White or black? Sometimes it’s not so clear-cut

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United States on 2015-10-05 15:41Z by Steven

White or black? Sometimes it’s not so clear-cut

StarNews Online
Wilmington, North Carolina

Beverly Smalls

In June, as Rachel Dolezal of Spokane, Wash., confused members of the NAACP as well as her family, friends and the public about her choice to identify as an African-American, new conversations began.

Dolezal was accused of being a white person trying to pass as a black person. She stepped down as head of the NAACP’s chapter in Spokane.

Ironically, Americans of mixed heritage who appeared to be white in past centuries could gain better socio-economic opportunities by relocating to regions far from relatives known to be part African or Native American.

Unlike Dolezal, they preferred the advantages of being classified as white.

A different term, “mulatto,” defined those of mixed race, often with one white and one black parent.

If it were known, one drop of Indian or African blood in a family line could propel an individual or group of people into a lifetime of forced segregation and disadvantages in a minority community.

Having pale African-American skin could have provided advantages or separations from other black people, according to a 1930s Federal Writers’ Project.

A Wilmington man known as “Uncle Jackson,” born in 1851 and interviewed for the New Deal writers’ project, reported that there were lots of “mulatto Negros” in this region. Having a father who was part Indian and a mother who was considered mulatto, Jackson said he was not allowed to even play with “common chil’en,” white or colored.

Bygone cultural identity practices in 20th century Wilmington resulted in notable memories from descendants of mixed-race families…

Read the entire article here.

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Controversial Hire Won’t Serve as Dartmouth’s Native American Program Director

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing, United Kingdom on 2015-10-02 17:05Z by Steven

Controversial Hire Won’t Serve as Dartmouth’s Native American Program Director

Valley News
White River Junction, Vermont

Rob Wolfe, Valley News Staff Writer

Susan Taffe Reed stepped down as director of Dartmouth’s Native American Program. (Dartmouth College – Eli Burakian)

Hanover — Dartmouth College officials said Thursday that the school’s new Native American Program director has left that position in response to controversy over her representation of her ancestry and tribal affiliation.

“Susan Taffe Reed will no longer serve as the director of the Native American Program,” college spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said in an email Thursday. “Unfortunately, the distraction around her appointment prevents her from effectively serving in this role. It does not prevent her from contributing to Dartmouth in other ways, and we are currently exploring opportunities with her.”

She remains an employee of the college, according to Lawrence.

Taffe Reed, who says she is of Native American descent, is president of the Eastern Delaware Nations, a nonprofit group not recognized by federal or state authorities that says it represents Delawares who remained in their ancestral lands of Northeastern Pennsylvania — a claim that the federally recognized Delaware Tribe contests…

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Indian Enough for Dartmouth?

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-09-19 00:37Z by Steven

Indian Enough for Dartmouth?

Inside Higher Ed

Scott Jaschik, Editor

Dartmouth College this month appointed Susan Taffe Reed as director of its Native American Program. In a news release, the college noted Taffe Reed’s academic background (a Cornell University Ph.D. and postdocs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Bowdoin College), her research interest (ethnomusicology) and something else: Taffe Reed, Dartmouth noted, is president of Eastern Delaware Nations Inc.

If Dartmouth expected applause for hiring someone with a strong academic background and a personal background that would appeal to its Native American students, whom the program serves, it was mistaken…

Read the entire article here.

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Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Awarded to Louise Erdrich

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2015-09-14 00:31Z by Steven

Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Awarded to Louise Erdrich

News from the Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.

Winner to Participate in This Year’s National Book Festival

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced that Louise Erdrich, author of such critically acclaimed novels as “Love Medicine,” “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse,” “The Plague of Doves” and her current novel, “The Round House,” will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 5.

Billington said of Erdrich: “Throughout a remarkable string of virtuosic novels, Louise Erdrich has portrayed her fellow Native Americans as no contemporary American novelist ever has, exploring—in intimate and fearless ways—the myriad cultural challenges that indigenous and mixed-race Americans face. In this, her prose manages to be at once lyrical and gritty, magical yet unsentimental, connecting a dreamworld of Ojibwe legend to stark realities of the modern-day. And yet, for all the bracing originality of her work, her fiction is deeply rooted in the American literary tradition.”

The National Book Festival and the prize ceremony will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

“My grandfather, Patrick Gourneau, was educated in an Indian boarding school, became chairman of his tribe and testified before Congress on behalf of the Turtle Mountain people,” said Erdrich. “My other grandfather, Ludwig Erdrich, came here penniless from Germany in 1920 and worked incessantly through many heartbreaks to raise his family, including my father. Of all their grandchildren, it would have surprised them most to think of me, skinny and tongue-tied, amounting to anything. But in addition to the Library of Congress, I have my parents Rita and Ralph, in whom my grandparents’ spirits are still vital, to thank for this recognition.”

Erdrich is the third winner of the award. Previous winners are E.L. Doctorow (2014) and Don DeLillo (2013)…

Read the entire press release here.

