Jan 13, 2014 - Challenging Assimilation by Richard Afraid Of Bear
My cousin has this to say about your article at
and I fully agree with him:
“His article is rather biased. He mentions the drawbacks of tribal members who are antagonistic to US culture while generally praising the utility of those who are highly assimilated in US culture.”
A close reading of tribal histories will reveal over a hundred drawbacks of Natives who are highly assimilated in US culture.
These include, but are not limited to –
– Actively converting other tribal members to Christianity or Mormonism, inviting missionaries on tribal lands.
– Openly encouraging Indians to cut their hair.
– Encouraging Natives to stop learning their languages, etc.
– Frowning on practices like sundances, etc. and telling people to give up such traditions.
– Burning down sweat lodges.
– Disenrolling members from tribes over per-cap benefits.
– Digging up and constructing over sites where ancestors are buried.
– Encouraging intermarriage with whites.
Even if assimilated individuals have a strong commitment to their tribal communities, they hurt the tribe in many ways.
These include but are not limited to –
– Bringing in outside companies causing environmental destruction on tribal land.
– Focusing on irrelevant issues like mascots/redskins that hurt the ability of poor Natives to sell handcrafted products and cause resentment of Indians who look like Indians by mainstream Americans.
– Building casinos, venturing into payday loans, tobacco sales – all with the intent of helping the tribe – but such ventures actually harm traditional Natives.
– Embracing capitalism and sliding tribes further down the assimilation slope
– Not realizing their behaviors of flaunting their wealth and privilege cause other tribal members to feel inadequate, which lead to addiction and suicide issues.
– Assimilating other tribal members into US culture with practices like encouraging the singing of the US national anthem in Native languages, honoring veterans of recent wars (aka war criminals) at Indian events, honoring the US flag at pow wows, encouraging Natives to fight for the US capitalistic war machinery, etc.
– Advocating beliefs that harm Indian interests – like sovereignty is an illusion and that sovereignty discussions are for amusement only (as Cherokee Judge Steve Russell wrote in ICTMN).
– Advocating policies at the national (congressional, senate, local governments), social and institutional levels that stem from colonized and assimilated mentalities. For example, white-skinned Native American decision makers at the University of Minnesota passed a policy that included Canadian natives but excluded historic US tribes, that included Alaskan natives but excluded natives from Hawaii, defining Natives from Mexico as non-indigenous for the purposes of admission and funding purposes to their university while permitting whites from Canada to self-indetify as indigenous. They also defined Natives from American Samoa, Puerto Rico and other US territories as non-indigenous while defining white Metis from Canada as indigenous to the US for admission and funding purposes.
– Controlling tribes and instituting policies that favor whites. For example, my own tribe has an unstated policy of hiring whites rather than Natives because the assimilated Native who does the hiring believes that Natives are lazy and whites work hard. She said so at the band council meeting many times.
So whether assimilated individuals have low commitments to their tribes or high commitments to their tribes, they end up hurting tribes either way, for the most part.”
I think ICTMN does Indians a HUGE disfavor by publishing pieces by assimilated, white Indians of colonized mentalities like your-self.
Richard Afraid Of Bear
Richard Afraid Of Bear, popularly known as Ricko or Rico or sometimes as “he is such a dick” is a recovering alcoholic. When he was a little younger, Ricko was given a starlight tour by the police in Alberta, Canada when he (verbally) intervened as a young aboriginal girl was being harassed by the police. He was beaten and dropped to the edge of town where he nearly froze and died like the many others who were killed by the Canadian police this way, notably in Saskatchewan. Currently he is recovering from the colonial abuses on Indians and is committed to not just ending his drinking and drug habits but more importantly to putting an end to his actions that break the hearts of his own family members and loved ones. He plans to attend Leech Lake Tribal College in the Fall and go to law school in the future. Meanwhile he earns a living by gophering around and doing whatever tasks that are available to him around his present home in Minnesota. Ricko also makes a living by teaching boxing to interested students. He is a non-status Indian despite being almost “full-blood.”