I think that one of my favorite things as a kid was right after a powwow my ma and I decided to go with her then fiance to an ice cream shop with some of our regalia and leathers still on. Out of nowhere a little girl comes out, points and yells:
“LOOK MOMMY! INDIANS!”
My ma without missing a beat turned around, pointed at her and screamed, “LOOK JEFF! A WHITE GIRL!”
“I am Native American from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska. My Indian name means ‘shooting star.’ I wish the world knew that we do still exist. And, no, we don’t all live in tepees. When I see people in headdresses or Native American accessories, I feel disrespected. They don’t know the meaning behind it, how we wear it, or what we do to earn it. This is a real eagle feather. It doesn’t just fall off an eagle and someone says, ‘Oh, here — it’s yours.’ You have to earn it in my culture. I feel powerful when I wear it, more confident, and more connected to my ethnicity. I’ve never been embarrassed about being Native American. I take pride in it. I love how spiritual we are — it’s like we’re in tune with the Earth and the universe. I know there’s no other culture out there like mine.”
“YOU DON’T LOOK NATIVE” - is something that bothers me greatly. I see it happen all the time, especially to Natives in the US & Canada.
Telling any Native person that they aren’t Native because they don’t fit your superficial stereotype is RACIST! Every single person pictured above is a NATIVE.
This is something that all non-Natives need to understand, there is no “Native look”.
- Not all Native women look like Disney’s “Pocahontas”.
- Not all Native men look like a Plains NDN with long flowing hair.
- Not all Natives have high cheekbones.
- Not all Natives have black straight hair. Some have brown hair, some have curly hair, some have light hair and so on.
- Yes Native men CAN grow beards and have facial hair.
- Not all Natives have brown eyes. Some have blue eyes, some have grey eyes, some have green eyes and some have hazel eyes.
- There are tall Natives and there are short Natives.
- There are dark skinned Natives, light skinned Natives and pale skinned Natives.
National Aboriginal Day is on June 21st. If it doesn’t coincide with another event (I remember a few years back that it did with BlackOut, but was worked around), I think we should celebrate. If you’re Aboriginal / Indigenous, upload your selfies, post art, talk about Aboriginal characters that you know and love, talk about books and films made by and for Indigenous people. We are still here but we are individually unique and have our own experiences and stories to tell.
Use #HappyAboriginalDay and spread the word.
EDIT: The date for BlackOut is June 6th. We’re in the clear!
This post has gained a lot of attention over the last couple of days! Thank you to everybody who has shared and reblogged it. I want to take a moment to address a question that keeps popping up: if you are indigenous/aboriginal, you can participate if you choose to! This is not limited just to Native American / First Nations people. If you are Ainu, Maori, Saami, native Hawaiian, etc, feel free to participate! It’s great opportunity for us to represent ourselves, our cultures, our lives, our heroes, and celebrate both our differences and similarities.
I can’t wait to see you all on June 21st! Keep boosting this post and don’t forget to use the #HappyAboriginalDay tag!
It’s Thanksgiving which means tables decorated with tiny porcelain figures of Native Americans sharing corn with pilgrims. It’s a holiday about being grateful, coming together, and being at peace but while we use caricatures of a great people, mainstream media ignores their cries for help. While we set tables with servings of food that are far too large, the original inhabitants of this great nation struggle to fight for clean drinking water and respect for their ancestors.
I’m not great at words but this issue is very dear to my heart so here’s some art.
August will be here soon! On August 9th, we’ll be celebrating World Indigenous Peoples Day!
On that day, The Aila Test would love to feature all indigenous / aboriginal people from around the world.
If you are indigenous, submit to us or tag us in selfies, photographs, artwork, poetry, short films, any media project, or any news/events that you’d like us to shine a light on and bring more attention to!
National Aboriginal Day was such a great success and it was really beautiful and healing to see so many Indigenous people. It would be wonderful to see it again. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to celebrate ourselves, our culture, our history, and the things we’ve shared with each other and the world.
I hear time and time again the phrase ‘Native culture’. What does that mean? Because it seems to me people are still uneducated about the first peoples and our cultures. As you’ll see above, Indigenous cultures across turtle island are very diverse and unique. Each nation / tribe has they’re own language, values and cultural teachings. So, please for the people saying ‘Native American culture’ as if we are one group, educate yourself on the very different cultural groups that reside here on this land.
