Ancestry Tree Roots
Ethnic Indians have an identity like Americans, who have multiple ancestral lineages such as English, Dutch, American Indian, or other nations, but do not participate in those cultures, and are contemporary Americans in terms of identity while recognizing their numerous historical heritages.

Are Ethnic Indians a Threat to Indigenous Rights?

Duane Champagne

Ethnic Indians who do not have ties to tribal nations form a potential threat to Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous rights. Trying to define “indigeneity” or “Indian” is a difficult task, in part because of the diversity of tribal cultures and identities. In the contemporary period, there are also new competing racial, cultural, and political identities that many Indian people are exposed to and sometimes adopt. In the final analysis, people and tribal groups make their own choices about tribal identity or membership.

The reason there are indigenous people is because there are millions of people around the contemporary world who continue to live in indigenous cultures and nations. Despite over 500 years of colonial relations, indigenous people persist and will continue indefinitely. A key element for understanding indigenous cultural continuity is the holistic and independent worldviews that inform indigenous ways of life. The holistic interdependencies of community, plants, animals, cosmic beings, and the view that all beings are interdependent and need to show respect for each other, differs profoundly with the cultures and governments of the nation states.

Indigenous Peoples continue to contest with nations states over land, identity, forms of government, ways of life, and other issues. Indigenous Peoples are those who continue to adhere to the holistic cultures of tribal nations for identity and political participation. The continuity of indigenous nations will depend on whether their members or citizens uphold commitments to live within and support tribal nations.

There are many people who are of indigenous lineage, either wholly or partially. In Canada such people are called Métis, or in Mexico, Mestizo. Most Mestizos, and many other Latin and South American nations, are culturally and politically hostile to Indigenous Peoples, nations, and cultures. In the United States there are pan-Indian organizations and identities, but they are often composed of tribal members and are favorable to tribal issues.

Ethnic Indians are those persons who have an Indian identity and lineage, but are not members of a tribal community. There are hundreds of non-federally recognized Indian nations, but their members tend to retain strong commitments tribal identity and life. Ethnic Indians are those who have not retained a commitment to tribal relations or tribal membership, although they may know their tribal nation, they have not taken membership or do not qualify for membership. Ethnic Indians have an identity like Americans, who have multiple ancestral lineages such as English, Dutch, American Indian, or other nations, but do not participate in those cultures, and are contemporary Americans in terms of identity while recognizing their numerous historical heritages.

Ethnic Indians are in many ways more familiar than tribal Indians with American culture, and are better positioned to qualify for college scholarships, and gain employment as Indians in racial terms to fulfilling U.S. affirmative action goals. Race-based rules do not require Indians to have cultural or political commitments to tribal communities. The ethnic Indian population is increasing and, according to recent Census reports are more numerous than tribal members. Will U.S. ethnic Indians support tribal interests, or will they decide to assume and strive to exert their own ethnic status rights within U.S. society?

An advantage for ethnic Indians is that they are in a position to take advantage of civil rights and human rights accorded to all U.S. citizens. The ethnic Indian position of economic and political assimilation is much more congenial to nation state political goals than the difficult, culturally contested, and long struggle to preserve indigenous rights to land, self-government and cultural autonomy. If ethnic Indians support indigenous rights then they will be allies to tribal communities. However, if ethnic Indians believe they are or will be the majority, and therefore better positioned to assume the center of indigenous struggle as an ethnic rights struggle, then ethnic Indians will have assumed an oppressive role against tribal nations and indigenous rights.

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kopczyn's picture
Submitted by kopczyn on
From outside point of view only members of federally or state recognized tribes / nations should have access to post treaties benefits. Ethnic descendants of Indians and non native population (people with legacy connected to Native population) should not, since they are part of no-native society. They can benefit from affirmative polices of US systems is applicable (eg. Elizabeth Warren is she is a right example)

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
huh? are all we 'ethnics', (whether by CHOICE or not) a threat or a blessing...

