Today’s post is going to be a personal one. Probably the most personal one I’ve ever written. Truly, I don’t quite know how I’m going to write this post because only recently have I been thinking about my identity.
If y’all didn’t know, I am a Native American, but not fully, since I’m at least half-white, but I have a lot of Native American in my blood and only recently have I realized what this means.
I’m a minority.
I’m a person of color. Or, well, biracial.
And I didn’t even realize it.
You’re probably sitting there wondering “Savannah, how come you are just now realizing this now?” Well. Here’s the thing. I was never properly educated on the gray undertones of ethnicity and race and all of that.
I knew about my Native American-ish all of my life and I always felt something in my heart twist when Native Americans appeared on television or were mentioned in books. The thing is. I never saw myself as one of them. Why? It’s simple. I blend in.
There have been times where people at school have called me Indian or would always turn my way/ask me questions when we learned about Christopher Columbus and Pocahontas in school, but I still never felt like I could call myself a person of color because I could blend in as white.
by some twisted logic, i guess i assumed that i was white?? hahah this is why educating is important, my friend
But it’s not just that. My people. The Native Americans, the true original inhibitors of this country we call the United States were here before anybody else. We are the original Americans and yet… we are barely ever talked about. It’s almost like we don’t even exist. Like we only existed in the past.
omg so all native americans in the 21st century are time-travelers, me included o.O
When Indigenous help i need to use my spell corrector every time i use this word people are mentioned in books, TV shows, movies – anywhere in the media – we are talked about as if we are a thing of the past. Like we no longer exist. This is so wrong. This is why I never felt like I could identify myself as a minority or anything other than white.
I am nearly 18 years old. I’ll ‘officially’ be an adult in just shy of 1 month (yay!) and I just realized this only a couple of
months weeks ago. I see myself as a pretty self-aware individual. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know that I’m not perfect or always right. I’m an advocate for diversity and equal rights, but I never quite knew my own identity – and I’m honestly still trying to figure it out.
The reason I am writing this post is… I don’t know… to make this ‘new’ discovery about myself somehow official? Or maybe I’m trying to spread awareness about something I care about. Something that is never talked about, not even in the book community where diversity has been the number one priority as of late.
haha yes i am exposing everybody
I guess this post is kind of here to share a little piece of myself with y’all, a piece of myself that I only just recently accepted and am now ready to start exploring. I’m lucky to already have the support of almost 1,000 people (i still can’t believe i’m almost there) that follow me so now I feel like I am bringing all of you on this journey with me of self-discovery.
Enough of that. Let’s get to the meat of this post! Because, boy do I have a lot to talk about today.
I’m going to talk about the way the media portrays Native Americans, and frankly, just how I’ve observed others acting towards my people (this makes me so happy to be able to say you have no idea i am nearly in tears writing this post)
Common Stereotypes and Misconceptions:
- abuse of substances (alcoholism, drugs, etc.)
- the Indian princess is often compared to Disney’s Pocahontas, appears to look more ‘American’ (ie: WHITE), with lighter skin, a small waist, small feet, long hair and big almond shaped eyes. She is youthful, energetic, innocent and usually a martyr willing to sacrifice herself for others.
- The squaw is looked upon negatively and more dark. She is usually the ugly sister to the Indian princess and is the opposite of innocent. She has probably had many sexual relationships and thus has many children. This term has been used in negative ways, so it’s considered highly offensive.
- red skin to reflect their ‘explosive’ and ‘violent’ nature *eye-roll*
- violent, short-tempered, dirty, and basically barbaric.
- live in teepees. okay. maybe that was true in… 1812?? and teepees are SO COOL so i don’t take offensive to this. give me wifi and a mini-fridge and i’m all set on living in a teepee!
- but seriously, don’t assume that we still live in teepees. i bet there are some indigenous tribes out there that still do, but immediately assuming is kind of stereotyping actually, it’s really stereotyping
- we know the secret ways of natural healing passed down from our ancestors. hahaha, please do not assume that we (or, well, i) know this because if you come to me asking to cleanse your soul i’ll splash cold water on you and call it a day and maybe charge you a hundred bucks what? how else do you expect me to pay for books
There are honestly so many more I could mention, but I think you get the general idea.
A few things you should never do:
- wear a headpiece as an accessory. it’s disrespectful, period.
- dress up in traditional native american garments as a costume. it’s like if i … wore a hanbok, put my hair up in a bun held together with a pair of chopsticks, and told everyone that i’m dressed up as an empress from the [insert name here] empire/dynasty (lol sorry i don’t know the correct term). it’d be like i’m either a) claiming to be of korean descent which i am obviously not or b) stripping them of their culture and identity.
- believe any of the misconceptions i mentioned above. or give into the stereotypes because although they can be true, most of the time they aren’t.
A few things you SHOULD do:
- advocate for pro-native american rep in the media. it’s so scarce to the point where i feel like we’re trying to be cut out from existence.
- support indigenous-led organizations and schools as much as possible.
- call out people when you notice them saying/doing something that could potentially be classified under stereotyping or racism-ing?
- support me, your friendly, non-aggressive, slightly too-white (and NOT RED!!!), native american friend 😀
one way you could do this is by checking out my #ownvoices wip here. wow my self-promo game is strong today
This post was a lot of fun to write. I educated myself by researching and I honestly have never felt more connected to my true self. This feels cheesy to say, but it’s the truth haha. I wrote a lot so most of y’all probably ended up skimming, but I hope that you had at least a small amount of fun that I had 🙂
Are you Native American/Indigenous? What are your thoughts on the representation of Native Americans in the media? Let me know!