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Louise Erdrich on her fiction: ‘I’m writing out of the mixture of cultures’

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-09-08 18:13Z by Steven

Louise Erdrich on her fiction: ‘I’m writing out of the mixture of cultures’

The Guardian

Bridey Heing

Receiving the Library of Congress prize for American fiction, Erdrich spoke of how her writing emerged from the ‘great loss’ of Native Americans

Novelist Louise Erdrich was presented with the Library of Congress prize for American fiction on Saturday in recognition of her three-decade literary career.

In the Q&A at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, that followed, Erdrich – the author of Tracks, Love Medicine and The Round House and a key voice in contemporary American literature – offered insight into the worldview from which she writes, one heavily influenced by her own experiences as a mixed-race Native American.

“It is where I’m from; literally there’s no other way than this that I can write. I’m writing out of the mixture of cultures,” she said. “Knowing both sides of my family really infused my life with a sense that I lived in many times and in many places as many people. It was never just me. I was always filled with the stories, the humor, the loss. Because, of course, we are all part of this great loss that occurred.”…

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That’s What She Said: Red-face

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Passing on 2015-08-31 17:17Z by Steven

That’s What She Said: Red-face

Eagle Feather News
Saskatchewan, Canada

Dawn Dumont

Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who decided one day that she was African-American. This crazy white lady braided in some fake hair, darkened her skin with tanning sessions and then became the leader of Spokane’s NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People).

I had no idea that we could switch races whenever we felt like it. I’ve stupidly been Cree just because I emerged from a Cree v-jay-jay. So, for the rest of the month, I’m choosing to be Tibetan. Since this morning, I’ve already sherpa’d six people up Diefenbaker Hill. (I really should have chosen a less hardy race.)

When I look in the mirror, I see a round-cheeked First Nation female looking back at me, but the world begs to disagree. I’ve been mistaken for Vietnamese, Spanish, Hawaiian, and Mexican-Japanese (which seemed oddly specific.) But I don’t have any identity issues. Probably because I lived on a reserve for the first 18 years of my life where I consumed enough deer meat, bologna steak and KFC family meals to keep me real for a lifetime.

It wasn’t until I got to university that I discovered people struggling with their identity. In my first year, friends would point out First Nations people in the hallways who were passing as white. They would casually say: “That’s Jason, he’s from Kawacatoose but he’s white now,” as if he had just switched banks…

Read the entire article here.

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Race in the US: What if your identity was a lie?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-08-24 18:50Z by Steven

Race in the US: What if your identity was a lie?

Al Jazeera Magazine

John Metta

“There are no qualifiers to my blackness, and I will never again be Not Black Enough. I am a black man, and I am angry.”

My father’s anger was a storm.

Like many other boys, I was carefree and careless with a thoughtlessness that bordered on stupidity. The world revolved around my desire to laugh and run in a bubble of fun and I rarely noticed the wake of catastrophe that cast out behind me. But I was always aware of my father watching me, and I was aware of the storm.

He was a giant of a man, with a voice like thunder in the distance. I was a butterfly, small and frightened, observing the horizon of his brow, watching to see if the storm clouds were coming near, waiting for the winds to blow in my direction.

Surprisingly, despite my raucous behaviour, they very rarely did.

There was a deep anger in my father, but that storm ravaged other lands. Most often, my delicate wings felt only his whisper. But the whisper of my father was still a very powerful thing.

Each of my siblings have their stories about these whispers, about the times my father sat them down to have A Talk – a proper noun that is capitalised in our childhood memories the way A Beating is for some children. A Talk was a gruelling ordeal of mental torture where your mind felt like a balloon filled with too much water.

I, the only son of his six children (and his least intelligent child by far), was often caught off guard by A Talk…

Read the entire article here.

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Stop Denying Me My Blackness: A Latina Speaks About Race

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-08-08 19:26Z by Steven

Stop Denying Me My Blackness: A Latina Speaks About Race

The Huffington Post

Vanessa Mártir

I’d been in Wellesley for all of a few weeks when it first happened. It was the fall of 1989, my first year in boarding school. I was walking with another ABC (A Better Chance) student back to our dorm on the outskirts of the Wellesley College campus. We were the “scholarship kids”– her a St. Lucian girl from Flatbush, me a BoricuaHondureña from Bushwick. We were walking along Washington Avenue, the main street that runs through the town, past the Town Hall that looks like a castle, and the duck pond. I don’t remember what we were talking about or if we were even talking, but I remember his face, bloated and red and angry. He stuck that face out of the truck that slowed down as it passed, then he threw a lit cigarette at us, two teenage girls, her 16, me 13, and said, “Go home, niggers.” We jumped away to avoid getting burnt and stared at the truck as it sped off. She started crying, a quiet, blubbering cry that shook her shoulders. I stayed quiet the rest of the walk home.

The following year, a black girl who was all of a shade darker than me told me I didn’t know prejudice, “because you’re not black.” She pursed her lips and shook her head. I thought back to that lit cigarette and that bloated red face.

