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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Eastern Indians aren't Indians?
From ctnow.com:

These Are Not Indians
December 8, 2002
Delphine Red Shirt

I've lived in Connecticut for a decade now. That is longer than I have lived anywhere else. I've never lived in the South, but have lived 20 miles from Berkeley, Calif. I've also lived in Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado and Ann Arbor, Mich.

When I came east, I thought it would be for just a short while. Here it is, 10 years later. I like it here better than I've liked anywhere I've lived. I like teaching as an adjunct professor.

What I don't like is Connecticut's definition of "Indian." Why? Because I am an Indian. I grew up Indian, look Indian, even speak Indian. So it offends me to come east and to see how "Indian" is defined in this state that I now call home.

What offends me? That on the outside (where it counts in America's racially conscious society), Indians in Connecticut do not appear Indian. In fact, the Indians in Connecticut look more like they come from European or African stock. When I see them, whether they are Pequot, Mohegan, Paugussett, Paucatuck or Schaghticoke, I want to say, "These are not Indians." But I've kept quiet.

I can't stay quiet any longer. These are not Indians.

The federal recognition process has become a new arena for profit-making, as any venture capitalist in America can see. What had been an obscure Bureau of Indian Affairs process has become a loophole for speculators and opportunistic individuals forming "tribes." These speculators are willing to bankroll these questionable "tribes" for mutual gain.

Connecticut has been doing it now for a decade. People who had been indigent elsewhere can come here and claim lineage and book a cruise to the Caribbean islands or move into a spanking new retirement home on casino income as a tribal member.

There are no remnants left of the indigenous peoples that had proudly lived in Connecticut. What is here is all legally created. The blood is gone.

So, who are they? They are descendants, perhaps -- though even that seems questionable -- of the once proud people who lived in this state called "Quinecktecut." These races have died out. Here's how:

What if, in 1700, a Pequot married a European or African, and 30 years later their half-blood offspring married another European or African and so on? By the early 1800s, that blood would be less than 1/32 Indian. By 2002, if the pattern continued, that Indian blood would be virtually nonexistent. Yet, a person could identify herself as a descendent of that 1/32 Pequot and be considered Indian according to a questionable and flawed federal recognition process.

Is she? I say no.

We from the West called ourselves "Treaty Indians" to remove ourselves from the influx of so-called "newly born" Indians who had not identified themselves as Indian until it became profitable to do so.

I am Indian and have had to live all that means. I do not claim to descend from a full-blooded Indian. I am it. What I am witnessing in this casino-mad state is a corruption of my heritage. I am outraged by it. These are not Indians.

I hope that the residents of Connecticut see these new casino tribe members for who they are. I challenge all the press and TV stations to include photos and footage of these individuals who claim Native American heritage. Let the public see these people for who they are (certainly not Indian) and see what a sham the federal recognition process has become at a time when real Indians are facing extreme poverty and neglect.

Delphine Red Shirt of Guilford is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, an adjunct professor of American studies at Yale University and author of "Turtle Lung Woman's Granddaughter" (University of Nebraska Press, 2002).

Letters writers respond

Debating the Definition of `Indian'
December 12, 2002

Delphine Red Shirt's appalling contribution to the casino debate [Other Opinion, Dec. 8, "These Are Not Indians"] emphasizes one of the most unfortunate aspects of the furor over Indian gambling in Connecticut: reliance on ancestry to prove tribal membership.

Just when it seemed as if the category of race as a biological given was about to finally disappear unlamented from public discourse, we are again in the middle of racial arguments. Each side has to argue its case using the only language available, that of race, blood, ratios of blood ("1/32 Indian") and physical appearance as indicators of essential identity and similar unlovely mementos of past discrimination and injustice.

Red Shirt's definition of a "real" Indian displays the same chilling obsession with skin color and percentage of approved bodily fluid that racists the world over have been using for the last 200 years.

