Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Native Americans”

D.N.A. Does Not Define Ethnicity

Elizabeth Warren proudly referred to the results of her recent D.N.A. test that revealed she had an ancestor who lived six to ten generations ago and who might have been from North America or South America or Asia and passed to Senator Warren between 1/64 to 1/1024 of her genetic make up.  Consequently, she believes that proves wrong those who question her claim to be Cherokee.  Those law schools who hired her and bragged of their diversity based on Senator Warren’s heritage have similarly been vindicated, I suppose, even though they did not hire her because of her Indian heritage.  They just listed her as being a Native American faculty member.

Of course, the senator never met that ancestor, so sharing some genes is not the same as being family.  Nor is it the same as being raised in a particular culture.

My wife, Sugar, recently did a D.N.A. test.  She too expected that she might be “part-Indian.”  In particular, she had heard that some relative in the 1800s was Shoshone.    We still do not know whether that is true.   The test is so vague that it cannot specify Shoshone.  It imprecisely indicates a tiny percentage of unknown D.N.A. that could be Peruvian or Asian or Native North American.    Just like Elizabeth Warren.  They could be related.

Sugar found out something that disturbed her father, who is, he believed, 100% Italian.  He actually knew all four of his grandparents, who were each, he believed, 100% Italian.  So, one might expect that  his daughter would be 50% Italian.  The test results showed that she is merely 39% Italian and 11% “Iberian,” which must refer to the Iberian Peninsula, occupied by Spanish and Portuguese people.  (For purposes of this post, I will not describe the other 50% attributed to Sugar’s mother except to say it did not confirm the Shoshone theory,)  My point is that my father-in-law, regardless of the D.N.A. test, is indeed Italian.  He was raised in an Italian family by Italian people who, by the way, were all born in America, so by definition of citizenship, were Americans who identified as Italian-Americans.

Elizabeth Warren did not, as far as I know, grow up in a Native American culture, nor is she a member of the Cherokee Nation or any other particular tribe or tribes.  Tribal groups have their own rules for enrolling as a member of a tribe.  I doubt 1/64 is enough and I am even more certain that 1/1024 is not sufficient for membership in the Cherokee Nation.

Now let’s talk about me.  I am affiliated with the Omaha tribe.  My Grampa, who was a rural mail carrier on the reservation shared by the Omaha and Winnebago tribes in Nebraska, was the son of Swedish immigrants, yet he took me to the Macy Pow Wow, where I played with little boys who lived there.   One of them wrote to me after he read my blog about the pow wow.  He remembered.  We would play under the bleachers and out in the woods.  The boys there treated me like a friend, despite my lack of tribal enrollment.  Grampa and I learned a little about the Omaha culture by having friends on the reservation.  That is more of a connection than high cheek bones.

To the best of my recollection, I did not see Elizabeth Warren at the Macy Pow Wow.  That proves that I am more American Indian than she is.

 

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Pre-Campaign Identity Strategy

The response across the nation to my pre-announcement of my candidacy for the U.S. Senate has been even more greatly underwhelming than anticipated.   Apparently, the Senate has plenty of white males already.  It might be advisable to emphasize diversity within my gene pool.

One of my grandfathers used to say that he was “mixed as the dogs in the streets.”  With fewer dogs in the streets due to leash laws, as well as the greater use of spay and neuter clinics, that saying probably lost some of its impact. Shucks, that was gonna bring me some street cred.

I do have two grandparents born to Swedish immigrants, so I could emphasize a strong Viking heritage.  The new TV series called The Vikings might have  helped in popularizing Vikings, yet I am not certain that will translate into electability.  I need more of an American identity.

Colorado is a western state.  We elected a former Senator named Ben Nighthorse Campbell.  I like Senator Campbell and even met him at a cafe when he was on his way to a meeting and asked me for directions after I introduced myself.

Former University of Colorado  Professor Ward Churchill did not run for office as far as I know, but he knew how to get attention.  Professor Churchill not only offended lots of folks by his comments about 911 being the fault of Americans rather than terrorists, but he also turned out to be a poser about being Native American.  I might have more Indian blood than him.  My gramma, who lived in Chickasha, Oklahoma, claimed to be part-Indian before it was so popular that Professor Churchill wanted to join the Native American club.  I don’t think Gramma knew about the scholarships or she might have gone further than the eighth grade.

On the subject of Native American vs. Indian, isn’t it telling that the American Indian Movement (AIM) organization named itself what it did?  Also, the proud Oglala Sioux at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have not changed their sign.

Pine-Ridge-Indian-Reservation-image

Will Rogers is one of my heroes.  I wish he was still around to be my campaign chairman.

