What kind of insult is “Aborigine”?

Unless in the minds of Whites like Scott Beason, and Black American politicians, Native Americans are inferior to both, in the USA’s “racial hierarchy.” Or perhaps Australian Aborigines are? But late Native American scholar Jack Forbes (an extremely distant cousin of mine) theorized that most historic USA Blacks have Indian ancestry, and proposed research into the ‘Red Roots’ of much of Black culture. Even before I read him, I’d heard that 40 percent of Black Americans know of Indian ancestors … which suggested to me that a majority at least had them.

It’s also curious to me that Beason seems to allow that people who aren’t identified as “Indians” here can still be “Aborigines.” That’s almost a Canadian (Horrors!) usage of the word: They use “Aboriginal” as an umbrella term for Indians, Inuit (aka Eskimos), and Metis. What a concept!

Biblical Judges: Chiefs?

So say some Jewish scholarsOne per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel?  Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about?  Some of whom were more noteworthy than most?  (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)

I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!).  Conflating shevet and shofet?  Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?”  We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers….  The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!

Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time!  Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….

It’s a minor semantic point.  The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes.  But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel?  Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe.  “Tribal Sovereignty,” even!  With him, various officials, aides, counselors.  And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth.  And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?!  Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology.  (Even these gentlemen agree today.)  Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture?  Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”

And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.

(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)

Lumbee Indians near Federal Recognition

That’s Heather Locklear‘s tribe.*  They believe they do it by swearing-off casinos they say they’ve never been interested in anyway.  Like my Nanticokes and many other East Coast tribes who’ve borne the brunt of the colonization of what is currently the U.S. the longest, Lumbees have been heavily intermarried for many generations. 

Issues around racialism, after 518 years of European-American politician and governmental influence and oppression, have unfortunately penetrated parts of America’s Native community also, hence the references in some WWW comments to certain Tribes or individuals as Black or White or “Wannabes,” attempting to deny their Indianness.  This is despite the claim of U.S. “Indian Law” and every Federally-Recognized Tribe that their Sovereignty gives them the inherent right to regulate their citizenship just like any other nation; tragically this basic U.S. law is contradicted by other laws, such as Congressionally-supported regulatory Recognition criteria requiring a nearly-Amish level of endogamy thruout the Tribe’s recorded history, and remaining in a small geographical area, despite the violent, racist, anti-Indigenous, economic, and cultural pressures of the Settler polities.  (Their own Common Law stipulates that a criminal should not profit from his crime, yet these crimes go studiously and dishonorably unpunished in a tradition as old as British settlement here.)

Anyway, Many Years to the Lumbee Nation!  And their website!

*–(Locklear is a frequent surname among Lumbees.)

Looking down on State Recognition of Indian Tribes?

Sure, it’s not the same as a Treaty … er, Supreme Court ruling … er, Executive Order … er, Act of Congress … er, BIA ruling….

OK, now we realize anything government (pretends to) give* it can and will take away.

Be that as it may, check out what some Metis in Alberta, Canada, have got themselves!

(*–Including “recognize” as “inherent from time immemorial,” am I right?!)

Update from Buffalo Commons

from NY Times Magazine in 2006, an intriguing ‘surface-level,’ face-to-face, “up close and personal” *  encounter with the emptying Plains.

The article isn’t a very enticing ad for a region theoretically trying to attract ‘new homesteaders’ or semi-homesteaders not already from or IN such a place, if you get what I mean.  But does it have to be hopeless?

Indians said a century or more ago that it really was (all due respect to the writer) more desert than farmland….  The Dust Bowl just added insult to injury.  There are a couple large Reservations near the communities featured, Fort Berthold and Fort Peck Reservations, that maybe could be asked about helping ‘re-vision’ the larger region’s future ISTM.

More conventionally, the Dakotas are already home to “National Grasslands” that maybe could be a future attracting visitors … and wildlife … maybe even hunters … and/or bison or other ranching.

Going out on a limb, let me say as one American who’s never been to ND that winter there sounds intolerable to most Yanks!  At least Alaska has windbreaks (trees, mountains…), mild Pacific currents and breezes, etc.  HOWEVER: Remember that scene in the recent HBO remake of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee where the Mountie welcomes Sitting Bull across the Border in Queen Victoria’s name with the polite warning, “The winters get pretty cold up here — This isn’t Dakota!”?  I’m sure some scriptwriter had tongue planted firmly in cheek at that point.  But my world atlas’s climate maps suggest a kernel of truth after all: ND as a little bit warmer than most of Canada, and drier than most of Settler Canada … you know, that ribbon of population that stays pretty much within 200 miles of the Border, from Nova Scotia to Vancouver?  I mention drier since they say Manitoba’s provincial bird is the mosquito!  So, a “modest proposal”?: Instead of being America’s Icebox, how about … well … The Fridge, to the Rest of Canada’s Icebox!?  If North Dakota became the 11th Province (ND residents might prefer the sociopolitical approach of this post!  And spooky: exactly two years ago…!), right away it’d have nearly the same population as New Brunswick, well larger than Newfoundland-and-Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, respectively — two provinces also losing residents.  And long term, I’d imagine lots of Manitoba and Saskatchewan folk moving south now that they could do so without changing countries … followed by Alberta Oil Sands layoffs once the world starts recovering from its hydrocarbon addiction.  (Many Sands workers are the expatriates from Atlantic Canada, where it IS less cold in winter than Alberta, though wetter … and increasingly desolate of Settlers’ descendants.)

And provincehood isn’t even necessary ISTM.  MB and SK are sometimes referred to as “North America’s socialist heartland,” traditionally strongholds of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP), actually social democratic rather than strictly socialist.  Point being, a healthy sense of the Common Good — not unlike many ND’ans’ ancestral Scandinavia — and they just might open their bleeding hearts to ND’s economic needs, especially if ND were to join one or both provinces.  Either way, sounds like a Win-Win proposition, eh?

Otherwise, I guess some version of the “Buffalo Commons” idea will pretty much replace ND.  And/Or some version of the outstanding Great Sioux Nation claim.  Waving grasses, thundering herds, fenced-in towns if any at all, elevated highways/railroads if any, Tribal Villages / ranches / farms…. 

Your call.

(*–…what with the Olympics coming up and all…)

Census 2010: Further thoughts

occasioned by Native American students in Idaho and an ’08 MSNBC piece on the increasing profile of ‘mixed-race/multiracial’ folks, what with Obama and all.

Black Indians at Smithsonian

Specifically, the National Museum of the American Indian.  Fascinating, maddening, enlightening, racist and anti-racist, historical and anti-historical discussion among the Comments, too!

Here’s the exhibit’s website.

