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Old 12-13-2017, 07:07 AM
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Jennifer Reeser Jennifer Reeser is offline
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Default Pocahontas

An excellently-written op-ed at the liberal site, "THINKPROGRESS" blog, written by a Cherokee woman, and also a member of the LGBT community, a "two-spirit" woman.

Let me say -- I am a direct descendant of the father of Matoaka (Pocahontas), on my paternal line. This is not "family lore," but I can actually show this to you, on paper, along with other of my confirmed ancestors of Native origin directly from the Powhatan, such as "Black Davis." I have an actual family tree proven by professional genealogists, to back me up. Obviously, any of you who have read my posts are familiar with my connection to the Cherokee -- both past and present.

https://thinkprogress.org/elizabeth-...-c1ec6c91b696/

What I love about this, is that the writer makes absolutely no objections (as far as her personal, subjective, emotional reaction), based on Warren's appearance, or actual lineage, etc. She ties it all to "what has she ever DONE for us?" I love that, because it pretty much says it all, in this quote, "A real Native American hero, right? Wrong. She was not a hero to me when she failed to foster a haven of support for Native students within Harvard University’s alienating Ivy League culture. She is not a hero for spending years awkwardly avoiding Native leaders. She is not a hero because, despite claiming to be the only Native woman in the U.S. Senate, she has done nothing to advance our rights. She is not from us. She does not represent us. She is not Cherokee."
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Old 12-13-2017, 05:22 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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All fair points. Sadly true about almost all of Congress save a few.

Yet, the entire hunt after Warren is used as fuel for a movement of Oligarchs who would love to see all Native lands sold to the highest bidders and strip mined into oblivion. The discussion about Warren is not taking place in a room that gives a damn about indigenous peoples.

It is interesting why so many whites dream of indigenous ancestry. It is a longing for a different relation to the whole than the modern. I think some of it is silly but much of it takes root in the more clear sighted hearts of children. I like Warren's family, like many whites, incorporated a fantasy into their oral history. I doubt it was sinister. It is unlikely that she gained from it. She should have worked to pay that debt with action, honesty and real solidarity. She remains an imperfect politician standing on the side that is holding back far worse. Ambiguous stuff. White people are weird.
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Old 12-13-2017, 05:47 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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She never claimed it was anything other than family lore. Despite charges to the contrary, she never once sought to use her supposed ancestry to gain an advantage. Her college application had a box to check if you were seeking to be admitted as a minority or under an affirmative action program, and she checked the "No" box. When she was granted tenure at Harvard Law, according to arch-conservative Republican Charles Fried who was on the tenure committee, the subject of her supposed native American ancestry never came up at all, and no one other than Republican critics has claimed otherwise. There's no reason to think that she was making up the story about "family lore" since she never made much of it or tried to take advantage of it.

Meanwhile, I think it's naive to suppose that Trump's insistence on calling her Pocahontas is entirely free of any racist overtones. It's certainly not meant as a compliment, and the way he repeated the taunt during the Navajo talkers ceremony -- like a verbal tic on his part -- was bizarre and disrespectful.
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Old 12-13-2017, 05:56 PM
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Jennifer Reeser Jennifer Reeser is offline
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"White people are weird." LOL, Andrew. You always make my day. Thanks. What I find weird is how nothing ever changes. This is your standard update on the "token cigar store Indian" phenomenon. We have become the little Indian pieces moved around for political purposes, and a heck of a lot of the time, it seems like NEITHER side cares, sincerely.

Natives have a term for the other thing you mention: "pretindians." As for me, I don't get it. As a little girl, when the other children were making fun of my "slanty" eyes, and funny skin color ("Jenny, Jenny, copper as a penny..."), and no doll in the world looked like me...

I think it is mostly romanticism.

Roger, I thought that she had also made the claim that she's got photographic evidence of her Indian forebears. I thought I read in an interview, when the reporter asked her to see them, she answered, "They're not for your eyes," or something to that effect. I could be wrong, or that could have been "fake news," so don't quote me....

J
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Old 12-13-2017, 06:15 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I hadn't heard that.

I recently read that there was a Harvard Law public relations release that boasted about her being a native American, but it wasn't her decision to include that. The school was under a lot of pressure for not having minorities, and the dean was aware that Warren claimed to have some Native American ancestry so he decided to include that fact and embarrassingly pump it up. Interestingly, the degree of ancestry that she claimed -- 1/32nd, I believe -- would not have qualified her for tribal membership even if it had been documented. Having a single great-great-great grandparent, after all, is pretty remote. One could conceivably have 32 different nationalities if that really meant something.

