10 Ways to Tell: ‘You Know You're a Native Elder When…’

Vincent Schilling

As the years begin to pass us by and it seems there are more and more young ones running around at pow wows, how is it we know when we are becoming a Native Elder?

We decided to reach out to Indian country on social media by asking the following: Finish the following phrase: "You Know You're a Native Elder When…” we received hundreds of responses on our Facebook Page.

So if you were wondering if you might be a Native Elder check this list we have compiled below from the hundreds of comments we received. Then you too will be able to finish the phrase, You Know You're a Native Elder When…”

10. When all the kids call you Grandma or Grandpa, even if you are not related to them

Are you Grandma or Grandpa to every young person that you see? Even to those young ones you don’t recognize? Then you are definitely a Native Elder. If they are using auntie or uncle, you are getting close.

We have to give credit to Agnetha Gloshay on Facebook for coming up with this, the most popular comment with 76 likes and growing. A lot of folks also gave similar comments including 60-year-old Inupiaq elder, Lena Oksoktaruk-Wood who said everyone calls her grandma even though she doesn’t have grandkids.

9. You tell stories that contain “back in my day, when we were children” and usually end with ‘we played outside with a stick and imagination”

Yes, the good ole days…these words often may leave your lips if you are a Native Elder according to Heather Trevino Baroch from Great Falls, Montana. Other phrases also count like, “when the water was clean, when there were a lot more trees on the earth and before the white man came here.”

8. The ravens and eagles start to follow you everywhere

Trish Courtoreille from Lethbridge, Alberta gave us this pointer about Native elders. We think it might have something to do with the years of dedication toward respecting the world and the animals and now they are deciding it’s safe to hang around.

7. When you say “Young one,” and the whole tribe turns around.

If everyone in the tribe is younger than you and saying the words “Young One” causes every head to turn around, yes, you are a Native Elder. Thanks to Tonia Hart Roberts on our Facebook page for this one.

6. When your spirit animal or the animal in your name is extinct

“You know you’re an Indian Elder when the animal in your name is extinct!” Al Garza of Oceanside, California came up with this one. If your animal is on the endangered species list, it might be time to consider yourself an elder as well. (Worth a mention – Dan Bailey also commented - When the grizzly leaves you alone because you`re too tough to chew!)


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woundedbearcharlton's picture
Submitted by woundedbearcharlton on
well i know i native and i grow even closer to 50 by the day as i was born july 19 1964 thrue i have learned i more sioux than cherokee and that i am half sioux and only 1/8 cherokee and thrue i have no kids but i plan on it i just refuse to mary outside my race cause i am native and i seek same but all and all i think i be one of them old elders with kids at powwow and i will probly still dance even at 80 if i live that long thanks sincerly from mr matoopi