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From: TECUMAH20012/3/02 2:16 AM 
To: All  (1 of 5) 
 1327.1 
I'm very much new to this forum but nonetheless grateful to have found it. I'm a black American woman of (probably) predominantly Native American background. I've lived in Houston, Texas all my life and don't have much experience with Native American culture.

Now, here's a question that has nagged for several years now. I've heard from several sources that the Native American culture is so scant now that just those with 1/4 Native American could be classified as Native American. Most whites with any trace of Native American in their background classify themselves as white, and blacks do likewise.

Although I'm thankful for all sides of my heritage, I don't want to deny a part of my heritage just because of historical ideas. Both my grandmothers were either 1/2 or 1/4 Native American. My paternal grandfather's mother was a full-blood Native American, making my grandfather a rich mix of Native American, African, and English. My maternal grandfather is also mixed with Native American, although he was very dark with naturally slick hair. My aunt once told me that he was from the Geechee(sp?)line. My paternal grandmother's paternal grandfather was Chickasaw, as far as my father's family tells.

Anyway, I'm just interested in any insight anyone on here could give me to confirm or challenge the validity of the above question.

 
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From: Guest Posted by host2/3/02 10:30 AM 
To: TECUMAH2001  (2 of 5) 
 1327.2 in reply to 1327.1 
Hi there Tecumah,
I am glad you found this forum and are enjoying it so far. I am going to attempt to answer your question LOL.

<<I've heard from several sources that the Native American culture is so scant now that just those with 1/4 Native American could be classified as Native American. Most whites with any trace of Native American in their background classify themselves as white, and blacks do likewise. >>

You are referring to the BQ levels or Blood Quantum levels here. They were installed by the US government to determine who could recieve the "benefits" if you really want to call them benefits. Since they were incorporated into tribal laws back then, they have also proven to be a help and a hinderance. While they do keep some kind of guide lines for who can enroll into a tribe, they keep the number of people who are just out for personal advantage down. On the other hand there are many who could be classified as even "full bloods" who do not qualify for enrollment do to the mixed heritage and do not meet the BQ levels for any one particular tribe.
It tends to be a touchy subject with some.
As for Native culture being scant I am not sure I would go so far as to say that. You have to keep in mind that there are over 500 recognized tribes in the US. Some are not that big, some are rather large. To classify all of them in the same catagory is a bit .. I guess stereotypical LOL.. each tribe has thier own culture. Some are similar.. others are completely different.
the good part is that we can all come together and still have fun.. show how we are similar and different at such events as powwows.
As for "whites" and "blacks" with traces of Indian in thier heritage, who consider themselves to be white or black respectively.. that is a matter of upbringing. Most of these where raised away from the American Indian heritage of thier forefathers. For some this is due to the fact that it was not "ok" to be indian for a very long time and only in recent years has it been ok to acknowledge this part of ones heritage.
During the various Indian wars, there were many who "hid out and blended into the hills". Some kept the culture alive while others tried to blend in with thier neighbors and over the generations they lost that part of thier heritage all together.
I hope this helps a little bit. And hopefully the others around here will add thier thoughts on it and also any corrects LOL.. I am not going to claim I am totally with it yet LOL.
Take care
Dawn

 

 
From: TECUMAH20012/12/02 1:28 AM 
To: Guest  (3 of 5) 
 1327.3 in reply to 1327.2 
Dawn, I truly appreciate that bit of information!

I've often wondered how I fit in with my Native lineage. I live in Texas and have been intending to take my children to visit the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Rez, in east Texas. I feel that it would be a good way to learn more about my heritage, with which, I'm sure, I identify in many ways. Ever since I was about 12, when I'd met my dad again, he'd told me about his Native American paternal grandma. She married his paternal grandpa, who was mixed black and Irish. My papa used to keep an old Victorian portrait of her, dressed in a long skirt and white, high-neck blouse, displayed in his livingroom. I remember often wondering who the light-skinned lady with her glossy hair pulled back in a bun was. I also recall him having a picture of a middle-aged white man hanging on the wall, although I'm not sure if they still have it.

IMO, many black Indians, such as myself, are unwilling expatriates from both our Native and African birthrights. Even though many of us were raised (or are being raised) in virtually segregated communities, it probably would be a lot easier tracing our Native side than it would our African or European side. It would probably be easier to trace our European side than our African side, at that!

Anyway, since all of my grandparents (all, except one, have passed)were either 1/2 or 1/3 mixed with Native, I feel more compelled to consider myself an expatriate of that culture than any of my other ancestries.

Again, thank you so much for the insightful information! It's definitely a big help.

 

 
From: Guest2/12/02 8:35 AM 
To: TECUMAH2001  (4 of 5) 
 1327.4 in reply to 1327.3 
Tecumah,
I am glad it helped some LOL.. in the south especially, there are many of mixed backgrounds. African, American Indian, English, Scotish, and Irish are some of the most common (in the) mixes. Although how some of these mixes came about happened in altogether different ways and for altogether different reasons. And most do not acknowledge the mix at all.
A visit to the reservation would definately be a learning experience LOL. I dont know too much about the particular one you are referring to though. If you go, perhaps you will let me know how it goes.

<<IMO, many black Indians, such as myself, are unwilling expatriates from both our Native and African birthrights>>
I do believe that many were cut off, and at the time it was deemed a very necessary thing to be done. Survivial was not easy to come by for many Africans or Natives for that matter. They were not seen as equal by many of the settlers coming in. In most cases they were more a "problem to be taken care of". Sad really IMHO. And yes I have to agree that people such as yourself have lost much over generations. Trying to trace your roots back to Africa (in many cases) is nearly impossible due to numbers brought over in the slave trades. And when the ships reached the shores of this land very few were allowed to carry on in a traditional manner.
But anyways LOL I think I am rambling now LOL. so I will hopefully talk more later. Take care,
Dawn

 

 
From: TECUMAH20012/13/02 3:30 AM 
To: Guest  (5 of 5) 
 1327.5 in reply to 1327.4 
I'll be much happy to let you now how things go at the Rez. It's great to be able to trace part of my history.

Agains, thanks!

 

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