Here’s the thing about my Native heritage and why I take such offense to stuff like this.
I’m 1/8th Blackfoot. My mom is ¼th. My great-grandfather walked off a reservation in order to give his children and their children a better life. While my great-grandfather still passed on his Blackfoot heritage, he also passed on how bad it was to be Native American to my grandfather.
My grandfather, in turn, did not pass on any of that information to my mother. I had to get my information from my aunt, who was old enough to remember vague stories from my great-grandfather in her childhood. My mom was too young when he passed to remember anything. In fact, because Blackfoot natives had the stereotype of being “violent,” she was told by my grandfather when pushed that we were Cherokee (and then quickly reprimanded to “Stop asking”).
My mother married someone second-generation German American. I got his white skin and blonde hair. When I came out, I was my grandfather’s prized grandchild. Why? Because I looked white. I was the “end goal.” Growing up, I can’t tell you how many times my mother was mistaken for being Hispanic, how many times she was called my nanny, how many times people asked if I was even hers. We looked so obviously different. While I may not have known my heritage, I was made expressly aware of my privilege from a young age just by watching my mom.
Because my great-grandfather wanted us to be white, because my grandfather blocked information from being passed on, because my mom had no idea what her heritage is and because I don’t look remotely mixed, I feel like I have zero claim to anything Native American. My aunt makes dream catchers - she doesn’t sell them but she gives them out freely. I have one hanging in my spiritual room. That’s it. That’s the only reference I have to my heritage.
So when someone comes along claiming to have “no Native American blood” yet they’re somehow a “shaman accepted by the Native American community,” I have a huge problem with it. I would give absolutely anything to know my culture, my heritage, and it was denied to me. This is the reality for many Native American and Native American-mixed people. If I’m not willing to cross that line and I’m 1/8th Blackfoot, you shouldn’t be willing to cross that highly-inappropriate line either.