Being a part of the Facebook native community has been enlightening. And, for the most part, very enjoyable. If you are not a part of one of the native pages, I would recommend you do so. Some require strong support for your native heritage. Some do not. Do not feel personally rejected if you don’t qualify. Try another one. There are lots to choose from.
One of the interesting aspects of this community is how some of those on tribal reservations with membership consider those NOT on tribal reservations with membership as inferior natives to themselves. This is rather intriguing. I came across a post of a brother Huron Claus that was interviewed by Moody Radio in Chicago the week of Thanksgiving (2019). Huron is an active part of a Christian (or as the natives prefer to refer to it as The Jesus Way) ministry to our native people. He is 5th generation of following Jesus and is a native American of this land.
In his interview he states that there are over 6 million natives again. 78% are NOT on a reservation. That means over 3/4 of us are outside of tribal lands. Now, he did not say if that 3/4 are in membership, or not. I know he spoke that many are in cities among the general populous of this country. Gearing his talk primarily for the sake of the Gospel, bro Huron unknowingly did more – by substantiating our legitimacy as natives of Turtle Island. (I will share the link to the interview at the end of the article.)
Another complaint laid against us ‘fake’ natives is that just because we have rumor in our family that we are native, doesn’t mean a thing. I would like to lay this on the table and take a look at it…Firstly, unless you have native American in you, why would it be significant enough to be passed down? Those who pass this down orally usually are interested in their native heritage. And, I find it significant that those just joining the native Facebook pages are VERY GRATEFUL to be accepted on to a native site and very passionate about their heritage and wanting to find out more. Our people have always been open armed to those who truly wanted to be a part of them.
Secondly, so why the scuffle that others want to be native? Some say, as long as the tribes were poor, they didn’t mind adding to the numbers because they received more funds, but now that many are bringing in large amounts of funds by gambling and other unwholesome means, they don’t want to share the funds with others. Perhaps that’s why for the attitudes. To keep others away from white man’s gold that’s in their hands!
The issue of our nativeness isn’t based on if a tribe will accept us or no, it’s based on our authentic native blood. I saw a jacket with a logo on the back being advertised on Facebook. It read something like this: I have DNA: Definitely Native Ancestry! I like that saying. In fact, I have a saying I have used for years with my own children. And, it goes like this: Denial of reality doesn’t change reality. Denial that my indian blood isn’t in my blood, doesn’t change the reality that I have indian blood in my blood. (Say that 3x fast!) DNA has been a blessing for that. But, even if our blood could not verify nativeness, the lineage can still be there. Who wants to have tradition of ‘indian’ in them if they didn’t want to keep that awareness in the family line? If it was a shame to the family, they would have covered it, not passed it on!
Finding out more of my heritage to this land has explained a lot of my personhood. If you’ve read About Us, I told that I knew of my native blood from a child AND embraced it. Another time I’ll tell some of my childhood stories of my native seeping out, but for today, we want to validate that any desire for nativeness is respected as legitimate.
Some are asking, ‘Where do I start? I don’t know what tribe?’ This is what I recommend to get started although there are some great books available for locating your native heritage.
1. Get a DNA test done. Most all of them are now to a point of about equal in quality. My Heritage is cost effective, but recently one of my children decided to have their blood retested by another company to compare notes. One site recommends FamilyTreeDNA for native interests.
Here is a link to explain how the DNA works: https://www.genealogyexplained.com/dna-testing/native-american-dna-testing/
Here is a link to compare tests: https://www.bestonlinereviews.com/
If you are serious about a possible tribal enrollment, here is a site to check out: https://www.top10dnatests.com/best-dna-test-fgenetics.ncai.org/tribal-enrollment-and-genetic-testing.cf
2. Write down every name you know in the direct family and fore-family. Sometimes even nicknames will give a hint. Or repeated first names passed down from generations.
3. Write down every thing you or your family members can remember referring to your native heritage. Any artifacts? Any family phrases or words that could give a hint of language family? Like ‘see-yo’ which is Cherokee slang for o-see-yo for ‘hello’. Any physical characteristics could give a hint to a tribe. For example: my son (by adoption) has a classic Blackfoot Sioux nose even though he looks European. Sure enough, it was confirmed by DNA check and lineage.
4. If you know your DNA amount, you can guess at the generation back from you where the native was stronger. For example: if your DNA is about 5%, you might be talking back 10 generations which would put you back to the 1800s or earlier. So go to the U.S. government Indian census rolls and comb through the names of all the rolls. It’ll take time but I found over 31 family members on the rolls. Look for old spellings of your family surnames. If you know if it came through your dad, or mother, this will help narrow what side to look for, but it might be both. Keep your eyes out for the names list you have compiled. This will be much harder if you have a common name like Smith. But most aren’t an all-male line, so most likely to can locate the generation names from that time period. I have used https://familysearch.com extensively and they are free.
We now have a link to bring you to the site for searching the rolls. Go to our Genealogy: Rolls page and click on the link. We hope in the not too distance future to have the rolls available actually on this site.
Listening to a tribal explanation on native heritage brought forth the view point those in membership have over those with just being native American heritage. The line was so fine in my mind it’s like saying I’m not Irish; I’m only of Irish descent. Huh? So, I’m only Irish if I live in Ireland and 100% Irish heritage. Or live in an Irish community. Then you have permission to say you are Irish. Somehow, this is separating the reality of what’s in our blood from who we are. It’s just a marker in their mind. No impact. Can’t claim it. It’s history past. I am sorry to disagree, but I will do it graciously. If I have native blood, it’s living in ME! That can not be separated from who and what I am. We’re just playing with words here. Yes, we are NOT in membership anywhere. And that is ok to acknowledge. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a right to claim our nativeness. And, I honestly think with 4 million+ of us natives not on reservations is significant enough to be acknowledged. Those of us who are interested in our native family will find a way to be a part somewhere, somehow. The Lord will open the way that we too can live our nativeness.
Remember, if you have one drop of blood of native and you embrace it, you ARE NATIVE! even if you are not in membership anywhere or on a reservation. Native ancestry is legitimate!
The interview with Huron Claus: https://www.moodyradio.org/programs/chris-fabry-live/2019/11/2019.11.27-hope-for-native-americans/
We have built a page for beginning to research your genealogy. Go to Genealogy: References on this site: www.livenative.net.
Be blessed today with the Great Creator’s love,