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
and...why are you making 'ethnicity' sound like a disease....since most 'tribes' refuse to take us into the fold because we don't come within the guidelines for 'membership'.....

talwohali's picture
Submitted by talwohali on
It is not a good thing to lose sight of one's heritage. How many people say "I'm part Indian" and have no idea what that really means or even which tribe their family is from? More often than not I hear them say they might be eligible for financial assistance of some sort.

veronicabasye's picture
Submitted by veronicabasye on
My comment is an aim at enlightening you, Mr. Champagne. When I was a child, I didn't grow up with my father. He couldn't give up drinking, and my mother raised me the best way she could. As long as I could remember, I would ask her about my lineage, her side and my dad's side, and she would always oblige. She'd tell me of her white and Mexican side. She would tell me about my dad's French and Indian side. I was raised in a mainly Mexican-American town, so one aspect of my heritage was no mystery to me. However, when I attended a mainly Hispanic school, where kids were proud of their race, they would laugh at me, because to them I didn't look "Indian". When my peers would ask about my heritage, I would proudly name all of them. Even though they appreciated the Mexican, I would hear in the same breath, "Indians don't wear glasses", "Indians don't live out here", or "All Indians are dead". When I got to my teenage years, I finally got to talk to my grandmother, who said she was full- blooded, her father came from a reservation in San Diego, where she had aunts and cousins. Her father was Luiseno and Apache, and I believe also Comanche, yet he assimilated long ago, and would classify himself as White on papers. She told me that she had tribal documents that she said she would pass to me when the time was right. A few months later, she had a stroke, which almost killed her, robbed her of most of her memory, and those papers disappeared. She died a few years ago, with many questions unanswered. My father will say he's Indian, but that's as far as he'll go. He doesn't affiliate himself with any Native Nation and will not delve into the topic. I cannot check the box that says "American Indian or Alaskan Native" because I don't belong to a federally recognized tribe and every time I try to connect, my lack of papers and lack of knowledge of specifics serve as a wall. I always felt drawn to Native American issues, I've always felt a need to help those in the community, yet I feel like an outsider, and what good can an "outsider" be when outsiders are frowned upon? I don't consider myself an "Ethnic Indian" since typically, ethnic Indians live in India. I consider myself disconnected from my roots, not willingly. I consider myself to be the product of many survivors. My identity has always been the object of others' definitions. You're right, Mr. Champagne, there are many advantages we urbanized mixed bloods can take advantage of, but don't think for a moment that we live happily without those bonds.

RobynL's picture
Submitted by RobynL on
I am trying to understand what your point is about, but I just can't seem to make it gel. I am one of those "Ethnic Indians" you refer to. You seem to be saying that because I don't live on a reserve or reservation, I can't really know what it means to be "Indian". I'm not certain this is what you're saying, but if it is, let me ask you if I still am still a relation to my ancestors who were herded onto reserves and reservations while some were to drift off and try to make a life in 'white society'? Would the lives of my family who were scorned and discriminated against in the cities only for looking "indian", never mind practising any of their own ancestral culture still count? Would I, who also encountered that same disdain despite trying my best to learn the 'white culture' still be somehow less Indian? In Canada, we are many nations, and within our own nations we have a lot to sort out. This wasn't caused by our own history, this was history imposed upon us. We must learn to sort ourselves out of that mess, and we all know it's going to take some hard work and some new ways of thinking. However, the one part of our culture of cultures that should never change is if you are a part of our blood, if you have earned the right, you are a part of our tribe. Right now, for all the work to be done, please make note that we all fight for the equality of our people. We all fight for respect for our cultures. We all participate in the marches, protests, and the work to be Idle No More. Don’t mistake that the people who are not living on the reserves/reservations haven't earned the right, nor weren't born into the right to have a place and a say in that work or the results.

Mburt33's picture
Submitted by Mburt33 on
I am Chickamauga and I know it. However, my ancestors refused or hid from the census rolls. Therefore, my "recognized" brothers refuse to allow me to be counted as indigenous. If invited, I would come home in an instant.

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
halito duane...first of all, I have no idea why you even bothered to write such an inflammatory article..all you have done by writing it is make damn sure you keep the barriers up between the 'haves' and 'have nots', the 'traditionals', and the 'nots'...this isn't new...its been going on for centuries, and it needs to stop.. secondly, you should have studied a little more closely the 'differences' between 'indigenees' and 'ethnics'...both can become each other under differing circumstance... lastly....your writing is so convoluted that you appear to admire both 'ethnics', who you appear to think are the true survivors of life in modern white man world, and, the 'indigenees', who are the true messiahs of the old ways... after reading your article, I know I was one confused, upset, irate 'ethnic' who, in the overall picture thinks you are a fool for restirring this pot that simmers daily, weekly, monthly, yearly...

