Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Shoshone”

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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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.

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