Speaking as a controverted Nanticoke (who doesn’t qualify for Indian Assn. membership at this time AFAIK) who also likes his Irish background too, the U.S. Metis Identity movement looks more and more appealing….

Was England’s claim to N. America pre-empted by Norway?

At its recent Church convention, the Episcopal Church of the United States, traditionally America’s branch of the Anglican Communion, denounced the late-medieval “Discovery Doctrine” which encouraged / justified (Western) Christian nations’ annexation and exploitation of newly-discovered non-Christian lands, nations, peoples, and persons.  This appears to be at this time an unofficial or ‘semifinal’ version of the adopted resolution, minus the strikeouts.  They also call on the Successor of one royal perpetrator of this legal doctrine, in her capacity as “Supreme Governor” of their Sister Church, the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II, to also repudiate it … for their government lobbyists to press overturning this legal basis for a kind of suzerainty over Native American Tribes with the U.S. Government … and for their member dioceses and adherents to support Tribes’ struggles for their God-given rights as Indigenous Nations.

As Wikipedia relates, this “doctrine” backed-up Western European overlordship of Indigenous Peoples not previously Christianized.  Commonly it was considered for the “heathens’ ” own good, as well as providing cover for all the depredations Indigenous have suffered at their hands and those of their “legal successors,” including the United States, down to the present.  More to the point, also for the seizure of their lands and resources, especially all the gold that was rumored to be here.  I don’t know enough about the claimed legalities beyond this, for Spanish- and Portuguese-claimed territories … but for English, “the rule of law,” i.e., the English Common Law, eventually developed at least a legal fiction of respect for existing inhabitants of lands they were interested in acquiring, as having actual legal rights to or in those lands, as long as they lived in them — rights to which ambitious English rulers and explorers needed to at least pay lip-service.  (Remember, this is the system wherein the lawyer asks his client, “What do you WANT the law to say?”!)  This was an evolving thing, as I’ve said previously here.

American relevance was nailed down (supposedly) by Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1823 case.  He stated that on the plot of land at issue, in Illinois, England/Great Britain had “discovered” and taken precedence over the Natives, whether directly or by treaty(!) from France, and the United States succeeded to British “rights” therein.  Therefore, Native Nations had limited rights to their own lands and resources, Britain/America having ultimate determining legal authority, at least vis a vis other European powers.  The idea included reducing the Europeans’ habit of going to war with each other; Indigenous didn’t matter!  (Though England came preferring to acquire their rights by “treating with them,” i.e., treaties — even if these, too, often became “legal fictions”!)

Here’s Marshall’s language I want to focus on (emphasis added by me):

The states of Holland also made acquisitions in America and sustained their right on the common principle adopted by all Europe. They allege, as we are told by Smith in his History of New York, that Henry Hudson, who sailed, as they say, under the orders of their East India Company, discovered the country from the Delaware to the Hudson, up which he sailed to the 43d degree of north latitude, and this country they claimed under the title acquired by this voyage.

Their first object was commercial, as appears by a grant made to a company of merchants in 1614, but in 1621 the States General made, as we are told by Mr. Smith, a grant of the country to the West India Company by the name of New Netherlands.

The claim of the Dutch was always contested by the English — not because they questioned the title given by discovery, but because they insisted on being themselves the rightful claimants under that title. Their pretensions were finally decided by the sword.

No one of the powers of Europe gave its full assent to this principle more unequivocally than England. The documents upon this subject are ample and complete. So early as the year 1496, her monarch granted a commission to the Cabots to discover countries then unknown to Christian people and to take possession of them in the name of the King of England. Two years afterwards, Cabot proceeded on this voyage and discovered the continent of North America, along which he sailed as far south as Virginia. To this discovery the English trace their title.

In this first effort made by the English government to acquire territory on this continent we perceive a complete recognition of the principle which has been mentioned. The right of discovery given by this commission is confined to countries “then unknown to all Christian people,” and of these countries Cabot was empowered to take possession in the name of the King of England. Thus asserting a right to take possession notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and at the same time admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery.

Here’s the problem: Since around the Millennium, North America* had been “known to the Christian people” of Norway, as mentioned here.  The Norse main settlements were in Greenland.  But knowledge of the lands to Greenland’s west is undeniable from approximately then, which was about the same time those colonists became Christians.  Even if you give no credence whatsoever to my foster-kinsman St. Brendan, Carthaginian Early Christian monks in Connecticut, the alleged succession of Catholic Titular (absentee) Bishops of the village of Gardar, Greenland and Vinland, and as-yet-undiscovered Icelandic Sagas, etc etc etc, living knowledge came down to the first Lutheran bishop of Greenland before he attained to that title by venturing there in 1721 in hopes of rescuing the many-centuries-old and long-isolated colony from Catholicism(!–or Orthodoxy!!) or apostasy … not finding them (as far as he knew!) … and setting out to evangelize the Native Inuit (Eskimos) instead(!).

But Britain did not treat with Norway or Norway’s sometime sovereign Denmark for any of its North American rights (under European law), nor did it acquire them “by the sword.”  Now, it is not currently known that any Norse (or their Mixed-Blood descendants) survived here until 1492 or ’96.  However, the Cabots’ charter did not say, as later English ones, “not actually possessed by any Christian prince,” merely “unknown to all Christian people.”  Christian Norway’s “knowledge” of this northern landmass may have been obscure at that time, but it was knowledge:  Norway “discovered” North America before England did!

So what?  As one commentator to the story at the website of the newspaper Indian Country Today reminds us all,

Just better be careful that you don’t also overturn our sovereignty while overturning Johnson v. M’Intosh. Too many times, an unideal but working scenario gets scrapped when ‘reformers’ come in and start changing things. I present as evidence term limits, ‘independent’ legislative redistricting and other such ‘reform’ scenarios that have contributed mightily to the current state of ideological gridlock that grips both federal and state governing bodies.

I know enough about law and history, and more about courts, judges, lawyers, and politicians, to take this counsel seriously!  Also, although today Norway is a rather politically correct place, who knows about the future?  Is it a case of The Devil You Know over The Devil You Don’t Know?!  Though it might be interesting to see Washington and Ottawa have to re-negotiate their independence with PC Oslo!

One might say that Norway has never pressed its claim, challenging Britain, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, or anybody else.  But with the discovery of the Sagas and their settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in a possibly-improving climate of International Law and politics, especially Norway being a NATO ally of both the U.S. and Canada (and let’s remember the last bits of New France), Norway itself may have a “Native Claim” needing respect and recompense!  Even the US Supreme Court awarded huge money to the Lakota for the Black Hills!

No one ever said the ‘Piskies don’t know how to make life interesting sometimes!!!  ;)

(*–Presuming Marshall is associating Spanish and Portuguese “discoveries” with OFF North America.)