builds-the-fire's picture
Submitted by builds-the-fire on
Here’s what I got from this article: Tribal nations want the support of “ethnics” to be a non-questioning, blind support. Overall, I disagree with the premise of this article—that being that “ethnics” do not support Native American Indian tribal communities and nations because they have no ties to them, and thereby are a threat to NAI political rights. The statement "If ethnic Indians support indigenous rights then they will be allies to tribal communities." reads more like a threat than an observation. From my experience, I don’t see how you can make such a statement because: 1. I have been—as many other “ethnics” have been—told that if my ancestors do not appear on certain rolls then I couldn't possibly be of a particular tribe. 2. I’ve also been told that if I can't write out my NAI genealogy seven generations back, then I can't possibly be of NAI ancestry. None of the people who have told me this can discuss how slavery and assimilation helped destroy NAI communities. 3. I've also read that DNA doesn't qualify one for tribal membership in some tribes--you could write a book on this one. Why deny someone "membership" into a tribe when DNA, family folklore, and (geographically speaking) census records support their genealogical claims? That's like shooting yourself in the foot (wanting to be larger nations), and then refusing to see a doctor (denying “ethnics” membership into the nations). In essence, tribal nations want the support of “ethnics” all the while denying them familial relationship. I think ethnics are making the effort to seek out their heritage simply because they feel that part of them in them. We want to know more about our tribes. We wouldn’t be reading ICTMN articles if we weren’t serious about learning more. That in and of itself should tell those fearful that we’ve “come to take over” that we are no threat to NAI nations. We could be your biggest ally, and a major resource. As a side note, though no editor can catch every mistake in an article, I think that this article could have been edited better. For example, I would have edited out everything after the comma in the first sentence of the 4th paragraph so that the sentence read as follows: "There are many people who are of indigenous lineage." Leaving in the words "either wholly or partially" made me question who "such people" referred to in the second sentence of the same paragraph, where you wrote "In Canada such people are called ..." Of course, after re-reading the paragraph a few times—and leaving out the word "other" in the third sentence of the same paragraph, it became clear that you were referring to those of a "partial" descent. Finally, thank you ICTMN for being a leader that sparks conversations that need to take place. In that regard, this article was perfect.

Submitted by JohnOwl on
1/11/15 Here are my immediate thoughts: The real threat today are the “Disfunctionals”, not the Quarter-Bloods or “1/x-Bloods”. As a quarter-blood Lakota, I no longer believe the lost souls on the reservation represent the tribe – the tribe is instead the collective spirit of the people whom take great pride in being native, whom keep the spirit alive by teaching our friends and family our culture, religious values, and fundamental traditions. My tribe, the Sioux people, has always been a hybrid race of elites. Our very roots claim we are the “Star People” and descend from beyond the Milky Way, and that we will eventually return someday. The tribe was at one time settled in the Carolina’s and the Ohio Valley (including Pittsburgh) but ultimately pushed west and fought via hand-to-hand combat for over a century and prevailed as elite leaders/people/warriors because of their culture & traditions. Adaption into the tribe was a fundamental practice; as was the expectation of superior performance. Being taller and lighter than other tribes, and having traces of the Celtic cross in our religious symbolism, has led some anthropologists to speculate that we may have intermarried with Celtic/Viking explorers in prehistoric times and this may differentiate us. As the tribe pushed west in the 1600 & 1700’s this hybridization continued. It continues today, yet the religious roots, ancient ceremonies, and the core belief structure remains. This much is certain. And so we continue to adapt and have in effect become an adaptive race: first the horse, then the car, now the internet. And yet the Lakota have much to learn from other tribes… for instance the Jewish tribe which has centered its culture existence around the synagogue not a government enrollment number. As Jewish existence was always a life-or-death struggle, banishment was mandated by synagogue leaders, rabbi, whom had zero tolerance for disfunctionals. Once admitted, they drew the line there… not on a percentage blood quantum. They were brutal but highly effective – they produced an elite race as evident by their success in the arts, business, and science. I especially like a tribe that says "either you are, or you are not" and then places the highest expectations on its young people – like we once did. Regarding the reservation - in the beginning the reservation system was a brutal, life-or-death balance and survival depended on both luck and hard work. Dysfunctionals were not capable of surviving and the system was self-cleansing… albeit harsh and cruel. In the 60’s and 70’s more welfare poured in and enabled, for the first time, the dysfunctional minority to survive and thrive - this is readily admitted by those of us who had family on the Res who moved off, looked back, and noted the character of those who stayed. In two generations this dysfunctional subset took over. The same thing happened in ghettos in large cities like Chicago - there a former coworker (3M black engineer and someone I admire deeply) grew up in a notorious & massive public housing complex known as Cabrini-Green. What started as a positive dream of clean housing, reliable mass transit to jobs, and access to local health care turned into a living hell as the vulgar criminal element took over and drove out anyone trying to better themselves. In the end the massive Cabrini-Green complex was demolished as hopeless. The dream was crushed by parasites who turned it into a breeding ground fit only for vulgar, criminal behavior. . The ”Res” is like this; it is no exception. The losers/troublemakers/FAS-damaged have long ago reached critical mass. They stay because they can be parasitic, survive, and be assured care; they now sickly claim to represent the "real native". Yet anyone with half-a-brain and an ounce-of-drive leaves at first chance and returns only to visit. . In the ancient times these same troublemakers were driven out of the tribe and banished (as the tribe had no jails or prison systems). Now a perverted form of “banishment” is in effect on the Res – now it is the hard-workers who are banished. As was the case at Cabrini-Green, the dysfunctional tribal members realize they are destined to fail, and banish any functional people thru violence, theft, and bullying. Rape, murder, intertribal gang fighting, hard drugs, alcoholism and a generation of vegetable babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) are unfortunately worse in 2015 than in 1975/1985/1995. It is beyond hope. Now a century after the start of the reservation system this unnatural “construct” has created the unintended consequence of empowering dysfunctional to create more dysfunction. This will continue until the tribe reinstates a strict code and enforces it by the ancient proven practice of banishment. Expecting the reservation leadership to do this is like expecting the lost souls of Cabrini-Green to fix-up & resurrect their public housing complex with the help of the friendly Bloods and Crips. This will only happen by people and vision from the outside. John Owl

