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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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304 Responses

  1. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |

    It’s not about policing identity; it’s about judging credibility. It’s just less likely/common that someone with only a distant ancestral connection to a particular culture is going to strongly identify with that culture. And if someone doesn’t strongly identify with a particular culture, yet conveniently claims it on an as-needed basis in order to derive certain preferential treatment, that’s dishonest and exploitive (not to mention harmful to the people for whom such benefits are intended because it undermines the credibility of the whole program).

  2. melaka
    melaka May 7, 2012 at 11:02 am |

    derive certain preferential treatment

    This is where I’m confused. What preferential treatment (for Dr. Warren, that is)? Explain?

    Your argument is perfectly valid, but I do not see how it applies to Dr. Warren’s cause.

    Also, this smells more like a swift-boating than anything else. Is this even an issue?

  3. martian
    martian May 7, 2012 at 11:07 am |

    What has that got to do with Elizabeth Warren, R. Dave? There’s no evidence she ever received preferential treatment of any kind, and her previous employers have lined up to say it never came up in her interviews and had nothing to do with their hiring of her – which to an employer, so far as I’ve seen, they were delighted to do.

  4. AS
    AS May 7, 2012 at 11:19 am |

    Being Native American does come down to blood degree. I think this is a non-issue for Native Americans to chime in on since it is most likely that Warren would not be claimed by a tribe with that low blood degree. But clearly its entertaining to see the media/society give so much attention to this issue. Tribes and Nations have their own method for measuring the blood degree of tribal members and what not. I can only speak of my own experience. But I have an official document generated from my tribe that states my blood degree which is figured out by lineage and not just a simple mathematically equation. I myself on more than one occasion had to prove my Native-ness not only for academia but also health insurance. I hope that brings a little more knowledge your way. Granted this information is only from my personal experience.

  5. Drahill
    Drahill May 7, 2012 at 11:30 am |

    AS, I agree. Much has been made of the “quantum blood laws” that different tribes enforce. I think it’s also worth noting that the Cherokee nation that Jill cites is unique among tribes in that it is among the few that do not enforce quantum laws (instead, they rely on a verified analysis of one’s family tree to determine ancestry).

    I met the requirements for membership in the Sioux nation (I am 1/2; my son is registered as 1/4; however, if his children are 1/8, they will be ineligible). Jill has raised a a provocative question here, but I think you bring up a good argument – while the quantum laws might seem harsh at first, they are probably essential to preserving Native culture and identity – something that we are a precarious state of losing all the time. How would I personally judge Warren? I’d say, did she grow up identifying as Native? Did she learn the customs, the language if possible, the history? Or did she just know she was Native and not connect with it? It’s also worth noting that Warren may be Native, but she looks fully Caucasian, which allowed her to navigate her life as a white woman and get the privilege that confers, so that complicates things as well.

  6. Sarah
    Sarah May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am |

    THANKS!

  7. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 7, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    melaka wrote: “This is where I’m confused. What preferential treatment (for Dr. Warren, that is)? Explain?”

    martian wrote: “What has that got to do with Elizabeth Warren, R. Dave? There’s no evidence she ever received preferential treatment of any kind….”

    Oh, I’m sure Warren in particular derived little, if any, benefit from it. And either way, the whole thing strikes me as a tempest in a teapot and wouldn’t impact my vote if I was a voter in MA. Still, as a matter of principle, it strikes me as inappropriate for her to have checked the box in the first place, and I suspect her motivation at the time was probably to create some additional networking opportunities. I’m a lawyer myself, and I know plenty of people with multiethnic backgrounds who checked every box and joined every ______-American Law Students Society they could solely for the networking benefits rather than out of any deep sense of cultural identity. Networking is (annoyingly) like breathing to many lawyers.

  8. mh
    mh May 7, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    While I don’t feel I can comment on this specific situation (although we named my son after 1/16 of his heritage,) I do think there are other issues involved in claiming a heritage that is both a minority AND a minority of your own ancestry.

    I had always self-identified as Caucasian, despite being the product of a mother of South American European ancestry and a father of North American European ancestry. My mother identifies as Caucasian for various reasons, although her first language is Spanish.

    I later learned that many people descended from Spanish-speaking ancestors cease to identify as “hispanic” after a generation or two, especially when they become educated, more affluent, and identify more with US culture. The flip side of this is that it skews the other numbers: as educated, affluent “hispanics” drop off the census, it makes it appear that, as a whole, most “hispanics” are uneducated and poor.

    I’ve since started identifying myself as “Hispanic” on forms – and, yes, I feel I have to use the word with quotes – I don’t speak Spanish and don’t really identify culturally – but, considering the big picture, I’m uncomfortable choosing the other checkbox. Is it possible that Ms. Warren was concerned with cultural erasure, as I am? I guess the issue is less murky when you’re a half and not a thirty-second.

  9. matlun
    matlun May 7, 2012 at 11:49 am |

    This is where I’m confused. What preferential treatment (for Dr. Warren, that is)? Explain?

    Clearly that is the line of attack taken, though. That she dishonestly claimed this identity in the hope of gaining some advantage from it. This may not be true, but it is at the very least what is implied by the political attack.

    I think that if it actually was true, it would be a legitimate complaint, which just makes this business as usual. (ie the claims actually being true seems to not be a hard requirement in political propaganda)

    As opposed to if she was attacked for actually being Cherokee, which would have definite racist overtones.

  10. martian
    martian May 7, 2012 at 11:56 am |

    The media and right wing have jack all interest in Native identity or Native issues period for that matter. This is all about inflaming a certain percentage of the electorate with the idea that Warren has somehow cheated her way to success, the sneaky bitch. Affirmative action is a favourite hobby horse, after all, and with this they have a hook to suggest that Warren (like all those Others) didn’t earn her accomplishments and, in fact, probably robbed them away from some, poor, oppressed white guy. Not fair!

    Find me a winger who has objections to the benefits that Sarah Palin’s family actually does get from being of Native lineage through Todd Palin, and it’ll be the first I’ve ever seen of it.

  11. Christine
    Christine May 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    “Native” identity is policed and properly so–by the tribes themselves. Notwithstanding all the problems with the original enrollment process (and there were many), from the perspective of the tribes, there is a pretty clear bright-line rule about who is Indian and who is not: if you are an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, you are Indian; if you are not, you are not. The tribes set their own rules. The Cherokee have a linear descent rule–if you are a descendant of an original enrollee, you can enroll, regardless of whether you’re 1/2 or 1/512th. Other tribes have different rules. Some require some minimum blood quantum. Some have matrilineal/patrilineal rules. Whether the chief of the Cherokee Nation has more or less Indian blood than Elizabeth Warren is frankly irrelevant in this debate and has nothing to do with Warren’s status. If she’s not enrolled, she’s not an Indian.

    I say this as an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe–i.e., an Indian person. I frankly take no position on whether it’s “okay” for people who aren’t enrolled to self-identify despite lack of official enrollment. I don’t much care what other people do, and I don’t think it affects my life or my identity in any way. There are many who would disagree, including a fairly strong coalition of tribes members who have been pushing for years to get colleges to require anyone who self-identifies as “Native American” to provide proof of tribal enrollment. I actually do not personally support this rule because I think tribal enrollment is too limiting. I’m much more in favor of letting people identify however they feel most comfortable.

    That said, I’m very, very frustrated that the opinion of the tribes–an opinion that, again, I don’t entirely agree with–seems to be being totally disregarded in the debate about whether Elizabeth Warren is “allowed” to call herself Native American. Indian tribes are political organizations. Like other political organizations (e.g. the United States, Canada, Mexico, etc.), they are entitled to set rules regarding membership. I’m tired of hearing complaints that anti-Warren attackers (of which I am not one) are “policing” Native American identity from people who don’t seem at all concerned with what actual Native American tribes think about the subject, or even seem aware that they might have have something to say about the matter. These people seem to be doing just as much “policing” in a way that is just as disrespectful.

  12. samanthab
    samanthab May 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |

    Here’s what she had o say about it:
    “I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group something that might happen with people who are like I am. Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it and so I stopped checking it off.”

    She may have heard stories about her heritage as a child; she may have felt a connection to that heritage for all kinds of reasons. If she followed convention, she followed convention, and we really have no reason to judge her for it. If anyone objects, they should be addressing the convention rather than Warren.

  13. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    ““Native” identity is policed and properly so–by the tribes themselves. Notwithstanding all the problems with the original enrollment process (and there were many), from the perspective of the tribes, there is a pretty clear bright-line rule about who is Indian and who is not: if you are an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe, you are Indian; if you are not, you are not. The tribes set their own rules. The Cherokee have a linear descent rule–if you are a descendant of an original enrollee, you can enroll, regardless of whether you’re 1/2 or 1/512th. Other tribes have different rules. Some require some minimum blood quantum. Some have matrilineal/patrilineal rules. Whether the chief of the Cherokee Nation has more or less Indian blood than Elizabeth Warren is frankly irrelevant in this debate and has nothing to do with Warren’s status. If she’s not enrolled, she’s not an Indian. ”

    THIS.

    Wa do!!!

  14. Athenia
    Athenia May 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    I think the real question is—was her label as “minority professor” due to the Indian thing, or could it possibly be something else?

    The things I’ve read seem very vague on this point.

  15. Drahill
    Drahill May 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |

    “That said, I’m very, very frustrated that the opinion of the tribes–an opinion that, again, I don’t entirely agree with–seems to be being totally disregarded in the debate about whether Elizabeth Warren is “allowed” to call herself Native American. Indian tribes are political organizations. Like other political organizations (e.g. the United States, Canada, Mexico, etc.), they are entitled to set rules regarding membership. I’m tired of hearing complaints that anti-Warren attackers (of which I am not one) are “policing” Native American identity from people who don’t seem at all concerned with what actual Native American tribes think about the subject, or even seem aware that they might have have something to say about the matter. These people seem to be doing just as much “policing” in a way that is just as disrespectful.”

    Yes, exactly. Honestly, my eyes widened when I saw the Sarah Burris quote about “well, it’s sorta like the Daughters of the Revolution!” Uh, no, Sarah Burris, it is not. DotR is an organization for people whose families were in the US at the same time and share a common point in history. However, the group has never professed to have a common language, history, culture, homeland, race, ethnicity, etc. Like the Native American tribes do. Such a comparison is so short-sighted and could only come from a non-Native person.

    For what its worth, when I grew up, if you were not Native enough to qualify for tribal membership, the proper term was “of Native American descent.” If you were in the tribe, you were Native American. And it worked.

  16. Alexandra
    Alexandra May 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    The thing that’s so offensive about the Daughters of the American Revolution comparison is that it’s saying these two things are alike, because really it’s about how your ancestors belonged to the same historically significant thing, so now you get to join a club to commemorate your ancestors – as if the modern Indian tribe or nation were no more than a ‘club’ to commemorate the history of native people in the Americas, rather than a real political entity with a future (not just a past).

    Just my two cents.

  17. benvolio
    benvolio May 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

    Wait: are we not calling it ‘academia’ any more? This is the second instance in two days where I’ve heard/seen the usage ‘the academy’ instead.

    Have I missed a memo?

  18. bleh
    bleh May 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    Isn’t it funny that other race identities, like being black, have historically been determined by the “one drop” policy, while being Native American -when it benefits some to do so- is determined by blood quantum. I wonder why that is?

    Part of the legacy of the Dawes act and other US govt policy is the policing done by “the tribes themselves.” If you read Rez Life by David Treuer, you will see a Native person explaining why it benefits some tribal members (economically) to maintain smaller rolls. This topic is quite complicated and fraught, and I agree that the attention to Warren’s identity is political swift boating rather than and actualy authenticity question.

    The tribe can decide whether she can be on the rolls, but they cannot decide her identity for her. Does the govt of Finland get to keep my neighbor from calling herself Finnish? Not so much.

  19. bleh
    bleh May 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm |

    Rather than an actual authenticity question. Sorry for typing fail.

  20. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

    Isn’t it funny that other race identities, like being black, have historically been determined by the “one drop” policy, while being Native American -when it benefits some to do so- is determined by blood quantum. I wonder why that is?

    Not the same thing. The “one-drop rule” was a way for White people to exclude Black people who tried to pass as White.

    The tribe can decide whether she can be on the rolls, but they cannot decide her identity for her. Does the govt of Finland get to keep my neighbor from calling herself Finnish? Not so much.

    Again, not the same thing. Nationality != ethnic heritage.

  21. bleh
    bleh May 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    Angel H. you are proving my point for me. The one-drop rule was used in just the way you describe because there was no economic benefit to being black, but there was economic and social benefit to passing as white.

    While Native people have endured unspeakable atrocities and some still do, there are (some, limited) economic and social benefits to being Native American after a certain point in US history. I’m not suggesting that the tribes change their policies, just that there is a historical reason for those policies, and it has at least something to do with US policies that worked to pretend that very few Native Americans remained in this country. Read Louis Owens too.

    I think Finnish people would disagree on you last point too. They are ethnically distinct (up to a point – all ethnicity is constructed) and they have their own language.

  22. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    Nationality != ethnic heritage.

    There’s overlap, though, just like with religion and ethnicity (ex. jews.) And when someone says they are “1/8 Native American” I doubt they mean that they have 1/8 of an official national document, just like when I say I’m half-Jewish (technically) it doesn’t mean I got half a menorah each year. Ethnicity terms are used interchangeably with non-ethnic terms in a lot of cases. :p

  23. Jessica Isabel
    Jessica Isabel May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

    I guess my question is if you do find out later in life that part of your ancestry is Native American (or indigenous, as mine is Taino from Puerto Rico), is wanting to connect to your roots cultural appropriation?

  24. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm |

    Angel H. you are proving my point for me. The one-drop rule was used in just the way you describe because there was no economic benefit to being black, but there was economic and social benefit to passing as white.

    No, the one-drop ruel was used by White people against Black people as a tool of oppression. Native Americans use it for themselves to strengthen ties to one another. That’s what makes it different.

  25. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    Drahill, thank you for this “For what its worth, when I grew up, if you were not Native enough to qualify for tribal membership, the proper term was “of Native American descent.” If you were in the tribe, you were Native American. And it worked.” — of Native American descent is wtf I am, and I think you just solved half of my “how to word this” issues in 4 words.

    *goes back to reading*

  26. bleh
    bleh May 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

    The blood quantum way of determining Native heritage was begun by the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT! It was also used to oppress.

    Even if it is no longer used for that purpose, and I am not sure of that, it’s history is just that.

  27. Drahill
    Drahill May 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    Bleh, I’m not sure you’re getting the one-drop rule. The rule was designed to deny people the economic and social benefits of whiteness based upon the discovery of a single black ancestor in their family tree.

    The quantum blood laws are used by Native Americans to determine who gets tribe membership. I saw your point about Rez Life, but as a registered tribe member, I can personally assure you I have never received a check for my cut of the casino. Rez Life went to great pains to emphasize that only a few tribe members benefit from these unique laws and that most Native Americans still live below the national standard of living and reservations still have some of the highest poverty rates in the nation.

    By and large, there are little to no benefits associated with tribal membership. Most members join because they want to be connected with their extended families, learn about their heritage and share in a common culture. The two rules are directly adverse to each other, given that one was created to expressly deny tangible benefits and one comes with little to no tangible benefits.

  28. bleh
    bleh May 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

    “Classification as an Indian or non-Indian or a member Indian or non-member Indian is central to jurisdictional questions in Indian law, as both Congress and the Supreme Court demarcate federal, tribal and state authority on Indian lands based on an individual’s status.6 Further, such classification determines eligibility for a host of tribal rights and federal benefits.7″

    “Some allege that the federal government applies blood quantum to eliminate its responsibilities to Indian people by legally defining Indians out of existence”

    A Legal History of Blood Quantum in Federal Indian Law to 1935

    Paul Spruhan
    Navajo Nation Department of Justice

  29. bleh
    bleh May 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm |

    I’ll stop here, because I think we mostly agree.

  30. Comradde PhysioProffe
    Comradde PhysioProffe May 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

    I am not qualified to opine on the question whether Warren was entitled based on some tangible standards to have checked off the box she did on some bureaucratic forms. What is beyond dispute, however, is that the right-wingers making a thing out of itte are doing so solely as an attempted right-wing-id-tickling smear of Warren, not because they give a single flying fucke about whether any of those standards were violated. And this is a really great right-wing id-tickler: it’s got uppity bitches, affirmative action, dirty mud people, and lieberal coastal elites, all keeping down the oppressed white christian d00ds!

  31. Drahill
    Drahill May 7, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    Bleh, the benefits you cite run to the reservations and attach to the land’s occupants. Do you realize that today, a majority of Native Americans are living off the reservations? When my mother left, she lost her healthcare – but it was worth it to get off the reservation. In addition, the benefits extend to healthcare, law enforcement, judicial systems, ect. In addition, we can receive a supplement for food expenses. However, all those benefits are contingent upon remaining on the reservations, by and large. The free college tuition perk only extends to a single college in Colorado. Most tribes do not recieve restitution payments.

    So trust me when I say most native americans receive little to no benefits from their tribal affiliations.

  32. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |

    “So trust me when I say most native americans receive little to no benefits from their tribal affiliations.”

    You mean crappy food, iffy electricity and having Game Wardens appear when you need to report a rape isn’t a benefit?? /sarcasm.

  33. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm |

    ht tp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/07/elizabeth-warren-finally-teaches-a-lesson-on-native-identity-111725

    ““Unfortunately, for the most part, their coverage is just adding to the confusion and threatens to feed racism or anti-Indianism,” Good Fox says. To do better, she says the media should start by noting that tribal nations have a right to determine who their citizens are, rather than focusing on the misunderstood notion that tribal citizens can only be determined by U.S.-imposed mathematical fractions.

    The candidate holds responsibility, too, for the confusion. “It says a lot about Warren if she is unable to give a focused and intelligent answer to the questions that arose about her during this past week,” says Good Fox, a Pawnee Nation citizen. “If they want, Warren and her team could take control of this controversy. Right now, it looks like they are unclear about tribal issues, including the difference between tribal citizenship and simple ancestry.

    “This is playing into her opponents hands, including those who are anti-American Indian.”

    “Apparently, she has no conception of Native identity as a function of community upbringing, not ‘blood,’ and that is a problem brought about by U.S. colonialism, one which has been adopted by many tribes under their own schema for calculating individual eligibility for citizenship,” adds Akers, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. “It brings up the whole can of worms of Indian identity.”

    To turn things around, Good Fox says Warren could initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Cherokee Nation. “There are plenty of politically savvy Cherokee individuals who could help her out with her Senate campaign,” she says. “Her good-faith efforts would help her campaign, and certainly would assist her if she is elected. And other politicians and candidates ought to take note of this controversy so they can learn lessons from it, too.”

    Even if Warren hasn’t internalized any lessons on Native identity from all this, she may be helping others come to a better understanding of their identities, Warrior says. This case has proven, for instance, that it is possible in some instances to use genealogy to track down true Native ancestors, rather than just relying on family folklore.

    And if Warren is elected to Congress, maybe this whole Indian can of worms will spur her to become a better advocate for Indian and tribal issues than she has been in the past.

    “Knowledge about tribal issues is a congressional responsibility, and this could be one of the issues that sets Warren apart from her opponents,” Good Fox says. “I hope this controversy will nudge her into articulating a strong and clear platform about protecting tribal rights. She needs to step up to the plate and hit a homerun on this controversy real soon, or it’s going to dog her all the way to the ballot box.”

  34. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer May 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    Frankly, I think white people need to stay the fuck out of discussions of Native blood quantum and tribe enrollment issues. It’s none of our business, and our involvement isn’t needed or indeed desired by most of them. Let the nations and tribes determine who their members are.

    What I do think all of us should talk about, though, is whether or not someone who has never been treated as a racial minority should claim minority status. Warren has been privileged not to be so treated. She is not, in any practical way, a minority, and claiming to be such belittles the struggles of people of color, as far as I’m concerned. This is a problem the feminist community in particular should be talking about, given all the problems most forms of feminism have with race.

  35. Donna L
    Donna L May 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm |

    if you do find out later in life that part of your ancestry is Native American (or indigenous, as mine is Taino from Puerto Rico), is wanting to connect to your roots cultural appropriation?

    I certainly can’t speak about how Native American people feel about that question, but I do know that there’s been a trend in recent years of people whose families have thought of themselves as being good Euro-American Christians for a very long time, finding out through genealogical research that they have a Jewish ancestor in their family tree from 100 or even 200 or more years ago, thinking about how exotic and romantic that sounds, and deciding that this means that they’re “really Jewish” or have a “Jewish soul” — even though they know absolutely nothing about Jews or Jewish history, whether cultural, political, religious, or otherwise.

    Using that information to learn more about Jewish people? Fine. But saying that you’re Jewish because some ancestor of yours decided to convert and cut off connections with his or her people a couple of hundred years ago, for whatever reason? Yes, I think that is, or certainly can be, cultural appropriation.

    Donna

    PS: I admit I feel differently about descendants of converso families who were forced to convert in Spain or Portugal in the 14th or 15th centuries, but continued to identify as Jews, and attempt to practice their religion in secret, sometimes for hundreds of years — there was a community of secret Jews discovered in Belmonte, Portugal in the late 19th century; they believed they were the only Jews left in the world, and still remembered the Shema. It’s different when people like that want to “return.”

  36. rhian
    rhian May 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    @MadGastronomer Point taken, but please note that not all of us here are white.

  37. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

    What I do think all of us should talk about, though, is whether or not someone who has never been treated as a racial minority should claim minority status. Warren has been privileged not to be so treated. She is not, in any practical way, a minority, and claiming to be such belittles the struggles of people of color, as far as I’m concerned.

    I think what you’re getting at here is whether “passing” is always a privilege, or means you’re not actually part of an oppressed group, to which I respond emphatically that I DISAGREE. How she is perceived should not define her identity; I’m usually perceived as straight and able and Christian, but that doesn’t mean I benefit from those privileges like an actual straight, able Christian does. It doesn’t mean my identity is straight, able or Christian even if people sometimes try to treat me that way.

  38. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

    Which is to say, I think that assuming someone is “passing” and therefore saying they therefore can’t be X minority is still just the same old X policing.

