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An Apology to Native Americans

Those of you who know me are aware that I am part Blackfoot. Grrrrr....
OK this is the very last time I ever word it that way! Why do I feel the need to explain my fair skin? My Mother was 1/2 Blackfoot and half Swedish/Norwiegian. My Father was 1/2 Hopi and 1/2 Scottish. So I have light skin for a Native and I feel like people look at me odd when I say I'm Blackfoot. Reality is I AM Blackfoot 100%, that is where and how I was raised. My blood is mixed and I am proud of my European heritage (Yay Vikings) but I am Blackfoot. I know nothing of my Hopi people other than what I've read and the same with the rest. So instead of concerning myself with wether or not people "believe" me I will Honor my Grandmother's and Grandfather's and only state I am Blackfoot from now on!
I'm done Rambling now!

This morning I recieved an email from my sweet friend Christy @ Kronicles of a Konader
This is the link that she sent me:  Native legal update
Simply put One church felt compelled for reasons unknown to offer a sincere apology to the Lenape tribe, One of the first affected by the European invasion.
I do not know (nor do I care) what motivated them to offer a 400 year past due appology but I can say that reading this and then going to my tribal site and reading what my people were saying, it brought me to tears. My tears were of both sorrow and hope. Sorrow because I know how my people still live and hope for the future of all Native Americans. these people did not personally create the wrongs but they took the initiative to step towards righting a very long legacy of wrongs.

I try very hard to not make my blog a Native Rant space, nor do I want or expect pity, or apologize from ancestors of those origional invaders. However this is a subject that is very personal and I cannot help but be overly passionate about it. So I will do my best to make this a one time spewing of my Native heartbreak and just get it out.
I know how a lot of American's view or have been taught of the Native American's mainly those living on Reservations. They are told that we are given all of this "free" stuff from the government, that we live off of the government and cling to pity, that we build casinos and proudly take white gamblers money to live high on the hog. LMFAO  Pardon my language but that is a gianormous crock of bullshit!
This is where I come from

(picture taken Spring 2009)
This is not an exageration but a current lived in government provided home on my tribal reservation.


(Above picture taken last fall 2008)
This is what the US government has so generously given my people. (about 30 years ago)


(Picture taken spring 2009)
This is one of the nicest houses on the reservation. Not paid for by Government funds.
It is embarassing to me that this is home. This is where I am from.
I am not embarrassed to be Blackfoot by any means, I am a proud Blackfoot woman.
I will not show the school or library because those pictures have some of my family in them and I do not care to make them public.

The government gives so little funding to reservations that most reservation educated children whom have graduated High school have the equivelant of a 6th grade US non reservation education.
There are no free chacks handed out to families, no free vehicles, yes we get that fabulous moldy government cheese! Woohoo!
Casinos are not on all reservations nor are they a cure to Native poverty, but you do what you have to to provide for your people. Casino's have brought more money to the Blackfeet and more drugs, and alcoholism and more stereotypes.

For me personally ,as well as what some of my relations living on the reserve are saying, this is a step toward removing the curtain that has hidden true reservation life from the American public. This is hope for change in government policy. (Native Americans still must register and inform Indian agency of where they live and travel) A step toward possibilities of a decent future and maybe even religious freedom. (Many of our religious ceremonies are outlawed by US government)
I have a new twinkle of hope!
I leave you with these pictures of The Blackfoot reservation and what my tribe has preserved through many battles, treaties and plain stubborness!













May the stars carry your sadness away,


May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,

May hope forever wipe away your tears,

And, above all, may silence make you strong.

23 comments:

  1. The pictures of untouched land are truly moving. I find the whole Native American casino stereotype disheartening. I visited Keshena, Wisconsin a few years ago. Keshena is the home of the Menominee tribe. There is a casino there, but the Native people are certainly not living high on the hog because of it. The homes were very much like the ones in your pictures. What I loved most about my visit was the abundance of untouched land. It's quite beautiful in the fall.
    Keep speaking out about the plight of your people. A lot of people assume the things you have mentioned about Native Americans and the government. I am sure you have enlightened a lot of people. I know I have even learned from your words.