In the summer of 1985, my mother took us to Honduras for the first time. One morning, my brother Carlos and I were picking naranjas off the tree whose branch extended out into our family’s patio. We were just kids—I was nine, Carlos was thirteen. We just wanted some oranges. Suddenly the neighbor came running out of her house screaming. She called us malditos prietos, thieves and criminals for picking fruit off her tree. She said she’d rather they rot than have us eat them. My brother pulled open an orange with his fingers, put it to his mouth and sucked on it while he stared at that woman. She sneered and called him, “un prieto sucio.” My brother laughed, juice dripping down his chin, grabbed my hand and walked off. I gave her the universal fuck you sign—the middle finger…

…I’ve been thinking a lot about race, as a Boricua-Hondureña who identifies as BOTH black and indígena, because I am both and neither is mutually exclusive. Here’s the thing, I’m all for conversations about blackness. They are necessary. But to have a complete conversation, we need to talk about how some people, African American and even my own Latino people, have denied me my blackness because “you don’t look black,” they’ve said. The issue is that people like me do not fit into their construct of what race is…

Read the entire article here.

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Pocahontas’ tribe, the Pamunkey of Virginia, finally recognized by U.S.

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2015-08-03 00:47Z by Steven

Pocahontas’ tribe, the Pamunkey of Virginia, finally recognized by U.S.

The Los Angeles Times

Noah Bierman

Mikayla Deacy, 4, swims with her dog Dakota in the Pamunkey River. As a member of the tribe, Mikayla will be eligible for scholarships and other benefits now that the Pamunkey have received federal recognition. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The tidal river that surrounds this spit of scrubby land has long functioned like a moat that rises and falls through the day..

A single road connects the reservation’s sycamore, poplars and modest houses with miles of cornfields that separate the tribe from large retail stores and suburban office parks of eastern Virginia.

The Pamunkey have lived on and around these 1,200 acres for centuries, since before their most famous ancestor, Pocahontas, made contact with English colonists in 1607.

“We call this downtown Pamunkey,” said Kim Cook, the 50-year-old granddaughter of Chief Tecumseh Deerfoot Cook.

She smiled. The only noise came from birds chirping among the pines by the old fishing shanties. The only action came when a cousin stopped by to relieve Cook’s 8-year-old son, River Ottigney Cook, of his boredom by taking him on a boat ride…

…Despite that, the tribe long had laws discouraging intermarriage. Marrying anyone who was not white or Indian was forbidden. Women who married whites could not live on the reservation, though men who had white wives could.

It was not until 2012 that tribal leaders fully reversed those laws and allowed women to vote and serve on the tribal council for the first time. (There had been female chiefs into the 18th century.)

The issue threatened the tribe’s federal acknowledgment, drawing opposition from members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Tribal leaders said the laws pertaining to African Americans were a reflection of Virginia’s racist past that included a ban on interracial marriages — context also noted in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ acknowledgment report — and were in part a defense against losing their status as a state tribe and being stripped of their land amid racial purity laws

Read the entire article here.

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I Am a Native American Woman With White Privilege

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2015-07-26 22:37Z by Steven

I Am a Native American Woman With White Privilege

YES, I SAID; YES, I WILL, YES. writing by Misty Ellingburg

Misty Ellingburg

First off, I think it’s important to say that I do not, and have not ever primarily identified as white. On my mother’s side, I’m Native American, enrolled in ghostmy Tribe, and, to a large extent, raised in my culture. I was born on the reservation and lived on or near reservations for much of my life. Indigenous cultural signifiers are important to me – I love Coastal designs and canoes. I love to eat Salmon, attend gatherings, and socialize at potlatches or powwows. However, due to genetics (while both my grandparents on my mother’s side are Indigenous, my grandmother is light-skinned, and my grandfather, of mixed ancestry) it so happens that I am light. Like, really light. Light as a ghost, let-me-put-my-arm-next-to-yours-and-compare-whiteness light. Some people call me glow-worm because they think I’ll be florescent under blacklights.

There are a lot of ways in which it sucks to be a light or white-presenting Native American. I’m often not recognizable, even to people of my own nationality. Sometimes, I even have to perform to be seen by myself, as if by wearing turquoise and beadwork, I won’t get so lost in the Western world. Of course, it’s so much deeper than that, but it can help to have outward reflections of an inner truth. If I’m not performing for myself, it can feel as if I’m performing to others. At times, (though very rarely) others with mixed-Native heritage have compared themselves to me, as if I were on the bottom of the scale for Native-presenting-ness. “Oh, I look mixed, but I look more Native than Mistylynn, right?” This desperately begs the question, What does a Native person look like? As I’ve posed it at other times on this blog, I’ll leave that question for others to chew on. Suffice to say, the need to be visible, and to have a voice as an Indigenous woman, is important to me. Native issues are my issues, are the issues of my people. I identify as an American Indian woman.

And I have white privilege…

Read the entire article here

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