  39. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe May 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

    And if being 1/32 Native American isn’t enough to make you “really” Native American,

    Agreed, but what is the percentage? The fact that this has to be calculated is a harbinger of things to come as more and more races inter-marry.

    I had a friend who socially identified herself as white, came from a very well of family, and had the pastiest white skin I’ve ever seen, but on forms for admissions to various things, she listed African American as her race as her great grandmother was African American. When applying for an SBA loan she listed herself as an African American Female. There is no fraud here because she is 1/8 African American, and the SBA allows one to self-identify anyway.

    I’m no longer a fan of Tiger Woods, but he was justified in being upset that everyone was referring to him as African American. His mother is Asian and his dad was part Native American. For him it must have seemed that people were trying to erase his mother from the picture.

    I do find it interesting that a lot of mixed race people choose one race instead of identifying as a certain percentage. Halle Berry, Darryl Jeter, and Barack Obama are black as they self identify that way. I guess it’s just easier in conversation, I guess.

  40. Donna L
    Donna L May 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

    If you mean Derek Jeter, I thought he identified as mixed race. Not that I’ve heard him speak publicly about race at all, and I’ve been following his career since he was a rookie in 1996.

  41. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm |

    “Frankly, I think white people need to stay the fuck out of discussions of Native blood quantum and tribe enrollment issues. It’s none of our business, and our involvement isn’t needed or indeed desired by most of them. Let the nations and tribes determine who their members are.”

    I’ve been saying this for years. Don’t be surprised if no one listens and goes on with telling everyone their opinion of how it should work.

    Colonizers have FRESH!COLONIZER!WISDOM! that we haven’t heard for 500 years.

  42. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer May 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

    I think what you’re getting at here is whether “passing” is always a privilege, or means you’re not actually part of an oppressed group, to which I respond emphatically that I DISAGREE. How she is perceived should not define her identity; I’m usually perceived as straight and able and Christian, but that doesn’t mean I benefit from those privileges like an actual straight, able Christian does. It doesn’t mean my identity is straight, able or Christian even if people sometimes try to treat me that way.

    But it’s not just passing. She has no connection with the cultures she’s claiming, is not a part of them. She is not of them, no matter who her great-great-great-great grandparent was. The chief of the Cherokee nation is of his culture. Warren wanted to claim it to get some networking out of it, and says so herself. She didn’t even reach out to those communities when she started claiming her ancestry, she checked a box and hoped they’d contact her because she’d done it.

    The discrimination that exists against Native peoples does not directly affect her life in any way, which it would if she were connected to those cultures, even if everyone else perceived her as white. That’s not just passing privilege. That’s actually not being discriminated against. People who pass are still affected. She’s not passing because she is not in any meaningful way a Native or a minority.

    You are still affected by the fact that you are not straight or abled or Christian, right? That has meaning in your life? But Native was just a box she checked on a form, for a while, and then stopped because nobody invited her to luncheons. That’s not an identity. Again, she stopped claiming it.

    It’s trendy lately for white people with a couple of distant — as in, not known to them personally — ancestors who were Native to start claiming that as their identity without actually learning anything about the cultures they’re claiming, without participating or working on behalf of them. And it’s actively hurting people who are a part of those cultures, and who do experience a lot of discrimination for it — something I take the word of actual Native people for — by perpetuating ignorance and stereotypes about Native people and cultures. Identity is more than “Oh, I had an ancestor six generations back who was Delaware, so I get to claim it despite no one in the family having had any contact with that tribe since then.” If she actively involved herself in the tribes she’s claiming, that would be different. She’s not, and she experiences no discrimination, and I think it’s legitimate to call bullshit on that, because it does real harm. And Warren in particular caused harm to Native people by doing this, as it’s causing negative, stereotypical narratives to be repeated in the media once again.

    There are some identities that I think should be policed. Political lesbianism, for instance, is a crock of shit. Straight women claiming to be lesbians because of some political conviction denies the reality of women who love and are attracted to women. It says that that’s not the important thing, that that doesn’t matter. It’s appropriation, it’s erasing, and it’s harmful, and yeah, that needs to be policed.

    How about this trans-abled bullshit? The people who say that even though they are able-bodied, they identify as disabled, and even want to be disabled. They appropriate not just from disabled people, but from trans people, openly copying — literally copy-paste-replace all in some cases — trans narratives and definitions.

    Appropriation is harmful. We know this. It’s been shown, again and again. And identities which are appropriative should be policed because of the appropriation. Identity is not sacred and above criticism.

  43. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

    I disagree about “white people” (or any other non-native people that you didn’t mention but I assume you meant to include) staying out of the conversation. Sure, I (as a white person) neither have nor should have any say in what any particular native American tribe chooses as its internal membership rules. However, I (as a citizen of the United States) do have and should have a say in what rules the United States government chooses to apply when deciding who qualifies for such status under federal law.

    Also, as a general matter, I think it’s valid for everyone of every background to discuss issues of identity, appropriation, recognition, etc., whether in the context of native American identity or otherwise. Otherwise, what the heck are we all doing here?!

  44. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe May 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

    If you mean Derek Jeter, I thought he identified as mixed race. Not that I’ve heard him speak publicly about race at all, and I’ve been following his career since he was a rookie in 1996.

    Donna,

    LOL, thanks for the correction on the name. You can tell I’m not a Yankees fan :) I have to say, thinking about it now, I don’t recall him specifically talking about his race, perhaps I inadvertently ascribed others comments to him.

  45. Attackfish
    Attackfish May 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

    DonnaL:

    I certainly can’t speak about how Native American people feel about that question, but I do know that there’s been a trend in recent years of people whose families have thought of themselves as being good Euro-American Christians for a very long time, finding out through genealogical research that they have a Jewish ancestor in their family tree from 100 or even 200 or more years ago, thinking about how exotic and romantic that sounds, and deciding that this means that they’re “really Jewish” or have a “Jewish soul” — even though they know absolutely nothing about Jews or Jewish history, whether cultural, political, religious, or otherwise.

    Using that information to learn more about Jewish people? Fine. But saying that you’re Jewish because some ancestor of yours decided to convert and cut off connections with his or her people a couple of hundred years ago, for whatever reason? Yes, I think that is, or certainly can be, cultural appropriation.

    It’s definitely a matter of degrees. When my mom began to question her own irreligiosity during a time of great emotional hardship, she started studying Judaism, and eventually converted. After that, we found out her maternal grandfather had hid his Jewish heritage to attend West Point. My grandmother grew up with no religious raising at all, but has frequently been mistaken as Jewish, and had anti-Semetic insults thrown at her since she was a little girl, and as an adult, all of her friends, and her replacement parents (her own are best not spoken of) were all Jewish. My great grandfather, although he didn’t practice, maintained close ties to his Jewish family, even if he hid his heritage from the rest of the world. I claim a Jewish identity and heritage, and I participate in Jewish community life (I also have a good Jewish education, and while I don’t belong to a synagogue, it’s because the local Reform and Conservative synagogues stink.)

    While we are not the people you’re talking about, we have had people within the Jewish community assume we are when Mom talks about her history. Complicating matters is that my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side both had abusive parents, as did my father. There’s a strong tendency in my family to disclaim any heritage period.

  46. Attackfish
    Attackfish May 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    damn it where did my block quotes go?

  47. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

    shocker.

  48. Donna L
    Donna L May 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

    Attackfish, you’re definitely not the kind of family I was thinking about. They do exist, though.

  49. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe May 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    However, I (as a citizen of the United States) do have and should have a say in what rules the United States government chooses to apply when deciding who qualifies for such status under federal law.

    R. Dave,

    Not sure about other governmetn agencies, but the SBA allows you to “self indentify”, and will only challenge you if they have a reason to believe you intentionally lied.

  50. randiradio
    randiradio May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    Here’s an opinion on blood quantums from a Native American person with 1/8 white blood, from http://www.native-languages.org/blood.htm:

    Basically, there are four problems with this. One, it puts pressure on Indians not to marry white people or their children will lose their heritage, and that bothers a lot of people. Two, it means that if some of your ancestors aren’t in the records, you can be denied being an Indian. Three, it’s wrong for outsiders to tell you if you can or can’t belong to an ethnic group. Nobody makes African-Americans prove their entire family line and apply for some governmental Certificate of Degree of African Blood before they can get a scholarship from the NAACP or put “Black-owned” on their business if they want to. And four, most disturbingly: it guarantees the extinction of the American Indian. By this standard, white is the default, and everyone is approaching whiteness. Someone who is 1/8 Indian is considered white, and that is the end of their Indianness– they are white and their children will be white, forever. On the other hand, I am 1/8 white, but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of whiteness in my line. It keeps sitting there, just as it has since the 19th century when my white ancestors entered my family. Eventually one of my descendants will marry a white person again and hah! We will be 1/4 white. A person can get more white, but not more Indian. Do you see what I mean? Every generation, there are fewer people this system thinks are full-bloods, and all the blood quantums get smaller.

    For my part, I think a mixed-blood Indian is just an Indian. Before white people came here, the tribes all mixed around a lot, and it didn’t make anyone’s culture disappear. You just belonged where your mother belonged, or, maybe some tribes did it where your father belonged. They didn’t have to prove who they were. I’d personally like to see it that way again. But there’s a problem with that, and it’s resources. Indian tribes don’t have a lot of resources now. There is hardly enough money for programs for the people we have. If we let in anybody who wanted to come? It would be very difficult practically. And it would be impossible to get federal money if we couldn’t prove anything about blood, and few tribes are wealthy enough to get by without that. And, too, there are complaints from Indians that too much intermarriage and ‘passing’ and leaving the tribe is making us lose our culture. Certainly it is making us lose our languages. So a lot of people don’t want a solution that would encourage more of that. That is why there’s disagreement on this issue. Personally, I would rather see five non-Indians get Indian status than one Indian be denied it. Not all Indians agree with that, but it’s what I think. The white politicians, of course, want just the opposite.

  51. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer May 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm |

    I’ve been saying this for years. Don’t be surprised if no one listens and goes on with telling everyone their opinion of how it should work.

    Oh, I won’t be. I just had to say it.

    I disagree about “white people” (or any other non-native people that you didn’t mention but I assume you meant to include) staying out of the conversation. Sure, I (as a white person) neither have nor should have any say in what any particular native American tribe chooses as its internal membership rules. However, I (as a citizen of the United States) do have and should have a say in what rules the United States government chooses to apply when deciding who qualifies for such status under federal law.

    Why the fuck should the government have any say in who the tribes include at all? Why shouldn’t the tribes themselves get to determine that? Tribal membership, as has been pointed out, doesn’t exactly carry many real benefits. Nobody’s getting away with something and needs to be stopped. And white people — specifically white people, actually — have already done huge amounts of harm to Native peoples by trying to tell them who they do and don’t get to include in their tribes. We need to butt the fuck out. Anything else is continuing the oppression.

    And I didn’t say we couldn’t discuss identity, I said we need to stay out of matters of tribal membership, especially blood quantum which has a whole fucked up history. But when we, as outsiders, talk about Native identities, we need to remember to step lightly and listen to actual Native people about it. We need to realize that being Native is actually about more than blood, it is about culture, and that it is the right of Native people to say what and who is and isn’t part of their cultures, not our right. Warren isn’t claiming at any point to be part of the cultures, she’s claiming identity solely on the basis of a distant genetic connection, and it’s appropriative as fuck. And it’s good for us as white people to call other white people on that kind of bullshit, and to stand with Native people they do.

  52. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

    In the words of Physioprofffeee “What a clusterfucke”. I agree heavily with physioprof by the way.

    I also agree with Pheenobarbidoll. Moreso, I defer to pheenobarbidoll on all issues related to Native Americans and politics. I defer because colonizers have been setting this narrative for hundreds of years, and I would rather try to remedy one millionth of a percent of that and help pheeno set the narrative in this case than cling to my rights and privileges as a “citizen of the United States” a la R. Dave and his asshattery.

    My opinion on this question of Native identity is boring. It’s boring like R. Dave’s opinion is boring, and Joe’s opinion is boring. We’re dealing with identity politics here, and in identity politics, identity matters. My identity is white, and male, and Jewish, so you know I don’t have any background from which to address Warren’s native identity.

    So I encourage all the other people here who also do not have that background to do more reading than writing on this comment thread, and to do some googling if they have a question about Native ancestry because self-educating does not require other people’s time and effort.

    I think I can say that the people attacking Warren for her rampant checkboxing are probably neither Native, nor truly concerned with issues of Native ancestry and identity. They are probably misogynist fuckwads.

  53. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer May 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

    DLL, except that actual Native people have been criticizing her for it. Both quoted and personally commenting here in this thread, in fact.

  54. Attackfish
    Attackfish May 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm |

    DonnaL: No denying it, and my God are they obnoxious.

    *going back to lurking now, because my 2 cents were way off topic*

  55. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm |

    “Someone who is 1/8 Indian is considered white, and that is the end of their Indianness– they are white and their children will be white, forever. “

    That’s sort of true but in my experience has far more to do with lack of practicing cultural customs, lack of knowledge of customs/beliefs/stories etc than color of skin. A large part of my Indian-ness (for lack of a better word) isn’t WHAT I am, it’s WHO I am. Checking a box doesn’t change that. Neither does being issued a card. In either direction.

  56. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

    I also agree with Pheenobarbidoll. Moreso, I defer to pheenobarbidoll on all issues related to Native Americans and politics.

    Don’t forget Christine (several posts up). I disagree with her opinion that Tribal enrollment is too limiting (I don’t think it’s limiting enough, but it has nothing to do with blood quantum or the conversation, really) but I’m not the only NA posting :)

  57. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 7:27 pm |

    I think I can say that the people attacking Warren for her rampant checkboxing are probably neither Native, nor truly concerned with issues of Native ancestry and identity. They are probably misogynist fuckwads.

    Yup. Misogynistic fuckwads playing that ever so popular game of gotcha!

  58. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm |

    Misogynistic fuckwads

    dot tumblr dot com

    …Sorry! Couldn’t help myself!

  59. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

    lol

  60. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm |

    Drahill too. Sorry I forgot to add your name in.

  61. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. May 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm |

    That’s sort of true but in my experience has far more to do with lack of practicing cultural customs, lack of knowledge of customs/beliefs/stories etc than color of skin. A large part of my Indian-ness (for lack of a better word) isn’t WHAT I am, it’s WHO I am. Checking a box doesn’t change that. Neither does being issued a card. In either direction.

    This fits my perspective as well. I’m 1/8th, my mom has a card and I spent a few summers learning about the culture and practices, BUT my native american ancestry isn’t “who I am.” It was never woven into my own life. While I feel some kinship to my family history and their experiences, I always felt highly uncomfortable when my family members call me native american. I have never claimed it except in the very narrow context of wanting to learn more about my family. Of course that doesn’t reflect how others should feel about their own heritage.

  62. D
    D May 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  63. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm |

    You have some NA views right here.

  64. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

    I think I see R. Dave’s point, though, pheeno. Native Americans have had their bootheel on the neck of white dudes for far too long, what with their getting to decide how U.S. laws are applied, and all.

  65. chingona
    chingona May 7, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

    A person can get more white, but not more Indian.

    Is this true for all tribes? I was under the impression (from a friend who is Apache) that it was calculated individually for each person and based on actual ancestry. I can see how, even if it is calculated individually, lots of people wouldn’t get “more Indian” because other tribal members also have some white ancestry, but my friend is “more Indian” than his father. His father is 1/16 white, while his mother is full-blooded Apache, and his card lists him as 31/32.

  66. chingona
    chingona May 7, 2012 at 10:51 pm |

    The 2000 census saw a 26 percent increase in people identifying as Native American, compared to 1990, and that’s just the people who only checked one race. (2000, if you remember – or don’t – was the first year you could check more than one race.) Kind of interesting.

  67. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm |

    I think I see R. Dave’s point, though, pheeno. Native Americans have had their bootheel on the neck of white dudes for far too long, what with their getting to decide how U.S. laws are applied, and all.

    Right? We never let white dudes have any say on anything we apply for. And they’re so timid, you very rarely hear a white dudes opinion on anything.

  68. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh May 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm |

    I’m mostly going to lurk this thread because I feel I have more to learn than to share, but here’s my bit:

    While I certainly believe that this controversy is mostly a symptom of the Republicans using the kitchen sink strategy anywhere and everywhere in this years elections, it’s still a little problematic for people because she’s a white person with Native American ancestry but the form might present that ancestry inaccurately.

    I identify as a mixed person, and my mixed heritage is something I’ve had to be conscious of my entire life, and I prefer to identify with the fullness of my heritage, including Native American ancestry. I’ve not enrolled with my tribes and may never be, and I have learned to accept that as hurtful as it felt to realize it when I was younger, many NA people may never accept me as NA, and that has to be *ok*. Tribes have the right to decide to who is part of the community, and as someone who has some distance from my ancestry (a little bit of it is time, some of it is place…I don’t live in Oklahoma, and the town in California that I call home is one town that doesn’t have a lot of NA people), it’s completely reasonable and within the tribes’ rights not to accept me.

    I also had to come to realize that these acceptance issues have a context wholly different than the other acceptance issues I have encountered as a mixed person. I am proud of my Mexican heritage, am 1/2, and have a lot more familiarity with that culture than I do my NA ancestry, and yet there are still other people of Mexican ancestry who don’t agree that I am Mexican “enough,” but that’s a completely different context. NA people have different and legitimate reasons to question ancestry.

    As a result of living a mixed experience, I am used to people judging my identity with whatever limited information they have, and I am used to people wanting, or even demanding, an explanation of my background (I don’t even know how many complete strangers have asked me about my background within a very very short amount of time), and I lived through the “check one only” years. Between that, and having my parents and strangers fill out forms with minimal input from me, by the time I was ready to start college, I was stunned to see how people have interpreted me over the years. When I would get snail mail that mentioned my background, they varied widely, and one letter I received stated they had on file that I was Native American. That would be inaccurate, and I would have had to correct them and give a more accurate explanation if I was well at the time. I don’t know if that’s the sort of thing that happened to Elizabeth Warren, or not. Who knows. But my point is I also defer to the NA people in this thread, and I also defer to the tribal governments on this issue.

  69. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh May 7, 2012 at 11:51 pm |

    One last thing: About the DAR, indeed, that was a terrible comparison to make, not only for the reasons others have stated, but also because DAR has such a strong connotation of whiteness, and white privilege, and has for such a long time that even now young women of all sorts of backgrounds who realize that they qualify for membership (including me), frequently hesitate or decide not to join at all because of the DAR’s racist history. (For those who might be scratching their heads, google DAR, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Marian Anderson for an idea.)

  70. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated May 8, 2012 at 8:22 am |

    I identify as white on computer forms because I look white. When I self-identify in conversation as multi-racial, I do it to let others know that I am an ally, not to steal cultural identity. Several of my Runaway slave ancestors fled to Indian Territories to pass as Native American, and my Chinese 4th great-grandmother passed as an Oklahoma Cherokee in Alabama because of bigotry against Orientals. Another runaway-slave ancestor transacted two marriages as a presumed Mexican. So, yes, I do understand white privilege and the appropriation of culture. My Cherokee ancestor was the half-sister of two Treaty Signers, and the Trail of Tears is proof that Cherokee blood does not guarantee tribal loyalty.
    Warren should be asked if she is an ally to Natives and if she wants assistance in being an ally. That would be simple good manners in reference to a good candidate.

  71. Norma
    Norma May 8, 2012 at 8:28 am |

    The discrimination that exists against Native peoples does not directly affect her life in any way, which it would if she were connected to those cultures, even if everyone else perceived her as white.

    I think this is a really important point. My mother is 1/32 Native American–same as Warren– and she has no cultural ties to her tribe. But she and her siblings were directly affected by the legacy of discrimination against Native Americans in her state. As 1/32 Native American, she was entitled to certain government benefits in her state, but she never knew about them. I think in her case it would have been appropriate to identify herself as part Native American, despite her lack of cultural connection to her tribe. (Socio-economic marginalization was doubtless one of the reasons she *had* no cultural connections to her tribe.)

  72. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    So you guys don’t think there’s an important distinction between tribal self-identification and federal legal status? I’m not saying I have any rights whatsoever in policing how any individual or group chooses to self-identify (though I obviously have personal opinions on a case-by-case basis); I’m saying that I have the right to vote on the laws that govern the country I live in. That’s not “colonizing”; it’s liberal democracy.

  73. chingona
    chingona May 8, 2012 at 10:02 am |

    R. Dave – Tribal self-identification IS a legal designation. The tribes are sovereign nations that set their own criteria for citizenship, which has legal ramifications. No, you do not get a vote on that.

  74. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    Agreed (partially, since they’re not actually fully sovereign), but the US government gets to decide (i) whether and when it recognizes that citizenship for its own purposes and (ii) what the legal implications of that recognition will be. The Cherokee nation is welcome to set whatever rules it wants for membership/citizenship in the tribe, but that doesn’t obligate the United States to recognize such citizenship; nor does it obligate the United States to provide any particular benefits to a person claiming such citizenship. Those decisions are solely the province of the US government, which every citizen of the United States has an equal say in.

    (As a preemptive sidenote: even to the extent there are treaties in place, the United States is free to withdraw from treaties whenever it wants.)

  75. MK
    MK May 8, 2012 at 10:30 am |

    Australian two cents? Around here it’s Not Done to question a person’s native self-identification (although it’s been done, see the uproar some time ago over an Aboriginal woman being refused a job advertised for an Aboriginal woman because she “didn’t look black enough” for people to read her as same) and perhaps it’s because we’re a lot clearer and more centralised/systematic in terms of acknowledging what our colonial ancestors did to them.

    That is, it’s important not to forget that the whole entire REASON why ANY native people are “part white” is because white people showed up and took over, with the requisite amount of rape, population dispersal and kidnapping of vaguely white-looking mixed-race children in an attempt to “breed it out” of them by encouraging them to assimilate and marry white people.

    So regardless of your personal opinion on DNA percentage/ethnic heritage more generally, in this particular case it’s really just rubbing salt into the wound to bring it up.

  76. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |

    And how is any of that not colonialist?

