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Mixed Blood

Author Unknown But very well said

If you looked at me, you may never guess that I consider myself a Native American. No I wasn't an Indian in some past life nor was my Great, Great Grandmother a Cherokee Princess. Actually I am not that far removed from the rez but then again I am.

My Grandfather left the rez sometime in the 1930's and never looked back. Although he left his culture behind and did his best to assimilate, there was no hiding the dark skin and black hair as his co-workers called him "Chief".

Growing up I always knew we were Indian even though I looked more Anglo than Indian. This (being Indian) was both a source of shame and a source of pride. I don't know why, but I was always drawn to this culture that my Grandfather left behind. When we played Cowboys and Indians I wanted to be the Indian and as I grew older I knew that I wanted to dance at the Pow Wows.

I learned all I could from books-there were no elders to teach me-and I went to Pow Wows, watching and learning what little I could. Over the years I built my outfit until one day I felt ready to enter the circle. Soon I would find out how much I really knew-almost nothing.

In the circle I found both acceptance and rejection as I tried to embrace my native heritage, a heritage my Grandfather walked away from. Did I have a right to wear that regalia, to put those feathers in my roach and attempt to walk that "red road" or was I simply deceiving myself? These were questions that went through my mind as I lined up with other traditional dancers, many a much darker shade than I.

And why was I drawn to this culture when others in my family could care less? Why was it important for me to be Anishinaabe? To walk the land my Grandfather walked? To kneel at the grave of his mother and his mother's mother? Why did I care? And what does it mean to walk that Red Road?

That is the most perplexing question-a question almost as perplexing as the one in which the boy asks owl how many licks does it take to get the center of a tootsie roll pop? Although I have only been on this road a short time, it has been long enough to see that we as a people are divided over tribal differences, urban vs. rez, blood quantums, tribal membership, skin color, tradition, Christianity etc.

There are urban Indians and rez Indians. There are Indians who Pow Wow and those who don't. There are traditional Indians and non-traditional Indians. There are urban, traditional Indians who Pow Wow and there are rez Indians who are Indian in name only. There seems to be a gulf that continues to widen and self-proclaimed culture cops see it as their duty to ensure the purity of the culture.

I have learned much in a short time. It is better to listen than to talk. It is even more helpful to be an invisible but when you are several shades lighter than every one else, that is a difficult thing to do. I know that could never walk in the cowboy boots of a full blood nor will I ever know what it is like to grow up on the rez. I know that I have been afforded white privilege and perhaps that is what my Grandfather wanted, so we wouldn't have to experience the pain of rejection that he did. I also know that although he escaped the rez-he could not escape the dysfunction, which still haunts my family. So no I don't know what it is like and yet I do.

I have learned that though the drum calls me and speaks to my heart, I will never be fully accepted by those who are caught up in being more Indian than the next guy. I have learned it is better to apologize first and hope that I am corrected gently. And I have learned that when you get two traditional people together, there are at least a half dozen ways of doing something and both think their way is the right way.

With all that said, I do not regret the choice that I have made to walk this "red road" and to bring my family along with me. When I wear my regalia, I stand tall as an Anishinaabe warrior. One who has been called to bring the culture back to my family in honor of my ancestors who have passed on. I will no longer make an excuse for being mixed blood. That is who the Creator made me to be and who can argue with the Creator. Compared to him, we are nothing anyway. I know who I am, I know where I am from and I know where I am going.

Besides, the prophets said that when the seventh fire is lit, "A New People will emerge. They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the ELDERS who they will ask to guide them on their journey. But many of the ELDERS will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer.

Some of the ELDERS will be silent out of fear. Some of the ELDERS will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the ELDERS. The task of the New People will not be easy."

Why would that task not be easy? Because it is those of us who are mixed blood who hunger to learn the old ways and that brings shame to those who should know but do not.

I have spoken.