Imagine living in a land that had an abundance of everything. Trees, wildlife, rivers, lakes, vegetation – you name it, there was an abundance of it. Now imagine foreigners from a distant land washed ashore and you embraced them, shared your abundance with them and taught them how to survive in a land they knew nothing about. Then one day, the foreigners turned on you, killed your men, took your land, raped your women and re-educated your children to learn their ways and their religion. If this were your story, would you celebrate a holiday commemorating the foreigners’ first encounter with you? I hope you’d think that would be an insult to you and your people!
But what if you learned this was your story? What if you learned the foreigners changed what they called you so many times that your original identity was erased? What if you learned the foreigners portrayed other people as you and programmed you to believe you were from somewhere else? How would you feel about celebrating what would become the demise of a people all this time, just to find out they were your people?
I stopped celebrating Thanksgiving some time ago because I empathized with the Native Americans and felt what the Europeans did to them was wrong. After researching my ancestry and researching history, I was pissed – which is an understatement – to find out the original people the Europeans found in America were copper-colored like me and that I have Native American blood flowing through my veins. I can only blame myself for my ignorance though. It’s no one else’s fault that I blindly followed something I didn’t question and that it took me so long to find out who my ancestors were.
Do Better: If you or anyone in your family is copper-colored, your ancestors may have been the original people the Europeans found in America. Spend some time reading through the posts found in this blog to educate yourself. If you feel compelled to continue celebrating Thanksgiving because it’s tradition and it brings your family together, why not spend some of that time educating them on what you learned here.
How is it possible for the offspring of two native Americans to be anything but native American?
During the time Dawes Rolls were instituted, Blood Quantum laws were being used to determine who was native enough to be included in one of the Five Civilized Tribes. Some natives were excluded because they didn’t have enough blood of onetribe to be included on their registry. As crazy as this may sound, those who were mixed with several different tribes were only allowed to enroll in one tribe. So, instead of adding up their blood quantum to be included, they could only claim the portion for the tribe they chose.
For example, if someone had 100% native blood, but from four different tribes, they could only claim 1/4 blood from one of the tribes. If that tribe required 1/2 degree blood quantum, then the native was excluded. As with the One-Drop Rule, these laws excluded many natives from tribal affiliation, thereby stripping them of their heritage and rights.
Do Better: Know that these laws I’ve been blogging about were put into place for a reason. That reason was to take away the identity of the coppered-colored races of people the Europeans found here. Taking away the identity made it easier for them to take over the land. It is imperative for you to research your ancestry so you’ll know who you are.
I can’t tell you who’s on the reservations today, but I have a pretty good idea why many of them are not copper-colored.
In order to claim Native American status in the United States, one must be a member of a federally recognized tribe. Federally recognized tribes only accept people who can prove lineage from someone listed on the Dawes Rolls (taken between 1898-1906). These rolls were taken after the Dawes Act and were considered the final rolls of the five civilized tribes.
The problem with the Dawes Rolls is that it doesn’t include those who decided not to leave their land east of the Mississippi River during the Trail of Tears, it doesn’t include those who refused to be listed on the rolls, and it doesn’t include those who didn’t meet their criteria. It does, however, include Europeans who intermarried with native Americans as they were being “civilized” by the Europeans.
Do Better: There’s a high probability you may not be able to claim Native American status in the United States based on their requirements, but that should not stop you from researching your ancestry to find out who you are. Once you know for yourself, no one will ever be able to take that away from you (again). Share what you learn with your family so they’ll know as well.