  77. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 8, 2012 at 10:34 am |

    Sorry, that was for R.Dave @ 75

  78. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    The same way it’s not colonialist for the United States to decide for itself whether to recognize, say, Irish citizenship and what benefits, if any, a person holding Irish citizenship is entitled to as a matter of US law.

  79. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 10:40 am |

    Alternatively, think of it like this – the US government has no say in who gets to call themselves Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or whatever, but it does get to decide whether to (i) give special tax exemptions to religious organizations and (ii) what the criteria are to qualify for such exemptions as a matter of US law.

  80. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 10:44 am |

    Since the US nation and government is not inherently founded on the systematic murder, dispersal, and destruction of the Irish or of Jews, it’s really not the same thing in the slightest with respect to colonialism.

  81. Andie
    Andie May 8, 2012 at 10:45 am |

    Can’t compare the NA to the Irish, since the Irish are part of the colonists. Nobody came here and tried to assimilate the Irish when they were rightfully here first.

    Not the same thing by a long shot.

  82. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 10:56 am |

    So the US government and non-native US citizens generally should just 100% defer to whatever the various tribal leaderships decide is required for citizenship in such tribes and what benefits such citizenship will confer under US law? The Cherokee nation could, theoretically, decide to just sell citizenship status to the highest bidders on eBay and declare that all Cherokee citizens are entitled to lifetime exemptions from US income tax, and the US government should just say, “Ok”?

    Yes, that’s an obviously ridiculous hypothetical, but if you reject it, then you reject the principle that NA tribes should be allowed to dictate US government policy with respect to tribal citizenship and the US legal benefits derived from it.

  83. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 10:58 am |

    Yes, the US should let Native Americans dictate who is and who is not a Native American. Given the country’s history of “benefits” for Native Americans, I don’t see that it stands to lose a whole lot.

    Further, since that hypothetical would never happen, it’s not something I feel under any obligation to worry about, just like I don’t worry about women aborting in the third trimester so they can fit into tight dresses. Doesn’t happen, won’t happen, I don’t care.

  84. m
    m May 8, 2012 at 11:00 am |

    So the US government and non-native US citizens generally should just 100% defer to whatever the various tribal leaderships decide is required for citizenship in such tribes and what benefits such citizenship will confer under US law?

    Yes. Exactly. Glad you caught up.

  85. roymacIII
    roymacIII May 8, 2012 at 11:20 am |

    Those decisions are solely the province of the US government, which every citizen of the United States has an equal say in.

    Wait… what?
    That’s… not even close to true. Even ignoring the many ways that various groups in this country are denied access to and voice in the way the country is run, it’s just not true that every citizen has equal say in every decision that’s made. Not even close. We have elected officials who make and pass laws for us. Some of those elected officials appoint other people to make and enforce policies. On an issue like whether or not to recognize another person’s claims to tribal citizenship, you have exactly no say in that. That’s not something that we vote on, and, if there’s any justice in the world, we never will. I don’t see any reason why you should get to decide another person’s status that way.

    And I don’t actually see that it’s in the best interests of anyone to have our government dictating how other people determine their citizenship. For the US government to tell someone “I don’t care if you have X citizenship as determined by that nation, you’re not X” is the height of American arrogance. Why should we get to determine how another nation determines their citizenship? I think it’s probably better that the American government worry more about how they determine American citizenship, and let other nations worry about how they determine their own citizenship.

  86. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 11:29 am |

    So do you guys think only Jewish people should have a say in what Israel’s citizenship policies will be? I mean, the Arab governments and societies that were in place prior to 1948 were “inherently founded on the systematic murder, dispersal, and destruction” of the Jews who were there before and the subsequent collusion between those Arab governments and the colonialist nations of Europe. So if the nation of Israel now decides to base citizenship on Jewish ancestry and thus exclude all Palestinians from citizenship, everyone else should just nod and accept it?

    I’m not just being snarky here. I’m guessing the general consensus here would be to oppose the adoption (or continuation, depending on your view) of apartheid-style policies in Israel, but maybe I’m wrong. Assuming not, though, what’s the principled distinction? Is it just a power thing – Israeli Jews and non-NA Americans won their respective wars and have all the power, so they should defer to the peoples they defeated as much as possible? Or is it something else?

  87. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |

    Of course, as Sarah Burris points out, white-lady clubs like the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Colonial Dames of America don’t have percentage rules for their bloodlines — you’ve just gotta have one relative who fit the bill.

    You know, I really don’t like this statement the more I think about it. Comparing Native American tribes/nations to elitist clubs that have historically served to consolidate privilege is offensive: being Native American is not a “club.” And for another, those clubs are only open to those who can document that ancestry, thus excluding, for example, any black descendents of colonial-era white men who raped black women held in slavery, if those descendents even wanted to acknowledge that ancestry. There are lots more DARs walking around than the DAR wants to acknowledge.

    Is it just a power thing

    “Just”? “Just?” Yes. Power is a big fucking deal.

  88. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    By the way, as a Jew, I have no say in Israeli’s citizenship policies. You might want to make a distinction between Jews and Israelis.

  89. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |

    Further, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the historical Israel:

    “On the basis of scripture, the period of the three Patriarchs has been placed somewhere in the early 2nd millennium BCE,[34] and the first Kingdom of Israel was established around the 11th century BCE. Subsequent Israelite kingdoms and states ruled intermittently over the next four hundred years, and are known from various extra-biblical sources.[35][36][37][38]

    Between the fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE and the Muslim conquests of the 7th century CE (a period of over 1500 years), the region came under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Sassanid, and Byzantine rule.[39][40] Jewish presence in the region significantly dwindled after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE.[41] Nevertheless, there was a continuous small Jewish presence and Galilee became its religious center.[42][43] The Mishnah and part of the Talmud, central Jewish texts, were composed during the 2nd to 4th centuries CE in Tiberias and Jerusalem.[44] In 635 CE, the region, including Jerusalem, was conquered by the Arabs and was to remain under Muslim control for the next 1300 years.[45] Control of the region transferred between the Umayyads,[45] Abbasids,[45] and Crusaders throughout the next six centuries,[45] before being conquered by the Mamluk Sultanate, in 1260.[46] In 1516, the region was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, and remained under Turkish rule until the 20th century.[46]”

    If you are seriously comparing the loss of a war by the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC (I am politically opposed to the use of BCE and CE and will explain why if anybody wants to know; I’m just saying that is a decision on my part, not an oversight that needs to be corrected) to the, I guess, Assrians, which is almost 3000 years ago, to the very recent and continuing horrors the US has visited upon Native Americans, you need to rethink what you’re doing. The more correct analogy would be whether or not Germany or Russia/Ukraine/Poland gets to decide who counts as a Jew.

  90. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

    EG – Fair enough; the phrase “have a say in” suggests an actual ability to determine the policy, but, to clarify, that’s not what I was getting at. Rather, I was riffing off the more general upthread point that non-NA people should just shut up about NA tribal membership. What I should have said was “Do you guys think that only Jews should judge and comment on Israel’s citizenship policies?”

  91. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

    That’s not “colonizing”; it’s liberal democracy.

    That’s colonizing.

    You are a colonizer. Your government is an occupying government. You and your occupying government are still taking and using Native resources, benefiting from Native resources and doing so at the expense of Native lives.

    And you want a say in the piddly ass joke that passes for benefits your occupying government allows? You want a say if we’re even fucking recognized, as if we need your approval?

    Everything you’ve posted has been from the perspective of a colonizer. Everything.

    (As a preemptive sidenote: even to the extent there are treaties in place, the United States is free to withdraw from treaties whenever it wants

    Oh, I think we’re all quite aware of THAT thanks.

  92. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

    R. Dave- A more pertinent question would be whether non-Jews should have say in how the Israeli government determines Jewish identity for purposes of citizenship. To which, I would say, no. Non-Jews, particularly white ones, have no business telling Jews how we are or are not Jews and, in fact, have a nasty history associated with doing so. However, as Jewish identity is not required for Israeli citizenship, that opens the field for discussion of citizenship policies and how it affects other groups. The same is not true for membership to NA nations, where identity and/or ancestor-ship *is* required (at least to my knowledge, which is, admittedly, limited– please correct me if I’m wrong).

    But this is not a conversation about Jews and Israel, this is a conversation about Native identity in the US, so can we move on from this ill-fitting analogy?

    P.S. to EG- I’m totally curious about your BC/BCE opinion!

  93. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm |

    As for the aptness of the comparison to Israel, I used it because (i) they too use ethnic ancestry as a basis for citizenship and (ii) past expulsion is a key rationale for most claims to a right of Jewish soveignty over the lands of Israel. I’ll note that such claims don’t just rely on the ancient Kingdom of Israel but also reference the continuous presence of Jewish people and various self-governing arrangements with the conquering powers over the centuries, but whatever. I happen to agree with you that thousand year old claims are ridiculous, but then I think 150-300 year old claims (i.e. the claims of NA tribes) are ridiculous as well.

    In any event, what I’m trying to understand is the rationale for believing that people living in a democracy (or a republic / representative democracy for the pedants among us) should have no say whatsoever in certain laws governing the country they live in if those laws pertain to an historically-oppressed minority.

  94. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm |

    Look, R. Dave. No one’s taking away your right to be a douchebag. But, if you have interest in being a good person, when someone says you’re hurting them, you stop. You listen to them. You don’t start telling them how you have the right to continue hurting them and they should totally be aware of how you have the right to think long and hard before you listen to them. That’s some fucked up shit right there, and you’re bathing in it.

    Now I don’t know if you have any connection with Jews or Israel, but as Jew, I can tell you that your analogy blows and is overly simplistic. And if you think that this is all only about ancient claims to land (for both NA issues and Israel), then I think that you’re ridiculous.

  95. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    R. Dave, you seem to be confused about the context of our discussion. Right now we are not voting on anything, nor are we influencing US policy of any sort. We are on a comment thread on Feministe about NA identity.

    Many people on this thread have expressed the desire to hear NA perspectives on this issue because we purport a belief in social justice, are aware of a long history of colonization in all aspects of NA life and narrative, and because I think we all see Feministe as a place for marginalized voices to be heard, respected, and prioritized.

    YOU are acting like an ass. You are demanding that people on this thread answer many inane political hypotheticals for your intellectual satisfaction. You are claiming some sort of “right to speak and discuss”. Well you’ve done that. You’ve spoken, you’ve discussed, you’ve asked, and people have answered your questions with greater patience and grace than I would have. Can you be satisfied with the extent to which you’ve monopolized the discussion so far and stop it?

    If we wanted the white male perspective on this issue we could go to any of the many other internet forums where this issue is being discussed. Can you try to respect that this space is unique and meaningful to many of the commenters beyond a fun intellectual exercise?

    Give it a rest.

  96. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm |

    Also, yeah, I must admit that I’m curious about EG’s opinion regarding BC and BCE as well.

  97. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm |

    (As a preemptive sidenote: even to the extent there are treaties in place, the United States is free to withdraw from treaties whenever it wants.)

    Did you seriously just do that with a straight face in a thread about Native Americans? I mean, seriously?

    Oh, sweetie. You’re so fucking ignorant I can’t even be pissed off at you anymore; you’ve gone straight through Offensive and Blithering to Hilarious.

  98. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    The Cherokee nation could, theoretically, decide to just sell citizenship status to the highest bidders on eBay and declare that all Cherokee citizens are entitled to lifetime exemptions from US income tax, and the US government should just say, “Ok”?

    Wait, when you say Cherokee, do you mean Christian Pastor? I mean, they do start with a C, and accusing (many) US Christians of gaining tax-exempt status by founding a church and then using its funds for their own benefits is both reasonable and accurate. It’s the C thing, isn’t it? I can see how that would be terminally confusing for someone as deeply factually challenged as you are.

  99. m
    m May 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm |

    I happen to agree with you that thousand year old claims are ridiculous, but then I think 150-300 year old claims (i.e. the claims of NA tribes) are ridiculous as well.

    Native American tribes have claims multiple thousands of years old. White people are the ones whose claims are 150-300 years old on the North American continent.

  100. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

    I was silly enough to think that it would be obvious that Native American tribes would get say in how they are run and that no one would argue against that. Silly goose.

    R.Dave, why are you so worried about this? Americans aren’t going to suddenly be claimed by tribes in an extremely elaborate coup. You know how many Federally recognized tribes are in my state? Zero. Now, how many tribes are really in my state, can you guess? (Hint, the number is not zero).

  101. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

    DoublyLinkedLists wrote: “You’ve spoken, you’ve discussed, you’ve asked, and people have answered your questions with greater patience and grace than I would have. Can you be satisfied with the extent to which you’ve monopolized the discussion so far and stop it?

    Sure, I’ll bow out of the discussion, as it does seem we’ve crossed into the more-heat-than-light phase. However, just for the record, I only have about 10% of the posts in the thread, which is fewer than some other people have, so I don’t think that really qualifies as monopolizing the discussion. Also…

    R. Dave, you seem to be confused about the context of our discussion. Right now we are not voting on anything, nor are we influencing US policy of any sort. We are on a comment thread on Feministe about NA identity….

    The original context was about NA identity as implicated by the Warren kerfuffle, which is what I initially commented on. Then, about 40+ posts into the thread, a few comments popped up about it being illegitimate or inappropriate for non-NA folks to opine on the subject of NA tribal membership, and I responded to those comments. People then responded to my responses, and we had, you know, a conversation going. Folks are tired of it now, so fine, I’ll drop it, but it’s not like I introduced some extraneous tangent that no one else was interested in discussing in the first place.

    And lastly….

    You are demanding that people on this thread answer many inane political hypotheticals for your intellectual satisfaction….

    I haven’t demanded anything. I’ve asked questions and proposed a couple of hypos to try to tease out the general principles behind the specific positions being taken, but that’s not “demanding” anything of anyone. Again, that’s just having a discussion.

  102. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |

    I happen to agree with you that thousand year old claims are ridiculous, but then I think 150-300 year old claims (i.e. the claims of NA tribes) are ridiculous as well.

    Native American claims about sovereignty and abuse are not 150-300 years old. They are ongoing. They refer to abuses and exploitations that are happening right now and are utterly continuous with past abuses and exploitations. US policy did not suddenly become equitable and respectful in 1872. Do you know even slightest bit about the history of the US with respect to Native Americans at all?

    I’m sorry–I didn’t mean to arouse such interest, I swear I wasn’t trying to pull a praeteritio! I’ll explain my objections to BCE and CE when I get back from teaching tonight.

  103. Donna L
    Donna L May 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

    It was those damn Romans and Babylonians I blame, EG; they’re the ones responsible for the two major Diasporas, not the Assyrians!

    But Shoshie and EG are right; the analogy doesn’t work, and discussions of “who was there first, in what numbers, and for how long,” whether it’s hundreds or thousands of years ago, are essentially unanswerable questions in the Middle East (despite the attempts of all sides to twist and cherry-pick the historical and archaeological record egregiously for their own political purposes); such discussions cannot ultimately lead to any solution. But they aren’t unanswerable questions with respect to Native Americans and Europeans.

  104. LC
    LC May 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

    I was silly enough to think that it would be obvious that Native American tribes would get say in how they are run and that no one would argue against that. Silly goose.

    People will argue anything.

    I did not realize that US federal law says that tribes have free reign to define their membership. I honestly thought that the Feds had blood quanta definitions back from the early treaties and ignored tribal sovereignty on that point. So I learned something new.

  105. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe May 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

    Wait, when you say Cherokee, do you mean Christian Pastor? I mean, they do start with a C, and accusing (many) US Christians of gaining tax-exempt status by founding a church and then using its funds for their own benefits is both reasonable and accurate. It’s the C thing, isn’t it? I can see how that would be terminally confusing for someone as deeply factually challenged as you are.

    macavitykitsune,

    Actually, you buttressed R. Dave’s argument. The U.S. government DO get to determine what religions are officially recognized for tax and speech issues. The government have many times rejected claims of religious status for groups seeking tax exemptions or exemptions from other laws like drug laws.

  106. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

    but then I think 150-300 year old claims (i.e. the claims of NA tribes) are ridiculous as well.

    Then you’ll be happy to know that your occupying government sanctioned Indian schools where children were sexually assaulted, beaten and murdered all the way until the 1990′s.

    You’ll also be happy to know that your occupying government sanctions oil pipelines to be built right over many reservations water sources. Today. Right now. Present tense.

    It also takes our only water sources, and leaves us without any clean water.

    It’s also taken reservation land and leased it to oil companies, while keeping the mineral rights to themselves (even though this is, according to your government, OURS)

    My father was the first American born citizen in the country we’ve lived on for 30,000 years. Isn’t THAT neat? My grandparents weren’t considered american citizens.

    You still have the faces of your fucking occupying government on the Black Hills, which is a sacred place of worship to certain Native Tribes.

    You want present day shit? I can supply you with more than you can handle. Genocide isn’t over. It’s ongoing, but colonizers like you think it’s in the past. Shows what you know. And you want a say? You don’t even know what the subject is to HAVE a say.

  107. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

    Would anyone be willing to explain to me what motivates the volume of spleen vented at R.Dave? His point, which is apparently so contemptible as to be beneath argument, is that tribes are due the right to determine their own membership, and that U.S. citizens are due the right to deliberate about what the policies of the federal government concerning said tribes should be, especially inasmuch as those policies concern benefits to be awarded to members of a given tribe. Which half of that statement does anyone actually disagree with?

    I’ve noticed that several folks in this thread have criticized the remoteness of the question, i.e. that the matters of tribal membership are so irrelevant to practical policy that one could only entertain them, in the words of DoublyLinkedLists, as “inane political hypotheticals for [one's] intellectual satisfaction.” Therefore R.Dave is a douche, and an asshat, and is actively hurting oppressed indigenous peoples.

    While I think R.Dave’s detractors may be undermining their own argument by simultaneously holding that (1) the BIA is so stingy with their benefits that there’s no point to feigning membership for cynical purposes, and (2) the BIA ought to increase those benefits (but not too much that membership becomes a distinction worth faking?), let’s heed the calls to quit discussing abstract hypotheticals. Let’s consider an actual example instead:

    To the best of my understanding, the Cherokee Nation stripped about 3,000 members of citizenship in 2011 because they couldn’t demonstrate eligibility through the traditional criterion, namely being the descendant of an Indian listed on the Dawes Rolls. To complicate matters further, the expelled members are largely black and maintain that, as the descendents of slaves owned by the Cherokee, their ancestors’ names would not have appeared on a government manifest of tribe members. Tribal status, in turn, determines eligibility for a number of federal benefits like “health care clinics, food distribution for the poor, and assistance for low-income homeowners”, as well as other benefits like scholarships. Here’s the NPR piece about it.

    I don’t want to speculate too much about the motives here, although I find it at least as plausible that the Cherokee leadership were motivated less by pure racism than by an interest in keeping per-capita benefits up by being sticklers about the membership criterion. It is clear, though, that about 3,000 people are currently going without benefits that they were no doubt expecting and relying on.

    The federal government responded to the expulsion by stopping a $37 million dollar payment to the Cherokee Nation and refusing to recognize a recent tribal election. Is this right?

    By R.Dave’s lights, if the Cherokee Nation has the autonomy to kick a bunch of black members out, then it’s morally permissible for U.S. citizens–as represented (however tenuously) by their federal government–to respond by altering the terms of their diplomatic relationship with them, just as we hopefully would with any country that expelled an ethnic minority. According to R.Dave’s detractors, U.S. citizens have no moral standing to criticize the Cherokee Nation’s policy or apparently even to petition their own government to respond to that policy. Who is correct?

  108. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

    By the way, aren’t comments supposed to be moderated here? Whether or not R.Dave is correct on the merits, one would hope that it’s possible to argue with people in good faith without resorting to “abusive…ad hominem attacks [and] foul language..used as a weapon against a … commenter.”

  109. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

    Actually, you buttressed R. Dave’s argument. The U.S. government DO get to determine what religions are officially recognized for tax and speech issues.

    Did I? My point was that any random dipfuck can build himself a megachurch and roll around in the money on full government cognisance, while this same government earnestly debates the incredibly complicated circumstances surrounding whether Native Americans have any rights in places they have occupied for several thousand years at the very least. It EARNESTLY DEBATES the INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED circumstances, I tell you! ….and then it screws them over anyway, because haha lol woo.

    ….churches that are younger than my kid, though, are totes legit and nobody sits around debating whether Scientologists have a right to decide who calls themselves a scientologist, as utterly shady as that religion is.

  110. Rhoanna
    Rhoanna May 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

    ….churches that are younger than my kid, though, are totes legit and nobody sits around debating whether Scientologists have a right to decide who calls themselves a scientologist, as utterly shady as that religion is.

    Maybe not the best example for your point, as people do debate whether the Church of Scientology should be tax-exempt, and there are free zone and independent Scientologists, which the Church of Scientology strongly disapproves of, and does everything in their power to discourage.

  111. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

    Rhoanna- that is completely different from people from outside groups policing who calls themselves a Scientologist, which, to my knowledge, does not happen. If people want to have that debate from within Scientology, then that is their business.

  112. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm |

    Maybe not the best example for your point, as people do debate whether the Church of Scientology should be tax-exempt

    Yes, but people aren’t debating whether people who call themselves Scientologists are Scientologist ENOUGH to be allowed to call themselves that, and I don’t see anyone of any other religion (Scientologists can police Scientologists IMO, just as NAs can police NA identity) sitting in High Judgment over whether someone is Scientologist enough to gain benefits from being a Scientologist, was kind of my point.

  113. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm |

    is that tribes are due the right to determine their own membership, and that U.S. citizens are due the right to deliberate about what the policies of the federal government concerning said tribes should be, especially inasmuch as those policies concern benefits to be awarded to members of a given tribe.

    1) Tribal citizens ARE US citizens. Thanks.

    2) Colonizers shouldn’t have the “right” to deliberate about policies concerning Tribal Nations for several reasons
    a)most of them don’t know what the fuck they’re even talking about, have a repugnant lack of knowledge on the subject and people as a whole
    b)cannot and will not ever see past their colonizer perspective.
    c)fucked it up to begin with. Don’t gripe about how WE fix our oppression or desperately try to stave off complete fucking exstinction
    d)are still benefiting directly from present tense genocide.