Robert L. Rumsey

Shame on Delphine Red Shirt for using skin color as the basis for her critique of the racial identity of Connecticut's Indian tribes. This is exactly what European Americans have done to Indians and other people of color throughout U.S. history.

The U.S. government has traditionally made it difficult for anyone to legally qualify as an Indian. Usually a person must be able to document at least half-pure descent from a single tribe. There is a historical reason for this that has nothing to do with casinos. If fewer people could qualify as Indians, fewer could lay claim to traditional Indian lands. Those lands and resources could then be more easily sold or granted to white settlers.

The exact opposite is true of African Americans. Historically, anyone with one drop of African blood has been considered black. Why? The more black people, the larger the pool of free or cheap labor.

Many African Americans, especially on the East Coast, have Native American blood. But because they were never legally allowed to claim their Indian heritage, they grew more distant from it. Still, this doesn't make them any less Indian, casinos or no casinos.

I fear that Red Shirt's arguments will be disingeniously used by the anti-casino lobby to discredit black Pequots, white Mohegans and other racially mixed tribes that have not yet achieved federal recognition. Worse, if history is a reliable guide, those who use them in this way will do nothing to help all Indians -- red, black, brown, yellow and white -- who still live in extreme poverty and neglect.

The Rev. Joshua M. Pawelek

The writer is pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich and a facilitator for the Norwich Area Anti-racism Initiative.

Kevin Gover responds

A year-end rumination: It's getting real cold in Washington

Posted: December 20, 2002 -- 11:32am EST
by: Kevin Gover / Columnist / Indian Country Today

Senator Lott is not the only one whose racism is showing. Someone named Delphine Red Shirt, who does something at Yale University, recently wrote to Connecticut publications to denounce Connecticut Indians as not being Indians at all. The unkindest cut!

As I understand her position, Connecticut Indians are not Indians because they do not look like her, do not act like her, do not speak like her, do not … well, you get the picture. (They also do not have cool names like hers, but she forgot to mention that.) Expect to see Ms. Red Shirt trotted out every time some white people want to say something ugly about Indian people but dare not do so because they would be labeled as racists.

I think we brown-skinned, black-haired Indians had better be careful about what we say about New England Indians. There are fewer and fewer full-bloods among us. If being Indian means looking a certain way, then most tribes are only two or three generations from extermination.

The New England Indians did what they had to do to survive. They intermarried and accommodated the overwhelming presence of non-Indians. Yet they persevered and maintained themselves, some of them, as distinct social, political and cultural communities. Are they the same as the Indians who greeted the English and Dutch settlers in the 17th century? Of course not. But then few if any tribes closely resemble their pre-Columbian ancestors.

More responses
Some comments from my correspondents. I've edited some of them slightly for the sake of clarity.

This letter was sent to me this past Sunday. I ask you, do you use your eyes to determine who is an Indian? Published words are powerful. The damage this has caused, especially from a Native academic, is immeasurable....What does an Indian look like after 400-500 years of contact, after a $100 bounty was placed on your head and "you were no longer to be called a Pequot"....We are in a critical time in the East, when First Nations history has been buried with the bones. The race issue is ablaze in Connecticut, with tribes that have been state recognized for hundreds of years cannot be federally recognized because of a potential casino. With the sword or gunblast of Delphine's words against Mohegan, Pequot, Schaghticoke, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Paugussett, Abenaki, these People cease to exist.

Trace DeMeyer
Pequot Times Editor
direct line (860) 396-6577


Unfortunately, the writer isn't totally wrong. Add to her frustrations, the horrors of Moogoo (Moigu Standing Bear, Norwich, CT—as phony as they come); Jim Hooker, his "Cherokee Village" in Mass. (denounced by Eastern, Western nations in writing); Ironthunderhorse, who is resurrecting the Quinnipiacs forom his jail cell of some 26 years in Belmont, TX; Paul Pouliot, self-proclaimed chief and so forth of the Abenaki; ad infinitum, all of whom get away with just about anything—even manage press support—and Johnny-come-latelys wanting someone to follow and be Spiritual, Indian, with.

