Monthly Archives: November 2022

Who qualifies to represent themselves as Native?

Okmulgee mounds in the ancestral homelands of the Mvskoke people long before Europeans arrive

Who qualifies to speak for the Native people?

I’ll be the 1st to admit, I’m fortunate enough to have unbroken Native descent. My Mother’s birth certificate says Indian right on it. My Grandmother who was alive for half my life, is on the Dawes rolls. I had much in person contact with her.

That said, my Mother and Grandmother weren’t exactly running around with ‘I’m an Indian’ t-shirts and braids in their hair. Considering what residential schools, gov’t policies, and general population attitudes did to my family, this is understandable in my opinion.

Most of my direct family are Mvskoke citizens. I have many cousins as well. I am from a large and well known Native family in my Nation. Last I looked, my Nation was the 4th largest in the US, about 100k citizens. It has a lineal descent requirement, not blood quantum.

Like my Native Nation, I do not believe in blood quantum, though mine is about median. There are about 2000 full bloods left and my blood quantum is higher than more than half my Native Nation.

I believe strongly in lineal descent

I’m fully confident I am Native and have no insecurities about this.

I don’t care if someone has a 200 yr break since their last ‘fully Native’ ancestor.

I don’t care if their blood quantum is nearly non-existent.

I don’t care what ‘race’, color or phenotype a Native is.

I don’t care if a Native’s culture & language is lost or unknown.

FYI: Culture and language is SUPER important however, and I fully encourage immersion in culture and language education.

I stand with Native Nation determination of who is Native, and who isn’t.

When I disagree, like for instance, I disagree with my Nation’s current determination of Freedmen, my primary focus is on voting and influencing my Native Nation, not Twitter or others.

I do not believe in self-identity

If someone can only self identify, or only has family lore to go on, they need to stand down, and shut up. They need successful research before they identify as Native. Period.

FYI: I believe DNA means zero.

All the above said, I am an individual Native. I am mostly in listening and learning mode, and I share what I can as an individual.

As the elder of my direct family, much of what I share on social media is primarily for my descendants.

My beliefs on who qualifies as a Native are NOT the same as who I believe should be representing Natives publicly as leaders, spokespeople, teachers, writing books, participating in panels, running large social media accounts, etc.

These positions have a higher threshold.

These are the 2 big questions:

1. Who qualifies to represent themselves as Native?
2. Who qualifies to speak for the Native People?

My opinions are obvious from the above tweets. I will add, neither Natives nor Native spokespeople should be expressing opinions with disinformation, false facts, bullying, control freaky, immaturity or anything less than adult respect and behavior.

As always, internal Native issues are for Natives, not non-Natives, allies or not.

We really need to be adults and find common ground to be civil with each other.


This post is a slightly edited version of this original thread on Twitter:

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