    D is most important. Colonizers (ie non Indian US citizens) are still directly and indirectly committing genocide. They are still benefiting directly and indirectly from fucking genocide. But it’s UNFAIR they don’t get a say in the policies killing people while putting money, food and other resources into their own pockets. Boo. Hoo.

    3) There are over 500 recognized Tribes in the US alone. Name them without google and then we’ll talk about your opinion on what they do or don’t get from an occupying government still murdering them.

    The federal government responded to the expulsion by stopping a $37 million dollar payment to the Cherokee Nation and refusing to recognize a recent tribal election. Is this right?

    No. That money is for the past and present horrors Cherokee were subjected to. Not liking what they did does not erase 500+ years of genocide, nor does it release the US government from it’s responsibility. Japan routinely violates what the US pays lip service to giving a shit about. When’s the last time the US stopped recognizing their elections?

  114. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    pheenobarbidoll, you are misusing and denigrating – to a flatly offensive degree – the term “genocide” if you think it in any way applies to the current policies of the US government toward Native Americans.

  115. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

    That’s your response to what she has to say? Seriously? Not only should tribes/nations not get to determine for themselves who belongs, but you’re telling a Native American how she may and may not refer to policies of systematic destruction of her people?

  116. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm |

    The federal government responded to the expulsion by stopping a $37 million dollar payment to the Cherokee Nation and refusing to recognize a recent tribal election. Is this right?

    Uh, considering that the US government’s payment to the Cherokee nation was based not on any continuing treaty but on the fact that oh hey attempted annihilation that only failed because the NAs were too tenacious to up and die? I’d call that massive fucking hypocrisy, is what I’d call it.

    China is currently engaged in genocide in Tibet. The US recognised their elections.
    Pakistan is engaging in terrorist activities. The US hasn’t stopped foreign aid to Pakistan.

    Again, hypocrisy. That line of reasoning is utter bullshit.

  117. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    [quote]
    Sure, I’ll bow out of the discussion, as it does seem we’ve crossed into the more-heat-than-light phase.
    [/quote]

    R. Dave, you said you were going to be quiet and listen. I know this is hard, because your opinion feels important, and society has influenced you to think that your opinion is always valid and relevant.

    But it isn’t here. Please stop correcting Pheeno’s narrative of the NA people. I think she knows what’s happening here a lot better than you do.

  118. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    pheenobarbidoll, you are misusing and denigrating – to a flatly offensive degree – the term “genocide” if you think it in any way applies to the current policies of the US government toward Native Americans.

    Awww, you poor baby. Is oo offended?

    I’m sorry you’re so offended by having genocides your (presumable) country’s engaging in pointed out to you. You must really hate reading, like, anything from US history ever that wasn’t written by the Tea Party.

  119. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

    the matters of tribal membership are so irrelevant to practical policy that one could only entertain them, in the words of DoublyLinkedLists, as “inane political hypotheticals for [one's] intellectual satisfaction.”

    She was referring to the notion that a tribe/nation would sell membership on ebay. If that isn’t an inane political hypothetical, I don’t know what is.

    Now, for BC/AD vs. BCE/CE:

    I don’t like the latter because they are an obfuscation of oppression and dominance. My understanding is that they stand for “before the common era” and “common era.” Well…we didn’t renumber the years, did we? So instead of acknowledging why we count years the way we do–because European Christians spread their religion and power at the point of the sword and they maintain their power to this day–we handwave it all away as “common,” as though we just, arbitrarily, for no particular reason at all, picked a year that happened to coincide with the year that Christians believe their messiah was born to begin our common era with.

    “Common” also demands the question “Common to whom?” AD 22/22CE wasn’t common to anybody–nobody who mattered or ran world affairs considered it to be the year 22. AD541/541 CE–again, common to whom? The Chinese didn’t consider it the year 541. The Mayas didn’t consider it the year 541.

    I like BC and AD because they make it clear why we’re counting the way we do, and who is in power. To make it into the common era is a way of smoothing over the power Christians had and still have, and the way they have misused it and still do, as well as pretending that the Christian way of doing things is and has been a way of doing things common to all of us.

  120. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

    R. Dave, I believe you could benefit from classes from an old professor of mine. They had different titles but all were pretty much “Why you and I are colonizing assholes who need to shut up”. He had to learn it the hard way, with old ladies yelling at him.

  121. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm |

    EG wrote: “That’s your response to what she has to say? Seriously? Not only should tribes/nations not get to determine for themselves who belongs, but you’re telling a Native American how she may and may not refer to policies of systematic destruction of her people?”

    Uh…no, on both counts? Regarding the first point, I’ve never once in this whole thread said that tribes/nations shouldn’t get to determine for themselves who belongs. In fact, I’ve repeatedly said the exact opposite. My position, again, is that tribes can decide for themselves who belongs, and the US government can decide for itself whether to recognize such membership under US law and what benefits, if any, the US government will provide in connection with that status under US law. And as for the second point, I didn’t say anything about what pheenobarbiedoll may or may not do; I simply pointed out that she’s misusing a word with a defined meaning in an offensive way. She’s quite welcome to continue doing so if she chooses though.

  122. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

    DoublyLinkedLists wrote: “R. Dave, you said you were going to be quiet and listen.”

    I know, but it’s hard to stay quiet (or go to bed) when someone is wrong on the internet!

  123. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

    Also, because I meant to respond to this as well, earlier, and didn’t:

    I happen to agree with you that thousand year old claims are ridiculous, but then I think 150-300 year old claims (i.e. the claims of NA tribes) are ridiculous as well.

    Mmhm. 300-year-old claims are ridiculous? Excellent. Please, European-descended North Americans, won’t you evacuate everything but the east coast of the United States and return to Europe in a state of utter penury? R. Dave (Enlightened White Male) said so, and Feministe (Incredibly Powerful Random Blog That Decides Everything About Humanity Ever, And So Must Be 100% Societally Approved In Everything It Says) must nod its head to R. Dave, Enlightened White Male, and since we’re the same as international law, don’t you know, I guess it’s official.

  124. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

    Ah, so, Native Americans can have whatever quaint customs and rules they like, but the US has no obligation to respect them? That is certainly a very traditional position to take.

  125. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

    Uh, because there can never be sarcasm tags large enough for the internet, I am not actually suggesting that white North Americans quit the continent @123 -_-

  126. DonnaL
    DonnaL May 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

    I understand your thinking now, EG, and it makes sense.

    But without carrying this off-topic conversation much further, you said:

    My understanding is that they stand for “before the common era” and “common era.

    Yes, that’s the most prevalent meaning, and I agree with your objection to it.

    But I prefer to think of them as standing for “Christian Era” and “Before Christian Era” — which are also accepted meanings, and expressly recognize exactly what you’re driving at. I believe that if you think of them that way, most of your objections would disappear.

  127. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    EG – If by “respect” you mean accord those customs and rules legal weight under US law, then no, the US has no obligation to respect them. On the other hand, if you mean respect in the sense of just being respectful, then that depends on the particular custom or rule. Personally, I think ethnic nationalism (i.e. linking political rights to ethnicity) is fundamentally immoral.

  128. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh May 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm |

    Ay yi yi. Another privileged white guy waltzes into a thread to have some intellectual wankery about a topic that has real life consequences for people in this thread, and then whines that people who rightly give him shit for it are being meaaaaaaan to him.

    My condolences to Pheno and every person trying to get through to him.

    Now, back to lurking.

  129. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm |

    I don’t know…AD22/22CE are not the Christian era in any meaningful sense for any nation, and 541 isn’t the Christian era in South America or Asia either. I’ve considered “Christian era,” but it’s just not accurate when it comes to most of the years it’s supposed to cover for most of the world. I still think it sounds like an attempt to provide a neutral, inoffensive term for what is actually an ongoing artifact of oppression and dominance. I think I’d rather call this particular spade a spade. I would totally go for “ADI,” standing for “Anno Domini Illorum,” or “In the Year of their God,” though I’d prefer to think of it as “In the Year of that God of theirs,” with kind of a snort at the end.

  130. EG
    EG May 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm |

    If by “respect” you mean accord those customs and rules legal weight under US law, then no, the US has no obligation to respect them.

    Yes, again, that’s a very traditional view, and the US has made such a position crystal clear numerous times. Personally, I feel the US has no business whatsoever telling any Native American tribe/nation that its policies are “immoral.” The attempt would be absurd if it weren’t disgusting.

  131. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm |

    @127,

    Personally, I think ethnic nationalism (i.e. linking political rights to ethnicity) is fundamentally immoral.

    Yes! Exactly! It is!

    Oh, wait, you were talking about whether a colonial government ought to dole out a few miserly “privileges” in place of a full system of rights to people(s) it has systematically slaughtered and continues to systematically attempt to destroy? Not about the way that very government has traditionally linked political rights to ethnicity to perpetrate the most heinous genocide in the fucking history of the world (and yes, I would count a more-than-75% drop in a given population due to physical and biological warfare in under 30 years to be a genocide, tyvm)?

    How’s about fuck you, then.

  132. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm |

    Firstly, I never claimed that tribal members weren’t U.S. citizens, and I don’t think that anything I’ve written implies it. (Thanks?). While we’re on the subject of terminology, I do wonder how helpful it is to refer to the broad majority of U.S. citizens as colonizers (it is usually obligatory at this point to make some kind of appeal to the differences you are erasing, or whatever, by assuming that anyone who isn’t a descendant of American indigenous peoples must be William Bradford’s great-grandkids, but let’s leave that as an exercise for the reader.) But I don’t want to pursue that point much further; we all make choices about rhetorical strategy, I guess.

    More troubling is the claim that “colonizers” are unable, as a matter of personal constitution, to understand and be persuaded by the arguments you’re making (such as they are). I’m not arguing with you about genocide, which is just a brute historical fact, or the existence of contemporary abuses. The question is what to do about gross historical injustices in a (nominally) democratic society.

    Your point about voter education is well-taken, but I wonder whether it proves too much. We are, after all, living in a country where 30% of the adult population believes in geocentrism, and astonishing numbers of registered voters cannot answer basic factual questions about the U.S. political system. I doubt the wisdom of addressing this problem by administering literacy tests, as you suggest (perhaps tongue-in-cheek, perhaps not) but the problem isn’t unique to Indian policy.

    But the point I haven’t seen you address, i.e. R.Dave’s question, is what to do about this as people of good faith in a democratic society. What is the alternative to democratic deliberation? Should an unelected cabal decide how relations between the U.S. and various tribes proceed? Should you be installed as “Indian Czar”? What, as a private citizen more-or-less sympathetic to the broad goals of the AIM and its offshoots, should I actually do? The present circumstances, as you point out, are very shabby in many ways, but I tend to think that the proper correctives are more transparency, democratic engagement and civil agitation, not less.

    Returning to the concrete example I offered, I don’t think we disagree that the money is intended to redress the inequalities that resulted from horrific past abuses. But in point of fact, if the money is designated for that purpose, doesn’t Interior have some minimal due diligence obligation to see that the money is actually getting into the right hands? If the Cherokees had it bad, which of course they did, doesn’t it stand to reason that the black slaves of Cherokees had it at least that bad? And do you not recognize that there might be a site of honest contention over whether the descendants of the slaves of Cherokees are due inclusion in those benefits? Have I fallen through the looking-glass into a debate about remedies for historical injustice where it’s impolite to ask whether the descendents of the worst-off actually receive said remedies? It’s not totally obvious to me whether Cherokee Nation was correct or not to expel the freedmen descendents. But it’s much less obvious why the matter of compensating the victims of abuses shouldn’t hinge on figuring out who the victims of abuses are.

    I think the strongest point you could make about this would be to suggest that the move is a pretext to “release the US government from its responsibility.” As little faith as I have in BIA to do right by anyone, I don’t think that explains what happened: the money’s already earmarked, and it’s not going anywhere else. For instance, the settlement awarded to the Oglala over Black Hills is still collecting interest, waiting for someone to claim it on their behalf. For the record, I’m not insisting on or even presuming innocence on the behalf of Interior, just observing that there’s no clear self-interested motive in this case to hold up the payment, whereas there is a very obvious facial reason.

    In sum, what scheme for negotiating US-Indian affairs do you propose, and what advantages does this scheme have over an alternative in which non-Indian citizens are allowed to speak about their own government’s policies? I’m not asking for a detailed white paper, I’m just asking: what do you actually mean when you say that people like R.Dave shouldn’t be allowed to speak?

    PS. I’m not worried about anyone being mean to R.Dave; quite the opposite, really. My objection to coarse insults like “douche” and “asshat” is that it degrades the <insulter as much as the insulted. It's something I would expect on a conservative blog where commenters know, deep down, that they have no compelling response and feel they must punch their way out, so to speak, with profanity; I hope that's not what's going on here. Some people may deserve to be called names, but think carefully about your willingness to become the sort of person to call them.

    There's the secondary question of what kind of moderation culture you encourage when you have a bunch of rules on the books that you don't enforce until the wrong sort of people start breaking them, but that's neither here nor there.

  133. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

    EG — Latin has a built-in “that *snort*” — iste ista istud : that / sometimes pejorative.

    R. Dave — Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group” — that doesn’t always mean by murder, insisting that Native Americans have to “act white enough” is the same damned thing. And telling an oppressed group whether its facing genocide or not? Not Cool.

  134. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm |

    Personally, I think ethnic nationalism (i.e. linking political rights to ethnicity) is fundamentally immoral.

    - so says the dude whose country is entirely built upon and completely structured in favor of his very ethnicity (not to mention his gender).

  135. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm |

    116,

    I don’t think anyone in this thread, certainly not myself, is committed to defending US foreign policy on the whole. US inaction on human rights in Tibet is a disgrace, and has become something of a cause celebre over the past decade, and rightly so. But doesn’t the judgment that the US acted cravenly on the Tibetan question kind of presuppose that China’s Tibet policy is wrong in the first place? Isn’t the expulsion of ethnic minorities in any country a bad sign, to say the very least? The hypocrisy in the US record on humanitarian intervention is surely to be condemned, but from which direction? Surely you don’t want to claim that if we failed to intervene against a military superpower, we should also fail to intervene in an enclave within the United States? When in fact, here “intervening” just means “withholding a payment intended to reach, inter alia, the people expelled from the group?

  136. sizzle
    sizzle May 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm |

    I always thought it was before the common error. Still seems right.

  137. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve May 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |

    I understand your thinking now, EG, and it makes sense.

    But without carrying this off-topic conversation much further, you said:

    My understanding is that they stand for “before the common era” and “common era.

    Yes, that’s the most prevalent meaning, and I agree with your objection to it.

    But I prefer to think of them as standing for “Christian Era” and “Before Christian Era” — which are also accepted meanings, and expressly recognize exactly what you’re driving at. I believe that if you think of them that way, most of your objections would disappear.

    Being an old person, I’m pretty sure remember when I was growing up BCE/CE was the Jewish version of BC/AD…certainly AD would not work in a Jewish context, as Jews don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, Anno Domini (in the year of our lord) would be inappropriate as it’s not their lord. So the only place I remember seeing BCE/CE in the 70′s was in textbooks/prayer books at hebrew school.

  138. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 1:09 am |

    And not to drag this too much further off-topic, but isn’t there some fact of the matter about whether current US policy towards Tribal Nations constitutes genocide? Couldn’t that policy still be quite unjust, inequitable and worth changing without actually being meaningfully comparable to Rwanda? Note that I’m not asking about historical genocide, I’m asking about “present tense genocide”, as it were.

    With all of the pixels spilled over how uncool it is to deny that something is an act of genocide, could we actually hear an explanation of why the current US policy is genocidal, instead of just taking someone from the internet’s word for it? To put it another way, what will the practical value of this conversation be in terms of education and awareness? Imagine the following conversation:

    Bob: So I was reading on a comment thread last night that we’re committing genocide in the United States as we speak!
    Alice: What? I never heard anything about that! What’s going on? How do you know?
    Bob: …

    I’m not asking for mountains of evidence, just a sketch of an argument, bolstered by citations as needed, that would convince the proverbial woman on the street that current US policy is genocidal in the sense that any reasonable person would interpret that term.

    If genocide is occurring in your own country as we speak, wouldn’t you want to tell as many people as possible, in the clearest possible terms, so that they could take action?

  139. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh May 9, 2012 at 1:36 am |

    I’m not asking for mountains of evidence, just a sketch of an argument, bolstered by citations as needed, that would convince the proverbial woman on the street that current US policy is genocidal in the sense that any reasonable person would interpret that term.

    Jesus Christ, it’s not their job to hold your hand and educate you on what is going on in their communities. All you have to do is Google.

  140. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 9, 2012 at 1:45 am |

    If genocide is occurring in your own country as we speak, wouldn’t you want to tell as many people as possible, in the clearest possible terms, so that they could take action?

    Yes, yes! It is Native Americans’ fault they’re not screaming from the rooftops about it. If only they would just say something, already!

    Or is it just that people like you don’t listen? That when NA speak about the real, lived experiences of themselves and their families, people like you and R. Dave spend hours bloviating about how that’s not really true, and NA just don’t understand how important US laws are, and NA get so many privileges from the US govt anyway, and on and on ad infinitum?

  141. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 1:49 am |

    I was hoping to avoid the argument about the burden of education, specifically because it tends to undermine the claim about actual present-tense genocide, but here we are.

    I’m not claiming, and have never claimed, that life on the rez is peachy keen. As I’ve been at pains to keep pointing out, I’m sympathetic to arguments that present conditions are unjust and should be improved. When I google it, the sources I find that tend to corroborate that picture. What I’m specifically asking for is support for the claim that present tense genocide is occurring.

    For perspective, consider Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries in which the US has waged over a decade of illegal war with callous and criminal disregard for human life. If there were any justice in this world, the wars’ architects and generals would have been hanged. We’ve managed to take two of the world’s most long-suffering countries and immiserate them even further. But is it actually genocide? Not by any of the many definitions of the term offered by the people who study it. Things can be terrible and deserving of our attention and moral concern without being genocide.

  142. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 2:01 am |

    Tinfoil hattie,

    I’m specifically asking someone about their lived experiences, as it were, and I’ve certainly never claimed that Native Americans haven’t “just said something already”. Many authors and activists have spoken with clarity about the short ends of the BIA’s many sticks, and the first 400 years of European policies with respect to indigenous peoples speak for themselves. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone in the latter half of the twentieth century talk about genocide, though. So that’s why I asked.

    I find it kind of disconcerting that the replies to that question so far express indignation that I dare ask, rather than fill me in about what facts I’m missing. I mean, if someone asked you in 1994 about the Rwandan genocide, wouldn’t it be a relatively straightforward matter to give them a rough outline of the story and point them to credible sources?

  143. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue May 9, 2012 at 2:13 am |

    I mean, if someone asked you in 1994 about the Rwandan genocide, wouldn’t it be a relatively straightforward matter to give them a rough outline of the story and point them to credible sources?/blockquote>

    If you started by asserting that the Rwandan genocide wasn’t a genocide, and that it was offensive for anyone to call it a genocide, people might not be inclined to be very helpful, to put it mildly.

  144. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 2:23 am |

    You’re thinking too dramatic. It’s not like: SUDDENLY, genocide. The systematic oppression of Native American is on going, the genocide of the past is what is present, still going and grinding it’s heel in. It’s part of a whole picture of the destruction of the cultures and the people. Schools murdered the children up until way too recently, and we still take Native American children from their families to be “civilized”. The US government still denies many tribes their heritage by making repatriation a fucking whimsical joke that takes an eternity; our schools teach kids that Native cultures, customs, and people are a part of history, most certainly not a current minority. There doesn’t need to be whole-sale slaughter in the streets anymore, the people die quietly in poverty.

  145. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |

    @synapseandsyntax — in the hopes you want that education in good faith, start with NPR. And I hate quoting myself, but

    Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”

    So continuing to put Native American children with non-Native families? It’s deliberate, systematic, and designed to take away the children’s culture, as a way of continuing to erode Native cultures. And that’s just the first link I could think of off the top of my head, I’m sure there are plenty more.

    @sizzle — “I always thought it was before the common error. Still seems right.” — me too! and it does seem accurate.

  146. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |

    I think you’ll find, respectfully, that that wasn’t me. But I would like to think that if I encountered someone in 1994 who questioned whether genocide was ongoing in Rwanda, it would be a simple matter to demonstrate the evidence for the basis of my belief in it. (“Why do you think genocide is occurring in Rwanda?” “Well, there were articles about it in newspapers of record around the world…”) In 1994, you might have been earnestly unsure about whether genocide had occurred: some news was hard to come by, different events were uncovered at different times, reports conflicted, &c… At the very least, we could get to the bottom of whether the difference in belief was factual, or pertained to a difference in the evaluation of those facts.

    Let me be as charitable as I can: the reason that we are suspicious of people who deny the Rwandan genocide is that it’s common knowledge, without much room for honest disagreement. There is no common knowledge of an actual, honest-to-gosh genocide against Native Americans in the 21st century. There’s knowledge of discrimination, continuing tensions over treaties and conditions generally unconducive to human flourishing, but it is not a truth universally acknowledged that Minnesota or North Dakota 2012 look like Turkey 1915, Poland 1944 or Rwanda 1994. That’s not to say it can’t be true– perhaps there’s genocide right under our noses. But it speaks in favor of a presumption that the folks claiming genocide should prove their case. If actual genocide were really on-going, I find it difficult to believe that the people in possession of this terrible knowledge would find snarking on the internet to be the highest-valued use of their time.

    This brings me to my final point: by finiteness, there has to be a worst thing in the world that can possibly happen to you. From what I’ve read of accounts of survivors of the incidents mentioned above, genocide has my vote. When one refers to a state of affairs that one finds unjust as genocide without evidence, and there are strong evidential grounds for belief that genocide is not occurring, I can see why people would find that offensive.

  147. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 2:58 am |

    by finiteness, there has to be a worst thing in the world that can possibly happen to you.

    Why? There is no reason at all to assume that life and the variety of experiences it encompasses has to fit into some linear, hierarchical scale.

  148. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 3:02 am |

    Did you read any of that NPR link? Try this section

    In South Dakota, where American Indians make up less than 15 percent of the state’s child population, 60 percent of the state’s foster care population is American Indian children.

    It’s a number that Crow is familiar with and a number that always struck her as ironic.

