tell me, could you provide records to the exact day your immigrant ancestor arrived here on a boat? Yet Indians are supposed to prove they are Indian?
In this part of the world, Native people intermarried for survival. After the Indian Wars, Native woman married outside of their tribes since there were so few men left who had not been killed in war.
Their survival was not complicated, it was necessary. 

QUOTE:


"It seems to me one of the ways of getting rid of the Indian question is just this of intermarriage, and the gradual fading out of the Indian blood; the whole quality and character of the aborigine disappears, they lose all of the traditions of the race; there is no longer any occasion to maintain the tribal relations, and there is then every reason why they shall go and take their place as white people do everywhere," said Anthony Higgins, a U.S. Senator from Delaware, in 1895 congressional testimony.

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Takeaway Podcast ICWA

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!
Survivors, write your stories. Write your parents stories. Write the elders stories. Do not be swayed by the colonizers to keep quiet. Tribal Nations have their own way of keeping stories alive.... Trace

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.