10 Things Native Americans Can Do Better Than You

Simon Moya-Smith


Native Americans are skilled at various things, but here's a list of 10 things Native Americans can do better than most. (No, seriously. We can.)


10. Play lacrosse

 Illustration by George Catlin. Courtesy Wikipedia/Smithsonian Institution

Because we invented it.


9. Snowshoeing

courtesy Library of Congress.

Because, although Europeans had their own form of snowshoes, Native Americans are lauded for inventing the most efficient and diverse.


8. Run on Indian Time

Because “White Man Time will give you stomach cancer.”


7. Letting you know why this is completely and utterly wrong.

Naturally, a Native American will give you a better run down as to why this is fantastically repugnant.


6. Find unique ways to flirt while remaining traditional.

Facebook/Cumash Pow Wow 2013/AmigoNonProfitFilms.

Let’s face it: the potato dance is an art form and a fine way to hit on someone at a pow wow.


5. Host inipis (sweat lodges).


Listen, just don’t do it if you’re not qualified. It can end seriously bad.


4. Deep fry some dough.

Courtesy Wikipedia

It’s not super healthy, but it’s super nostalgic and pretty delicious with honey and powdered sugar.


3. Not act terribly surprised when celebrities claim to be Native American.

It happens a lot. (Brad Pitt claims to be Seminole and Cherokee.)


2. Honor Mother Earth


It’s kind of been our thing from the beginning.


1. Laugh


Because, well, without humor the past 521 years would’ve been a lot harder.

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shmang's picture
Submitted by shmang on
and possess patience, yearn for knowledge, respect our Elders, maintain durability, possess artistic form, make do with what we got, know the difference between spiritual and religious, need and want, and we can forgive and forget...

samuel's picture
Submitted by samuel on
Ya...imperialism destroyed the closest thing to a utopian society. Even though there are trade-offs in terms of hardships one would have to endure, indigenous societies were so far advanced in their understanding. If you read "Scoouwa: James Smith's Indian Captivity and Narrative" you can catch a glimpse of this. He says himself that the people he lived with (mostly with the Caughnawaga Mohawk) had an unparalleled understanding of their surroundings (obviously) but also an extremely advanced natural intuition that he had never observed anywhere else.

redbeard's picture
Submitted by redbeard on
Actually there are a lot more important things "native americans" can do better than most of the current US population, it is a shame they were not part of this list. But on the other hand, the latest and greatest scientific research also confirms that these peoples were not native to America, but were illegal immigrants that came across the temporary land bridge from north eastern Asia roughly 12000 to 14000 years ago. When they migrated to America they brought with them a warlike culture and disease that killed the earlier immigrants from Europe known today as the Solutreans, who had immigrated here themselves earlier. The latest US Government science also shows that "Naïve Americans" created the man made global warming phnomenon, causing the Laurentide ice sheet that covered the northern parts of North America to melt, and the sea levels to rise over 30 meters, inundating thousands of square miles of coastline, and causing mass extinctions of Mammoths, mastedon, saber toothed cats, giant beavers, and many other species that we have now lost due to the effects of what we now refer to as 'Native Americans". We have all fallen short of the glory of nature, and natures God.

Shotgun John's picture
Shotgun John
Submitted by Shotgun John on
I agree with ever point except #7. I think everyone (except the owners of the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise) know that what we see in the picture is offensive. Hell, members of the KKK would know THAT is offensive. (Doesn't say much for the NFL in Washington D.C., does it? Or for much of anything else in Washington, D.C. for that matter.)

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Well, it's certainly clear who the Natives posting here are. Unfortunately, it's equally obvious who the White men are. WEHMS2 - You make an excellent point. White men conquered us and tried to kill us off so that they could amass the money that would allow them to retire to do the same things WE were doing all along - hunting, fishing, camping, and horseback riding; in other words, all those things rich, retirees pay big money to do at a resort. Makes sense, right? JIM - You're joking right? We lacked innovation, huh? We survived WITHOUT your technology and we managed to do so without polluting the earth. You're at least right about the stasis when it comes to religious dogma. Native Americans NEVER killed off an entire culture in God's name. Native Americans NEVER cut the feet off men and boys in a city for rebelling against the European religion being shoved down our collective throat. Native Americans NEVER espoused helping those less fortunate, then called you a Socialist for doing so. You say stasis like it's a bad thing. TRIPWILL - You're simply an asshole. ROL - A fool and his (or her) money are soon parted. ANONYMOUS - Did the Irish suffer a genocide? Is Irish a racial slur? I would protest alongside you if the team's name were The Fighting Micks. Explain to me how "The Fighting Irish" demeans your people. I perceive a #11 that should be included - defending your race and culture against morons who use tired stereotypes, unimaginative cliches and faulty rhetoric to debase an entire culture so that they can feel superior about themselves.

sweetgrass777's picture
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
@Craig Dillon Thanks for the info but we are not Irish! They helped destroy our culture and took our lands. Keep your Irish pride to yourself.

feralblue's picture
Submitted by feralblue on
OK - that guy in the headdress is disgusting - i am super angry about it!!!!! >:\

samurai-jack's picture
Submitted by samurai-jack on
11. Operate gambling casinos nationwide, and use the proceeds to effectively manipulate corrupt state and local non-native politicians. Truly poetic irony and payback, only... is it helpful or harmful to our legacy?

Craig Girard
Craig Girard
Submitted by Craig Girard on
I didn't think I've ever heard any NDNs call frybread "fried dough", and Inipi is something only a Sioux would say (not all Native Americans). love the potato dance though.