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  2. coincidentally, last night i contemplated emailing you and asking if you might ever want to talk about this MORE on your blog. i know i'm interested.

    i agree, the photos of the land are amazing. and, i hope this doesn't sound stupid but, i saw an episode on extreme home makeover where they helped a family living on a reservation. it was sobering to see the conditions.

    i hope you talk more and more about it. and about your spirituality too!!!

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  3. Sweetie,don't ever feel the need to say you are "part" anything! You are Blackfoot. Just as I am African-Canadian and Irish and Scottish and Cherokee.People used to ask me all the time if my dad was "half-breed" (he's a light-skinned Black man) just because he doesn't "look" like every other black guy.Not only is it rude,but it is disrespectful to all of your ancestors.Our lineage is what makes us who we are.If you didn't have Swedish and Scottish and Hopi and Norwegian and Blackfoot ancestry,you wouldn't be you.It's unfair for people to decide how members of a certain race or ethnic group should look.We are all different! and seeing as how I've written a mini-novel down here,I won't go into my feelings about all the "free stuff" Native people get.I stayed on a reservation (in Northern Quebec) for two weeks.While what I saw wasn't extreme poverty,they weren't living it up on the Canadian government's dime either.This is why people need to take the time to learn about something before they make dumb ass
    commments.

    Thank you for taking the time to educate people :)

    Ginger

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  4. Deb- The wild lands up on the reserve are beyond breath taking. That is something I really do miss and have yet to find a place comparable. But Home is always special! Thank you!

    Diane- It does not sound stupis at all. The living conditions on most US reservations are subhuman. To put it bluntly if you were to make your dog live in the conditions that I personally have lived in, well you would be arrested for animal cuelty. It angers me and saddens me at the same time.

    Ginger- I agree and that is why I made my stand today. My oldest daughter is even lighter than I am and she is Cherokee on her Dad's side, she's beautiful and if you met her you'd know she was Native. I believe it was a Cherokee Cheif who said something about this subject...It is not the quantity of Native blood in your veins that makes you Native it is the quality of Native beliefs in your heart. I know that is not word for word but The Cherokee have some wise sayings and I live next door to them now. I have learned a lot of their culture. Amazing the similarities and differences!
    Thank You!

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  5. I'm a quarter Malaysian and some people ask if I'm Chinese lol but the rest is Scottish, British and a sprinkle of gypsy.
    It's weird because I'm as pale as death and have blue eyes.

    Anyhow the whole Native American culture completely fascinates me, I love wolves, feathers and jewellery and my room has a lot of dream catchers involved.

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  6. VampiressDoll- What a lovely combination it is!

    Here is the Blackfoot story of the Dreamcatcher:
    The night air is filled with dreams both good and bad.The dreamcatcher when hung in your place of rest, swinging freely with the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams are straight and true and they,slip through the holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams are twisted like angry words and get tangled in the web and perish with the first light of the new day.

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  7. I love this side of your blog. :)

    I feel like sharing too!

    I'm Powhatan, Welsh and Sicilian. I know very little about my Powhatan heritage. My grandfather was born to a Welsh coal miner and a Powhatan women. He was beat, stabbed and bullied for being a "half breed." His heritage was a dark secret and was never discussed. As a young adult, I found out about my secret Native American side! It felt right. I grew up sandwiched between several Southern California tribes. The "rez" kids were my buds. :) I rode the same school bus that picked up the reservation kids. I saw everyday how my friends struggled. Their tribe is quickly regaining their past glory. I'm so proud of my native heritage. I wish my grandpa lived in a time that he could have been proud too. I have hope that times are getting better.