    For more than a century, a similar number of American Indian children were removed from their homes, families and cultures and placed in boarding schools. It was part of the U.S. government’s assimilation policy….

    “There is a very strong history in this country of removing Indian kids from their homes,” says Brenda Child, who chairs the University of Minnesota’s American Indian Studies program. Her grandfather was a student at the first off-reservation boarding school, Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

    And again, that’s just the first article I remembered reading.

  149. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 3:06 am |

    If actual genocide were really on-going, I find it difficult to believe that the people in possession of this terrible knowledge would find snarking on the internet to be the highest-valued use of their time.

    The point is that it never stopped. There wasn’t a break after the point where the government and museums paid money for Native American skulls and now.

  150. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 3:23 am |

    Argenti Aertheri,

    I appreciate your reply. That piece reads like a horror story, and while I was disappointed that the authors didn’t follow through on some of the stronger claims they could have addressed, like whether Indian kids are more likely to be placed in foster homes after controlling for poverty and substance abuse, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your kids taken from you for what seems to be no good reason.

    And yet, we’re talking about having your kids placed in foster care for a while because of some horrible admixture of prejudice, poverty, perverse institutional incentives and pure bureaucracy. As heart-breaking as the story is, you’ll note that the kids come back alive at the end.

    I’d hazard that the case is weaker still for this being “systematic and deliberate destruction” rather than elevated rates of background social dysfunction plus bad incentives plus jurisdictional issues plus plain ignorance and racism. A further observation in support of this claim is that the federal government apparently tried to abolish this state affairs thirty years ago by legislative fiat through the Indian Child Welfare Act, which instructed states to do the right thing.

    It’s a terrible thing, to be sure, but I’m afraid I don’t see how it constitutes genocide. I think the article would have been improved if the authors tried to show how these policies disproportionately affect native kids after controlling for the obvious variables. For instance: are white or black kids from equivalent household incomes less likely to be grabbed by the state? What about the children of undocumented immigrants, who are at a similar legal disadvantage? How much of the effect is due to hatred for Indian culture, after you consider that Indian kids live in homes that are more likely to be flagged for neglect (which is partly subjective, but also partly objective and well-documented) and are easier to keep on the foster care roles once taken?

  151. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 3:24 am |

    And that this is not a society that has ever ascribed much value to the lives or cultures of Native Americans.

    Although it also raises the question: what makes you think that arguing on the internet is the only, or even main, way Phenobarbidoll and others practice resistance? Here’s a hint: sometimes people do things even when you’re not aware of them.

  152. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 3:33 am |

    EG,

    your point is taken, still I think you can casually do justice to the variety of human experience by saying that some states of affairs are widely acknowledged to be better than others, and some states are so bad that no one prefers them to any other existing alternative. Does anything depend on whether genocide is the worst thing, or merely a really really really really really bad thing.

    @librarygoose, do you understand, respectfully speaking, that you’re begging the question?

  153. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 3:33 am |

    It’s a terrible thing, to be sure, but I’m afraid I don’t see how it constitutes genocide.

    Fine then. You win. It’s not genocide, you can go back to not caring again. All that bad stuff is in the past, it’s all over now. Feel sad when you see a picture depicting the trail of tears but rest assured it’s all history now.

  154. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 3:39 am |

    librarygoose, do you understand, respectfully speaking, that you’re begging the question?

    I hardly think so. My point is that you seem to be separating Native experiences into “Then” and “Now”. The act of genocide doesn’t have to be a quick one, nor does it require gunfire constantly. The systematic destruction of Native American cultures and people is a current event tied to the past.

  155. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 3:46 am |

    @librarygoose,

    I can’t say that I understand your position. I’ve been unequivocal in my view that much of “the bad stuff” is still ongoing, albeit in attenuated forms. You can read that in practically every comment I’ve written in this thread.

    I just don’t see why I should agree to something that, as far as I can tell, isn’t true in order to maintain that many state policies, like the one AA pointed out, are unjust and should stand closer scrutiny?

  156. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 3:53 am |

    A further observation in support of this claim is that the federal government apparently tried to abolish this state affairs thirty years ago by legislative fiat through the Indian Child Welfare Act, which instructed states to do the right thing.

    Which is regularly ignored when Native children are placed in white foster homes when they have relatives able and willing to take them in. Yes, there’s a piece of paper saying they aren’t supposed to do that but they do nonetheless.

    I want to keep this short, as I don’t have tribal membership, I’m a generation or two too removed to qualify. However, people like me, white people of Native American descent, we were raised white because of policies like the ones quoted in that article — and destroying a culture is goddamned genocide.

    There’s also the long standing issue of non-recognized tribes, who’ve spent the last century fighting to even be recognized as Native Americans. Plus a shit-ton of issues surrounding too many ritual sites and holy spots to name.

    The question whether destroying cultures without directly killing anyone is genocide or not though is really, really, historically sketchy, at best. Would you like to discuss whether the Holocaust was worse than the centuries of being forced underground before it? Because you’re basically asking the same question by continuing to insist that genocide requires corpses. (Also, considering the alcoholism rates among Native Americans, not sure you can claim there are no corpses)

  157. synapseandsyntax
    synapseandsyntax May 9, 2012 at 3:54 am |

    I guess I’m not that worried about cultures per se. Human cultures drift, mutate and are abandoned in an eternal churn, and a culture isn’t the kind of thing that can have rights. If you’re speaking about cultures as a kind of shorthand for the people who practice those cultures, then fine, although I think it invites confusion. I’m not trying to claim that the US government did not have it in for various native cultures, but surely any meaningful harm to a culture can be cashed out into harms to the various people within it. Otherwise I’m not sure what we’re talking about.

    So what do you want to criticize or challenge about present Indian policy that constitutes genocide? We agree that the past was unimaginably horrific, and the present is still bad. But can you tell me where the genocide is happening?

  158. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 3:55 am |

    I failed to keep that short, my apologies.

  159. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 4:00 am |

    I can’t say that I understand your position. I’ve been unequivocal in my view that much of “the bad stuff” is still ongoing, albeit in attenuated forms.

    Okay. The actions taken by the US government of the past are obviously genocide, having quotas of native American to kill for soldiers, taking the children and putting them in schools that were designed to assimilate them and destroy the cultures, sterilizing Native American men and women, etc.

    The actions of the government now; only repatriating to federally recognized nations, the absurdly high rate at which Native American kids are taken in foster care and not put into homes of the same tribe like they should be, the poverty, and the fact that most people treat Native American culture like history, etc. are less obvious forms of the same treatment of “Just die already”. The genocide has changed forms, but it doesn’t make the intent any less. Instead of loudly killing them off, we hope they quietly disappear.

  160. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 4:03 am |

    Most of the shit I put as “past” happened well into the 80s too.

  161. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 4:08 am |

    @synapseandsyntax — question, and you don’t have to answer publicly or anything, but think about it please — are you Native American, of Native descent, or a minority? If none of these apply, please take some time to consider that your the oppressor here and you’re saying the oppression isn’t so bad anymore.

    We aren’t snarking on the internet, we’re trying to refrain from simply swearing repeatedly that anyone could remotely claim a dedication to social justice while making this glaring obvious mistake. (And Argenti, not AA, please, I am not alcoholics anon, and that bit about alcoholism rates isn’t purely math to me)

    And that might be the simplest way to put my question — take the time to consider that these are actual personal issues for some of us, not a philosophical debate over what year the genocide stopped in, please?

  162. Crys T
    Crys T May 9, 2012 at 4:20 am |

    Synapseandsyntax, get a fucking clue, already: “genocide” does not necessarily mean the actual physical death of bodies, it can also mean the death of a culture. And the NA have suffered and are continuing to suffer both.

    When you take large numbers of children out of their culture and raise them immersed in another, dominant one, you are killing that culture. Just as surely as if you took those children out, lined them up against a wall and shot them dead. How can you not get that?

  163. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 4:28 am |

    …sterilizing Native American men and women, etc.

    Most of the shit I put as “past” happened well into the 80s too.

    citation for that

  164. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 9, 2012 at 4:29 am |

    I guess I’m not that worried about cultures per se.

    Of course you’re not. Why should you be? It’s not YOUR culture, your way of life, your home, your traditions (guess when the ban on Lakota language and religious ceremonies was lifted?) that are being annihilated.

    Google. Research. Do your own damn work. It’s not the job of the oppressed to educate the oppressor. You are so tiresome in your haughty privilege.

  165. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 4:37 am |

    librarygoose, if my last post wasn’t clear, that’s directed at people who can’t believe this is happening right under their noses, not at you. I’ve found white Americans tend to kind of get their “but I’m not racist!” on defensive when you bring up years they were alive in — then it becomes personal for them too ><

  166. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 4:46 am |

    @ Argenti Aertheri

    I got that, thanks for clarifying it. I was/am weirdly obsessed with Eugenics because of how long that shit actually lasted. And please, I beg everyone here, if my privilege is showing tell me off.

  167. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 4:56 am |

    “And please, I beg everyone here, if my privilege is showing tell me off.” — I want to second that, as I said above, I’m of Native descent, I don’t have tribal membership and have the privilege that I could (mostly) ignore these issues if I wanted to.

    I’m weirdly obsessed with eugenics and genealogy though, so actually ignoring these would take a serious act of cognitive dissonance, nonetheless, I’m trying to educate because I’m not really the oppressed people here (no, instead I straddle a strange line of not knowing where I fit because of the last century of this genocide)

    And since I seem to just get more verbose the more tired I get, I’m done for the night.

  168. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve May 9, 2012 at 5:02 am |

    Of course you’re not. Why should you be? It’s not YOUR culture, your way of life, your home, your traditions (guess when the ban on Lakota language and religious ceremonies was lifted?) that are being annihilated.

    Google. Research. Do your own damn work. It’s not the job of the oppressed to educate the oppressor. You are so tiresome in your haughty privilege.

    Tinfoil, do you regard culture as a finite thing?

  169. Lyn
    Lyn May 9, 2012 at 7:40 am |

    I think the Australian context can perhaps illuminate the problem, as the Australian government intentionally (not that intent matters, but, for the purposes of clarifying the harm it might be helpful here) took “half caste” Indigenous Australian children away from their families to raise them elsewhere in order to “breed out” the Indigneous Australians. They made charts about how many generations it would take to “breed out” the Indigenous Australian “look” (physiognomy…ew). While that may not be the intent of the current US policy (or current policies in Australia) it is certainly one of the effects. And people do refuse to call what white colonisers did in Australia as genocide (despite the fact that putting smallpox in blankets and massacres were all the rage for quite some time…clearly genocide, right?) the focus is on whether or not attempts to “breed out” both an ethnic and cultural identity without murdering people is really genocide (except for the bit where there was actual murdering, but hey). I’d argue even without the massacres and introductions of disease it is, because it is about destroying a people and a culture – no matter what tactics are used it’s despicable and, yes, genocidal.

  170. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 9, 2012 at 8:08 am |

    I guess I’m not that worried about cultures per se. Human cultures drift, mutate and are abandoned in an eternal churn, and a culture isn’t the kind of thing that can have rights.

    Well, true, theoretically. On the other hand, this theory plays out against a history filled with forced conversions, children being taken out of the culture, cultural identity being erased and minimised and mendaciously declared nonexistent.

    To raise a comparison, under (some, less enlightened) Mughal rulers in India, there were significant material disadvantages – I’m talking 30-50% increased taxation – on Hindu subjects. Hindus were also largely barred from high-paying jobs, often forcibly converted, and the “closing of the ranks” that happened in the wake of these policies led directly to a sort of mini-dark ages in the Hindu community under Mughal rule, and a huge increase in converts looking to better their socioeconomic status.

    The empire declined, the religion loosely organised itself and reformed. However, IF they had not – if the pattern of conversion had continued under similarly despotic rulers for hundreds of years – we would be having the exact same discussion about the Hindus as we are having today about the NAs, and yes, I would consider that a genocide. I can’t claim NA ancestry, but adapting the pattern, I know how much of my self is wrapped up in Hindu-related culture: the music, the religion, the art, the poetry, the mythologies, costumes, rituals, perspectives, philosophies. Were someone to forcibly deny me the possibility of passing that culture on to hypothetical descendants, and with me a hundred thousand Hindus, you’re damn right I’d be calling that a genocide and fighting back any way I could. (And yes, btw, that includes speaking up on the Internet – I hear the Internet has some little ability to, I don’t know, inform people, these days.)

    Some corpses breathe, damn it. Some corpses breathe. Doesn’t mean they haven’t been shredded from the inside out.

  171. m
    m May 9, 2012 at 8:18 am |

    I guess I’m not that worried about cultures per se.

    Then why on earth are you engaging in this discussion? Oh, right, as a kind of quirky intellectual exercise where you don’t give a shit that you’re causing other people pain.

  172. LC
    LC May 9, 2012 at 9:14 am |

    synapseandsyntax, this sounds a lot to me like a “it’s not really rape-rape” discussion. There are specific legal definitions of crimes that have different definitions in different courts and jurisdictions, but the concept is broader than that and focusing on the naming isn’t really the point.

    (Everyone else, if that’s a bad analogy just smack me down. It just struck me reading through the comments thread that this felt like threads I’ve seen before.)

  173. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |

    Actually, LC, I had a similar thought, but from the other direction. Calling current US policy toward Native Americans “genocide” strikes me as similar to people saying they got “raped” when they bought a lemon at the used car lot. The person who bought the lemon was cheated, not raped, and it’s offensive to suggest otherwise. Similarly, the Native American person whose land is seized for an oil pipeline is (arguably) having their property rights infringed upon, but they are not being subjected to genocide. Apples and oranges.

  174. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |

    Congratulations, R.Dave. That’s the most offensive thing I’ve read in a long while.

  175. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |

    , I do wonder how helpful it is to refer to the broad majority of U.S. citizens as colonizers (it is usually obligatory at this point to make some kind of appeal to the differences you are erasing, or whatever, by assuming that anyone who isn’t a descendant of American indigenous peoples must be William Bradford’s great-grandkids, but let’s leave that as an exercise for the reader.)

    “In the context of the United States, everyone is part of this colonial society. By definition, however, Indigenous Peoples are the only people identifiable as colonized. Because every bit of land and every natural resource claimed by the United States was taken at Indigenous expense, anyone who occupies that land and benefits from our resources is experiencing colonial privilege. Every non-Indigenous person in the country continues to benefit from Indigenous loss.”

    ht tps://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/understanding-colonizer-status/

    Sorry if I’m not being the HELPFUL Indian guide. You must have mistaken me for Tonto.

    If the Cherokees had it bad, which of course they did, doesn’t it stand to reason that the black slaves of Cherokees had it at least that bad? And do you not recognize that there might be a site of honest contention over whether the descendants of the slaves of Cherokees are due inclusion in those benefits?

    Which is why I voted for Stacy Leeds.

    I’ll wait why you look her up.

    Freedmen Descendants incidentally, had far more supporters until the US government decided to threaten the Cherokee Nation sovereignty.(before there was even a vote).

    But the point I haven’t seen you address, i.e. R.Dave’s question, is what to do about this as people of good faith in a democratic society.

    Keep your goddamn promises. That’s what.

    For instance, the settlement awarded to the Oglala over Black Hills is still collecting interest, waiting for someone to claim it on their behalf.

    And they’ve been told 7 ways from Sunday the Black Hills aren’t for sale. That money is a bill of sale. No one will ever collect it because to do so would be to sell sacred land. Never. Gonna. Happen.

    So no it’s not just sitting there waiting for someone to collect it. It’s payment being refused because the item in question was never and will never be for sale.

    I’m just asking: what do you actually mean when you say that people like R.Dave shouldn’t be allowed to speak?

    I mean colonizers should not have a say in how they continue to colonize the colonized. Oppressors should not have a say in how they continue to oppress the oppressed.

  176. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 9:31 am |

    Honestly. US citizens should have a say is this translated-

    I want a say in how we oppress the shit out of these people. I have a right to decide if I like oppression X more than oppression Y, and not letting me speak is denying me my right to oppress the shit out of these people.

    It really is just a mystery why any Indian would have a problem with this.

  177. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 9, 2012 at 9:34 am |

    I guess I’m not that worried about cultures per se.

    Spoken like someone who doesn’t ever worry about their culture being wiped off the map.

    This statement is so entrenched with privilege. You’ve got it flowing our your ears.

  178. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 9:35 am |

    Similarly, the Native American person whose land is seized for an oil pipeline is (arguably) having their property rights infringed upon, but they are not being subjected to genocide.

    Yeah, it’s not like lack of water or poisoned water kills people or anything.

    People who have no way to get to the grocery store and are dependent on water for growing their own food…psh. That’s just being cheated out of eating.

    People who have no filtration systems and shitty plumping on a rez won’t die from drinking tainted water from pipleline leaks. It won’t taint their food either. Magic! Babies don’t need clean water! Birth defects are never ever a result of poison!

    Money from mineral rights wouldn’t help anyone keep their electricity on so they don’t freeze to death come winter.

  179. Crys T
    Crys T May 9, 2012 at 9:36 am |

    What pheenobarbidoll just said. About 1,000,000 times.

  180. Crys T
    Crys T May 9, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    Shoshie, I had a different idea where said privilege was flowing from.

  181. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    And yet, we’re talking about having your kids placed in foster care for a while because of some horrible admixture of prejudice, poverty, perverse institutional incentives and pure bureaucracy. As heart-breaking as the story is, you’ll note that the kids come back alive at the end.

    My great aunt didn't.

    Neither did my Uncles neighbors 2 sons.

    The woman who grew up with my father? Her daughter was removed because they had no electricity. She's dead. No one ever said how or why. All she knows is that her 5 year old died.

    My best friend from the rez? (I visited every summer) Dead. She was raped and murdered by a non Indian. No charges were ever filed, because no one could figure out who had jurisdiction. 2 blocks away from her house was a few acres of land with abandoned buildings. It was US property on Indian land. The US citizen town sheriff didn't even bother to show up.

    My aunts would be sister in law? Dead at age 13.

    Do I need to continue? Sadly, I can.

  182. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 9, 2012 at 10:04 am |

    I’m sure you’re just being too sensitive, pheeno. C’mon. Stop using your real, lived experience, and FACTS, to argue against privileged asshats who are just trying to help you understand that there IS no oppression! No genocide! See?

  183. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 9, 2012 at 10:15 am |

    Pheeno, i am in awe of your willingness to stay in this forum and continue this discussion despite the immense amounts of colonizer privilege and racism that are present.

    R. Dave you are just the worst. Your link to xkcd was like a slap in the face to all the people here trying to talk about serious problems that affect their lives and families. You obviously want to “win” this thread, and you don’t care how much pain you cause by trying.

    Your words hurt.
    Your words are oppressive.
    You are speaking to real people, in a real community.
    You came into someone else’s community center and acted like an asshole for your personal enjoyment at the expense of other people.

    These things you have done here define you. You will continue to think what you did is not only fine, but righteous. Your belief that being a white man grants you the magical ability to answer any question better than those with marginalized identities will continue to be validated by society as a whole.

    And you will continue to hurt those around you because you think its fun.

    This is not fun for anyone but you.

    You are the antagonist. You have come into someone else’s space and attempted to take control of it by taking advantage of the good will and understanding that is fostered in this community. You are doing this for kicks. For fun.

    This is real. The hurt you are causing is real.

    Why doesn’t that matter to you?

    Thank you for sharing your experiences Pheeno. Thank you very much.

  184. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    I know. It’s not as if Indian children are removed because they have no clean or running water in their homes.

    Poison their water, take their children because those dirty skins don’t know they have to provide their children with clean water. Nah, there’s not a plan there.

  185. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 10:22 am |

    I’ve never understood the obsession with “lived experience” as some sort of trump card in these kinds of discussions. Another word for “lived experience” is just plain old “anecdote”, and as the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is not data.

  186. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    Do you want death certificates?

  187. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 10:28 am |

    Respectfully, DoublyLinkedLists, I disagree with your interpretation of this thread and my place in it. I’ve been civil in all my comments, yet I’ve been repeatedly called an asshat, a douchebag and a privileged asshole.; I’ve been told that my kind are not welcome to speak here or at least not welcome to disagree with the dominant view; people have mocked me; my motives and sincerity have been questioned; and so on.

    I’m not particularly bothered by any of that, mind you, but I note it all solely as counterpoint to your characterization of the thread.

  188. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 10:31 am |

    I’m not questioning the truthfulness of your personal experiences, pheenobarbiedoll, just the degree to which they establish the larger policy conclusions you and others are drawing from them.

  189. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 9, 2012 at 10:43 am |

    There is no respect between you an me R. Dave. Nothing you have done here is respectful. Your claim to “civility” is empty and hollow.

    You are not bothered by anything in this thread because it doesn’t affect your life in any way.

    Someone just told you about the DEATHS of their friends and family and you respond with dismissive euphemistic language. You would rather play intellectual defense than express one ounce of sympathy for those whose family have died because of the issues we’re discussing.

    Your arguments are despicable. I have no respect for them.

  190. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |

    I’ve never understood the obsession with “lived experience” as some sort of trump card in these kinds of discussions.

    It just might have something to do with the historical and ongoing way that white men have considered their own theories and perspectives about the lives of everybody else to be more relevant than what actually happens in the lives of everybody else. So, you don’t think that depriving people of clean water and their children constitutes genocide? The people who are actually being deprived of clean water and their children do. And their perspective carries far more moral weight than yours.

  191. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 10:58 am |

    Before ICWA passed, 25% of Indian children had been removed from their homes. 85% of them were living in non-Indian homes. Cross-racial adoptions have a high likelihood of creating a severe identity crisis in Indian children as they become adolescents. Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide of any population in the nation, and the suicide rate can be directly linked to children having been raised outside of their own cultural system. The American Family Safety Act contradicts the goals of Indian tribes and the guidelines of ICWA by forcing parental rights to be terminated. Indian children are still removed from their families at three times the rate of the general population.Non-Indian social workers and judges were using racist notions to justify child removals. CPS/juvenile courts were and are still judging traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive, in and of themselves.

    When you take Indian children out of their homes (because you’re racist at that) it directly contributes to suicide rates. CPS and juvenile courts are AWARE of this. They have this information in their training packets. The US court and child protective systems are aware of this, and continue to do it. This isn’t indirectly killing people. It’s directly, consciously killing people.

