“But how Indian are you?”: notes on being a mixed-race Indigenous person.

“But how Indian are you?”: notes on being a mixed-race Indigenous person.

A Halfbreed’s Reasoning

Samantha Nock

I am mixed. It’s not like it’s a secret. I am a mixed-race, mixed-blood, hybrid, mud blood, halfbreed; these things I know to be true. The thing is, I know my identity. I am accepted by my community, yet when I tell folks, especially non-Native folks, I get one of two reactions:

  1. “Really? But like, how much Indian are you? Like what fraction of your blood is Native?”
  2. They lean in really close, like they’re going to tell me a secret. They cock their head to the left and squint their eyes like they’re searching each line in my face, each pore, each chicken pox scar for some trace of their cigar shop Indian. It’s like, somewhere hidden in my features their untamed savage is hiding: maybe it’s behind my eyes, or maybe its somewhere in the space between my cheek bone and my jawline. When they’re done searching for hidden Indigenous clues, they always pull back, smile, and say, “yeah I can kind of see it! Look at your cheeks!”

It’s not the act itself that bothers me, as a light skinned, white passing, Indigenous individual, I get it. But it’s the fact that people assume that because I am mixed that I am less of an individual, that now, my parts don’t make a whole and each aspect of my identity is up for scrutiny. Automatically, I lose sovereignty over my identity and my body because I become a subject to be “made sense of.” Invasive questions about blood and family are deemed okay, because I have become the embodiment of anti-dichotomous reasonings of identity: “but how can you be more than one thing!”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,