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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Orthodox Wannabe League (English version)

It is hard to say why are we, Whites born in Russia, consider ourselves Indians. Yet it is so, and every one of us feels that the Indian culture is as familiar to him as native Russian one. We dream of living in commune, in the tepees at the countryside, to wear beaded fringed clothes, ride horses—in general, to follow the native lifestyle.

Responses from Native people
I sent the above link to some of my correspondents and they responded as follows:

HOLY MOLY!!!!!! Now I think I have just about seen it all. Sitting here with a dumbfounded look on my face, and trying to find the right words to express my disbelief.

Trying hard not to fall on my face, while hysterical.

Ghost Dancer


When the day comes that you have endured what the North American Indian woman has endured, when you have had your heritage and culture plagiarized, when you have had your pride falsely paraded on a movie screen, and had your children deny who and what they are...when you have been raped because a man wanted to know what it was like to bed a "squaw," when you see your ancestors, their spirit laying at the bottom of an empty wine bottle looking at you and crying for your dream...then you will have the right to walk in my shoes as an Indian woman. Until that day you are nothing but pitiful excuses of someone's warped dream.

In peace,
and as always for OUR struggle



To whom it may concern:

I wrote this group some time back, with facts, figures, history—what knowledge it was possible to share from several tribes, mainly my own.

No one ever answered. Of course.

Mr. Schmidt, who makes NO claim to be Native, even vaguely, yet has a thorough grasp and education, compassion, for Native Americans/Indians. He has publicly posted his, and others, concerns, opinions, regarding the blatant theft, disrespect, ignorance, being perpetrated by this group. His publications, critiques are well-known, highly thought of.

The basic fact remains simple. Unless you have Native American Indian in your ancestry, you have no right to anything Native American. One cannot dredge up blood, ancestors, on a whim. Having the blood ancestry of Native Americans does not even make one an Indian. It is a part of the ancestral memory, the ancient voices—who are an integral part of being who we are.

My ancestors cannot "speak" to you in your brain, impart the knowledge of centuries, nor cause your heart and mind to understand and "be."

Just as yours cannot speak to me of the history of your country, your sufferings, your hardships, your culture and traditions. Learning your language wouldn't even do it—as the nuances and shadings are a basic part of understanding what you are all about. And so much never translates.

You are insulting, to me, to my family, to my ancestors.

What is sadder—you are in total denial and dishonor of your own ancestors, who now have no one to speak for them, vindicate their lives and survival—what is it you will say to them when you pass? That they weren't interesting enough, cute enough, brave enough, for you to care or even be interested?

They certainly don't deserve the likes of your group, who are doing just what Hollywood wants you to—buying into the terrible stereotype.

My people have been documented on this planet for 12 to 13 thousand years. We are considered to be the "Grandfathers" by many tribes. Our Walum Olum is about 8000 years old.

I live in a decent house, educate my children, raise them traditionally—guide them to be themselves in a society not of their own making. We have hot water, flushing toilets, computers—and no desire to live on the ground, nor in the woods. Creator gave us many gifts, among them brains and intelligence. If it was intended I live by a river, living in leather, pulling up roots with a knife down the inside of my knee-high boots—that is exactly what I'd be doing. I am part of two tribes, numbering in the 400 range as to members...

I assure you, not one tribal member, up through our chiefs—talks, or acts, as you think Indians do. One of my cousins is a former state health officer, specializing in Native health—now, despite a serious heart condition, lectures and teaches about these things to other Native people. Another cousin recently passed, was a respected chief, did much for the people, our own, other tribes across the country. One of my chiefs is right now attempting to bring viable economic businesses into the tribe they can manage and work at for themselves, to better their lifestyles. Another cousin sits on tribal council for a well-known tribe. One of my family has been involved in sacred sites, reburial of the ancients.

The point—most Indians are in this mode—not in this "noble savage" idea which was never quite accurate to start with.

We in this house have survived many things, three horrific hurricanes, a big flood, no power and electricity for long periods. We apply, can use, skills from the past—know-how to make the most out of little. This all encompasses basic laws handed down to us by Creator—responsibility, care and awareness of attempting to do what's right and good.

We are only a few out of thousands like us—of whom you know nothing. I rarely speak for anyone other than myself, but this I can tell you—your group earns no respect among any real Indians I know.

We find it very sad your own lives are so bare you would rather be a phony image of us, than live the richness of your own past.

Firehair Shining Spirit
Eastern Delaware/Minisink Band/Turtle Clan

Rob's comment
Needless to see, Indians generally don't live in tipis, wear beaded fringed clothes, or ride horses—especially these days. Maybe these Russian wannabes should try to get in touch with their Cossack ancestors, since they probably lived similarly to the contemporaneous Americans Indians.

Addendum (7/14/01)
As of this date, the Orthodox Wannabe League has changed its name to the Orthodox Wablenica League, claiming "we do not 'wanna-be' anything." Unfortunately for them, their HTML Title tag (the top line of your browser, in blue) still says "Orthodox Wannabe League." And their claim of not wanting to be Indians is contradicted by their text, which still says, "We dream of living in commune, in the tepees at the countryside, to wear beaded fringed clothes, ride horses—in general, to follow the native lifestyle."

Addendum II (5/6/02)
As of this date—after the first three wannabes defended their site, below—the Wannabe League's English version at http://wablenica.newmail.ru is no longer available. Is it a technical problem, or a response to the criticism here? I like to think it's the latter.

That the wannabes are scrambling to justify their existence, removing a page they can't defend, is most amusing. I still haven't done anything except post the information here and answer their e-mails. I'm glad to see that's enough to change one small part of the world.

Luckily, I saved a copy of the English version. Like a good Boy Scout, I try to be prepared. <g>

Related links
German "hobby Indians" say today's Indians aren't real
Indian wannabes and imitators

Readers respond
"You are those Indians who are called "apples" (red outside, and white inside)."
"I consider your remarks a result of stereotyped attitude, quoting out of context, verbatim translation, double standards, and inattentive reading."
"We are who we are—people with white skin and red spirit, and we do not want to be 'something more'."

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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