I don’t, I can’t I won’t. I can’t answer that question. And I don’t think I should have to. Yes I am Indian. I am Indian by birth, not by some wanting to be a part of this “mystical” ethnicity. I don’t walk around like I own the entire spiritual realm (do I see ppl doing this and how does this make feel, what does that look like). Being Indian to me does not entail a lifestyle, or simply a style. Sometimes I feel like I have to dress like an Indian to be the part, but that’s to satisfy the outside world’s perceptions of what an Indian is.
(my definition of this, can anyone take away her indianness, this is my dramatic question, or is it that she fears she’s not, can she stop being Indian, is it an addiction, complusion.).
And really am I one anyway? I’m not a rez Indian, because I grew up in town and not anywhere close to my “ancestral” home. I’m not familiar with the colloquialisms, I do not share the lifestyle most have lived. I don’t know my own history, or my language. I cannot recite the history of my people to you, our victories, our losses. When someone else tells me their tribal affiliation, I know it in name only, and have only a vague clue of where it is on the map.
I’m not an Urban Indian either because according to The National Urban Indian Family Coalition and Urban Indian are "individuals of American Indian ancestry who may or may not have direct and/or active ties with a particular tribe, but who identify with and are at least somewhat active in the Native community in their urban area." Ok…now define direct ties? I’ve never lived there, I have relatives whom I don’t know who live there, does that count? I’ve tried to get a job there, even though I knew I would never get hired. My years of schooling and degrees weren’t a match to being a relative to someone who worked there. Nepotism at its finest.
I wouldn’t even qualify if I were to use the definition of Urban. “Urban – relating to or concerned with a city or densely populated area.” I grew up in a small town, population 5000 if you were to count all the surrounding farms that are miles out of town. The nearest city was 4 hours away. Maybe I have to come up with another word…what’s smaller than urban but bigger than rez.?
But when I think of Indians, I think of them on a grander scale. An entire people that could change the world. Not in individual tribes or first nations or reservations, but as a people who have equally suffered. Who by heritage, have had their continent stolen from them and were reduced to living on a single plot of land instead of roaming freely. When I was little, I wanted to be an activist! I read books and watched programs about the militant Indians (what does a militant Indian do), the protests happening. I wanted to be there! To me that seemed like the greatest expression of being Indian. I was young, so I don’t know who was right or wrong (why is this a question and who is right or wrong) on how things were handled. I felt sad that we were portrayed as crazy Indians. I felt sad that the nation, the world was once again being shown what savages we were. The photo from the cover of Macleans or Time magazine was burned into my psyche that day. The blond Canadian Armed Forces soldier, not cracking stood in a staring contest against the hostile native who face was covered with a red bandana. The Oka crisis as it was called. I think that’s when my being Indian peeked out. I was mad trying to find an Oka flag so I could stand in solidarity with my captive brothers and sisters. I wanted to drive to Quebec and stand behind the barricades of tossed over cards and mounds of military and news crews. Wanda the warrior was born. I wondered if there was Black Panther like organization existed. At this time I was reading about Malcolm X, I was concerned about Nelson Mandela and how he was imprisoned as a political prisoner (how old is she). It would be only years later after Nelson was released, his ups and downs that I would find my next hero (cause would be the word but not) Leonard Pelletier. Bits of information about his story, his life formed my cheerleader force to be native. This was being Indian, ok, not necessarily the people dying part, but the guns a blazing force of nature camaraderie. My being Indian is based on news stories on the 5-oclock news, the covers of magazines. There was no mystiscism, no ritual, it was about the blurbs in the Globe and Mail (Details about what I’m talking about, Leonard, the news, the articles, what did I read, the gun toting..). But I think my fight was of being a silent activist. I thought the guns and ammo were a bit too much, and nothing was ever accomplished or resolved. I started a letter writing campaign. I wrote to my local Minister and was so excited when he actually wrote back. (what’s the letter)
In history class we were learning about Louis Real, the great Métis (explain what Metis is MORE) leader. I then started to call myself Métis since my mother was white and my dad was Indian, I didn’t understand how I could be Indian otherwise. After this discovery I found OMAA, the Ontario Métis and Aboriginal Association (explain the pageant more and why I wanted to be a part of it). They had teen activist groups that would meet and learn stuff and talk about their life. They also had a pageant. You could become Miss OMAA and represent all the Métis nation. How cool was that. Once I was crowned queen, I would then be the Indian thought I should be. This was my first encounter with how political it was. I mailed in my application, I made the hotel reservations and I prepared for the pageant (How old is she now). I thought of what kind of questions they would ask…”Miss Chichimon, if crowned queen what would be the first thing I would do? How does being Métis affect your day-to-day life? …” (what are her answers, was there beauty involved, is this the most righteous )
I also needed a talent. Ok I thought, I’ve seen those pageant shows (am I referring to Miss American pageant…which pageant ,what is my reference) , most played an instrument or sang, yeah, no. Not here. I could do neither. I had taken dance classes, but that was years earlier. Having just seen the High School production of fiddler on the roof, I was going to sing the matchmaker song, but in a comedic way, and incorporate my comedy act (did she have one or did she need, this sounds like I already have one). I was going to tell jokes. How’s that for pageant queen?
Does it make me feel like I’m the only one. I want this to be my story and no one else) Do the whole story as improve beginning middle end )
I’m a dick. How can I call myself a writer, a journalist, when I am so judgemental of everyone else. I feel so alone in the world. It’s as though I am the only true Indian left, sometimes I feel as though I am Kevin Costner’s character from Dances with Wolves.