Healthcare rationing as “New American Genocide”

Read all about it.  Except it isn’t just killing and threatening Blacks, but Native Americans, Hispanics, the disabled non-elderly like me, the poor like me, even the elderly who despite Medicare’s successes still can’t manage to get what they need, urban residents, rural** residents….  [*I* should be on Medicare, but that's another story...!]

Yes, folks, we’ve been rationing healthcare all along: TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER, or in more “economical” terms, “as high as the market will bear.”  Reform ideally should care on the basis of need, without regard to class, party, religion, orientation, race, Tribe, language, Ability, age, religion, color, intelligence, or any other criterion.  Frankly, I think we get an NHS like Britain (once had), add the benefits of the French and Norwegians and Germans AND America … and KICK BUTT!!!!!  AND SAVE MONEY!!!!!

PS #1: Is Rachel Maddow getting cuter and cuter?  Sweetheart, if you ever want to give “the other team” a try….  I kid!  God grant you and your loved ones Many Years!

PS#2: “Whitey On The Moon” — ah, the ’60s, great larks!

(**–Now THAT’S going to make you “Bitter”!)

Aboriginal Title: Today’s word is…

USUFRUCT.  (Sorry, I grew up too Catholic to pronounce it that way! ;)  )

This is the Common Law principle on which is based the occasional English and successor Settler States (USA, Canada, Australia, I know for certain, maybe others) practice of deigning, that is to say condescending, to let Aboriginal Peoples in “their” countries retain (I say retain) certain rights with regard to their “former” territories and their tribesmembers.  It’s the theoretical basis of Reservations, remnant fishing / trapping / hunting / subsistence rights, regard for Tribes’ Sovereignty (to attempt to put it into European terms), Native Treaties, Lands Held in Trust (including royalties [at 18th-century rates]…if only Uncle Sam can remember where he put them!), etc.

The alternative might well have had to be full military defeat, actually wiping out all our ancestors … genocide in its simplest, bloodiest sense — I’ll say it — ala Hitler.  And I deduce that conundrum is where the idea came from, IOW, Settler convenience, politics, occasional conscience.  The earliest case I know of — though I’m no professional historian — where English courts upheld native legal status is only The Case of Tanistry in the early 1600s.  Here the Irish lost by winning (300 years before they won by losing!): the court employed traditional Irish Brehon Law to cheat a rightful traditional clan chief of his chiefly lands in favor of English-Law inheritance previously unknown among traditional Irish … four-and-a-half centuries after first invading.  My current point being, the English certainly have become experts at riding roughshod over Irish culture (which is why 1998’s Good Friday Northern Ireland Peace Agreement was such a monumental reversal for them).  I guess they didn’t always enjoy how hard it was, and so decided to take a (slightly) less harsh approach in Quebec and North America beyond (to the frustration of the greedy and anti-Catholic eastern seaboard “Founding Fathers”), and Down Under.  (In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is even considered technically part of the national constitution!)

Anyway, as Merriam Webster reminds us, a usufruct is Europeanly-considered technically only temporary — in our case, until the “death” of each Native Nation, envisaged by (unconstitutional) Blood Quantum laws, mandatory dispersion and exogamy, ethnic/racial cleansing, culturecide, divide-and-conquer, even leaving Tribes with the worst-quality land around on which to survive, as well as what I compare to illegal and unjust “constructive eviction” in attempting to claim a Native Community “abandoned” a temporarily-disused right or plot of land.*  Conveniently, the U.S. has never recognized Mixed-Bloods as such, as Canada has in its Métis since just 1982, otherwise Native Nations might never die!

(*–The Settlers of Maryland Colony did this to my Nanticoke people.  Once they interpreted an Abandonment Clause in a colonial treaty to mean temporarily going up the Susquehanna River for their traditional annual hunt relinquished one of their Reservations: But when they arrived to find one elderly man guarding the otherwise-empty village, they burned him alive in his home.)

Saving endangered Native American languages

There’s a fair bit about this online, but I’ll just highlight the following:

Canada’s National Post newspaper recently did a multimedia series including the Delaware Indian language Munsee, called Lunaape (ie, Lenape)* at the Moraviantown Reserve in southern Ontario.  Behind the scenes of that story is that First Nation’s Bruce Stonefish, profiled in the Newark Star-Ledger a few years agoHe’s behind a weeklong Language Immersion summer camp at Moraviantown (PDF) that at least went on as late as 2007, maybe last summer too, I’m not sure.  Various ‘official’ and other Lenape and other groups got together with Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania a year ago to rap Indigenous Language preservation.  “Unofficial” is that article’s “Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania,” but they seem to be kicking butt in promoting the language at least!  (See here, and this curriculum intended for parents to catch on to and share with children.  I’m not sure if their Lenape language is Munsee or Unami [see "Language Links" below the lessons on that page].)

As you may have seen, Stonefish has taught some lessons to some of my kin, the Nanticoke Lenni Lenape in New Jersey, and visited the State of Delaware, where my Nanticoke ancestors lived after 1742 or so.  But the Nanticoke Indian Association a couple years ago started to resurrect the Nanticoke language with the help of an Anishnabay (or Ojibwe or Chippewa) dialect from Manitoba, since it’s a sister Algonquian language.  Maybe you heard how Hollywood did something similar for a Virginia tribe descended from Jamestown’s neighbors (WaPo link may break).

Why?  In my reading, the folks at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, say Native Language Immersion is the best if not the only way to treat some of Natives’ social problems both on the Reservation and in larger Settler society, from problems with school grades and academic learning in general, to cultural preservation, to self-destructive behavior, a/k/a internalized oppression/repression/genocide.  Bicultural competence is something many people in Canada know something about.  We’re literally talking about saving lives in many cases.  As Stonefish’s Immersion Camp brochure states: “In order for the Lunaape Language to survive, it needs to once again become an instrumental part of our lives, our everyday conversations and everyday view of the world. Within our language we will find our original Lunaape worldview. It is within our language where we will find the concepts of how we related to all that is around us. It is within our language where the Lunaape people will find keys to understanding our true original identities, gifts and responsibilities to ourselves as well as those around us.”

(*–Both words are correctly pronounced “luh-NAH-pay,” more or less.  The vowel in the first syllable is closest to an American English schwa, that upside down ‘e’ thingie, or more technically, a vowel in an unaccented syllable.)

Alex Haley’s Red “Roots”

According to this page (text-search him — no matter what Google’s cache says, he’s there!), the author who in his famous book traced African roots and heritage, also claimed Cherokee ancestry.  Cool twice over!  Whatever one may say about the book or the man, God be good to him.