BUT, now we have an Academic, in a position of power with words at Yale, [who] decides we don't even exist—publicly paints us all with the same brush—it's no wonder we as a People are fast becoming a huge joke with way too many.

Her attitude about Eastern Indians isn't unique.

At Yale, c. 1990, while listening to a forum on the St. James Bay hydroelectric debate, another Western Indian, Cherokee, from OK (employed by Yale in their support staff), took me outside, told me he "wasn't used" to these folks he saw, [asked] was the Drum REALLY Indian? (They were dark complexioned.)

The Mashantuckets at Schemutzin, early '90s, hired Drums from out west...who were overheard laughing about the Pequots, the Shinnecocks—as to their color, the fact they were the N-word, not Indians.

They got soundly taken to task. My own comment, "You come here, take their money, at least be respectful." 'Course, I'm was too light for their tastes.

NC Indians have gone north, attended some gatherings, some Meherrins wrote a newspaper letter to the editor, as to the non-Indian status of who and what they saw at New England events, their judging being on skin color (a severe case of pot calling the kettle black, I assure you—no pun intended: FSS).

We lived in Stony Creek, CT, for nearly 10 years, right on top of where Prof. Red Shirt lives, works. I don't know where she has spent her 10 years in the area, or what she has researched, looked into, but—it certainly isn't New England history. East of the Mississippi, we have had contact for 500-plus years.

There have been NO full bloods since the 1860s, according to anthropologists, sociologists, the Jackson Institute for Human and Genetic Studies, Bar Harbor, Maine.

Due to assimilation, acculturation, intermarriage, racial crossover, slave trade, hidden communities, we look like anyone you pass in the street—get used to it, get OVER it.

For an Academic to buy into the political and Hollywood stereotype of who/what an Indian [is] is sad—if not pathetic. For her to use terminology such as "I speak Indian"—is sheer ignorance.

Treaty Indians? William Penn's son dreamed up the "Walking Treaty" doing the Delaware out of the last of their Pennsylvania Lands—that makes me a Treaty Indian, too. Track back my Ancestors to the old Narragansetts, the early Wampanoags, all of whom became landless in a hurry—my very old lines to Uncas—his kids went "white" in a couple cases—there went the land—again. Add my Stockbridge Indians—mine stayed in NY state, got taken care of BY the Cayugas, not taken IN—whoooops, want land? BUY it, hide, and cover. But, along the way, I'm a "treaty" Indian—[a treaty] broken, not worth the paper it was written on—but, a "treaty" Indian.

Like many, my stance cost me dearly, among family, people who knew/know me. And there are thousands with similar, and different, ancestry—for whom the cost was much higher, one way or another.

I, for one, intend to send everything to Yale, strongly suggest they review their use of her talents.

—Eastern Delaware/Minisink Band

Wishing Ms. Red Shirt knew all the hard working Indians who don't DO what she chooses to see daily, judge us all by.


Ms. Red Shirt proves that the racism disease is contagious. "Indian" is not a race but rather a political affiliation. It is part of the recognition process to prove that the political affiliation still exists. If the process is corrupt, it will get corrupt results, but that has nothing to do with blood quantum.

I, too, was born and raised in Indian Country and had to live with discrimination as a result. And, yes, that discrimination was based on race rather than political affiliation.

However, if Indian sovereignty is based on race, give me your population, birth and death rates, and rate of exogamous marriage, and I will give you an algorithm to calculate the year you cease to exist...as a race. Language, culture and history are not passed in blood. That is a view of genetics taught by Teofim Denisovich Lysenko, who impressed Stalin and set Soviet genetic research back a generation.

That is also a view of Indians brought to this continent by Europeans. Tribalism is not racism and no American Indian tribe based membership exclusively on blood. If we had, we would have been as inbred as British royals before Christoforo Colombo took his wrong turn on the way to Hindustan.

