Monday, July 6, 2015

Who is indigenous?

Discussion on who is part of the "group" be it indigenous or metis can get pretty intense.  A blog post by âpihtawikosisân generated plenty of discussion and her blog overall explores some of these issues.  I don't know if you have been following the case of a woman in the US who lived her life as a black woman.  This case has fascinated a lot of people interested in issues of race, belonging and consumption of the other.  I wanted to write about this a while back, but I was not quite sure what I wanted to say about this case in the indigenous space.  I guess it comes back to that fear of "going Indian" and taking on an identity which is not yours.

Indian Country had a number of articles on this issue - here are a couple for you

Ethnic Fraud and the Quest for Authenticity by Dina Gilio-Whitaker where she explores why someone might want to take on another "Race" identity.

Rachel Dolezal Is the Big, Bad Wolf in This Red Riding Hood Tale by Terese Marie Mailhot who sets out some practical ideas for what non-indigenous people can do. to help the indigenous cause without taking on another identity.  I like this approach or leaving people with action.

A couple of the children's books we have read try to address this issue.  One is "I like who I am" by Tara White.  She explores the idea that being Mohawk is more than just looking Mohawk.  We use this book to talk to the children about the importance of living a good Metis life even if you don't look like someone's idea of a Metis person. 

The second book is "Unusual Friendships" by Beatrice Culleton Mosioner that speaks to belonging beyond the colour of skin or type of animal.

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