“WE SHALL REMAIN” Public broadcasting series on Native America

debuts tomorrow night (Monday) on PBS-TV: as they say, consult your local listings.  The idea is a series of Native perspectives on the history of the settlement of what is currently the U.S.  The producers concede in a public email that they couldn’t cover all bases:

“With 560 federally recognized tribes in the US, it was impossible for us to tell everyone’s story,” says WE SHALL REMAIN executive producer Sharon Grimberg.

If you have Native roots, now it’s your turn to share your experiences through WE SHALL REMAIN’s Online Story Sharingtool. It allows Native people across the country to publish video, audio, or written pieces on the Web sites of public media broadcasters in their communities.

Not to mention the hundreds of Native communities/groups not yet “federally recognized”….  We ALL Shall Remain!!!

IQ and Thanksgiving

I just read here about Inuit (Canada Eskimo) traditional knowledge being called (in the Inuit language, Inuktitut) Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or IQ.  LOL!  That’s so cool!  I know *I* couldn’t pass this IQ test!!!  Hell, if what we laughably call civilization collapsed tomorrow, I’d probably unknowingly eat some noxious weed growing out of the ground and croak!  That’s right, we’ve all been “taught” how to survive in a supermarket – or worse yet, McDonald’s – and Heaven forbid we should ever find ourselves without one!  Seriously, we should all learn some Native knowledge about wherever we live, in case we need it someday;* we probably need it NOW!  It might help us more to “walk lightly over the earth.”

(*–Interestingly, it took the Peanuts gang to remind many of us that when Squanto, one of the last Patuxet Indians after a British smallpox epidemic devastated “New England” and the Maritimes, taught the Plymouth “Pilgrims” and Co. how to survive in their accidental new home in Massachusetts [vs. New York], he was passing on to them the traditional knowledge of his by-then-dead village nation, something not done lightly by Indigenous Peoples today because they usually end up regretting it.  Had he not done so, the colonists might have died, or abandoned the colony.)

Biggest defeat of U.S. forces ever

…was at the hands of an American Indian confederation in the Midwest, the (original) Battle of the Wabash (River), near present Ft. Wayne, Indiana(!).  Seems the Revolutionary War didn’t end there with the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which amounted to little more than a ‘separate peace’ between His Majesty King George III on the one hand, and the United States of America on the other.  Hostilities continued between Old Northwest Natives and their Native allies on the one hand, former allies of The Crown, and illegally encroaching U.S. settlers on the other, unrestrained by the U.S. government (as usual).  What the Wikipedia article leaves out is that British forces took a few years to evacuate the Midwest, leading the Indians to believe they might rejoin the struggle – and to feel betrayed and abandoned by their Britannic ally when they didn’t.  In addition, the Lenape of this war were the first Native Nation the new U.S. had signed a Treaty with (ceding it most of central Pennsylvania), and had been promised a seat in the Continental Congress as well as a Lenape-led Indian state in what became instead the Settler state of Ohio.  (Cf. Delaware County, Ohio.)

Long story short, although the Paris Treaty transferred Britain’s claims over the Old Northwest to the U.S., the US still had to “treat with” the Native Nation-occupants before exploiting any part of the territory itself or on behalf of its Settler-people.  This the US failed to do.  In fact, President George Washington, other “Founding Fathers,” and many other settlers had long improperly speculated on land in the Ohio Country, back to the French and Indian War as a result of which its claims transferred from France to Britain … and Washington’s home-colony of Virginia (then including West Virginia) even long claimed Ohio as part of its territory.  King George had tried to put a stop to all this illegality with his Proclamation of 1763,* setting colonial boundaries at the top of the Appalachian Mountains and restricting settlement to the West, but was unable to police it in such a remote area against his own settlers.  Many Native Nations were acquainted with Britain’s Sovereigns and their ostensible rule over their settlers and colonies, and again, felt betrayed when the settlers got other ideas, with impunity.  Thus the colonists, especially their Planter elites (the future Founding Fathers), sowed the seeds of continuing conflict with Sovereign Indian Nations west of the Eastern Seaboard – just as many of their encroachments on the coast were also at first illegal, only justified by Treaty after the fact.  Is it any wonder that they were (are!) said to “speak with a forked tongue”?

(*–I can’t find a comprehensive online treatment of the Proc. of 1763, ie, that isn’t narrowly-focused on U.S. or Canadian interests.  However, there were and are many more Indian Reserves in eastern and central Canada — Ontario and eastward — than in the U.S. east of the Mississippi, in part because the British Crown continued to ‘honour’ this Proclamation somewhat, whereas the U.S. assimilated, denied, or “removed” west the overwhelming majority of its eastern Indians.  OTOH, Founder speculation and Settler western ambitions, along with Crown resistance to them and attempts to protect the legal rights and territories of the Natives sort-of under his protection, were a significant cause of the U.S. Revolution in the first place — a cause little-emphasized in standard U.S. histories and school systems.)

Native American rights not equality vs. inequality

The human rights case against a neocon former MP in Canada gives me an opportunity to explain briefly how he misunderstands (or perhaps deliberately confounds) Native peoples’ position in the United States and Canada … a misunderstanding shared by most Americans, not cleared up by our civics or history classes, which treat Natives as nothing more than a vanishing, if uppity, ethnicity.  Although Natives’ legal positions in the two countries are not identical at this time because of legal divergence since the American Revolution, for my current purpose they are close enough.

There are over a thousand societies in North America: the U.S., Canada (perhaps Francophone and non-Francophone!), and hundreds of Indian, Inuit, Aleut, and Mixed-Blood Indigenous Sovereign Nations, from Florida and the Caribbean to the North Pole, and from the Southwest and Pacific to Alaska.  Legally all these societies live side-by-side with each other.  Obviously the first two, the US and Canada, currently have a certain pre-eminence on account of military or other inequality, respectively, vis a vis the Native peoples.  But the Native peoples retain certain rights or privileges never ceded to the US or Canada, possessed by them from before European establishment here.  The English/North American Common Law, at least since the 17th century, as well as subsequent Acts of Crown, Parliament, or Congresses, have held that Native peoples are to be “treated with” — hence “treaties” — for what the European Sovereign — British or North American — desires from them, otherwise its seizure is generally not according to law.  And generally, these treaties did not deprive Native peoples of everything they ever possessed (just almost everything).  In addition, in recent years US and Canadian governments have felt a desire to make good to Native persons and peoples for centuries of INequality, illegality, unfairness, etc., by some (relatively few) programs of affirmative action or “privileges;” also, to help them as persons and peoples to make better of a bad situation.