Steve Russell
Associate Professor, Indiana University
Citizen of the Cherokee Nation


Frankly, this is insulting. Moon Face Bear Piper was more "Indian" than so many FBs I've ever met — out here and back there. And she speaks "Indian? Really — that's a language?

What I've noticed is Cherokees don't look like Lakotas and Lakotas don't look like Chickasaws, and so on. You've always said, "Show me what an Indian LOOKS like." I've learned how true that is.

So the Chickasaw astronaut is mixed race and doesn't "look" all "dances with wolves." Does she want to disown him too?

And it's a funny thing out here — I haven't heard that sort of rhetoric from most of the Native folks I've met — many of whom are mixed with Mexican too, btw. So, because they're dark does that make them more Indian to this lady? They're just as mixed as I am — or anyone else for that matter.

She has a really superficial concept of what Indian is. In school, growing up, mean kids didn't have a tough time figuring out I wasn't all white. I was called "chink eyes," "N____ Lips," and Pocahantas. It's all relative. She is looking for an image she's used to from her own past — but back east we've had centuries more exposure to Euros. This doesn't make us less Indian.

HOWEVER — this being said, and having lived in CT too, I can see why she's skeptical. There's some real fruit loops there. Still, I've met a few of those kind out here, in the West, too. Only — they had dark hair and dark eyes. Still just as greedy and fruity.

I hope she educates herself more and becomes a little more enlightened.

Peg—formerly from CT, now in AZ


Having lived out West I am glad to say that I never ran into a native out there that felt the way things are being presented here, if they practice their spiritual teachings. In fact they always treated me with respect. Why? I suspect because I treated them with the respect I was taught by my Dad. Tomorrow would have been my Dad's 96th birthday had he lived. He has been on the other side watching over me and my family for 15 years now. His last words to me were always be proud of who you are. Something my white Irish mother never allowed.

Dad always said that "when people tear other people down it is because they are not sure who they really are and are trying to make themselves feel good." Being the man he was, he usually followed that with "opinions are like a—h—-'s everyone has one. Thank the spirits they don't all have the same one." My father was a great man. He was wise, gentle and kind and endured many hurts and had many hardships in his life. Not only from outsiders but from the woman he was married to for 53 years in his own home. His commitment was for life, and he never believed in tearing the blanket. So he stayed and endured the pain. In my view a true Indian. (By the way he was very light-skinned)

While living in Southern Arizona, a wise old man from the Apache nation, who was considered an elder by his people (who by the way was very black and wrinkled), told me this when I asked him why people left the reserves to come East and tell us how we should walk. His answer "Be very leery of people who come to your territory acting as if they speak for a whole nation and have all the spiritual teachings to pass on. We need the true healers and elders here. Their own people need them. If they have traveled to a foreign nation, you need to ask why they want to help your nation when they should be helping their own." I asked why they would do this. His answer was, "Ego, and an unwillingness to listen to their elders. Wanting to do things their own way. When they travel to a foreign nation they do not have to answer to their elders and have no one to answer to but the Creator. Let them go. Eventually they leave. Only the honest will stay and tell you the truth of them and why they are there. They will all come with a lesson. Sometimes the lesson is how you never want to be. It is still a lesson. Learn from it"

What Marge has said is so true. Racism breeds hatred and hatred cause hurt. That is not the Indian way. I wonder how many time when people spout off on this list they have gone to the person they choose to attack and talk to them face to face so they know the real truth. Also letting the other person know how they feel. Looking someone in the face when they speak. Racism is the behavior of the ones who invaded our country. Do we want to continue to perpetuate what they started or do we want to go back to practicing our principles as they were taught to us by our elders, our families, our spiritual leaders?

I know I am going to get flack for this. Whenever there is a discussion of racism and identity people tend to come out of the woodwork. So be it.

