Why the name Last Real Indians? by Chase Iron EyesTweet
This article is a response to the repeated question: why do you call yourselves the “lastrealindians?” Why? What is a real Indian? Am I a real Indian? These questions, the name of the website, and the very idea that we are the “lastrealindians” contemplate the idea that there is some measure of authenticity regarding Indians and that western civilization has the potential to totally wipe out indigenous peoples, life-ways, and identities by creating a last of us. Indeed there are some peoples, cultures, and languages which have been captured and erased from living practice. However, with all due respect, the focus of the site is to promote the growth of the existing Indigenous consciousness, identities, languages, land-bases, ceremonies, self-sufficiency, sustainability (of the planet) and our story-tellers.
The initial impetus for the site was to further strengthen everything indigenous. Now that the site has been live for six years it is clear that our reach is far beyond an Indigenous audience. This does not affect our commitment to giving our true and candid perspectives on anything Indigenous which grabs our attention. Rather, reaching broader audiences reinforces our resolve and lets us all know it is time for the lastrealindians to show the world who we really are.
We are at a point in Indigenous history where our role as caretakers of the planet will be tested; we are the generations that will decide whether or not our ceremonies and languages will live on. We are the generations that will decide to protect mother earth. We are the generations that will create new roads for the coming generations struggle to find a balance in this world and that world our spirit knows. As humans, we are at a point in planetary history where we are witnessing the results of the end of industrial-financial-capitalism. The way of exploiting labor and resources to the benefit of the few has led to a state of planetary destruction and chaos. Humans are going to be forced to make hard decisions about their place on this planet. Humans, by and large, have not been concerned about the sustainability of our mother earth and now we are faced with the consequences of those choices: climate change and/or water shortages. There is no better time for the lastrealindians to join the movement toward informed human and planetary sustainability. We want to live. OK, back to the name “lastrealindians.”
The idea in creating the name was to draw attention to the very notion that there was such a thing as a “real” Indian. The name was meant to make people question who the hell are the lastrealindians to be calling themselves the lastrealindians; actually, what is a real Indian? Am I a real Indian? They better not be trying to say they are more Indian than me because I’m “half.” They better not be trying to say they are more Indian than me because I didn’t grow up on the “Rez.” This lil’ punk better not be trying to say he’s more Indian than me. Does he have the audacity to say he is more full-blood than me? How the hell do you get more full-blooded than me; I’m 100% 4/4ths says so right here on my Certified Pedigree Document from the Indian Affairs. I have heard all of these statements in one form or another, except the one about me being more “full-blooded” than someone that’s just silly.
Regardless of all our infighting and bickering I can tell you that we aren’t going anywhere- we are the fastest growing population in what is now called the United States; this is our continent. Don’t ever forget that we are the original and perpetual protectors of this land. The lastrealindians is all of us, all of us that care enough to:
relearn our languages, openly practice our ceremonies, stick up for our kids’ right to wear long hair, speak their languages, be happy about who they are, to heal on our own by the grace of Creator -with or without an “apology” from any “oppressor”, subscribe to indigenous values and worldviews, maintain respect relationships with our lands and relatives, stand up for our pre-contact spiritual dignity, realize that all the institutions (legal, social, educational, media, and others) of the invaders are being fictitiously imposed upon us -though these institutions have no real legitimate basis other than that the invaders have the means to push them on us, and lastly the lastrealindians are those of us that simply want a better life for our children.
This site was created because we, as Indians, are not getting what we need from the mainstream. The mainstream has advertising and other concerns. Nothing gets play unless it can turn a buck. That’s not a knock on anyone. That’s a cold hard fact, jack. This site is an adaptation mechanism, a digital communication means to our continued survival. Indigenous people have adapted for centuries; it’s what we do. Our site is among many other sites and efforts of others that are seeking a better way.
There are enough of us that it is plausible- likely, that we will succeed in keeping as much of our precontact spirit and ways of life alive. All of our nations and our families have a fire fires without end that are who we are. Each of our fires sustains our families and our nations. We are sharing our fires; we are fanning each-others flames, and strengthening our collective lights through our site and networks. We are here to inform each other as Indigenous peoples and to offer those that consider themselves non-Indigenous an accurate and true account of our perceptions something that has been missing.
In my opinion there is already a critical mass of lastrealindians and non-indigenous allies. These existing lastrealindians are all over the world. Right now the site is focusing on “Indian Country” or Indigenous concerns in the Western Hemisphere. On Turtle Island (North America USA, Canada, Mexico) there is already a critical mass of bright, motivated, driven, lastrealindians, schooled in western thought/academics, grounded in tradition, or exclusively traditional-earthway practitioners who refuse to be consumed by the Corporate Western Media Spectacle (all the institutions of the corporate-west and pop culture). We cannot be consumed; we do not know any other way than to be how Creator intended us to be. Five-hundred years of positive survival and adaptation is a testament to the fact that we are going to be here forever.
The story of the lastrealindians is not over. It has not been written; you are all writing it every day.
Chase Iron Eyes is an American Indian activist, attorney, politician, and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He is a member of the Lakota People’s Law Project and a co-founder of Last Real Indians