One part of the original article that got me to thinking a lot was something like, "if you're not part of a state or federally recognized tribe, you're not really a legitimate native american." I think this statement is an important example of how one's beliefs and ideas really form their sense of the world and their sense of reality. How can we, as native nations, become free and independent, if we don't even believe we are native nations without the stamp of approval from another nation? It's a lot like what people who are freed from slavery go through. Freedom is a two-part process. You remove the chains from their bodies, but the bigger challenge is removing the chains from their minds. In terms of being nations, I think we must think of ourselves that way, and call ourselves nations, in order to continue being nations. But, in reality, as long as we are treated with paternalism by another nation state, who we are unable to resist, then on some level, calling ourselves nations is really a title, not necessarily a reality, so to speak. I am currently going through the new edition of the indian legal rights handbook, and I have to say, I was a little shocked to find out just how much of recognized native peoples lives have been legislated. I recently spoke with a chief of one of the state recognized abenaki tribes in my state. It appears that if I applied for membership that I would qualify. But, I hesitate. I'm really torn about it. Part of me would like to label my beadwork as native american made, but I feel like I would be trading it for assimilation, loss of autonomy, and being legally categorized as someone who is "conquered". I'm just really having a hard time with all of that. As much as I appreciate the kind chief's offer to consider my membership, I just don't know that I can bring myself to do it. I think I define who I am. Not someone else, not some government body, just me. And I don't think that means I'm only an abenaki in my own mind. I have proof. I have my geneology and DNA testing. Do you really need more than that?
Saturday, March 24, 2012 - 23:49