  192. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |

    water issues-

    h ttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/02/06/BAG0VB5JHB1.DTL&ao=all

    The dams are quite literally killing Indians, according to a tribe- commissioned report that was written by Kari Marie Norgaard, a sociologist from UC Davis. The report links the disappearance of salmon to increases in poverty, unemployment, suicide and social dissolution.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/02/06/BAG0VB5JHB1.DTL&ao=all#ixzz1uOBm49HY

    http: //nativeunity.blogspot.com/2009/08/forty-years-of-contaminated-water-free.html

    BLACK FALLS, Ariz. — Some residents in the Black Falls/Box Springs area have been drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water for nearly 40 years. Another month or two, while they wait on the Navajo Nation to declare a state of emergency, probably won’t kill them. Then again, maybe it will.

    During a July 11 meeting at the Box Springs home of Rolanda and Larry Tohannie, more than 80 people – many of them cancer victims – traveled miles of washboard roads in the summer heat to meet with representatives of the Navajo Nation and voice concerns about their illnesses, their need for safe drinking water, and what they view as a lack of assistance by Window Rock.

    The Forgotten People, a non-profit grassroots group which hosted the meeting, called for a state of emergency to be declared in the Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls area, where wells and springs are contaminated and water has to be trucked in on substandard roads that amount to little more than wagon trails in some areas. To date, there has been no such declaration.

    http://www.sierraclub.org/dirtyfuels/tar-sands/faces/minnesota/defau lt.aspx

    he Leech Lake Ojibwe have always lived on the piney marshes of their ancestral lands. It is no surprise they value water deeply on their reservation in the land of “ten thousand lakes.” “Between our lakes and our wetlands, the Leech Lake Reservation is 70 percent water. Our greatest concern is our water,” says Sherman.

    Enbridge Inc., the largest tar sands pipeline operator in Canada (and the company behind the massive Kalamazoo pipeline spill in Michigan in 2010), pumps its toxic products south directly through Leech Lake lands. Over the last several years, oil spills from pipelines owned or operated by Enbridge have leaked multiple times, spilling toxic crude from Alberta’s tar sands and threatening the community’s water.

    Some of Enbridge’s pipes have been in the ground for 60 years, and tribal members tell of corroded pipes protruding from the ground, cracked and seeping oil. In 2010, three spills occurred in four months within a 35-mile radius of the tribal boundaries, all from pipelines owned by Enbridge. One of the spills was not detected until the oil-coated marsh accidentally caught on fire; tribal members had to alert the company. It remains unclear how much oil leaked into the surrounding water.

  193. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |

    Those statistics are clearly horrible, pheenobarbiedoll, but again, I don’t think they necessarily lead to the conclusions you’re drawing from them. On the contrary, an alternative view is that conditions in many Native American households are apparently very detrimental to the children there (i.e. high suicide rates, reduced ability to adapt to change, abusive practices justified by reference to tradition, etc.).

  194. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 9, 2012 at 11:26 am |

    My bingo card exploded.

  195. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 11:34 am |

    On the environmental / water-rights issues (which post appeared while I was typing my prior response to the adoption stuff), I’m actually in significant agreement with you on the goals. It’s just the characterization of these activities as genocide (or in any way comparable to genocide) that I think is hyperbolic and offensive. I suppose I also disagree with you on the basis for objection – I would base my arguments more in class-based environmental justice theory and classical liberal property rights rather than tribal rights. In fact, I think the tribal rights argument is tangibly harmful to the cause of prohibiting these activities.

  196. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 11:36 am |

    R. Dave, do you have any evidence for this “alternative view” — that children remaining in their homes are worse off, with respect to suicide or anything else, than children who are removed — or are you, as usual, just talking out of your you-know-what.

    People always made equivalent arguments that the kidnapping of thousands of Jewish children from their families to raise them as Christians (whether or not the parents were murdered first) was justified by not only by the fact that it was inherently better to be a Christian (so you wouldn’t go to hell) but that the material conditions were better as well. This was still happening at least as late as the Catholic Church’s famous kidnapping of 6-year old Edgardo Mortara from his family in Bologna in 1858, on the ground that the family nursemaid had secretly “baptized” him when he was ill, and, therefore, he belonged to the Church. He was personally adopted by the Pope himself, and I’m sure he had all possible material comforts. Do you accept that “alternative viewpoint”? If not, how can you promulgate the one you did?

  197. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    DoublyLinkedLists wrote: “My bingo card exploded.”

    Mine too (see post #183), though I suspect we’re playing different versions of bingo.

  198. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    The high suicide rates are for children NOT being raised in Native homes. And those fostered children are sexually abused and often DO NOT EVER COME HOME ALIVE. They die in foster care. Mysteriously.

    Read much?

    And those abusive practices include teaching Native creation beliefs as opposed to Christian creation beliefs, that Columbus was a terrorist and not hero, and that the US government isn’t to be trusted, ever. Not cutting the hair of male children. Having extended family members living in the home. Having them participate in sweat lodges (because white people fuck them up, they must be dangerous) Living in Teepee’s. (yes. children have been taken for this. Present day. Modern times)

    Every time a state puts a child in foster care, the federal government sends money, according to federal records, if the child has “special needs,” a state can get as much as $12,000.

    A decade ago, South Dakota designated all Native American children “special needs,” which means Native American children who are permanently removed from their homes are worth more financially to the state than other children.

    In 10 years, this adoption bonus program has brought South Dakota almost a million dollars..

    Your” alternative view” is racist. Ignorant. Colonizing.

  199. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated May 9, 2012 at 11:46 am |

    These conditions are caused by lack of jobs. Clean industries don’t expand into reservation areas. Spoiler for anecdote: I was once employed as a phone research surveyor and was assigned the Black Hills calling area. Household incomes tended to be half or less of Federal poverty level, most respondents were unemployed, and the contractor provided a service we all consider nevessary but that the GOP believes is optional. Inability to provide for one’s family and one’s self drives increasing suicide rates in any culture, not just Natives. Hopelessness drives addiction rates.
    These children are loved and cared for, but not supported. Farming them out to white right-to-lifers so that white orgs, but not Native families, can be employed and funded is state-sponsored organized crime.

  200. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 9, 2012 at 11:46 am |

    R. Dave, it grosses me out the way you continually attempt to cultivate camaraderie with me.

  201. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 9, 2012 at 11:50 am |

    Hey, DonnaL, it worked out so well for Elian Gonzalez, amirite? Remember that? Made me wanna go to the “poor” neighborhoods near me & just grab up all the children so they could be raised “better” in my white, het household.

    Mods: Clean-up on Aisle R. Dave, please.

  202. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 11:56 am |

    Genocide by the provisions of the convention of the United Nations in Dec. 1948 is defined as:

    “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, and includes five types of criminal actions: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

    So we have killing Indians.- Check

    Causing serious bodily or mental harm to Indians- check

    Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about it’s physical destruction – check (just what the FUCK do you think Reservations ARE? Vacation homes?)

    Imposing measures intended to prevent births- check

    Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group- check

    But much like racism and sexism, unless it’s Hitler-esque obvious, white folks and colonizers don’t see it.

    Typical.

  203. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm |

    R. Dave, do you have any evidence for this “alternative view” — that children remaining in their homes are worse off, with respect to suicide or anything else, than children who are removed — or are you, as usual, just talking out of your you-know-what.

    That’s not the alternative view I proposed. The alternative view was that a higher than average percentage of kids are taken from Native American households because a higher-than-average percentage of those households are detrimental to those kids (as opposed to the reason being racism/genocide).

    As for evidence, I wasn’t making an affirmative argument; I was pointing out that pheenobarbidoll’s own post is equally supportive of that alternative conclusion. For instance:

    Cross-racial adoptions have a high likelihood of creating a severe identity crisis in Indian children as they become adolescents.

    This suggests that the way such children are raised makes it difficult for them to transition between cultures, which lack of adaptability many people would consider detrimental.

    Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide of any population in the nation, and the suicide rate can be directly linked to children having been raised outside of their own cultural system.

    Note that this sentence doesn’t say that Indian youth raised in non-Indian families have the highest suicide rate; it says that Indian youth, full stop, have the highest suicide rate, and, separately, that this high suicide rate can be linked to being raised outside of their cultural system. So, Indian youth are at higher risk of suicide – that’s obviously a detrimental feature of their upbringing – and being raised outside of their cultural system somehow plays into that, again showing the lack of adaptability that’s being inculcated in these kids.

    Indian children are still removed from their families at three times the rate of the general population.

    This stat just begs the question.

    CPS/juvenile courts were and are still judging traditional Indian child rearing practices to be abusive, in and of themselves.

    This suggests that children raised in traditional Indian families are being subjected to abusive practices.

    Again, I’m not affirmatively arguing that the rates at which Native American kids are taken from their parents are justified; I’m just noting that pheenobarbidoll’s own stats support such a conclusion. Personally, I think that higher-than-average poverty and substance abuse are the real explanatory variables here, but pheenobarbidoll’s stats don’t control for such factors.

  204. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    So, this is how this debate looks:

    R. Dave: I want evidence that 2×3=6!
    Pheeno: Here’s a calculator.
    R. Dave: Yes but that’s not the EXPERIENCE of actual people who use calculators!
    Pheeno: Okay, here’s a whole lot of people who’ve multiplied 2×3 and gotten 6.
    R. Dave: ANECDOTE ANECDOTE
    Pheeno: All right, but what about the calculator?
    R. Dave: Well, sure, 2×3 might have been 6 once upon a time, but it’s not now, because I’ve realised that 2+2+2 is also 6! The fact is that those are three 2s and not one 6!!!! Also you can get 6 by adding 2 and 4, so I don’t know what this multiplication deal is. It all seems offensively complicated.
    Pheeno: ……….uh, here’s a calculator?

    And so on.

  205. m
    m May 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    This suggests that children raised in traditional Indian families are being subjected to abusive practices.

    Pheeno gave you a step-by-step breakdown of how the practices cited as “abusive” are nothing of the kind, but cultural differences. I call troll and second tinfoil hattie’s request for the mods to step in.

  206. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    This suggests that the way such children are raised makes it difficult for them to transition between cultures, which lack of adaptability many people would consider detrimental.

    So, tell me how these children are being raised. Show me the problem. Surely you can, since you know it suggests a problem with the Indian raising and not a problem with the foster homes raising.

  207. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    This suggests that the way such children are raised makes it difficult for them to transition between cultures, which lack of adaptability many people would consider detrimental.

    Are you fucking kidding me with this? Are you actually suggesting that there is a culture somewhere that produces kids that do not suffer tremendously when seized–one might say “abducted”–from their homes, taken away from everything familiar, and placed with people who not only have never met the people they love, but are from an entirely different cultural system? Are you actually suggesting that producing kids who suffer tremendously when abducted is so very detrimental as to warrant taking them from their families?

    Can you name me a culture that raises kids who would be totally fine and crisis-free in such a situation? Children are not automatons. They form bonds, they form identities, and they love. Removing them from any tie to those identities and the things and people they love is abuse.

    Gee, maybe the real problem with rape is women: we just aren’t “resilient” enough to brush it off.

    This suggests that children raised in traditional Indian families are being subjected to abusive practices

    Only if you have no fucking knowledge of how white people have perceived and treated Native American families whatsofuckingever. If you have any inkling about how these things have shaken out in the past, you might not be so inclined to give the US government the benefit of the doubt.

    What the fuck? You’re actually justifying the practice of seizing Native American children and destroying all links between them and their culture. You’re actually suggesting that Native American cultures are just inherently abusive.

    How many fucking times do we have to have this conversation?

    Black kids are not more likely to misbehave in school; they’re just more likely to be punished. Black people are not more criminal; they’re more likely to be prosecuted and found guilty. Native Americans are not inherently abusive to children, and Native children are not less likely to be “adaptable,” whatever the fuck that means. I cannot fucking believe this.

    How is this not hate speech worthy of banning?

    But much like racism and sexism, unless it’s Hitler-esque obvious, white folks and colonizers don’t see it.

    When Hitler was actually around and operating, white folks managed not to see it happening then either. It’s always easy to look back decades later than it is to pay attention to what’s going on here and now.

  208. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    I have a comment in moderation pointing out the logical absurdity of the statement pheeno quotes, and how you could turn it around to argue that white Christian homes are “detrimental” because it would be difficult for children raised in such homes to transition to a different culture. He’s shameless.

  209. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    pheenobarbidoll @ 202: You’re just skipping over the crucial element of that definition – “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Without that, shooting someone who’s in the process of assaulting you would be an act of “genocide” if he happened to be Native American!

  210. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists May 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

    @macavitykitsune
    That was incredibly well summarized. Applause.

  211. Andie
    Andie May 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

    This suggests that children raised in traditional Indian families are being subjected to abusive practices practices considered abusive by the dominant culture.

    There, I fixed that for you. Considered abusive by the dominant culture is not the same as being intrisically abusive.

    This suggests that the way such children are raised makes it difficult for them to transition between cultures, which lack of adaptability many people would consider detrimental.

    Are you implying that there is something fundamentally broken in Native American kids because they have trouble adapting to being torn from their families and cultural practices?

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    Add another person to the list of people saying Pheno, many kudos for having the everloving patience to stick this thread out and without ripping your hair out (if you’re not already doing that).

    (Going to go back to listening and learning now, thanks)

  212. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    This is also why colonizers get told to stfu.

    They read” native children have a problem adapting “and see problem with Native child rearing as opposed to PROBLEM WITH NON NATIVE FOSTER HOME. Even though those children die in foster care. Are sexually abused in foster care. And are abused physically in foster care. Told their beliefs are wrong in foster care. Have their hair cut in foster care (which you don’t know WHY that’s wrong so it doesn’t even occur to you that it contributes to a problem with adaptability) HOW can you adapt to a culture that sees yours as inferior? As less than human? Inherently bad? And why would anyone with a brain DESIRE to?

    The kids were fine until the got to the foster home, but it can’t possibly be the foster homes fault. Nope. Gotta be those fucking injuns doing something wrong.

  213. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.”

    ALL of the following acts listed are checked.

    Unless you’re trying to argue that the US government accidentally placed Indians onto reservations, accidentally sterilized them and accidentally takes them from their homes for being raised traditionally. (yanno, like the horror of having both grandparents in the home)

    Or trying to argue it’s not an attempt to destroy. I guess it’s just accidental maiming. Oops!

  214. tmc
    tmc May 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

    Racist fucking asshole. Why is this genocide apologist still shitting all over this thread?

  215. Andie
    Andie May 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    Racist fucking asshole. Why is this genocide apologist still shitting all over this thread?

    Just felt it bore repeating.

  216. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    EG wrote: “How is this not hate speech worthy of banning?”

    You should reread my post, EG, because if that’s your reaction, I assure you that you’re misinterpreting it. My actual, sincere apologies if that’s the message I communicated, however.

    For the record, I read pheenobarbidoll’s post as saying that Native American kids raised in non-NA households are particularly likely to have difficulties with the cross-cultural changes. She said:

    Cross-racial adoptions have a high likelihood of creating a severe identity crisis in Indian children as they become adolescents. Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide of any population in the nation, and the suicide rate can be directly linked to children having been raised outside of their own cultural system.

    Obviously there would be no genetic reason for this, so something in their environment – either the environment of the culture they came from or the culture they’re placed in – is the cause. If the latter is held constant (i.e. if NA kids placed in non-NA US households are more traumatized than other kids blaced in different-race US households), then the former would seem to be the issue.

  217. tmc
    tmc May 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

    Many thanks to pheenobarbidol and other NA posters for everything that you have shared.

    R. Dave, get the fuck outta here. Your racist colonizing bullshit is not wanted. You are causing harm with every sleazy word that you write.

  218. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

    R.Dave

    You have the most oblivious case of victim blaming I ever seen. WTF?

  219. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

    Oh wait. I forgot. White people are all unique individuals and therefore any act against a group of non white people can never be technically genocide (except for Nazis, because Nazis were Bad. Common knowledge) because it’s not white people acting as a whole to destroy another people as a whole.

    It’s just some meanie individuals doing individual things and their victims just happen to be Indians.

    So unless white people are all acting as Borg, it doesn’t count!

    And, lest we forget, Indians are being mean and silencing by telling non Indians to STFU and not letting them have a say in policies that might get Indians lots n lots of money (undeserved money, can’t leave that out)because those damned Injuns could sell membership on ebay and we’d still have to pay those undeserving con artists good hard workin amerkin money and then what would happen to the white people!!!!! Democracy will die!!!!!!

  220. tmc
    tmc May 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

    You can stop telling the NA folks here that they are inferior and deserving of abuse any fucking minute now. Seriously. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

  221. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

    Wow…just…wow.

  222. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    @pheeno:

    And, lest we forget, Indians are being mean and silencing by telling non Indians to STFU

    Except you’re NOT, provably so. I’m not NA, neither (to my knowledge) are Donna or Li or tmc… you’re not actually telling anyone who isn’t NA to shut up, just the ignorant douchecanoes with martyr complexes. -_- I can’t figure out why he hasn’t met the banhammer yet.

  223. roymacIII
    roymacIII May 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm |

    Obviously there would be no genetic reason for this, so something in their environment – either the environment of the culture they came from or the culture they’re placed in – is the cause. If the latter is held constant (i.e. if NA kids placed in non-NA US households are more traumatized than other kids blaced in different-race US households), then the former would seem to be the issue.

    And you don’t see how, for example, constant attempts to erase NA identities, dismissing lived experiences, and a long and continuing history of violence against NA cultures might be a contributing factor?
    NA groups are subjected to violence, then they’re punished for being subjected to violence. Their children are taken by force, and then, when the children are upset and mistreated and end up taking their own lives (or have them taken), their parents are blamed.

    Lovely.

  224. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |

    If the latter is held constant (i.e. if NA kids placed in non-NA US households are more traumatized than other kids blaced in different-race US households), then the former would seem to be the issue.

    More NA kids die in foster care too. Must be their parents fault for not raising them to adapt to dying!!

    All those kids killed in Indian schools just weren’t taught how to properly adapt to having your head crushed!

  225. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    Yeah, I’m not NA either; I was just lucky enough to be raised by someone who thought it was a good idea to teach me some fucking morals and values. I sort of thought that “not suggesting that there is something wrong with children who go into crisis when forcibly separated from everyone and everything they know and love and put in the homes of people who don’t care for or abuse them” was obvious, but apparently not.

    Pheeno…I don’t know what to say. For what it’s worth, I’ve learned a lot from reading your comments on this site, not just on this thread, and I thank you for posting them.

  226. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

    More NA kids die in foster care too. Must be their parents fault for not raising them to adapt to dying!!

    All those kids killed in Indian schools just weren’t taught how to properly adapt to having your head crushed!

    Well, it is the job of all good colonial subjects to learn to adapt to the slightest whim or desire of the colonist; that’s how you can tell them apart from the bad ones. As we just discussed my class yesterday, when I taught one of the most racist texts I have ever had the displeasure of reading.

  227. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm |

    I know my parents failed in teaching me how to reconstruct my brain matter once it was stomped from my head by a boot.

    We’re bad Indians though, so…

  228. tmc
    tmc May 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |

    As we just discussed my class yesterday, when I taught one of the most racist texts I have ever had the displeasure of reading.

    Oh, do tell! What was it?

  229. tmc
    tmc May 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |

    Also, no, I’m not NA. I’m just your run-of-the-mill Angry Black Woman, and people who make it a point to be “polite” while they shit all over the folks they’re oppressing just happens to be one of my rage buttons.

  230. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

    We’re bad Indians though, so…

    Understandable. Obviously white men make the best Indians, movies and television tell me so.

  231. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |

    ht tp://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/237270

    In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written,
    all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will be ghosts.

  232. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |

    Also, no, I’m not NA. I’m just your run-of-the-mill Angry Black Woman, and people who make it a point to be “polite” while they shit all over the folks they’re oppressing just happens to be one of my rage buttons.

    Ah yes. The human rage sprinkler. Yup. Me too.

  233. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

    Oh, do tell! What was it?

    Ugh. It’s a class on the golden age of children’s literature in Britain (1865-1924, or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Winnie-the-Pooh; you might note that those years coincide with some major empire-building on the part of Britain; one of the ongoing themes of the semester has been exploring the interaction between imperialist/colonialist ideology and children’s literature), just for the context, and we read the unrevised original version of The Story of Dr. Dolittle.

    It is really…stunningly racist. It’s not just the casual slinging around of racist slurs, though there’s a fair bit of that, and it’s not just the illustrations done by the author of “Africans” (we get no more specific than that, of course, even though we get the name of the small village in England good doctor lives in); it’s that there’s an entire subplot about a “good” African prince who begs the doctor to turn him white so he can marry Sleeping Beauty (he kissed her awake, and then she woke up and said “Oh, you’re black!” and ran away), and the doctor does (the prince’s eyes also go from “mud-colored” to a “manly grey”), and during the process, the room fills with “the smell of burning brown paper.”

    Did I mention the part about how the wicked African King isn’t nice to the doctor for the utterly specious reason that the last time a white man came to his land, he was nice to him, and then the white man dug up the land and took all the gold and killed all the elephants and took all the ivory, and then sailed away in the night and so he’s never going to trust a white man again? Isn’t that unreasonable of him? What a naughty colonial subject.

    My students were…impressed, and there was lots of talk about whether casting Eddie Murphy in the movies was a conscious bit of resistance/subversion or not.

  234. LC
    LC May 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |

    people who make it a point to be “polite” while they shit all over the folks they’re oppressing just happens to be one of my rage buttons.

    I was always under the impression that being super “polite” while saying hurtful things is actually a specific rhetorical tactic aimed at producing exactly that result.

  235. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

    @228 and 224,

    Yeah, that’s what I figured you guys identified as, but I haven’t been following threads in Feministe closely enough for long enough to just assume that that was all of your ancestry, you know?

  236. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    So, R. Dave, “something in their environment” must be the cause of their failure to adapt? Apart from what everyone else has said, you do realize — and I’m trying this again, because my earlier comment on this has been stuck in moderation forever — that according to your logic, if you took a nice white Christian boy from his home in rural Idaho and put him in Brooklyn with, say, an Orthodox Jewish family or a family from Jamaica, or from India, or anywhere else other than Idaho, and it was “difficult for [him] to transition between cultures,” that lack of adaptability would mean there was something inherently detrimental about his birth culture? (Which may well be true, but not for that reason!)