When I was a kid, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was a Cabbage Patch Kid.
But, in the late 80s/early 90s - they didn’t make Cabbage Patch Kids with light brown skin and dark brown hair and eyes.
There was black and white and that’s how the world was divided….but not because I grew up in Southall.
Pretty much every kid I went to school with had brown skin, brown hair and a mom who made them eat rice every night.
So, where were our dolls?
I watched Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix special - Homecoming King - recently and I fucking loved it. LOVED it. It was like hanging out with my coolest cousins - it was hilarious, heartfelt and bilingual.
Here’s a dude that looks like me and sounds like me.
Someone who can reference Drake and knows heartbreak.
Someone who also understands that if you’re reading this, it’s already too late, I’ve bit the fucking laving in the biryani and I think I might be dying, man.
Over the past couple of years - I’ve noticed it more and more.
More Indians represented in media.
More people who look like me and sound like me.
For me, it started with Kal Penn in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.
For the first time in my life - I saw an Indian character I could relate to. For once, I saw an Indian person who didn’t have a thick, ridiculous accent. An Indian person who wasn’t mocked with “smelly curry” jokes.
Sidebar: Literally fuck every single person who makes this joke. Firstly, people didn’t die in the spice trade for you to be so goddamn ignorant and secondly, do you even understand how complicated and lush and beautiful a curry is? How much time and energy and love it takes to make? No. You don’t. So, shut the hell up and try not to choke on your shitty mayonnaise sandwich.
I saw an Indian dude who dropped pop culture references and used the word “dude” about as much as I do. I saw someone whose dad looked like an angrier version of Paps. I saw an Indian who wasn’t a doctor or an engineer or a call center employee.
Alright, fine. He was applying to med school in the movie but like the man said:
And then came Mindy Kaling who was basically a goddamn revelation in really cute shoes.
A smart, funny, mouthy Indian woman WRITER who gives ALL the fucks about cute packaging for make-up and SNL sketches?
It was like hearing my voice for the first time. Holy shit - that’s what I sound like?! That’s amazing! My voice is like a cross between Fergie Asha Bhosle and Jesus!
And of course, there’s Aziz Ansari. A man who created a genuinely honest look at the first-generation immigrant experience for millennials with Master of None.
The “Parents” episode of the first season and the “Religion” episode of the second season really hit home for me. The former deals with the stark differences between immigrant parents and their children and the latter deals with coming out to your parents about your lack of religious convictions - both issues I’ve certainly dealt with in the past couple of years.
I am part of #NewBrownAmerica
I can talk about the issues of the GOP condemning systemic poverty as if it were a mortal sin, I can rhyme every single word in Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, I know how Ganesh got his elephant head and that Mom has hidden little Ganesh statues in all of my apartments she’s been in and I’ve been making cups of chai since I was six-years-old, so I’m totally comfortable mocking the shit out of anyone who orders chai tea lattes.
Chai means tea. Latte means milk. You’re ordering a tea tea milk and you need to knock it off.
And I can do whatever the hell I dream of doing because isn’t that the promise of America?
I’ve even become more comfortable with speaking Gujarati. I mean, I’m super rubbish at it and my pronunciation will make every one of my masis wince, but I’m not embarrassed anymore like I used to be.
We were trying to book an AirBnB last night and I asked J to text the link to our buddy.
“How do I do that?” “Here. Batawu.”
As in, here. Let me show you.
I’m becoming more myself and it feels easier.
Maybe because I’m in my mid-30s and you just don’t care as much about that kind of stuff anymore but also because there’s a we now.
I see people like myself on television and it’s such a big fucking deal. And you know what’s even more exciting?
In like, fifty years - it won’t even be a big deal anymore. Some little Indian girl is going to see tons of people on TV like her and she won’t even bat an eye because duh, why wouldn’t Indian people be on TV like everyone else?
Representation matters and seeing this new crop of talented, smart, funny and brilliant brown people who grew up on Bollywood and Barbies, Ganesh and Ghostbusters and the goddamn pressure cooker going off at 8:00 in the morning gives me such hope.