Back to the drawing board……….  I am working on “branding” my campaign identity.  How does the electorate feel about cowboys?

As I do this strategic planning, based on Will Rogers and Gramma, I have decided to open up my campaign staff to Okies, despite my Texan wife’s prejudices.

Okie dokey!

Buffaloed

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota last weekend.  Actually, that post was more about our misadventures with the trailer we rented.  This one will be more positive and well illustrated with American Bison, also known as Buffaloes, so if you are not enthused about such critters, back off immediately.

Buffaloes were central to the culture of Plains Indians, including the Lakota Sioux people, many of whom still live in South Dakota.  I have previously written about the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Tomorrow, I intend to write about a famous Lakota leader, Crazy Horse.

There is a large buffalo herd in Custer State Park.  Yesterday was the annual buffalo round-up there.  During the weekend prior to that event, when we were visiting, the town of Custer celebrated the importance of buffalo to the area in many ways.  On street corners throughout downtown Custer were life-size model buffaloes that had been painted creatively by artists.  On Friday evening was a reception at a bank at which the public could meet the artists and get a preview of their artwork, which was auctioned off the next day.  Not only were the full sized buffaloes auctioned, but also smaller sculptures of buffaloes and paintings of buffaloes.  Lots of buffalo art!   Since our home is decorated with western art, and since Miss Sugar is an artist and art teacher, the art auction was of great interest to us.   I’d like to say that we picked this weekend so that we could attend, but it was simply good luck that we happened to be there.

Now you are probably wondering what art we purchased.  The answer is that the bidders were out of our league.  However, we did buy a buffalo skull from a booth of such items.  It was not part of the auction but it was part of the buffalo festival. 

We’d like to go back to Custer, South Dakota next September for the buffalo weekend.

After the PowWow

Previously, I wrote about my introduction to Native American people, aka Indians.  Now I will tell you the rest of the story. 

As a dedicated young cowboy, interested in the American West, I enjoyed family trips  to places like Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse was assassinated, and the Black Hills, sacred to the Sioux.  The Pine Ridge Reservation is in South Dakota on the border of Nebraska.  We visited Wounded Knee in the Pine Ridge. 

So, when I had to pick an 8th grade history project, I wrote about American Indians and learned a lot in the process.

Later, during my higher education, I signed up for a class called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication”  because it included a three week field trip as part of the requirement.  Some of my classmates went to Africa.  I arranged to go to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  In preparation, I read Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.  Unfortunately, at the time I was to go there in the spring of 1975, the American Indian Movement folks like Russell Means had a standoff with FBI agents and took some hostages.  So, I was told that it was not a good time to visit.

Instead, I redirected my field trip to New Mexico, where I stayed at Ghost Ranch near Abiqui.  I was there three weeks.  I visited the seven northern Pueblos, including the Taos Pueblo.  I enjoyed the experience, meeting some nice folks and learning a lot.  As it turns out, many years later, I still enjoy northern New Mexico.  My trophy wife, Miss Sugar, and I frequently make trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Abiqui and Ojo Caliente. 

Miss Sugar has made friends with some artisans in that area and gets materials such as turquoise and silver to use in her own jewelry making business.  She likes the SouthWest stuff.  So do I.  Actually, our log house on the ranch is decorated with cowboy decor, including SouthWest items.  Plus, I use guns and antlers in much of my decorating.

Fortunately, Miss Sugar shares, no, improves upon my taste in decor.  Of course, there is a good reason why.  Not only did she grow up in Texas, but she is an Indian princess, no less than 1/16th Shoshone.  Get a load of that.  That first powwow became my destiny.

Pow Wow

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXPqmxVonjs

My Grampa Carlson was a rural mailcarrier in Burt County, Nebraska.  His route included part of a reservation shared by the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.  Macy, Nebraska is a town on the reservation.  I had fun when Grampa took me to the Macy PowWow. 

The dancing and music was supposed to be the draw.  For me, however, I played with other little boys I met under the bleachers.  They were not old enough to be part of the show, I guess, but they were friendly Indians and invited me to play in the woods, away from the event.  There we had our own powwow, called making friends. 

I was envious of their situation because I came from a much more under-privileged background.  The particular privilege of which I was deprived was that my mother did not allow me to throw knives.  Can you believe that?  As a cowboy nearing kindergarten age, I deeply resented my mother’s unreasonable interference with my chosen lifestyle, which obviously required practicing skills with weapons.  So, in the woods, I was delighted that my new friends shared their knives with me and we took turns throwing them into trees. 

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.   What Mom did not know did not hurt her.

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