On subjects like this, people can only go by "family lore." Marco Rubio apparently was under the wrong impression about when his parents came over from Cuba. While I despise Rubio, I never thought he was lying. He was just repeating what he'd always been told since he was a kid, and it never occurred to him to play investigative journalist on his own parents and dig up the records. Neither he nor Warren intended to or tried to defraud anyone over it. For Warren, it was just an interesting fact, not something that she ran on or used to elevate herself. Her political enemies are the ones who falsely claimed she used it to get into college and secure tenure at Harvard. She never portrayed herself as a champion for native Americans.
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Old 12-13-2017, 08:06 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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What Andrew said. What Roger said. What Jennifer said.
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Old 12-13-2017, 10:08 PM
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Jennifer Reeser Jennifer Reeser is offline
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Roger, that percentage you mention is what we call "blood quantum." It is completely irrelevant to tribal membership, for more than a dozen tribes in Indian Country, many, many of which are all about lineal descent. If you can prove one single ancestor, then you're in, no matter how little actual "blood" you possess.

The Cherokee Nation is one of those. If I recall correctly, the current chief is 1/16th, but he has that proven ancestor, whose name was on the Dawes Roll -- sometimes called the "Trail of Tears" roll. If it were not for that, most of the "blood quantum" tribes might not even consider him Indian, at all. (Most of the tribes require either 1/4 or 1/8 minimum blood quantum).

To give you an idea how this might play out, in terms of truly miniscule blood quantum -- many of those on the old Dawes Roll themselves had as little as 1/64th Indian blood, but were considered Cherokee. Technically, you could be descended from one of those, with virtually no Indian blood in your veins, yet still enroll in the tribe.

Conversely, you could be pure as the driven snow, ethnically speaking -- a full-blood Cherokee, yet could not enroll in the tribe, because you did not have an ancestor recorded on those rolls.

Jennifer
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Old 12-13-2017, 11:08 PM
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Richard Meyer Richard Meyer is offline
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Wow! This "blood quantum" system of racial determination is a bit reminiscent of the way black ancestry was determined in the Old South. I'm put in mind of Mark Twain's novel Pudd'nhead Wilson, in which two boys—one born into slavery, with 1/32 black ancestry, and the other white, born to the master of the house— are switched at infancy. Each then grows into the other's social role.

Richard
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Old 12-14-2017, 01:55 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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We have a detailed family tree tracing our line back to Pocahontas.
I donate fairly regularly to Native American causes, and have two Zuni rings on my two hands.
That said, I have no plans to begin describing myself as Native American. I didn't grow up on a reservation, and have no experience of the oppression and disempowerment which remains fundamental to American society today. I had a Chair to whom I once mentioned my ancestry, who wanted to list me as Native American for diversity quotas. I declined.
What my remote ancestry does, which is perhaps worth having done, is get a little money today to tribal causes, and make some conversations take an unexpected turn.
As for Elizabeth Warren. It doesn't bug me that her family legend claims descent from Pocahontas. I made a choice not to shirk that responsibility entirely, and as Jennifer details, Warren could obviously do more. People make these choices, and public figures might and should givethem more thought. But Donald Trump has chosen to put that name and person, who is by no means a Disney punchline, on a public platform - for instance, while patting a Code Talker rather condescendingly (draft dodger that he is) on the shoulder. And I do feel Native American enough to view Trump's slur - which to me it clearly is - with contempt. As remarked above, his plans for Indian land are no secret, they are there for all to see. Not only do Democrats and the GOP separate here, Trump separates from past GOP presidents. And he also likes throwing around the name of someone he never met.
My 2c.

Cheers,
John
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Old 12-14-2017, 05:53 AM
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Jennifer Reeser Jennifer Reeser is offline
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Bless you, John. On behalf of Great Grandfather Powhatan, and Native American Indians everywhere, I thank you.

Principal Chief Baker made an official statement to the tribe and to the media that the "Pocahontas" jibe from the "Great White Father," (as our ancestors would have addressed him), is officially disrespectful.

I really don't believe this is a common topic of conversation, though, with your average Indian.

In September, I was up on the Rez, in Cherokee, North Carolina. Red Paint asked why I had brought him no Louisiana boudin. "'Si yo," the tribesman greeted me, "Si qu'un?" I nodded, "Si qu'un." ("Things are fine.") Not a word did we exchange about this.

Several months from now, I will return to the reservation, where they will feed me fry bread, elk, and bison on Tsali Boulevard. Once again, I will speak the native language with the tribesmen, and I predict not a word will be said about Elizabeth Warren.

Her name cannot be pronounced in the Cherokee tongue

Jennifer
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