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  8. I just keep rambling..
    :)

    Here is the Powhatan side of the Disney-fied Pocahontas story:

    http://www.powhatan.org/pocc.html

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  9. Liz- You ramble all you want!
    My Grandfather took a Christian name a moved several states away and hid his Native heritage, farmed and raised a family because he fell in love with a White woman. He new that his children would be tormented and tortured, not by The Blackfeet but by the nearby town. The Blackfoot are actually very proud of their European heritage (those that are of mixed heritage) and will proudly bat their blue eyes or curls or whatever European traits that they have.
    I have heard of the true Powhatn story, it is used by Native teachers to show the twisted tongue used to tell Our history.
    That is why we have stories and story tellers that carry our history.

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  10. I respect you more and more the longer I know you. :) Thanks for such an awesome and varied blog!

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  11. came back to see how the conversation was going.

    everyone's a blend of all these great cultures! i'm just a boring ol' white girl ;) oh well lol

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  12. I love this side of your blog too!! My great-grandmother was 100% (or as 100% of a culture as one person can be) Native American, so I've always felt a strong connection with my heritage. I honestly had no idea that people held such a view of Native Americans (taking stuff from the govern., etc.) that you describe. I really hope that only a small sect of people feel that way, since from your pictures and what I've read elsewhere, it is clearly not the case. I appreciate your honesty and your pride. Keep it coming!

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  13. Thanks for this post! I loved the photos of your reservation. It looks like heaven.
    Don't be surprised that only one church decided to apologize. They don't give their apologies so easily, you know. For example: there is a lot of molestation cases of the children by the priests here...and they don't want to admit anything... Current pope even wrote a book in latin in which he described how to deny it all. It sucks!
    I'm sorry for all the Native Americans. I knew about this problem before...and I do think that the government should do something.
    It's so nice to see that you proudly except who you are. More power to you! You go, girl! =)

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  14. Liz- Thank You! ((hugs))

    Diane- You lovie are far from boring!!!

    Brooke- Thank You for the support.Unfortunatly the misguided ideals about Native American's is much more widespread than you would imagine. I am Blackfoot and proud to still have a lot of our culture still in tact.
    kaná'pesi siksiá matápi ayáapi


    Sasha- I am shocked that this apology came at all. We have those same problems here within some churches and it is sick to use religion in such a way.
    The government will do nothing until all Americans open their eyes and demand change. I'll not hold my breath for that.

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  15. You my dear are such a beautiful soul!
    The pictures of the Blackfoot reservation (at the end) are beautiful to the point of bringing me to tears. The first few pictures brought tears of pain.

    I guess because of growing up in a household where I was taught that Native Americans were the most abused race, and how horribly the US government has treated them and continues to treat them has made me unaware that others are being taught what you said. That just breaks my heart!
    I pray that one day the government's conscience finally takes over and they issue an apology. hey, a girl can dream right?

    well, on a lighter note, it's a darm good hting I wear waterproof eyeliner and mascara or i'd be a MESS!

    {{HUGS}}
    Christy

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  16. I love this post Andrea- thank you!

    My husband, Jim, is the Watchman for a parcel of land once settled by the Lenni Lenape. The company he works for owns the (now protected)land.

    Since getting the position, Jim has learned alot about not only the Lenape, but other Native Tribes, and the US government's "dirty secret".

    As an aside...The Watchman Post has given my husband something he never had- Spirituality.
    He's never believed in organized religion or God, but after having to learn and research the Lenape, he had an epiphany....He connected with their way of life, beliefs, and respect for being one with nature and all that it encompasses.

    Jim and I were married with 2 children for 12 years, divorced for 10 and reunited 4 years ago the 5th of this month. His epiphany came during our 10 year estrangement, and I can honestly say that his new-found spirituality was the catalyst to us getting back together. It changed him from being a superficial, selfish and uncaring person.