  237. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

    @EG:

    HOMG that’s racist! >.<

  238. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

    EG, the original edition, with illustrations, is on the Internet Archive at http://archive.org/stream/storyofdoctordol00loft#page/n0/mode/2up. See Chapters 11 and 12. I did read some of the Dr. Dolittle books as a child in the 1960′s (my cousin had them), but I don’t remember this one, unless the version I read was expurgated. Disgusting. And I don’t appreciate how carefully Hugh Lofting’s Wikipedia entry makes sure to claim that he didn’t intend any of this to be racist!

    Your description, and the book itself, make me grateful for all the L. Frank Baum books I read as a child, which I don’t recall as being explicitly racist (although I suspect that they invisibilized people of color instead) and were very consciously feminist, with most of the protagonists, and just about all the people in charge, being female. (His mother-in-law, Matilda Gage, was a prominent abolitionist, feminist, and founding member of the women’s suffrage organization with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; she split with them, I believe, over their Christianist tendencies.)

    And the transformation scenes in those books were far preferable to this one, especially in Baum’s two sex-change books. Which I remember quite vividly, of course; they were very significant events in my early childhood, especially the one in the first sequel to The Wizard of Oz, The Land of Oz

    Traditionally, of course, Baum’s books were considered too lowbrow to be taught as children’s literature, although I wonder if that’s changed.

    You can now return to R. Dave’s racism and stupidity.

  239. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

    Donna L. – Not exactly, no. There seems to be a lot of confusion stemming from my response to pheenobarbidoll’s post on adoption and child services, so allow me to clarify.

    I understand pheenobarbidoll to be saying, among other things, that (i) cross-cultural placement of foster/adopted kids is often traumatic for those kids, and (ii) cross-cultural placement of NA kids in non-NA homes is particularly likely to be problematic, so (iii) therefore, such cross-cultural placement of NA kids and the harm arising therefrom is evidence of continued racism and genocide directed against NA people.

    My whole point in response to pheenobarbidoll’s post was that (iii) doesn’t necessarily follow from (i) and (ii) and that, on the contrary, (ii) could also support the conclusion that something about NA culture / child-rearing practices (most likely the strength of cultural attachment and sense of duty to that culture) is responsible for the extra difficulty in transitioning that she noted.

    It’s funny you should mention the Christian/Jewish analogy, actually. While writing my response to pheenobarbidoll, I was thinking of my own previous experience (as a nominally-Christian person) dating a Jewish woman who grew up in a Reform Judaism family vs my friend’s experience as a Jewish woman who grew up in a strictly Orthodox Jewish family but was, at roughly the same time, dating a Christian guy. For my girlfriend and me, there were virtually no issues related to our cultural / religious differences. For my friend, however, her family threatened to disown her if she married this guy, and her father literally told her that if she did, she’d be “doing Hitler’s work for him”. Needless to say, she and her boyfriend found it much harder to bridge the cultural gap. Many tears and much soul-searching depression ensued.

    Similarly, my thought in response to pheenobarbidoll’s post was that if these NA kids are coming from a cultural / family background that strongly emphasises the importance of maintaining their cultural attachments and, indeed, pressures them to think of it as a duty or responsibility, then that would probably make being placed with a non-NA family significantly more traumatic than it otherwise would be.

  240. Li
    Li May 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm |

    Similarly, my thought in response to pheenobarbidoll’s post was that if these NA kids are coming from a cultural / family background that strongly emphasises the importance of maintaining their cultural attachments and, indeed, pressures them to think of it as a duty or responsibility, then that would probably make being placed with a non-NA family significantly more traumatic than it otherwise would be.

    Or, they could be coming from a background exposed to ongoing genocidal trauma in which disruption of family connections constitutes a key strategy of the coloniser, thus contextualising their experience as *designed to eliminate them*.

  241. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |

    something about NA culture / child-rearing practices (most likely the strength of cultural attachment and sense of duty to that culture) is responsible for the extra difficulty in transitioning that she noted.

    See, now you’re describing (or at least attempting to describe) the “difficulty” in a less judgmental, less pejorative way. Before, you specifically said that “some” would view the inability to adapt as “detrimental,” and as itself constituting post facto justification for the removal — without indicating in any way that you disagreed with that view.

    Of course, you’ve failed to note the softening of your rhetoric. But is that your attempt at an apology? If so, I strongly suspect that it won’t wash.

    I take it, by the way, that you have no understanding or empathy for how an Orthodox Jewish parent, who may well have had personal experience with the Holocaust, might feel about their child marrying a Christian as being symbolic of the gradual destruction of the Jewish people? I would disagree, but at least I understand the feelings behind it. Very much so.

  242. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

    For my friend, however, her family threatened to disown her if she married this guy, and her father literally told her that if she did, she’d be “doing Hitler’s work for him”.

    The problem with that analogy being, though, that her boyfriend was in fact not really part of an oppressive culture in the same way that the US in general is towards NA people. If she were dating an actual neo-Nazi mouth-frothing Stormfront member, the analogy would begin to approach the level of trauma that is complete cultural disorientation.

    something about NA culture / child-rearing practices (most likely the strength of cultural attachment and sense of duty to that culture) is responsible for the extra difficulty in transitioning

    @pheeno, I guess what R. Dave is getting at is that you’re not being properly welcoming of your white overlords?

  243. Andie
    Andie May 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

    I take it, by the way, that you have no understanding or empathy for how an Orthodox Jewish parent, who may well have had personal experience with the Holocaust, might feel about their child marrying a Christian as being symbolic of the gradual destruction of the Jewish people? I would disagree, but at least I understand the feelings behind it. Very much so.

    Good point, Donna.

    On another note to R.Dave, voluntarily marrying outside one of one’s cultural group is far from the same as being forcibly removed at a young age.

  244. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh May 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm |

    I guess I’m not that worried about cultures per se.

    And the other shoe drops.

    You are just as bad as every other privileged white male who comes into the various threads here, flings their privilege every which way, hurts people for whom the subject matter is real and has a negative effect on their everyday lives, admits that they really don’t care about the subject matter and are just engaging in intellectual wankery, and THEN, and then, can’t understand why people are furious at them.

    Congratulations, you’re just like every other ass who has done that in the threads over the years.

  245. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    Or, they could be coming from a background exposed to ongoing genocidal trauma in which disruption of family connections constitutes a key strategy of the coloniser, thus contextualising their experience as *designed to eliminate them*.

    we have a winner!

  246. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

    And I don’t appreciate how carefully Hugh Lofting’s Wikipedia entry makes sure to claim that he didn’t intend any of this to be racist!

    Whoever wrote the entry can’t even bring him/herself to use the word “racist.” Instead, the writer notes that the language has been criticized for being “racially derogatory.” We discussed that in class as well.

  247. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    I don’t think my original post implied that the inability to adapt constituted a post facto justification for the removal, but I do think it’s detrimental. I’m not a fan of imposing on kids a sense of moral obligation to carry on their parents’ culture (or religion, or socio-economic status, or whatever), particularly in situations where that sense of obligation makes it more difficult for them to get out of what is otherwise a genuinely bad situation. The short version of my view is: if any kid (NA or otherwise) is in a genuinely abusive situation, get him/her the hell out of it, culture be damned.

    As for the shift in tone, yeah, I was getting a bit pissy at that point in the thread, but with good cause in my opinion. That’s neither here nor there, though, so I’ll not go further down that road.

    On the understanding/empathy for my friend’s Orthodox parents, I’m honestly torn. I mean, for an actual survivor of the camps, what the hell, I’m not going to say “boo” to them no matter how much I disagree with their views. For second and third generation descendents and people who are Jewish but have no direct family ties to the Holocaust (my friend’s family, for instance), I understand the lingering sense of cultural duty on an intellectual level, I suppose, but I still find it infuriating. I just find it galling that the lesson they take from the quintessential modern example of bigotry and ethnic nationalism is that the morally virtuous thing to do is to embrace bigotry and ethnic nationalism in the other direction rather than condemning bigotry and ethnic nationalism in all its forms.

  248. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

    That was in response to Donna L @ 240, by the way.

  249. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    my friend’s experience as a Jewish woman who grew up in a strictly Orthodox Jewish family but was, at roughly the same time, dating a Christian guy. For my girlfriend and me, there were virtually no issues related to our cultural / religious differences. For my friend, however, her family threatened to disown her if she married this guy, and her father literally told her that if she did, she’d be “doing Hitler’s work for him”. Needless to say, she and her boyfriend found it much harder to bridge the cultural gap. Many tears and much soul-searching depression ensued.

    Yeah…that’s…just like having agents of an enemy state that has an ongoing history of exploiting and destroying your people forcibly abduct your kids and give them to abusive strangers outside your community.

    Except for every. single. part.

  250. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

    But don’t forget, EG, Wikipedia is always supposed to present “both sides” of that kind of issue, or not say anything at all. Which is why the article on Germaine Greer, the last time I looked, had been scrubbed of all references to her anti-trans bigotry. And why in the “discussion” sections of articles on Nazism and the Holocaust, there are always people complaining about the failure to present “both sides.” I’m sure the same thing happens with articles on slavery. Not to mention the treatment of Native Americans in this country.

  251. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

    Yeah…that’s…just like having agents of an enemy state that has an ongoing history of exploiting and destroying your people forcibly abduct your kids and give them to abusive strangers outside your community.

    Except for every. single. part.

    Exactly, and I’m sorry I got sidetracked and didn’t point that out. Edgardo Mortara? Yes. Dating gentiles? No.

  252. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

    R. Dave, you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to Jewish concerns about assimilation. None at all. When people have been trying to annihilate your culture for over a thousand years, then you can talk about it.

    You need to step back, stop with the analogies, and listen. Your experience is not relevant here. It’s just not. Not only that, but you are woefully uneducated in this area and have continually showed resistance to actually learning a thing or two or listening to people who do have experience dealing with these issues. Just stop.

  253. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

    I don’t think my original post implied that the inability to adapt constituted a post facto justification for the removal, but I do think it’s detrimental. I’m not a fan of imposing on kids a sense of moral obligation to carry on their parents’ culture (or religion, or socio-economic status, or whatever), particularly in situations where that sense of obligation makes it more difficult for them to get out of what is otherwise a genuinely bad situation.

    Interesting how you automatically think of culture as a duty rather than a gift. Also interesting that you see a desire to carry on one’s culture and traditions as the same thing (“ethnic nationalism”) as Nazism. You know what’s even more interesting? Not everybody agrees with you, even among children.

    Here’s something else that’s interesting: you have yet to address the reality of what’s going on, which is that kids are being taken from non-abusive situations to save them from the horror of being brought up in NA cultures, and deliberately being placed with white foster families–where they are often abused–even when there are NA certified-foster parents with empty homes in the area.

    Could you stop constructing hypotheticals and actually address the reality of the situation?

  254. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    Also,sweet Lord are your analogies terrible. You honestly wouldn’t know a good analogy if it bit you in the ass.

  255. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

    Shoshie, don’t you understand? It’s all fine if you’re the right kind of Jew (Reform Jews who have no problem dating gentiles, I guess)–R. Dave totally gets them. R. Dave only objects to the wrong kind of Jew. You’re not doing Jewishness right!

    OK, R. Dave, you’ve insulted Native Americans and Jews. What minority group would you like to go for next?

  256. Caperton
    Caperton May 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm | *

    R.Dave: You’ve demonstrated that you’re woefully ignorant about the topic at hand, a lot of commenters have been very generous in trying to explain it, and yet you’ve insisted on clinging to your privilege and disregarding both cited facts and firsthand accounts. You’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to cram the facts into a frame that makes you right and everyone else wrong. Stop doing that. Even if, after all that, you’re still absolutely convinced that you’re right, stop. This is the only warning you’ll get.

  257. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm |

    Interesting how you automatically think of culture as a duty rather than a gift.

    And also, it’s NOT being taught as a duty.

    What is being taught in foster homes is that Indians are fucking worthless, inherently bad people who are not capable of raising children. It wouldn’t matter one whit if children are being taught they have a duty, because duty isn’t what’s being attacked.

    Fucking identity is. Race is.

    They’re being told their fucking RACE is bad. You are inherently fucking BAD because you come from these people. Because you’re bad people, your customs and traditions are stupid and wrong.

    THAT IS HOW ASSIMILATION OF INDIANS OPERATES.

  258. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

    And children can’t adapt because they can’t change the problem.

    They can’t change their skin color. They can’t change their race. They can’t change their parents. They cannot change their biology.

    And they’re being taught their race, their skin color, their parents, grandparents, great grandparents infinity, their very biology is BAD. LESS THAN. INFERIOR.

    They get taught that one little two little three little Indians song in school. That song is about killing Indians.

    They get cast as the default Indians in Thanksgiving plays, even though they know the origin of Thanksgiving surrounded murdering Indians.

    They have to draw pictures and write poems about Columbus Day. Draw a picture of him having his dogs tear 2 year olds apart though and get detention for being a discipline case.

    They have to learn about the Founding Fathers, and how wonderful Lincoln was even though he removed Indians too and was an Indian murdering bastard. He removed Indians on the same day he signed Thanksgiving into a national holiday for shit’s sake.

    We’ve adapted to a society that either kills us, forgets us or ignores that we exist past western movies altogether, but it’s how WE raise OUR children that’s the problem?

    I don’t fucking think so jack.

  259. R.Dave
    R.Dave May 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm |

    Caperton wrote: You’ve demonstrated that you’re woefully ignorant about the topic at hand, a lot of commenters have been very generous in trying to explain it, and yet you’ve insisted on clinging to your privilege and disregarding both cited facts and firsthand accounts. You’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to cram the facts into a frame that makes you right and everyone else wrong. Stop doing that. Even if, after all that, you’re still absolutely convinced that you’re right, stop. This is the only warning you’ll get.

    Well, I disagree with basically every single premise of your post, Caperton, but that’s fine. As a mod, it’s your house, your rules. I am honestly curious why these heated disagreements here never seem to result in a warning, let alone a ban, for the many direct insults (asshat, asshole, douchebag) etc. that get hurled at the person disagreeing with the consensus view. I mean, I’m pretty sure if I had said even one such thing in this thread, I’d have been insta-banned. I’d send you a pm, rather than ask in-thread, but I can’t seem to find a means of doing so short of emailing you, which I imagine would be overly intrusive.

  260. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |

    Oops! I forgot that the way I express my identity and culture was supposed to make white Christians comfortable so they can feel all tolerant and shit. Silly me!

  261. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

    Well I agree with Caperton, R. Dave.

    Perhaps your inability to adapt to her point is your fault?

  262. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    et alone a ban, for the many direct insults (asshat, asshole, douchebag) etc. that get hurled at the person disagreeing with the consensus view.

    Your “disagreeing with the consensus view” is racist. That’s the difference.

    Racist.

    That you can’t figure out why is your problem. You’ve been shown. Your response is a verbose “nu uh”, but there it is.

    Your view is racist.

  263. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon May 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

    I’d say I’m astounded by the absolute callousness of R. Dave in this thread, but I’m not. Racists, amirite?

  264. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    if these NA kids are coming from a cultural / family background that strongly emphasises the importance of maintaining their cultural attachments and, indeed, pressures them to think of it as a duty or responsibility,

    Here you go, putting your white dude’s spin on things. According to you, maintaining cultural attachment is a DUTY and a RESPONSIBILITY (and if your heritage is being erased, is that such a bad duty or responsibility to have?). You don’t care because you don’t have a freaking cultural attachment to anything except being the oppressor. So YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND what you’re trying to talk about.

    Are you open to the 1% possibility that perhaps, in the face of cite after cite after cite, after “anecdotes” from people who have seen their family members DIE because of their heritage, and after explanations about how OTHER CULTURES ARE NOT INHERENTLY BAD JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK THEY ARE, you just might possibly could be WRONG about this?

    Also: “they called me names; why aren’t they banned?” in view of the racist crap you’ve been spewing? REALLY?

  265. trishka
    trishka May 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

    another non-native wading in here, with some statistics:

    “he Native American population is poor with a per capita income that is half that of all races in the U.S., and with twice the proportion of persons below the poverty level. The proportion of AI/AN persons who have finished college is half that of all races in the U.S. and the percent of the AI/AN labor force that is unemployed is twice as high as among all U.S. races.

    Native Americans face a unique set of health problems that include high rates of diabetes (up to 50% of some tribes), mortality from accidental death (2.3 times that of all U.S. races), alcoholism, tuberculosis, homicide and youth suicide. Native Americans have a relatively low incidence of cancer from all sites (half that of all races in the U.S.) and low mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The life expectancy of Native Americans is 3.6 years less for men and 3.0 years less for women than that of men and women of all races in the U.S. Of the numerous health problems prevalent among this growing population, many are amenable to preventive efforts including obesity, alcohol abuse and mortality from accidental death. ”

    okay.

    but. since – they’re not being drug out of their homes and shot in the streets, it’s not technically genocide, what is currently happening to NA peoples. is that right?

    and as to your garden variety environmental justice issues, dave r, when it comes to the keystone xl pipeline, i suggest you google fort chipewayan and read about what is happening to the NA communities there.

    and come back and say that it is not genocide.

    granted, that is in canada and not the U.S., but the approval of the keystone xl is a key factor in the on-going development of the tar sands.

    and tar sands development is resulting in the rapid irrevocable genocide of the tribal people living in the fort chipewayan area. not just their culture, but you, know, the people. they’re dying. it’s horrifying.

  266. BHuesca
    BHuesca May 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

    @ #262 – Disagree.

  267. Donna L
    Donna L May 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

    Trishka, unfortunately, people like R. Dave probably see statistics like that and think “it’s their own fault; there must be something wrong with their culture,” and that that’s a *good* reason to take their children away from them.

    There was a commenter not long ago who took the position that parents have “no rights” to keep their children once they’re born, and they should be taken away from parents that can’t afford to raise them, to the noble end of avoiding the creation or perpetuation of a permanent underclass. I don’t remember who zie was, but zie might have been R. Dave’s soulmate.

    1. trishka
      trishka May 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm |

      or that it’s not ‘genocide’, it’s just ‘poverty’. as if maintaining people in poverty that severe isn’t a form of genocide.

      that stat on life expectancy is an average, btw. the life expectancy of a native woman on the pine ridge reservation in south dakota is 47 years.

      47.

  268. EG
    EG May 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

    I am honestly curious why these heated disagreements here never seem to result in a warning, let alone a ban, for the many direct insults (asshat, asshole, douchebag) etc. that get hurled at the person disagreeing with the consensus view.

    Because calling someone an asshole or a douchebag is not repeating an ideology that has been used to justify fucking killing people or abducting their children. Calling someone an asshole or a douchebag is actually not as bad as telling them that perhaps taking their kids away is a good idea, because their culture’s child-rearing practices maybe are inherently abusive.

    Where did you get the playground idea that name-calling was the rudest rhetorical move possible? Racist ideology is no less disgusting when it’s dressed up in pretty words.

  269. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan May 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

    Calling someone an asshole or a douchebag is actually not as bad as telling them that perhaps taking their kids away is a good idea, because their culture’s child-rearing practices maybe are inherently abusive.

    “First they came for the douchebags…” ;p

  270. QLH
    QLH May 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    @pheenobarbidoll, thank you so much for everything that you’ve said and shared in this thread. I hope that you know that we’re not just reading it over and brushing it off, it’s making a difference.

  271. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh May 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

    @pheenobarbidoll, thank you so much for everything that you’ve said and shared in this thread. I hope that you know that we’re not just reading it over and brushing it off, it’s making a difference.

    This. Thank you pheenobarbidoll.

  272. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm |

    @pheenobarbidoll, thank you so much for everything that you’ve said and shared in this thread. I hope that you know that we’re not just reading it over and brushing it off, it’s making a difference.

    I’d like to second that, and I’m sorry for your losses pheenobarbidoll, though I realize that’s a pittance of a thing when faced with genocide.

    R.Dave, and anyone who wants to defend him or continue the racism — think you can at least manage to acknowledge that there are *lots* of Native American tribes and their cultural practices differ?

  273. Crys T
    Crys T May 10, 2012 at 3:46 am |

    I’ve also got to thank pheenobarbidoll for infinite patience and self-control in the face of horrifying hatred and stupidity.

    Also, what Shoshie said:

    Oops! I forgot that the way I express my identity and culture was supposed to make white Christians comfortable so they can feel all tolerant and shit. Silly me!

    I get the feeling that R. Dave is one of those privileged people who believes that that just because their culture is so dominant that it becomes like the ocean the fish is swimming in, they are somehow “beyond” or “apart from” culture. That their culture is somehow a not-culture.

    Funnily enough, when these people are put into situations where their culture isn’t dominant, they often go into full freakout mode because they are so unable to adapt.

  274. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve May 10, 2012 at 4:54 am |

    Well, I have to admit that I don’t feel as much sympathy for much that comes along with white Christian culture being ‘wiped out.’ (E.g. the sweeping reforms made by Vatican II, the abolition of slavery, banning the Nazi flag, etc.) Well, I don’t HAVE to admit it, I don’t actually mind admitting it. I suppose the R.Dave’s of this world would say that makes me a remarkable hypocrite, but I would be equally against aspects of Native American culture based on hatred and divisiveness. While there may be aspects of Native American culture like this that I don’t know about, that is certainly not the sort of thing people in here are arguing in favor of.

  275. a lawyer
    a lawyer May 10, 2012 at 5:26 am |

    We’ve probably moved on from the OP by now, but in case not: Much of this stems, I suspect, from the fact that the ABA strongly encourages schools to list all minority professors. A professor who allows a school to check a “minority” box is (from an ABA perspective) more valuable than one who does not.

    So I am highly skeptical of the statements that the schools had no idea/complicity in this. It seems quite likely that Warren herself (who was one of the top national scholars in her area of study) couldn’t have cared less–she’s brilliant, very well published, and would have gotten the job anyway. It seems very unlikely, however, that her employers wouldn’t have wanted to leverage her as much as possible. That’s just what law schools DO.