Native North Americans are not the same kind of ‘thing’ as non-Native ethnic groups.  Irish-Americans, Ukrainian-Canadians, etc., have never had Sovereignty in North America as such, except through the non-Native governments of Canada or the American States.  The Natives have, and still do.  If not for British/American treaties with the Natives, the colonization of this continent could not have happened, or only by truly wiping out the Natives militarily, rather than just most of them.  Native residual rights and Sovereignty isn’t a question of equality or inequality with non-Native North Americans; in fact, if we Natives would just assimilate, all our problems would be solved, right?  Except we would be unfaithful to ourselves and what we are, like no other group here is required to be.  Therefore, ironically, occasional preferences for Natives in hiring or admissions are a sign not of Native superiority, but Natives’ inferiority and discrimination in US and Canadian societies.  They’re not “special rights,” just the same rights Europeans would retain if 350 million Native Americans had colonized Britain instead of the other way around.

Settlers are a Tribe — a very large and powerful tribe, but just one among hundreds or thousands here — it’s a whole continent, after all, just like Europe or Africa or Asia! — each having certain rights and, on a good day, recognizing or according others to others.  Natives cling to these rights because they continue to exist as Sovereign Peoples, and hope to restore some of what they have had taken from them over the last 500 years and more, of their life together, cultures, self-sufficiency, freedom from discrimination and racism and exploitation; and for these reasons they also attempt to use any help forthcoming from the big “tribes” that the US and Canada are, as small as that help may be, and as seldom.  For the Settler Tribe to call for the unilateral dismantling of Native Peoples is indeed racist, in fact genocidal, whether it stems from ignorance or intentional malice.  I prefer to believe most of it does stem from ignorance, though culpable on the part of Settler education systems, which teach Settlers all kinds of things in all kinds of depth and detail, but not these facts which are fundamental to the very existence and founding of their States.

Consider if the Honourable MP had instead called for the absorption of Canada’s Jews into its Christian Churches … or its Hindus, Muslims, atheists, etc.  Or for the abolition of, say, Catholic schools and colleges in Canada — ‘No more special rights for Catholics; old Churches have no relevance in modern times.’  And with taxpayer-funded mailings, yet!  ISTM religion is a helpful analogue to Native sovereignty and rights and “privileges” and existence.  It’s not just “political correctness” that prevents him from doing so, but the legal freedoms increasingly recognized by liberal democracy … and entrenched in Canada’s constitution by 1982’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms … the same constitution that now explicitly guarantees the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of Canada’s Indians, Inuit, and Metis.  And considering the evidence that inflammatory public speech can tend to incite violence against the targets of that speech, the MP might even be held liable.

Younger generations re-embracing their Indigenous backgrounds

These people aren’t all Wannabe’s; some of them ARE Indians or Metis in Canada and the U.S.!

Liberals for States’ Rights!

Yes, it’s true!

MY reason is I’m tired of the W. abuses of power and neutered or compromised Congresses’ lax oversight, and compromised Republican courts.

The dirty little secret is that usually the party out of power Federally favors States’ Rights where they ARE in power, or hope to use to regain power, and opposed by the party IN power Federally that wants to impose its will nationally, and finds it easier to do so through one government than 50, 51, or 52!  They don’t always use the language of States’ Rights, though.  Because the phrase has been tainted by racists, slaveholders, and Confederates, I prefer State Sovereignty — an absolute value under the current Constitution.

I’ve admired the late Marc Chaitlin, but he underestimated the need for State Sovereignty.  Suffice to say he passed away during W.’s first 100 days.  It’s possible to see our States today as Chaitlin’s mere “state-like provinces,” and as theologian Stanley Hauerwas might say, there’s no denying the descriptive power of that statement.  But we need to restore States’ dignity as a hedge against Federal dictatorship like we’ve experienced now, or worse in the future.  Certainly not to roll back true progressive improvements in America, or give greater power to reactionary elements among State and local politicians … indeed, to protect or restore those improvements, and make them even better!  Actually I think most Americans today think of States as little more than provinces, pointless holdovers from somewhere around the Middle Ages, with non-understood differences in drinking or driving laws, court systems, governmental structures, tax structures, practices — Patriots’ Day?  Freeholders?  I&R?  California Emission?  But all this proves is the need to fix Civics classes, and educate pundits and journalists also.  (While we’re at it, let’s teach about the legal status of Native American Tribes, and their rights and Reservations / Villages also.)

What does an Indian look like?

Not taking sides in the Cherokee Freedmen controversy because I don’t know enough about it … still, see the two pages-images from the Tribe’s advertising at this Wikipedia article!

Or even the front page of the American Indian College Fund site: The masthead image at top including a student, rotates among four different folks, one an Irish-looking young lady (except her eyes).  Red hair and turquoise, best of both worlds!

Or this 2005 NY Times Magazine piece about Mixed-Bloods / urbanized Natives, and others, “going Native.”  I believe the author is mistaken or underinformed about some things, but maybe I’ve been studying it more than he has(!).  (NB: The new Circe Sturm book mentioned there doesn’t seem to be out yet: it looks like her research continued longer than expected.  [Apparently post-grad research can go on and on!]  I get more potentially helpful hits searching not via the then-working title “Claiming Redness,” but the subtitle “Racial and Cultural Politics of Becoming Cherokee.”)

(The Times piece reminds me of how some Mixed-Blood activists / theorists insist on our right to identify as time, place, company, life-stage, etc., sall for.  But U.S.-rotted Mixed-Bloods mostly didn’t develope as solid a Metis / Mestizo / Mestico / Mulatto identity as Canada or Latin America have — painful as it may have been going through it for them, constantly ‘between tribes,’ Native and European / African.  We should be grateful to them for it.)

Political Roundup

Is a rich, powerful White politician like McCain in any position to tell Congressman John Lewis who does or doesn’t remind him of George Wallace and put him in fear of increased racist violence?  Is McCain a mind-reader?

Alaskans rally against Palin!

Palin illegally abuses powers in Troopergate and possibly another matter.  Isn’t 8 years of abuse of power in the Oval Office enough?!  “Political” investigation?  Yeah: BOTH parties in Alaska’s Legislature did it!  How about her expense-abuse and persecution of rape victims?

Who scares you more in the Oval Office, Palin or Obama, OK?!!  At least Obama has Federal, national, and international experience; Palin barely has State-level experience.

A dozen more people for McCain and/or Palin to denounce / repudiate….  And a more poignant look at Palin’s continuing connection with secessionists, from Bobby Kennedy Jr.  (The AIP’s citing of the UN Charter and international law is quite laughable to me as a Native American; maybe if it that party wasn’t so White….)