Nenaabi's picture
Submitted by Nenaabi on
When are we going to stop fighting amongst ourselves and start binding together to make real progress in decolonizing this oblivious society? One of the reasons "Ethnic Indians" (I literally cringe at these labels) have been further alienated from their tribal communities is because said tribal communities have adopted the methods of the colonizer in determining who is a tribal member. For example, even if you know your family genealogy going back many generations, have multiple pieces of documentation/evidence proving your heritage, and express a strong desire in word and action to learn and live the ways of your tribal community, if your ancestors aren’t on ONE very specific colonizer document at ONE moment in time (for reasons that are as plentiful as the stars in the sky), you are ineligible for membership. How did this happen? When did we become willing participants in alienating our own indigenous brothers and sisters? Are we willing to sacrifice so much for the crumbs the U.S. government has doled out in place of making good on its treaty obligations? Let me be crystal clear here, I do not blame the tribal communities. The United States and the European colonies before it are completely to blame for this outcome through centuries of genocide and shyster techniques like the Indian Reorganization Act, but it is important for us to recognize when we have been had and make strides to retake and redefine, on our terms, who we are and how we live (I’m sorry but no matter how much you try to convince me, I will never accept that using a specific U.S. document from 1937 or 1908 to determine who is or is not an Indian is consistent with what our ancestors would have hoped for). Can we at least agree to stop dividing ourselves? Let’s start welcoming our long lost families back into the fold and with one ever-growing voice proclaim, no demand, that an overall indigenous world view return once again to Turtle Island. There is a lot at stake here and we have no time for these internal squabbles. The future of Mother Earth, her forests, deserts, animal relatives large and small, lakes and mountains and human survival depend on it.

C-Ann's picture
Submitted by C-Ann on
I agree - somewhat. I am mixed heritage and my family assimilated and passed into mainstream society. As a result my exposure to racism was minimal and was easy to hide. Therefore, through the last 100 years our family has managed to gain a financial and social foothold into western society, which came with benefits of employment and acceptance. As an adult I have worked in an Aboriginal agency as a counsellor for years. What I have noticed is the system (government) bases their changes in policy (such as educational norms; minimum requirements to get into college; funding that helps people advance financially, etc) around the "Ethnic"?? level of participation or norms policies are based on the 'norm's of people such as myself. People who can claim aboriginal ancestry, but who have been assimilated and who have found firm footing in their lives through this process of assimilation. The government has yet to address and change policy to truly reflect the aboriginal experience, spirituality, way of life, belief system, and a society that is historically verbal. College etc. is used in this country as a marker for possible employers - that their workers have the skills necessary for the (western; mainstream society; norms jobs). Non assimilated ("ethnic??") aboriginal peoples of mixed ancestry do not represent the 'norms' of aboriginal peoples whose families have lived on reserve; attended residential schools; or lived in a traditional way. The government has not change policy in the country to ensure that it is inclusive. Rather they have based their policy changes on the "majority of assimilated mix ancestry aboriginal norms". Thereby creating a false impression that they are addressing ALL aboriginal needs. And in fact by doing this, they are yet again successfully creating a misrepresentation of the facts. Non aboriginal people's see that there is a lot of funding money being put towards aboriginal enhancement and cannot understand 'why' aboriginal peoples are still voicing discontent. The fundamental values and beliefs and ways of being alive have not been addressed in this country to truly reflect aboriginal ways.... but rather represents a large section of assimilated aboriginal peoples. Just my thoughts......