Walk in balance. Pat


Re: the article "These Are Not Indians"

The writer of this editorial is proof of the fact that racism is contagious. Connecticut Indians, having already survived hundreds of years of Euro-American colonization, are now being forced to endure the indignity of being attacked by other Native people who have adopted Euro-American concepts of what constitutes "Indian-ness."

This writer's definition of "Indians" is based on a number of faulty premises, including the following:

(1) All Real Indians look like Oglala Sioux people
(2) All Real Indians speak "Indian" (Oglala Sioux, I presume?)
(3) All Real Indians are "pureblood"
(4) All Real Indians are a distinct race from all other peoples
(5) There are no Real Indians left in Connecticut (except her)
(6) Poor people in Connecticut routinely claim to be Indian in order to make money off casinos and ride on cruise ships

Most of these concepts are based on outdated Euro-American notions that have been effectively dismissed by serious historians, disproven by the vast diversity of indigenous peoples in the Americas, and deconstructed by modern science. As any anthropologist up on the latest research will assert, "race" is not a biologically distinct category; physical features and so-called "phenotypes" vary widely within so-called "races;" and "blood quantum" is not a biologically measurable unit.

"Indian" is, in fact, a generic term that, by definition, includes hundreds of Native nations, and hundreds of Native languages and histories and cultures and physical characteristics that bear no resemblance to Oglala Sioux. The practice of referring to people's ancestry by measures of "blood" or "stock" is not an indigenous concept, but is the direct legacy of white eugenicists who legislated against "racial mixing."

Before European contact, Native peoples were never "pureblood," but routinely, and often ritually, married outside their clan, tribe, and immediate community. Sovereign Native nations are, furthermore, political entities rather than discrete ethnic assemblages, and their membership is rarely determined by biology alone.

One could just as arbitrarily choose to identify "Indian-ness" by residence. Out west, the so-called "Treaty Indians" were forced to give up their traditional migratory lifestyles, and settle permanently on government-appointed reservation lands. The Mohegans and Pequots, by comparison, live on reservations situated smack in the middle of the territories they have inhabited for centuries. Perhaps a "Real Indian" should be defined by their permanent residence on their original tribal lands?

If the writer thinks that eastern Indians only claimed Indian identity to make money, then she is ignorant of the centuries of warfare, scalp bounties, sterilizations, murders and other threats that we have survived. The tribes she is criticizing have been recognized by the state of Connecticut for centuries, and they submitted their federal recognition petitions decades ago, when casino wealth was an unimaginable pipe dream. The fact that the Mohegans and Pequots have now attained success and decent housing, after surviving centuries of warfare and colonization, does not mean they are no longer "Indian."

"Racism," however, is a very powerful social reality in "Indian Country," where people are all-too frequently judged by observable physical features like skin, eye, and hair color. Typically, the racism is "white" against "red." But hatred and jealousy can easily cross color lines.

Since the moment of first contact, ethnocentric judgements about Native people and cultures were used to physically and ideologically separate Native peoples from their land and history. It is equally ethnocentric for a Native person from another tribe to claim sole right to define the Native identity of all Indians in the entire state of Connecticut.

In all Native Nations, there are teachings from the ancestors about proper hospitality towards guests, and the appropriate behavior of visitors. Most of those teachings dictate that visitors should exhibit respectful behavior when they are in somebody else's homeland, and listen to the elders of the people who live in that place.

Declaring every Indian in the entire state of Connecticut dead and gone is the kind of behavior that one might expect from colonial Indian killers like Captain John Mason (the massacre at Mystic Fort) or Robert Rogers (the attack at St. Francis). Modern politicians would be all too happy to erase all Native peoples from the continent to complete their dream of manifest destiny. It is truly sad that an intelligent, university-educated, "Indian" is too busy "seeing Red" to understand.