“Palling around with terrorists” charge is racist … against Arabs.  I think this is only for the Hard Right “base,” not to flip “independents” or such.  So many of them think because Obama has an Arabic name [Named after his father: Can't get much more "family values" than that!!], he’s a Muslim, so the “terrorists” they first think Palin is referring to are Arab / Muslim, not somebody who belonged to a radical American group when Obama was all of eight years old, and went on to become a respected educator.  McCain is little help when his audiences call Obama an Arab, acting like “Arab” is an insult or something bad!!!  As if Arab men aren’t “family men,” to use McCain’s expression?

A “hockey mom” only briefly, and many years ago?  That tells me what she’s doing is a carefuly-crafted false image for sheer political purposes.  Many politicians do it, of course, but to pollute a hockey game with it by letting her drop the puck is unforgiveable to hockey fans like me!  Of course, pro sports is just another business, teams are corporations.

My mother recently asked me what was the deal with Palin’s “betcha’s” and Slurvian droppin’ of final G’s.  Apparently she’s lyin’, pretendin’, and fear-mongerin’.  Just what we need, another “acting President“!

Rage rising on McCain campaign trail,” fear they’ll lose.  (Even though we know they’ll steal it again!)

“Negative ads”? “Attack ads”?  I think we have to stop equating factual criticism ads with lying, deceiving, or exaggerating ads.  I haven’t heard a single truly negative ad for Obama yet.  (Although somebody in my house usually mutes them on TV!)  OTOH I’ve never heard such a pile of stinking manure as we’re being subjected to from the McCain/Palin camp, so often, so many ways, so constantly.

Indigenous liberation through language-immersion?

That’s the premise of this essay from Andrea Bear Nicholas.  I can certainly say how “neat” it felt taking a weekend ‘semi-immersion’ course in Irish Gaelic in the ’90s, I who previously “studied” Spanish, Latin, Biblical Greek and Hebrew.  (Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams once commented how he “loved to talk Irish in front of the White House!”)

I might even extend the usefulness of the idea a little more, such as one time when I was involved in discussing labor union business in Spanish right in the lunchroom, in an Anglophone workplace that subsequently sought to ban this behavior.  I guess there’s more than one kind of community-identity that can be facilitated by “minority” language!

Corporatocracy and Native Americans

Interesting (briefly-)detailed history (PDF) of New Brunswick’s Loyalist American settlement, illegitimate growth of corporations’ power, politicians’ conflicts-of-interest, and how all of the above left the province’s Natives destitute, as they largely remain.  A newspaper commentary by Professor Bear Nicholas.

New Nanticoke Indian chief, powwow plug, Recognition?

This is the tribe I’m related to – though it seems I don’t qualify for formal membership because my particular ancestors weren’t in the right place at the right time.  But if you’re in or near Delaware next Saturday or Sunday, do check out the powwow, one of the biggest east of the Mississippi (and every year, the weekend after Labor Day).  It’s along State Route 24 between Millsboro and Lewes, Delaware, on the north side of the road … you can’t miss it.  Sunday morning even includes an on-site outdoor Christian Indian worship service – they’re big Methodists (hence Chief Jackson’s comments against casinos, I presume).

I was surprised to read he’s ‘visualizing’ Federal Recognition … but the late Ned Heite (pronounced like Hyatt) believed he’d scientifically confirmed what we’ve always known, our continuous communal history and Native identity, considered difficult for many Eastern communities at one time categorized as “tri-racial isolates.”  The following I’ve gleaned from Mitsawokett.com:

…From 1994 to the end of 1998, a group of archaeologists excavated and researched a small house site (called Bloomsbury) in Duck Creek Hundred, Kent County, Delaware, that was occupied at the end of the eighteenth century. In the course of this research, it became necessary to understand the community context in which the site existed. The community study led to some conclusions, some of which are detailed in a report posted at Heite Consulting’s Web Page. (See Related Web Sites)

Essentially, the group headed by Ned Heite, a historian and archaeologist working on the project for the Delaware Department Of Transportation, documented the continuous existence of a Native American remnant community throughout the past 300 years. The group believes that it has conclusively shown that the community defended its existence as a distinct lineage group, even when there were no “Indians” on the official record. Moreover, Heite and his co-workers show it is obvious that the families recognized their Indian origins, and that their non-Indian associates accepted this.

…Ned Heite says, “There is, clearly, a need for in-depth revisionist histories of the Native American remnants. A few steps have been taken along this path by genealogists, by tribal organizations and by a few academic historians whose points of view are neither afro-centric nor eurocentric.
“There is a large and growing body of literature on the isolate communities, written from both inside and outside.

“Virginia Easley DeMarce published two articles on the “isolate” communities, both of which are extremely useful. Dr. DeMarce brings the professional historian’s techniques to a genealogical problem. Essentially, she showed that the Melungeons and other groups with exotic origin legends were actually Indian remnants. The articles were published in 1992 and 1993 in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly:

  • “‘Very Slitly Mixt:” tri-racial isolate families of the Upper South – a genealogical study.’ Vol, 80, No. 1 (March 1992), pp. 36-56.
  • “‘Looking at legends – Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied genealogy and the origins of tri-racial isolate settlements.’ Vol. 81, No. 1 (March 1993), pp. 24-45.

“There has been a burst of scholarship concerning isolate communities, but much of it must be taken with several very large pinches of salt. Brent Kennedy’s book on his own people, the Melungeons, is an example. While Kennedy’s research and activism are massive and admirable, the book contains some leaps of faith that are, in my opinion, unacceptable. Dr. DeMarce has pointed out that the most logical explanation for Melungeon origins is that they are an Indian remnant group who migrated from Central Virginia.

…”Communities went under a variety of names, of which Melungeon is one of the more common. In {northern and maybe central Kent County,} Delaware, the Indian community were called moors. I have heard that this kind of evasive nomenclature was adopted to avoid being called black, mulatto, Negro, or Indian, during the ante-bellum period. If they were identified as Negro or mulatto, they would be subject to discriminatory laws. People identified as “Indians not taxed” lost their civil rights and got shipped west.

“There is good evidence that large numbers of Indians stayed behind during each “removal” episode. To this day, there are remnant communities in each of the steps along the westward migration from which Indian tribes were ‘removed.'”

…”What are you?”

A correspondent wrote, “…I am one of these Delaware ‘Moors.’ …as a growing adolescent, life posed many questions to my siblings and myself. Removed from Cheswold and living in south Jersey many of our friends would often ask “what are you?” and although often we would ask our parents and grandparents (living in Cheswold) we never got much more than “our people.” Within the last four years I have lost my mother …and my maternal grandparents, all of whom were dearer than life to me. I would very much appreciate anything you could forward me so that I may let my children know whom and what a wonderful lineage they came from.”