singingcrow's picture
Submitted by singingcrow on
That’s the universal question many mixed-blood American Indians are asked every day. How many times have you mentioned in passing that you are Cherokee to find your conversation interrupted by intrusive questions about percentage? How many times have you answered those questions? Well stop! That’s right — stop answering rude questions. Have you ever been talking to someone who mentioned that they were part Hispanic, part African-American, part Jewish, part Italian, part Korean, etc.? Have you ever asked them what percentage? Hopefully your answer is no, because if your answer is yes, then you’re rude. It would be rude to ask someone what part Hispanic they are, but we accept that people can ask us what part Cherokee we are. This is a double standard brought about by our collective history as American Indians, and is one we should no longer tolerate. The history of blood quantum begins with the Indian rolls and is a concept introduced to American Indians by white culture. Throughout early Native history, blood never really played a factor in determining who was or was not included in a tribe. Many American Indian tribes practiced adoption, a process whereby non-tribal members would be adopted into the tribe and over time become fully functioning members of the group. Adoption was occasionally preceded by capture. Many tribes would capture members of neighboring tribes, white settlers, or members of enemy tribes. These captives would replace members of the tribe who had died. They would often be bestowed with some of the same prestige and duties of the person they were replacing. While the transformation from captive to tribal member was often a long and difficult one, the captive would eventually become an accepted member of the tribe. The fact that the adoptee was sometimes of a different ethnic origin was of little importance to the tribe. It wasn’t until the federal government became involved in Indian government that quantum became an issue. One of the attributes collected on a person signing one of the many Indian rolls was their quantum. However, this was highly subjective as it was simply a question that the roll takers would allow the people to answer for themselves. In this day and age, however, quantum is heavily relied upon for determining eligibility for tribal recognition. In order to become a registered citizen of any federally recognized Cherokee tribe you must first get a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood). This CDIB is issued by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and simply states that the United States government certifies that you have a specified degree of Indian blood and are eligible to be a member of a given federally recognized tribe. Once you have a CDIB you can become a recognized citizen of that tribe. In addition, many Indian tribes include their own quantum restrictions for citizenship. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires that you be 1/16 or higher to join, and the United Keetowah Band requires a blood quantum of 1/4 or higher. The Cherokee Nation, on the other hand, has no quantum restrictions. The majority of the Cherokee Nation has 1/4 or less Indian blood. When considering these numbers it is important to remember that the Cherokee were in direct contact with white settlers very early in American history. Many prominent Cherokee families include intermarried whites as far back as the colonial period — prior to the American Revolution. As you can imagine, with over two hundred years of intermarriage, many Cherokee today have some very confusing fractions to spit out every time someone asks, “What part Indian are you?” But why do we, as tribes or individuals, think that a number is sufficient in proving our Cherokeeness? Blood quantum is just that — a number — a sterile, inhuman way of calculating authenticity. When a person asks, “What part Cherokee are you?” they are trying to quantify your authenticity. If the answer given is a small percentage or an incomprehensible fraction, the answerer’s Cherokeeness is called into question. Why? We are not Gregor Mendel’s cross-pollinated pea plants; we are people. Our ethnicity and cultural identity is tied to our collective and ancestral history, our upbringing, our involvement with our tribe and community, our experiences, memories and self-identity. To measure our “Indianness” by a number is to completely eliminate the human element. And to allow others to judge us based on that number is to continue a harmful trend. Next time someone asks you what part Cherokee you are, tell them it’s irrelevant. If you’re braver than me, challenge them by explaining that they are asking a rude question. Because in the end, the answer doesn’t matter. You’re a whole person, not the sum of your “parts.” If any “part” of you is Cherokee, then you are Cherokee. Period.

anny's picture
Submitted by anny on
I read your other article and did not totally understand your point - now I do, thank you. You are saying that people of partial, even marginal Indigenous heritage, who do not belong to a native nation, may qualify for and take advantage of what few scholarships or rights there are for Indigenous people and so crowd out members of native nations, who for many reasons like cultural knowledge/experience, or financial issues are perhaps less better positioned to get those things. I hope I said that right. Thank you, that is very important.