Marge Bruchac


Years ago, when the Pequots first suggested building a casino, the elders said they did not want one. They predicted that there would come a time when there would be "casino wars." That time is probably fast approaching as more and more are being built. The money from the casinos has helped many get on their feet through decent housing, education, and medical care. It has also reached out to other, smaller groups in helping them gain land and recognition that might otherwise have been out of reach to them because of the outrageous legal fees amounting to over a million dollars. That is probably what is really scaring the government.

When the Pequots started, they tried forestry, hydro gardening and a number of other industries other than gambling, but the government tripped them at every corner. Only when gambling was introduced did the dollars begin to grow in quantities large enough to feed, house, educate and help their people.

No, I am not a Pequot. Visited them.

Watched them grow from a lowly Quonset hut and archeological dig to the mega glitz they are today.

Can't say I like what I see, but I also can't say that I blame them, either.

Some friends and I were dancing down in Ledyard one year and went to a Friendlys. We were still wearing chokers and a few do-dads that spoke of our heritage. I was last to go up the aisle. A woman reached out and tugged at my sleeve. She asked: "Are you going to buy all of CT?" My response was: "First of all, Ma'm, I am not a Pequot.

"Second of all...at least THEY are buying it" and I walked on.


Still more responses

I have learned the hard way the Indians east of the Mississippi are culturally, physically and socially distinct from those west of the Mississippi. The main reason is our very different histories. We were invaded first. We had to adapt to survive. Seminoles, for example, welcomed anyone from the remaining nearby tribes into their ranks to help fight their enemy. They also opened their doors to allies from the slaves in rebellion known then as Maroons, and to Whites wanting to escape their own troubles. The definition in that day and age of a Seminole was someone who became a Seminole culturally.

If there had been no intermarriage or adoption into any cultural group, I can assure you they would have died. That was the plan for the Pequots and their neighbors. They were supposed to die, and let the Majority take their land, take over their cultural icons, and pervert them without any nagging from descendants who might object.. But the Eastern tribes just went and hid-some in the woods, some in the mountains, and some in plain sight (How many of you know that Will Rogers was an Indian?). I can attest that the culture was kept alive, the songs and dances remembered, the stories told, the attitudes and values passed down. This was not what they were "supposed" to do. When the US government had a small fit of conscience, these people came out of the woods, the mountains, and the house down the street to say, "Yes, I am a Pequot, Mohegan, Paugussett, Paucatuck or Schaghticoke." And for once the government was honest and recognized them. Unfortunately the US government has made recognition about money. They have pressured other tribes who are already recognized to fight recognition of those not yet, "in" because the government will cut their funding if they do recognized any more tribes.

In Washington, we have had this problem for a very long time. The tribe of chief Seattle, the Duwamish, was finally recognized by Clinton. The paperwork was completed, it was a done deal. Then the Bush administration stamped the completed paperwork, "Draft", claimed the recognition was not complete, and unrecognized the tribe, along with the Chinooks, the people who fed and cared for the Lewis and Clark Expedition so that they survived the winter. These are people who live west of the Mississippi, who anyone would recognize as an Indian, yet some local tribes fight their recognition—it isn't about their look, their culture, or language—it's all about money.

It's so sad that the Government of the United States has so brainwashed people.

Linde Knighton
Creek/Seminole descendant
Seattle, Washington


In this area, my family in the early days adopted outside the band to replace lost important persons, especially. We STILL live in an area where First Nations people are denied business loans by the banks with impunity. The numbers they keep showing fair lending practice are car loans, home loans (off rez), and Tribal loans. When pushed by courts to produce a breakdown, the total for First Nations people receiving business laons was zero for the preceeding three years to our suit. Yes, my son has blue eyes, and so does his grandfather and twice great-grandfather, but we are still here, still holding on to the little heritage from our ancestors we can. No land, no rez, no gambling, no nothing except our pride in our family and our ancestors. Yes, most of family are in recovery, or just out. Some of us can "pass," most can't and many do, most don't bring up heritage with strangers.