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  17. your blog is amazing! thank you for the beautiful pictures and the eye opening ones. It saddens me that our government's and religious organizations are taking so long in righting wrongs. This makes me want to take my kids on a little trip over to Cherokee soon so they can learn

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  18. I adore you and your posts about Native Americans. The American government should have apologized for their treatment of Americans. I've heard and seen many times the abuses and horrible treatment of the people. I've read of all the horrible alcholism and drug addiction. This is all the good the government is doing. The horrible living conditions and all the government can do is give some cheese. It really makes me sick to hear and read about all of these problems. Never apologize for your rants. They educate us. Otherwise we would never hear of all of the appaling conditions. I for one want to know more. I listen to a radio station that has an hour program on Sunday night that is Native American music. I really love that hour and wish they would increase it. Thank you for your eye opening pictures. They are sad and also beautiful. Bless you.

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  19. Christy- It is great to know that some families do teach their children the truth of the world. Far too many leave it up to the fairytales taught in schools and the cover up that the government sends out.
    PS Waterproof mascara rules!

    Lisa- It is wonderful to have the support of my online community.
    Your husband must have a good spirit,as most tribes are now very protective of our spiritual life.
    I can't speak for all Native American tribes but Blackfoot spiritual learning is a long, very involved and physiclly as well as emotionaly demanding path. But to learn and develop your gifts and the entire process is worth every drop of blood and bead of sweat. I know that my husband who was raised a forced Christian get's so angry at times because he wants what I have a simple unquestioned spiritual knowing. I hope he gains that peace someday.
    I am greatful to people like your husband who take the opportunity to learn, grow and accept.

    Lucy- Native music is many things depending on the group. I know I have a huge section of tribal music, chants, drums, flute, prayers, and songs on my ipod. When I get over stressed or just feel disconnected all I need is to turn on those drums and close my eyes and my mind is at ease.
    It's music of the spirit, so it touches me differently that my normal daily music.
    I'll send you the names of some good Native musicians. ((hugs))

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  20. Hi Andrea - I haven't been around much lately but I'm glad I got a chance to read this post. I can only re-iterate what all of the other ladies are saying in that I don't think you have to apologize for being exactly who you are - definitely for me it makes it so enjoyable to come and read your blog; I'm sure it's just as enjoyable to meet you in real life - you seem so comfortable with who you are, I admire that. It's a hard battle for most people to be comfortable with themselves.
    Secondly, it's your blog - write whatever you like - I love reading any entries you put out! It's most definitely educational and very interesting.
    You know, your initial pictures just serve to remind me once again how many atrocities people deal with every single day in this country. It's absolutely, utterly heartbreaking.
    And yet, on the other hand, your people's untouched land? Those pictures take my breath away. Naturally, I don't have any words to describe how they make me feel.
    I just want to thank you for sharing this.

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  21. I took a little time after reading your post to respond. I live in a very liberal city and the perception of Native Americans here is perhaps different than other localities. The idea that people can even think that Native Americans are benefitting unfairly from government support is appalling. I am sorry that you and your family have had to live under the emotional weight of such stereotypes.

    I have always admired Native people for the generosity of sharing their spiritual beliefs and practices. I always found it so telling, beautiful and wise. Thank you for sharing with us, dear one. <3

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  22. I love that you embrace your Blackfoot side, and people who don't believe you, screw 'em.

    I also am annoyed by people who are half white that will not embrace and say that they are, as if it is something to be ashamed of. I'm sure it's not like that where others live, but since I live in Texas it happens a lot, especially when I was in MS and HS.

    In closing to my rant, love what you are and embrace it!

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  23. I love that you embrace your Blackfoot side, and people who don't believe you, screw 'em.

    I also am annoyed by people who are half white that will not embrace and say that they are, as if it is something to be ashamed of. I'm sure it's not like that where others live, but since I live in Texas it happens a lot, especially when I was in MS and HS.

    In closing to my rant, love what you are and embrace it!

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