    Re the genocide thing: There’s nothing wrong with using–for the purposes of this discussion–a definition of genocide which includes “physical survival, accompanied by cultural degradation/destruction.” In that definition the NA population is still undergoing genocide.

    Under most common layperson definitions, though, “genocide” involves some sort of deliberate mass attempt to murder masses of people, a la Tutsi or NAs (not so long ago) or Serbs or Croats or Armenians or Jews or a whole bunch of folks. They’re still going on.

    What is happening NOW to the NA population is appalling, immoral, and–in my opinion–obviously illegal. I live about 10 miles from an active reservation and go there frequently to work with some tribe members. The way that the U.S. government treats the tribe is appalling.

    But I am having trouble using the same word to describe “the long term effects of ignorance and poorly-conceived government intervention” and “taking mass action to murder most of the folks who meet a certain characteristic.”

    Perhaps “apartheid” would be a better fit? NAs in the US share some similarity to the previous plight of South African blacks, insofar as they are mistreated by a powerful occupier and insofar as they suffer serious and horrific consequences from that mistreatment. NAs also have some similar characteristics to Palestinians w/r/t politics, etc.

  276. Girl from Ontario
    Girl from Ontario May 10, 2012 at 8:59 am |

    De-lurking temporarily; does anyone else want to ask Jill and Pheenobarbidoll if she could pretty please do a couple of guest posts for Feministe? Pheenobarbidoll, you have been so amazing and I can’t thank you enough for having the patience and strength to make so many necessary contributions to this thread.

  277. EG
    EG May 10, 2012 at 9:17 am |

    I get the feeling that R. Dave is one of those privileged people who believes that that just because their culture is so dominant that it becomes like the ocean the fish is swimming in, they are somehow “beyond” or “apart from” culture. That their culture is somehow a not-culture.

    Co-signed. Not having to care about one’s culture or feel that it’s in any way threatened is a function of seeing one’s culture in the mainstream everywhere one looks. People like that get to assume that their culture isn’t a “culture,” the way that their background isn’t an “ethnicity.” It’s the just way things are, just the way regular people do things.

    Funnily enough, when these people are put into situations where their culture isn’t dominant, they often go into full freakout mode because they are so unable to adapt.

    Right? It’s probably because the detrimental effects of their native culture prevent them from adapting to other contexts, or something.

    But I am having trouble using the same word to describe “the long term effects of ignorance and poorly-conceived government intervention” and “taking mass action to murder most of the folks who meet a certain characteristic.”

    What Pheenobarbidoll has been saying and supporting with evidence, over and over and over and over again, is that it’s not ignorance, and it’s not poorly conceived. The state knows that seizing NA children from their families and separating them from their cultures causes suffering and contributes to a high suicide rate, and the state does it anyway. The state knows that taking certain actions will destroy NA access to clean water, and it does it anyway. That’s not ignorance, and it’s not poorly conceived.

  278. Shoshie
    Shoshie May 10, 2012 at 9:42 am |

    It’s probably because the detrimental effects of their native culture prevent them from adapting to other contexts, or something.

    Word. I went to Brandeis for college (a non-sectarian, majority-Jewish school), and I saw SO MANY freakouts by Christians. Complaints that there weren’t Christmas lights on campus. Complaints that we didn’t have off school the day after Easter (even though we did have Good Friday off). Complaints that Jewish girls (always girls, btw) wouldn’t date them. Complaints that the culture was just too Jewish and it made life soooooo hard for them. Even complaints that we had too many days off in the fall because of the Jewish holidays. My friend, who’s an awesome Orthodox woman, had her freshman roommate put up crosses all over their dorm room and be totally confused when my friend didn’t want them over her bed. Ridiculous Christian chick transferred after a week or so. Now who’s having a hard time adapting?

  279. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 10, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    But I am having trouble using the same word to describe “the long term effects of ignorance and poorly-conceived government intervention” and “taking mass action to murder most of the folks who meet a certain characteristic.”

    The only difference is how they’re doing it. They’re not dragging Indians out of their homes and shooting them in the streets. They don’t have to do that anymore. Our numbers are small enough now that hidden murders, indirect killings and plausible deniability tactics work just as well as kicking down a door and gunning the family down.

    Nazi’s took Jacksons Indian Removal as a template for the holocaust. More Indians died, incidentally, than in the Jewish holocaust. Once you’ve eradicated the majority of the people you’re targetting, and have 500 years under your belt, your methods can be tweaked. To the point you can still commit genocide right under everyone’s nose and they won’t call it genocide.

  280. Li
    Li May 10, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    Since it just keeps coming up, here’s Article 2 of the Convention on the
    Prevention and Punishment
    of the Crime of Genocide
    .

    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    Paying particular attention to point e), let’s please stop with the semantic arguments as to the meaning of genocide.

  281. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 10, 2012 at 10:09 am |

    Can’t forget c either. Reservations were intended for that exact purpose, and still serve that purpose. People simply die quietly and out of sight.

  282. IrishUp
    IrishUp May 10, 2012 at 10:22 am |

    Look, a lawyer; you’re making distinctions without differences.

    If you policies are directed as specific peoples based on their racial/ethnic/cultural identification(s), that is what is necessary to meet the “gene” part.

    If your policies RESULT in the systematic abuse, increase in morbidity and mortality of those peoples, that is the “cide” part.

    When you don’t prosecute members of your occupying, oppressing race/ethnic/cultural group for crimes up to and including murder, that’s the “cide” part.

    When your policies cause increased maternal, infant, and child DEATHS, that’s the “cide” part. When your policies take away reproductive choices from those people, that’s “cide” too. Especially THESE! Genocide is AIMED at children and women in particular.

    So ask yourself this, a lawyer: Is it any less genocidal if you’re currently <1% of your orignal population because of what was done over 500yrs rather than over 10-15yrs?

  283. IrishUp
    IrishUp May 10, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    blargh, tense fail. That REALLY should be “has been done over 500yrs” for accuracy.

    1. trishka
      trishka May 10, 2012 at 10:36 am |

      this is the way i look at it, as an engineer. i think in numbers. i hope my presentation doesn’t come off as cold, calculating, and unfeeling, but it is the way my brain processes the world. and it seem some folks here are not hearing what people are saying, so i’m going to try to put it out there another way.

      i think everyone agrees that what occurred in the 19th century in the US constitutes genocide, by any definition of the word, layperson or otherwise. the trail of tears being a prime example. now some people are saying that what is happening now is not genocide.

      what that implies is that at some point between then and now, what was happening to the NA population stopped being genocide and started being something….unfortunate and regrettable, but NOT the g-word.

      the thing is – even if you don’t look at any of the other qualifiers besides morbidity rates – the average life expectancy of NA people is markedly lower than the population at large. and for some NA populations, it’s horrifically, gut-churningly lower. (47 for women on the pine ridge reservation, hello?) what’s more : ever has it thus been so.

      the morbidity rate for NA people has never stopped being higher than that of the rest of us, from the time of the trail of tears onward. so yes, the rate of the genocide has slowed. but it hasn’t ever stopped.

      until the life expectancy rates for NA populations match the population at large, we’ve haven’t stopped committing genocide. whether we mean to or not, it’s still happening. we haven’t fixed it. and again, that’s not even addressing the other issues of foster care and teen suicide which are also very real and very important. the life expectancy rate is a simple, cold number that unequivocally shows that the process we started several hundred years ago has never fully been halted.

      we started it. it’s our job to fix it – not the NA’s. so blaming the lower life expectancy and other social ills of the NA population on “poverty” is a copout. the poverty is there because of us and we have never managed to fix it.

      and we, where “we” means you, me, and all other white colonizers, need to own that genocide is happening here in our country. it’s tempting to say that it was in the past, but that things are, if not better, at least not as completely horribly bad. it’s squicky and uncomfortable-making to admit to genocide by your own culture, in your own country, by your own people. genocide is something that Other People do. those bad people.

      um, yeah, no. we need to own it.

  284. EG
    EG May 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm |

    Shoshie, my mind is blown by the stupidity you describe. Hey, idiots: you decided to go to Brandeis. It’s Jewish. Jews do not celebrate Easter.

    I went to a women’s college; what you describe would be like a student complaining that she wasn’t getting a man’s perspective from her classmates.

  285. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

    Ridiculous Christian chick transferred after a week or so. Now who’s having a hard time adapting?

    Boom.

  286. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve May 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    @EG

    Not having to care about one’s culture or feel that it’s in any way threatened is a function of seeing one’s culture in the mainstream everywhere one looks. People like that get to assume that their culture isn’t a “culture,” the way that their background isn’t an “ethnicity.” It’s the just way things are, just the way regular people do things.

    Actually, what I think R. Dave is doing is far more sinister and underhanded than even that. What he is doing is making the false equivalence between things like White South Africans saying apartheid is ‘part of their culture’ and people on this blog who talk of white Americans destroying Native American culture. As such, you give him too much respect even by analysing him.

    P.S. Sorry if this doesn’t make much sense, I read it back and can’t really tell, I’m a little freaked out as I was sort of a victim of an attempted assault a little while ago in Soho (the London one.)

  287. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. May 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm |

    I’m a little freaked out as I was sort of a victim of an attempted assault a little while ago in Soho (the London one.)

    I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you are safe now and have access to everything you need to be well.

  288. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune May 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm |

    What he is doing is making the false equivalence between things like White South Africans saying apartheid is ‘part of their culture’

    QFT.

    Also, I hope you’re okay and safe now. *sends virtual cups of tea*

  289. EG
    EG May 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm |

    Damn, Steve. I hope you’re doing as OK as you can be, and that you’ve got the support you need. I send good wishes.

  290. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll May 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm |

    P.S. Sorry if this doesn’t make much sense, I read it back and can’t really tell, I’m a little freaked out as I was sort of a victim of an attempted assault a little while ago in Soho (the London one.)

    holy shit

  291. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 11, 2012 at 12:01 am |

    Steve — I think you’re right about R. Dave, and I hope you’re safe now and taking care of yourself *also sends along virtual tea*

  292. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve May 11, 2012 at 3:40 am |

    awww…thanks everyone… :) am safe now…44 years old, first time that kind of thing has happened to me…the biggest thing that kept preying on my mind was ‘why am I a target?’

    Off topic, I know, but maybe a good way to end this thread!

  293. jade
    jade May 11, 2012 at 7:12 am |

    can i just say thankyou to the NA people (especially pheenobarbidoll) who have engaged in this thread despite the obnoxious and hurtful denial of your experiences and histpry? i’m australian and i see other white australians do this all the time wrt aboriginal people and claim what happened to them ‘doesn’t contstitute genocide’. it’s disgusting.

  294. DonnaL
    DonnaL May 11, 2012 at 10:11 am |

    I just would like to echo the good wishes to Steve, and, emphatically, the thanks to pheenobarbidoll and other NA people who have so forcefully and persistently contributed to this thread, in the face of people like R. Dave. I have an idea of how difficult it can be to do that.

  295. khw
    khw May 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

    A bit late to the show, but I would like to add my voice to those thanking those of Native American descent and Native Americans for taking the time to give us their perspective, explain their experiences and for permitting us to listen to their voices; they have also shown us infinite patience.

    Thank you

  296. akcontraptionist
    akcontraptionist May 13, 2012 at 12:49 am |

    Oh Good Grief……

    Identifying oneself as Native American or anything else for that matter doesn’t have anything to do with blood degree or quantum blood laws or legal percentages or some other legal construct. It has to do with how the person understands their own heritage.

    If there is a requirement of a legally provable percentage of heritage or documentation required for answering a question regarding heritage or race, then the question needs to be put that way. If it isn’t, and these people don’t like the answer, then these whiners need to fix the question or shut up. There is a communicative difference in asking what race(s) someone is vs. what their heritage is vs. what legally recognized memberships/citizenships they hold. Claiming that it is implied is a very weak argument.

    People can squawk all they want that partial bloods are ‘not really Native’. And sure, they aren’t legally part of that tribe. But that doesn’t make their heritage or experience any less real. And that doesn’t make the look-down-their-nose you-don’t-belong-with-us discrimination that they face from the majority and the organized minorities any less real either.

  297. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri May 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm |

    akcontraptionist — did you read the rest of the comments? Please do so if not. Also, in your last paragraph, “partial bloods” — unless that’s how you self-identify, please never say that again.

    Signed,
    – a “partial blood” (who looks white and thus gets white privilege and thus does *not* face “look-down-their-nose you-don’t-belong-with-us discrimination…from the majority”)

  298. Epiphany!
    Epiphany! May 14, 2012 at 4:30 am |

    Anybody see Rachel Maddow on Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#47381174

  299. Liz
    Liz May 14, 2012 at 7:21 am |

    If you’re interested in reading about this topic from an Indigenous Australian perspective, I recommend you read ‘Am I Black Enough For You?’ by Anita Heiss.

  300. Annie
    Annie May 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

    It really galls me when people, irrespective of race, deny what has happened to many like me. It is genocide through killing culture and passing off mixed-race kids as totally white or totally black or totally hispanic. And it’s not something that happened centuries ago. ICWA was 1978. Even with ICWA in place, the foster care systems of many states, including ND and SD take NA kids and put them with non-NA families. It doesn’t matter why the state governments do this. The effect is cultural genocide.

    I’m a mixed-race person who was taken from my mother because of her Native ancestry and poverty and “white washed” in the pre-ICWA days. I was light enough that I “passed” for white. So my adoptive parents were told I was 100% white. Like so many others, the US government purposefully “killed the Indian” in me.

    I’ve more than enough NA blood to satisfy the blood quantum and 2 of the 3 tribes from whom I descend would recognize me as one of their own. Because of the adoption and white washing, the US government won’t recognize me as Native unless I hire a lawyer and fight. Every NA activist and NA lawyer I have talked to says the game isn’t worth the candle. So the US government continues to “keep me white”.

    Yes, people like me can still call themselves NA, get tribal membership, and learn and practice the culture of their peoples. But this ignores the fact that some tribes are wary of taking people who can’t get US gov recognition because of what it does to their relationship with the US Gov. (Note: Not all tribes have the same type of relationship with the US gov.) It also means the official US count of the tribe is not the same as the tribe’s count. This clearly matters in terms of resource allocation. But it also matters in terms of health care data, etc.

    So I go through life checking the white box and the NA box and other (as I don’t know my complete heritage). If forced to choose one, I will “decline to state”. The boxes really need to distinguish between NA ancestry and tribal membership. The forms need to be clear what percentage is needed to say NA ancestry. Otherwise, we have no accurate data.

    I say I am “mixed-race with European and NA ancestry”. I don’t say NA “heritage” because that implies a cultural connection to some people that was severed by our government. Or I will say I’m about X percent of Y tribe, but I’m not a tribal member because…

    So I try very hard to walk the line and celebrate that which was stolen from me without claiming to be something I will never be.

    In re Warren most NA activists I know and most forcibly “white washed” people like me think it’s horrible when people go around claiming that some distant “Indian” ancestor gives them special insight or connection. It’s cultural appropriation. It’s something that bothers NA activists in the extreme.

    Make no mistake, it’s not just whites that are cultural appropriators of NA heritage. A lot of African Americans, particularly in the South, do it as well. So do Hispanics, regardless of ethnicity and race. Just because Beyonce has some NA heritage doesn’t give her the right to wear a feathered headdress modeled on those worn by plains tribes. It’s culturally offensive no matter who does it. Don’t get me started on all the NA fashion going around at the moment…

    But it is not a simple matter:
    someone like Elizabeth Warren and Johnny Depp who seems to have no real connection other than her warm fuzzy feelings is culturally appropriating and needs to stop. But someone who had a grandparent but otherwise appears to be white/AA/Latino is a different matter. Someone who passes as white and has white privilege when anonymous may have still suffered because of their ancestry, cultural heritage, or tribal membership. You cannot judge the situation unless you know all the facts about the person; know how the specific nation, tribe, or band views the matter; and speak from a place of honesty about your own prejudices. You also have to understand that not all NA nations and tribes view these matters in the same way. Within the Nation that you would know as the Sioux*, there are divisions among the tribes and also among the tribal bands wrt whether tribal membership should be based on blood, culture, residency, etc. It’s not simple. It’s not a soundbite.

    *Many of the members of the nation reject this term as it was one used by outsiders to describe them and may have historically been used as an insult. (Though the snake story is now regarded as false).

    To be honest, neither Jill nor anyone else not well versed in NA matters should be addressing this. Even if you have the best of intentions, it is still someone not Native speaking from a privileged voice. Given all that has happened on this site in the past few months wrt the feelings of WOC, this is a matter that should be addressed by someone with knowledge of NA identity issues and preferably someone with lived experience. When I read the original post I cringed and thought it came off as another white person using NA identity issues to make a political point about her own partisan politics. I shared the post with some NA activists. They felt the same way. Were it not for the commenters who bravely waded in and tried to address the issue without cultural blinders and for the right reasons, I would have completely given up on the site.

    For the record: almost all the NA feminists I know feel really shut out and silenced by non-NA feminists speaking “for them”. If you are a non-NA feminist and you want to write about an NA issue, either spend some serious time educating yourself or ask a NA feminist to guest blog. I don’t care what your intentions are. Do you have any idea how much havoc was wreaked upon NAs by people with good intentions? Even liberal, feminist ones?

    Do not think all NAs think alike. Do not confuse the position of a nation with a tribe or a band. Do not confuse the position of those groups with that of individuals.

    (Note: I’m using the terms nation, tribe, and band even though they don’t completely reflect actual tribal structures. Sometimes you do have to use the English shorthand words for purposes of brevity and clarity).

    Do not think that because someone passes for white and otherwise has “white privilege” when relatively anonymous that they have not suffered prejudice because of their NA heritage. These are not mutually exclusive conditions. I know many, many individuals who “pass” who have suffered horrible prejudice and governmental abuse because of their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. If you fall into this trap, you are aiding and abetting the white washing that was forced upon them.

    Do not think all NAs live on a reservation. There are many, many “urban Indians”.

    When talking about if someone is Native, it’s best to NOT conflate some very different things:

    (1) The ethnic makeup of one’s ancestors;
    (2) The color of one’s skin;
    (3) How one self-identifies in terms of their lineage;
    (4) What culture(s) one practices or feels a strong connection to;
    (5) How society views the person based on outward appearance (not just skin, but bone structure, dress, etc);
    (6) How society views the person based on socio-cultural heritage;
    (7) How the US Government views the person; and
    (8) How other NAs view the person.

    The blood quantum is real and is used as a weapon by the US government to deny benefits owed to tribes and individuals.

    There are tribes out there who view membership in terms of cultural practices and not blood. Thus, one could be a “white Indian” in tribe A but not tribe B.

    There are also tribes who try and kick out members because of internal political struggles and because of gaming revenues.

    Some tribes have real issues with members of AA descent (particularly the “Five Civilized Tribes”). There are tribes who hate AAs because of the use of former slaves and their descendants in the “Indian Wars”. There are also tribes who embrace all members, regardless of race.

    There are tribes where traditional notions of family and gender were very, very different from those of the rest of the word. (e.g., the Ojibwe)

    There are tribes that were matrilineal and eschewed slavery prior to the arrival of white man who became patrilineal white-dominated slave owners.

    Then there are tribes whose current membership is dominated by men who are 99.99% white. These tribes current culture was so skewed by the arrival of Europeans that they in no way resemble their traditional roots. If you want to know more about this issue, read about the Five Civilized Tribes prior to Columbus. Then go see what they look like now. Go read about the Cherokee before 1600 and what it is like now. Pay particular attention to John Ross, “The Cherokee Moses”.

    It’s so not a simple issue. It’s not something that should be discussed in a two-paragraph post that’s seems more motivated by the Senate race than NA identity.

    Finally, the line in the original post about the current leadership of the Cherokee shows true ignorance of NA history. As many of you may not be aware, from the arrival of the Europeans, there has been an ongoing struggle within the Cherokee nation regarding race, culture, and gender. I know some Cherokee who do not regard the current leadership as legitimate, but rather, see them as colonizers of the Cherokee way. I know NA activists in other tribes who charitably call the Cherokee “a mess” and some who are a lot less polite in their criticisms of what has become of the Cherokee nation.
    I do know many NA individuals and groups who do not think the Cherokee are truly NA anymore and think the leadership has sold out and is essentially an evil corporation profiting from NA identity at the expense of the tribal members. This is not a rare or loony conspiracy nut type position.

    So if you are trying to make a point about NA appropriation by whites, please do not use the Cherokee. There are many tribes out there who intermarried with other tribes and non NAs from the beginning and have kept firm to their cultural roots.

    I’m not trying to bash the Cherokee. Personally, I don’t have a dog in the fight beyond my interest in NA issues and civil rights. I am, to my knowledge, not in any way Cherokee.

    I don’t think you can unring the bell of the tribe becoming “whiter” and “more patriarchal” and “less culturally Cherokee”. (Not my words, but those of others I know who do have a dog in the fight). It does beg the question though, of when a tribe becomes so far removed from it’s roots (ethnically, culturally, etc.) that it should not be viewed as a NA tribe anymore. Or what, if anything can or should be done by the US government if members of a tribe feel like they have been taken over by outsiders. (There have been and will continue to be law suits about this type of issue).

    I’m not bringing this up to bash on the Cherokee, because, as I said, it’s complex. It’s also for the Cherokee to solve internally, if possible.

    I’m just pointing this out to show how these issues are tough to grapple with and really need to be decoupled from partisan political problems because they are too complex to be discussed in soundbites or even short blog posts.

    I could sit here and write stream of consciousness for days on how complex this is. For know, I have to go out and do other things.

  301. What do people see when they look at you? (1 of 2) « Born That Way

    [...] the current point and counterpoint on Native identity at Racialicious, and political to-do about Dr. Elizabeth Warren.) But being Native still carries a crap-ton of negative stereotypes. (See also: the Native [...]

  302. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll June 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm |

    h ttp://www.boston.com/community/blogs/hyphenated_life/2012/06/the_myth_of_native_american_bl.html

    This is an excellent article.

    Put another way: Believing you are Native American based on a story about a long-lost Cherokee ancestor is akin to believing you should have a French passport because of a story about a long-lost ancestor from Normandy.

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