anny's picture
Submitted by anny on
I don't think the author is slandering ethnic Indians, (I agree that term is unfortunate.) It seems to be a class thing he's talking about. Say there are 3 scholarships for native students and 6 applicants. 3 applicants are part-native, not tribally affiliated, who had access to a reasonable public school, a home with at least reasonable living conditions. 3 were enrolled children, say from Pine Ridge or a similar area - and were deprived of education, healthy food, or even heat in the winter. Well the non-rez folks might win out just because they had more access to decent conditions, making study more possible. In that case, great - 3 part-native students were educated - but those who were part of the group of people holding down the fort tribally, on the rez, who might've helped their whole people if they got that education, could not compete effectively for it. I'm not saying the non-enrolled kids don't have challenges, and I am NOT saying a rez-kid living in awful conditions can't rise. But that child might have trouble competing for a limited resource with somebody who is living in the mainstream culture. I do not think we need to get mad at each other - those enrolled and those not. What we need is more FUNDING so it is not such a problem. This country is falling on its face as far as the poor and working class are concerned - even the middle class is struggling. That is the real problem. The rich get richer while the rest of us fight it out on the ground. There should be rights, benefits, and good education for tribally enrolled children and for those who are not - ALL children. So lets fight for equal opportunities for all children, on rez, off, and all over the country, and not fight each other. There is not enough of anything because the rich are absconding with everything and not paying taxes... food comes out of the mouths of poor people to fund that highway robbery. We fight each other for scraps. NO MORE SCRAPS. Let's band together, and I mean everybody. We need to change the culture of this country to save our kids. College education is TOTALLY free in Germany and mostly free in the rest of the EU. Yup. THEY are not having these conversations, because THEY are not taking the people's tax money and giving it to oil executives, while shutting schools... Do the math! Also, Mr. Owl, you just slandered 1000s of people, and suggested they be abandoned. What is that about? You can't make blanket statements about entire peoples. And the Lakota religion is not 'Viking and Celtic.' Geez.

Juan Romero
Juan Romero
Submitted by Juan Romero on
I'm what is called a "meztiso"(which is very offensive). My family is from Sonora,Mexico. I'm very proud of my Yoeme heritage. It's true not all Mexicans think the way I do. My stepfather who is a Zapoteca Indian from Oaxaca taught me right. I will always support my indigenous peoples even though they might not feel the same for me.

Michael Charles
Submitted by Michael Charles on
This article actually disgusts me quite a bit. While I understand the perspective that this guy is coming from it reeks of underlying racism and I'll explain why. First off I am native from the Virginia / Maryland area. I have 3 tribes in my lineage with 1 being the far greater majority than the others. 2 from my mother's side, Piscataway (majority) and Pamunkey. One from my father's side, Blackfoot. I am also mixed white and black. Currently the Piscataway tribe does not have federal recognition. We only 3 years ago achieved State recognition (after being forced to waiver any and all casino 'rights'....which we were not interested in in the first place.) My life as a racially mixed child was horrible. I couldn't identify with any of the different groups as back then it was not "cool" to be mixed. My mother tried to keep us tied to our native roots as best she could but the Piscataway tribe was all but nonexistent at the time. The Pamunkey tribe outright rejected us because we had black in our blood. It was okay to be mixed white with them but not black. This was proven hardcore by one of my distant aunts that sued her way into the tribe but is still an outcast. Anyone related to our lineage is also blacklisted. The blackfoot connection was lost with my grandad (father side), now dead, who had also been burned on the race issue and refused to give us the info we needed to properly trace our heritage back. The Piscataway tribe is now reuniting and attempting to learn and recreate our lost culture as best we can, but lets be real. All our elders are dead and what little we can glean from written history (because we know that that is ALWAYS recorded accurately) is limited. Also according to this author we are Ethnic indians that know more about American culture than our lost indigenous culture. We are bastards that are "hurting" the "REAL" natives' struggle. We had no choice but to adapt to the new culture because we were outcast in the first place. It seems to me that the struggle would be better fought if the established indigenous nations would reach out to the bastards...ahem I mean "ethnic indians" and lost tribes and TEACH us instead of just ostracize us and then get upset because WE are messing things up. We still attend the regional Pow wows but have no voice and are pretty much ignored...kinda like the mentally challenged kid that no one really wants around and everyone just keeps their mouths shut to be polite.