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.
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?
Their survival was not complicated, it was necessary.
"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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