Another, living in the deep South, says, “Folks ask me all the time, ‘just what are you?'”

And a third wrote, “I also remember being told as a child that the direct family…were mostly a mixture of Anglo/Indian and Spanish blood which didn’t make it easier for my sister and I to answer the question “what are you?” that was so frequently asked by classmates in the 60’s and 70’s. It wasn’t until the early 70’s that the term “other” was provided on the national test papers we were given in elementary school. Before that you had to list yourself as white, black or asian, those were the only choices. In short, I’ve learned much about our roots through this group and would like to offer my assistance in anyway that I can to help uncover and document the truth of our family history for ourselves and for future generations.”

 

“I Never Knew”

My people never told me about my real ancestral home
Those that came before me sought to protect their own.
I never knew the old ones and who my ancestors were
I never knew what they sacrificed or what they had to endure.
I never knew about the family secret and why my mother cried
I never knew until all of the old folks had died.
I never knew until I found out for myself, without any shame
That what I am inside is to be loved and that no one is to blame.
I never knew who I truly was; hidden way down deep inside
I do know now that I must tell it to all with great pride.
I never knew that I, son of my mother, was of mixed race
Delaware Moor; the Yellow People; this is my true human face.
I never knew that I was white, black, and Indian
I never knew because others considered it to be an ultimate sin.
I never knew what my grandmother taught me came from Indian ways
But loving memories of the touch of grandma’s hands stays and stays.
I doesn’t matter that I never knew.
It only matters that now I do.

–{Mr.} Loren Kelly
August 27, 2006

Our forebears have left us many orally transmitted records telling us we are descended from one or the other or both of the Lenni-Lenape and Nanticoke peoples of the Delmarva area; as we have learned more of the connections between our contemporaries across North America we have broadened the scope of this web site from being initially a record of Lenni-Lenape descendants to one which is inclusive of the Nanticokes.

…Native American research in southern New Jersey and Delaware presents often unsoluble problems to their living descendants and to historians. The greatest problem: the Indians living in these areas in the 1600’s and 1700’s were either forcibly removed or fled or avoided brutalities by dissolving into the European-descended community–and by so doing lost their identity and, to genealogists, research is all about individual identity.

It is easy to imagine that the removals of those of the original inhabitants who insisted on retaining their native identity was a powerful influence on the many who remained in Delaware to blend in and not attract attention. Proclaiming their Indian roots would attract unwanted attention.

Many Native Americans accepted baptism, the act of which, in the view of Christian society, converted the participants from ‘heathens’ or ‘savages’ to Christians. The simple act of baptism kept them from being swept up in Jacksonian purges, permitting them to live on the margins of transplanted European-derived society. The implications for the historical record were ominous. In effect, baptism brought about a change of status, from persons with Native American heritage to an officially recorded racial class of ‘colored’ or ‘mulatto’ or ‘black’. The resultant of this process of virtual “pleckerization” was a population of Native-descended people in Delaware whose recorded history became inseparable from colored persons of other ethnic derivations.

Institutionalized poverty and segregated, inferior schools, as well as indifference on the part of officials and citizens reporting to the recordkeepers, affected the sources available to us. Illiteracy compounded this problem, severely hindering family recordkeeping in Bibles and journals. Poor folks then, and today, did not and could not create records reflective of wealth and learning, i.e., land transactions, wills and probatable estates. Ministers of their churches, many minimally literate, kept few records. Where a circuit rider visited both white and colored churches, the recording of births and marriages of members of colored congregations were, by comparison, not nearly as complete. Readers may judge for themselves by viewing surviving records at the Delaware Archives. As would be expected based on economic and educational factors, more is found in jailhouse, almshouse and illegitimacy records than in church birth, marriage and death records and records dependant on family wealth.

A teacher, Anne Pemberton, has written, “Oral history must be preserved – otherwise history falls to the wayside as the province of the privileged – ignoring the history and stories of those who were not gifted with the opportunity to read and write.”

The archaeologist, Lyle Browning, adds, “Oral history definitely has a place and rightfully so. But there are oral histories that are not valid. What it does is provide a challenge to go to work on and push the interpretation of evidence as far as the evidence allows. The trick is to extract the nugget of truth from the whole.”

Library of Congress research specialist, Jurretta Jordan Heckscher, states, “Oral history is not inherently more or less truthful or accurate than written history: accounts of both types must be carefully evaluated for their sources, circumstances of production, biases, probable effects of knowledge or ignorance, degree of correlation with established fact, and other human filters before their veracity can be assessed for its factual utility in any given instance.”

The Mitsawokett web site takes from governmental, church, family and other records and, where these are not available, oral tradition and history to enable our cousins around North America to learn of each other’s existence, to share family lore and genealogical data, to give them a handle on “what they are and where they came from” and to give them a base from which to begin personal research.

These pages signal the respect we have for the original inhabitants of these lands and are a link to the past for their descendants.

Overview of Alaska Native Settlement

Buffalo is/are good for you

If you ‘must’ eat meat, that is.  Just don’t burn down the house trying to cook it, like I almost did the other day!  Carbonized hockey puck isn’t as pleasant a buffalo burger as it was once I got the hang of it (sort of) this morning (Chaotic Sleep Patterns strike again).  But it turns out even a bad buffalo burger is still pretty good….

Neat article from a Canadian producer about our continent’s buffalo/bison heritage.

Why most Indigenous North Americans’ ancestors revered the beast.  Pretty damn useful!  But I’m surprised the National Bison Assn. didn’t produce a basketball-styled “NBA” T-shirt like Rez Dog’s “Native By Ancestry” one!

Have *you* ever heard of this place?!  Another of North America’s best-kept secrets!  Turns out I twice drove past it years ago, unawares….

“Bison bison,” eh?  I can visualize the ad campaign, like “Pizza pizza”!  A few years ago I read that it turns out bison meat may be what the Doctor Upstairs ordered for Native diabetes….

Somebody linked from somewhere up there commented that the pre-Catastrophe environment of most of North America was shaped by buffaloes’ (sp?) munching and trampling of grasses and such (and of course, excreting too – BTW: buffalo-chip jewelry?  Sometimes progress is good!!).  Think about it: their range area stretched from the Appalachians / Alleghenies to the Rockies, and from Sonora to the Northwest Territories – HUGE!  Then Whitey came along and mucked it all up, and now we have weeds out the kazoo….

Natives lose on Atkins?

I’m wary of posting anything about certain kinds of extreme diets some experts claim are dangerous, so take this for what it may be worth:

After one year on a low carbohydrate diet, 60 members of the Namgis First Nation community of Alert Bay, [British Columbia,] have begun to reap some very positive health benefits.

Confounding diet experts and Health Canada….  Benefits that include weight losses and even reversals of diabetes.

