Jun 17, 2015 - We call it Wannabe by Dana Lone Hill
The whole Rachel Dolezal incident has blown up over the internet and social media these past few days. A white girl who tanned herself, permed her hair, and claimed African American heritage so far as to use that status to get jobs. The country is fascinated with this story, fascinated with how it could happen, and fascinated with the black community’s reaction. Some people are forgiving and compassionate, comparing her to transexual Caitlyn Jenner a/k/a Bruce Jenner. They are saying she is “transracial.” Which many are arguing, does exist. My only argument is it becomes the term of 2015 like YOLO was back in 2011. Or was that 2012?
Anyway, in Indian country we have already dealt with these situations, many times. So many people are fascinated with our culture, they claim our heritage, even without being hunka-ed into someone’s already huge tiyospaye. There was the chick who got her 15 minutes of fame on Fox and Friends by saying she was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and speaking on behalf of us saying she was honored to be called a redskin, although she looked like she never saw the light of day. Until the tribe gave her the big shaft and came out saying she was never a member. To which point she turned it around saying they rejected her membership. Apparently her grandfather was a Chief, which must be the new improved version of your grandmother being an Indian princess. Which is crazy, if they really knew Indian grandmothers, they are queens who rule and can rock the world.
There are also people who assume one person throwing a star quilt on them makes them an honorary member of our tribe, like that Little White Bird chick who tried to get rich quick off writing a book on how horrible our reservation is, how horrible she was treated there, all the while how much she loves our reservation and even has the nerve to go around to small colleges on the East Coast lecturing about our way of life and how it is to be Indian, when she was there for only six months.
There are others whose stars have risen as they were the faces and voices of Indian America, like Ol’ Iron Eyes Cody. Who could forget his one tear drop as he sees trash blowing on his Hollywood reservation? Yet, he never once gets off that high horse to pick any of that trash, just lets one tear drop fall in the dramatic fashion of some intoxicated relative who is going away for the night to sit 8 hours in jail. Then it comes out he was Italian!! If his needed to shed tears for anything it should be the fact that his Italian homie ol Christopher Columbus is the reason this land is trashed!
Either way, mis-appropriation of Natives is nothing new, there is never national shock over it. In fact people are shocked at us when we get mad at people portraying to be us. It happens on a daily basis to us. Our heritage is by our ancestry, not because we want to suffer or be victims. Our ancestry is documented and Native Americans are the only ones who can tell you their family tree going over a hundred years back. We have to because of the rights set in place by our treaties. This is why we must continue the fight for our treaty rights, so no one can claim what is rightfully ours. It is not called being selfish, it is hanging onto what we have left in a government that took everything else from us. Stole everything from us. So when we are upset by false claims of our culture, it is because it is all we have left.
See in Indian Country, it was never called “transracial”, we call it “wannabe”