Debunking the ‘Half-Breed’ Label

Debunking the ‘Half-Breed’ Label

Indian Country Today Media Network

Micah Armstrong
Blackfoot Indian of the Siksika Nation

Half-breed, mixed-blood, metis… These words are more than familiar to us who are not full-blooded American Indians. And by those who are not full-blooded, I do not speak of those who claim a “great-great-great grandmother who was a Cherokee Princess”, nor do I speak of those who say flamboyantly, “I have a little Indian in me!”, nor do I even speak of those who yell, “I am the wolverine!” at every pow-wow naming ceremony run by wannabes. I speak of those who claim Native ancestry who have irrefutable lineal proof who are not enrolled, and in a few cases, enrolled; those who were raised in the traditional ways of their people by their parents and grandparents. I am one of those who COB would place as being “half” due to so much mixing on every side of my family, including a direct connection to the Siksika band of the Niitsitapi (Blackfeet Confederacy), or as we call ourselves, “the real people”. I may be pale-skinned, but I honor my traditions through the telling of my people’s stories, by speaking my people’s language and even by creating the traditional art which my people used to and in some cases still create. My grandmother and mother raised me in our people’s traditions, however due to my great-grandfather’s parents having moved from the reservation in the very late 1800’s in order to create a better life for our family, he was the last “full-blood” in our family. Luckily, we managed to intermarry with those who also had Cheyenne and Cherokee (not the great-great-great princess tribe). Therefore we were able to keep enough blood in us for DNA to prove us as “half-breeds”. Although, none of our remaining family who are alive are enrolled in our tribe. Why, you may ask? “Don’t you have enough blood to enroll in your tribe?” Yes! Of course. “Then why? You are dishonoring your people.” I feel opposite. The reason why we are not enrolled, or refuse to for the time being is because we are proponents of the “lineal descendant” way of proving ancestry. The moment the lineal descendant way of defining ancestry hits our reservation, me and my family will be enrolled. We have all of the proof we need to be enrolled now, so why not wait a little longer? We are a surviving race of people (regardless if we are “metis” or “full”), and if we have kept our cultures and traditions alive this long without being on the reservation, why go against our way of belief just in order to feel “a part of”?…

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