Lauren RLauren
Lauren RLauren
Submitted by Lauren RLauren on
My grandmother Virginia Damon received a full page honorable obituary in this newspaper years ago for her work in Indian Country. Wonderful Indian woman. She took great pains to educate me about my Native culture and my Scottish culture. She traveled to Scotland on her meager income to locate that part of my clan there. Growing up immersed in Indian Country I vividly remember two stand out painful incidents as a child with "Rez Red" hair. One was a western native man (from a government agency I presume) back in the 70's came to our Tribal Nation. He was taking roll #s at the door. He looked at my mom who looks stereotypical Indian and gave her such nice greetings then looked at me with a scowl and asked my mother in a cruel hearted demeaning way if I was an Indian. I was a little girl and felt the sting of humiliation. I was holding my mothers hand but felt suddenly not hers or a part of my tribe. My heart broke. I loved the Indian people I grew up with. I never knew up until then the Truth of racial hatred. Like he was saying shame on her for having me because he was. I can remember going to IAIA when it was BIA run in 98/2000and there were like three of us 'light skins'. When IAIA turned open enrollment I returned there from my rez hoping I would be more accepted and have an easier time. Not so. The being left out. I would say something in class and be absolutely ignored. Then a full blood would raise their hand say basically the same thing and be applauded. One time at IAIA in 98 a Lakota professor had had enough of people making fun of me and my red hair and explained it is called "Rez Red". I have penny color not bright orange hair. He knew my grandma. I studied fully five years total at IAIA making Deans/ Presidents list and a prestigious award for my poetry in 99. Natives are marrying 60% outside of their race and yet I worry about the children coming up in that. I found my childhood and adulthood terribly painful. Dealing with racism and ignorance by both races. I am 45 years old now and have survived the generational ills of familial alcoholism; poverty before our casino's; domestic violence; suicide; you name it. But what still grieves my heart and causes me to cry like I am still a child like this morning is racism. Either in the commentary of these posts or pics. I have beautiful regalia not joker/Irish looking garb for pow wow. I am a good bead worker and shawl maker. At the IHS here ,last two years ago, I was in the waiting room. One full blooded lady looked at her freind and said 'It is happening in Montana too." after she gave me a long hard up and down stare of disapproval. All my life. Very hard being mixed. Very. My Tribal Nation has changed in that we opened our rolls years ago when we had the funding. I have many new relatives.Indian Country is changing all the time. As I get older I really worry for my kids. I want them to never endure the torment that had become my life. Being Euro and Indian is tough. People should watch what they say. I have another degree aside from my Native one. I am glad I am a well rounded person and see it all for what it is now. I have my Grandmother to Thank.

Azzy's picture
Submitted by Azzy on
I hate any article that starts with "can do better than you" because the author does not know what I or anyone else can do. IT is a stereotyped article that complain about being stereotyped. If you can lump all white people into one bucket don't whine when it happens to you. You make the same mistake as many minorities by pretending only white people can be bigots or racists. Lacrosse?? Really, how many all american lacrosse are indians? Fried food?? That is laughable. You have one thing that looks like a tire. Have you ever been to a real bakery?? You have a problem with redskin but call others white. Caucasians are no more white than you are red. Hypocrite much?? What about the blackhawks, road warriors? Can we have a list of acceptable indian nicknames? You are being used by the liberal press and don't see it. Apparently I can at least avoid that better than you.

carolecorralejo's picture
Submitted by carolecorralejo on
I have read alot of people's comments and enjoyed most of them. However there are some that are straight from the mouths of rednecks! No intelligent responses, only putdowns. Why can't the readers just enjoy what was written? It is all true and as for the "indian" people begging the gov't for things, remember whose land we are all living on?!?! White man go home... Ya like that?

Guitarguy_99's picture
Submitted by Guitarguy_99 on
Have we all forgotten the Dawes Rolls? Most "native Americans" aren't native at all but descendants of the Asians and, yes, Whites, that lived with the tribes during the times of relocation. This article proves and means nothing.

Guitarguy_99's picture
Submitted by Guitarguy_99 on
Have we all forgotten the Dawes Rolls? Most "native Americans" aren't native at all but descendants of the Asians and, yes, Whites, that lived with the tribes during the times of relocation. This article proves and means nothing.

WhiteManWanting's picture
Submitted by WhiteManWanting on
Jim, your sarcastic lack of insight says more about who you are than a 10-page essay could have. "No indiginous tribe in North or South Ameica invented the wheel!" So? And curing illnesses from plants native to the land is insignificant? "Was the wheel considered too sacred to reproduce?" Ah, WONDERFUL dig at someone else's religion - always in good taste [sarcasm/off]. "Whatever the case, the lack of innovation or religious dogma would have kept this hemisphere in a stasis." OR: Perhaps if the European explorers had sought to cooperatively share the land and the best of both cultures (as if there is just one of either "side" anyway), we just might have a nation that could truly have become unique in, and the legitimate envy of the rest of the world. What you refuse to know about anyone not in your genealogy tree is to your own detriment (and you don't even have a clue). Too bad Samuel's comments about "Scoouwa..." would make no sense to you. What a pitiful shell of a human being you must be.

hammertime's picture
Submitted by hammertime on
This article is dumb... When the Spaniards arrived he found the Natives doing about the same thing that they were doing in Europe......fighting amongst themselves,,, The natives he found had been fighting with each other for thousands of years. So what does that mean, we are all equal in being able to be violent to each other and not being able to get along ??? ....