Weight problems and above average incidents of diabetes are all to[o] common in the aboriginal communities of Canada.

The problems can be directly linked to the fact that traditional diets have in most part been superseded by the modern high fat diets of the industrialized world.

The U.S. Metis dilemma

Reading about Obama’s goals for Native policy reminds me of the dilemma faced by Mixed-Blood Indians within the United States who may be luckier (for now) than our Indian-identified cousins: In some ways we would wish, like our brothers and sisters within Canada, to receive some kind of recognition under U.S. law, considering that many of our communities antedate 1776, or the later U.S. conquest / cession of our territories.  But doing so could detract from the material help so many other Indians and Tribes receive from Washington, which is already far from enough, reflecting continuing illegal and genocidal policies and negligence on the part of the American government.  This was pointed out to me in recent years by one or more U.S. Métis groups like this one.

What’s the goal of “recognition” if not money, reservations, casinos, etc.?  Most basically, the government-to-government relationship of co-sovereigns.  Beyond that, influence in U.S. policy that concerns us and even our Indian cousins.  One thing not commonly mentioned in the U.S. is non-Treaty aboriginal rights, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering, when such rights have not been ceded by Treaty.  But even “Federal recognition” as currently set up takes decades, sometimes generations, and to add hundreds of non- (or semi-)Indian-identifying Indigenous communities to that process would probably bring it crashing down!

Some US Metis spokespersons even say non-Indian-identifying Metis who are currently luckier than our Indian-identifying cousins shouldn’t seek individual recognition, Tribal membership / citizenship, for similar reasons, but instead should join one of the newly-forming Metis groups.  But, at least since the ’60s, Tribal membership is sometimes seen to have a certain cachet, especially for those of us separated by miles and/or generations from our Native roots.  (Sure, if we don’t “look Indian,” and society doesn’t maltreat us like it does those who do….)  This is a little like Black-activist objections to the mixed-race option introduced in the 2000 Census, fearing Whites will perceive a smaller Black community and belittle their aspirations for equality and social justice and fairness – “divide and conquer.”  In fact, a majority of historic African-Americans have also Native American and European ancestries, just as most persons with Native American ancestries also have European and/or African ancestries now, and more European-Americans than realize it – especially Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch – have African and/or Native American and/or South or Southwest Asian ancestries.  (BTW, most non-Latinos don’t realize that most Latinos have substantial Native American ancestry, either.)  And more than a few Indian-identified persons treat Metis as “wannabe’s,” rather than “are’s.”  The fact is that America usually treats you based on what you look like … unless they know that there’s more to you than what you look like, and then they mistreat you on that basis!  So by no means should equality, fairness, social justice continue to be denied somebody, simply because he or she doesn’t meet the deniers’ traditional definition of this or that.

OTOH, in Canada at least, Metis often share Indians’ problems with health, poverty, and discrimination.  It might be interesting to investigate whether American Metis are worse-off in these ways than any of their non-Indian cousins, and perhaps more like their Indian cousins in this regard than currently suspected.

If Mixed-Blood profile, roots, and culture(s) could be raised in this country, their groups might be able to take pressure off needy Native communities.  Indians or Tribes could help with this perhaps.  But as currently understood here, no Metis group as such has any claim on the U.S. (except perhaps the couple cheated out of “Halfbreed Reservations” promised in Indian [sic] Treaties in the Midwest), and so like the group linked above, their aspirations are mostly less tangible and more voluntary.

The other thing is that Halfbreedness in the US has been mostly a highly-localized phenomenon, somewhat below-the-radar, with few if any of the larger kinds of groups, communities, and cultures that developed in what is now Canada – even a couple short-lived regional Republics in the Plains!  (This Wikipedia piece, while somewhat semi-comprehensive, focuses on the Plains Metis of Canada, especially their French-derived; this one, on what might be called Plains British-derived Metis; these links provide a bare hint that there are Metis in and rooted in Central and Eastern Canada; this site seeks to do much better, as does this oneThis document suggests that at one point ALL QUEBEC could be considered a Metis Reserve, and this long and quirky but rewarding one, that most French-Canadians are in fact Metis, “Creole [continental] North America,” not-quite-White, not-quite-French!)  As the links in parentheses indicate, Metis have a higher profile in Canadian history than here.  In fact it has been documented that many of the ‘border tribes’ the US warred with, stretching from the Great Lakes to Texas, were in fact Mixed-Blood Nations.  And many “White” cities from the Midwest to the Northwest were founded by Metis, even Francophones, even immigrants from Canada.  But in US historiography – as in fiction, movies, TV shows, etc. – ” ‘Breeds” usually have to choose between Native and Settler peoples.  [How many Old West cowboys were Metis / Mestizo???]  And so we have more than 200 relatively-tiny, loosely-organized communities in the Eastern U.S., identified around 1960 by Brewton Berry in Almost White, and by others before and since, most with a tradition of Native roots as well as Old World(!), most of whose neighbors seek to deny them any origins sounding more ‘exotic’ than mixed-Black-and-White: Nanticokes, “Turks,” “Portuguese,” Brass Ankles, Redbones, “Blackfoot Cherokee,” Melungeons, “Moors,” etc etc etc.  (OTOH, it’s highly likely that many of the early-modern Blacks and Whites invoked, had acquired Indian ancestry too, since Indians were enslaved as part of the Greater-Atlantic Slave Trade since the 1400s or earlier [sic], according to Powhatan-Renape / Lenape Metis Jack Forbes.)  And culturally, often these have been forced ‘underground,’ to largely assimilate to surrounding White or Black communities – though always retaining a certain distinctiveness, even if often uncertain to others or even themselves or their kin, or “hidden in plain sight” – unlike the ingenious blended Euro-Indian culture(s) of Metis in Canada.

THEN AGAIN, this US group thinks the solution isn’t to go along with the problem, but to challenge it head-on – “apply directly to the forehead,” so to speak! – not by simply joining the competition for a small or even shrinking pie, but with greater numbers to get the pie enlarged!  (They do perceive a need in the US Metis community similar to that in the Native-identified community.)  By some estimates one in three people in the U.S. has Native ancestry!  Imagine THAT Mixed-Blood Nation – 100 million registered voters!

In true Native fashion, one wants to honor “All My Relations.”  But how to do that – ah, that is politics!

Obama for Indians

Obama promises to name a Native as senior advisor for Indian affairs in the White House (what a concept!), to promote the government-to-government relationship with Tribes, and help alot of the problems on The Rez and even for off-rez Indians.  And the other day he was “adopted” into the Crow Indian Nation on its reservation encapsulated within Montana.  (That oughta screw up the demographics, with all his money now!)

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