I am trying to live in two worlds.
I was born in Utah. My white father descended from the Mormon pioneers. His grandparents were polygamists. My full-blood Navajo mother — who was taken from her family at age five to be assimilated into white culture at the Tuba City Boarding School — joined the Mormon church in her 20s.
Mom had the typical boarding school experience. Overwhelming homesickness, having her mouth washed out with soap for accidentally speaking forbidden Navajo, witnessing others endure severe punishment for being incorrigible in some Navajo way and a constant curriculum of You Need to Become White Now. My mom was smart, she learned fast to conform, to survive. She excelled at the school and even skipped grades.
For much of my life I hid my identity somewhere comfortably between Mexican and Tejano. As a particularly brown girl with a funny sounding name, I could leave many confused if I started to explain that I am not an immigrant. Explaining my identity was so hard for people who assumed my brown skin meant I was not an American. It’s even harder to assuage brown people who think you are “ashamed” of being Mexican when you tell them you are not an immigrant . My family has been in Texas over 9 generations. We lost our native ways somewhere along the path but not our knowing. We were just fine being called Tejano for the most part… but I am nosy. Questions of race and identity have always intrigued me so after earning an anthropology degree, and many life experiences later, I know that there is no need for explanation for what simply is. I am an indigenous women.
For any Hispanic or Latina or even self identified Chicana reading this, I want to tell you this was not easy. You yourself may be struggling with understanding why this should even matter. I want to help you get there if I can.
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If you are Latino, how do you self identify when your child is born? If you don’t indicate Amerindian – is your child’s identity partially lost?
Matoaka (1595?-1617), whose married name was Rebecca Rolfe, is best known by her nickname, Pocahontas (“Little Wanton”). She is known for saving the life of John Smith, a leader of Jamestown, Virginia, the beginning of what would become the US. She has been an Anglo American legend since at least the early 1800s, a Disney princess since 1995.
What is now the US north-east circa 1600. The Powhatan Confederacy is at the bottom. Click to enlarge.
She lived in Tsenacommacah (now Tidewater Virginia), a member of thePamunkey nation. She was one of ten daughters of Powhatan, who led the 30 Algonquian nations of the Powhatan Confederacy.
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The Tule River Reservation was established in 1873 by a US Executive Order in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is south of Fresno and north of Bakersfield. It occupies 55,356 acres. -Wikipedia
“This short documentary profiles the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni, a Native American language, and her creation of a comprehensive dictionary.” -NY Times
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James Mye (ca. 1823 – ca. 1890) was a descendant of Africans who escaped slavery in the British colonies and found refuge in Native American communities. He was of Mashpee and African descent. Mye was an indentured servant to the…
“Every mestizo is one less Indian — or one more Indian waiting to reemerge.” – Jose Barreiro, Taino/Guajiro What is the concept of Mestizaje? What are its origins? What role does it have to play i…
“They saw poor people, Indians. My grandmother was a sheepherder, living on an Indian reservation without electricity,” Morrill said. “My relatives couldn’t speak English, so they said— ‘we don’t know if these people are your relatives or not, so we are going to take you.’”Leland was immediately removed from his home and placed with an adoptive couple looking for Native American children to foster and adopt. The day after he was adopted, the family moved to Ontario, Canada, severing all ties Leland had to his biological, Native American family.Not uncommon for the times, before 1978, when Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, a very high number of Indian children were removed from their homes by public and private agencies and placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes or institutions….“From a human trafficking point of view, I was trafficked,” said Morrill. …“They trained us within the Mormon ideology; they thought they were saving us. They thought they were doing the right thing, and from that perspective they were good people. But from a Native American perspective—they were not.”
See on www.tulalipnews.com
Tracing Your Roots: She is mixed-race and knows her white heritage but longs to know the rest of the story.
See on www.theroot.com
People who look similar
Disregard people’s skin color and hair for a second and you will see all sorts of similarities between people.
Between Eartha Kitt and Christina Ricci, you can see they both have squarish heads – a bit wide, although Ricci’s tapers in more at the bottom; both have small noses, level almond eyes, similar lips and mouth, and petite frames.
Eartha Kitt (Jan 17, 1927 – Dec 25, 2008) is popularly known for playing Cat Woman in the 1960’s TV series Bat Man and for her song Santa Baby.
Besides a singer and star on the 1960’s Batman TV series, Kitt was also a dancer, Broadway and cabaret star. She also did voice-over for Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove and its TV version, The Emperor’s New School.
Kitt was born as Eartha Mae Keith on a cotton plantation in “North”, a town in South Carolina. Kitt’s mother was of Cherokee and African-American descent, though it’s unconfirmed. Kitt didn’t live with her mother at first, although she thought Anna Mae Riley was her mother until about age 8. When Riley passed away, Kitt went to live with her biological mother, Mamie Kitt in New York City.
Kitt never knew her father. It has been reported that he was of German descent and either a local doctor named Daniel Sturkie or a son of the owner of the cotton farm where she had been born.
Christina Ricci is popularly known for playing Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movies.
Christina Ricci (born Feb 12, 1980 – )
Ricci was born in Santa Monica, California. She is the fourth and youngest child of Sarah (née Murdoch) and Ralph Ricci.
Ricci has played in many movies since the Addams Family.
Ricci identifies as mostly Scotch-Irish, but also with Italian heritage 5 or 6 generations back. Scotch-Irish is an Americanism. Most Scotch-Irish have little or no Scottish ancestry. The term Scotch-Irish came into use because the area where these immigrants arrived from, Northeastern Ireland, had a Scottish cultural influence.
Here’s an interview in which you can see that she’s petite. I don’t know what her natural hair color is. It’s different in every interview, likely due to the role that she’s playing at the time of the interview.