Three hundred years have cost us greatly, but we are still here, asking for nothing of the "Real Indians" except respect for our survival and our ways.

All I see of the Western "Indians" are a bunch of crying and self-proclaimed holders of the faith. Their greatest wars are against fellow First Nations people who want a share of their pig trough or [to] deny them a share of the BIA pig trough for their area.

We are not treaty Indians because our ancestors refused to sign with English, French or US.

Gordon Thompson


I am so tired of having to defend myself as a Native American.
[Having] to prove who and where my family came from.

Explain my apprearance...why I do not look like a western Indian.
We are the only race that has to prove who we are.
Does anyone ask the white man to prove themselves?
The east Indians?
The Russians?

What these western Indians and the BIA suggests is nothing short of carving a number on our forearm as they did with the Jews.

I am who I am and who I am is an Indian!

I am proud....I will shout it from the roof tops if you do not accept me because I do not look like you or wasn't born on a rez or out West....That is your problem.

We need as a people to get over all of this....We need to accept each other...By this behavior you are no better than the whites trying to divide and conquer.

[It] all comes down to the almighty dollar, news flash you can not take it with you and having it in your pocket does not make you a better person, nor [does] having a BIA card or being a member of a federally reconized tribe.

We are going into the year 2003—it is time to unite not divide.

Winter Flower (Regla Gibson)
and proud


In response to Delphine Red Shirt's op-ed "These Are Not Indians": I am not an Eastern Indian. I am a Mid-western Indian, and "worse," I am an Ohio Indian. According to Delphine Red Shirt's definition, I am not an Indian. If I am to understand this narrow definition correctly, Red Shirt is claiming that to be an Indian one must be full-blooded, "look" like an Indian, and be from the West. She is also claiming that the Quinecktecut Indians are corrupting her heritage. Sioux in Connecticut? Let's get some terminology and geography right.

Red Shirt poses an incredibly simplistic solution to an incredibly complex issue. She is proposing that there is a pan-Indian "look." There isn't. We share some genetically common traits, but there can be a world of difference between "looks." If she means that one should "look" like a Sioux, then she needs to do some serious research into Eastern nations. I found this part of her diatribe laughable except for the fact that she is a respected author, and there is the danger that someone may take her seriously. If looking like an Indian is the definition of being an Indian then how does one deal with other races that might look like an Indian? And how many times has she been asked if she were from a different race?

She also assumes that the desire to acquire federal recognition means that Eastern Indians only want to cash in on gaming. Recognition is much more than that. Federal recognition gives Indian nations the right of self-government and sovereignty. It gives a legitimate voice to the people to make changes within the system. Yes, gaming is a part of it, but it is a very narrow view to look at that as the sole reason for recognition.

While the problems of the Western Indian are very real and often dire, that does not negate the problems in the East. Most often, the Eastern and Mid-Western people are rebuilding what was almost lost. In a trend that started long before gaming, the cultures began to come together in an attempt to regain traditions and pride. We've been fighting this cultural genocide much longer than those in the West, and it has taken its toll. To suggest that our cultures are dead and best left to the European history books is an outrageous slap on the face to our grandmothers and grandfathers who told us the old stories, to the new generation who is working hard to weave the past with the present, and to the future of our children who will bear the responsibility and have the honor of upholding traditions.

I find some flaws in Red Shirt's logic, if not the mathematics. In her blood quota example, she assumes that full-bloods married full Europeans, who married other Europeans, etc. Again, typically it is not as simple as that. Most likely, a full-blood would marry a European, who married a half-blood, who married a quarter-blood, who married a full-blood, etc. So if blood quota makes an Indian, get your calculator out, because it can be a very complicated equation.

I'm surprised that after spending a decade in the East, Red Shirt has not become more acquainted with the issues that surround local Indian people. Possibly this is because she spends much of her non-academic time on the road promoting her books. I'm also surprised that an even a part-time professor of American Studies wouldn't do a little academic research into the area that she now calls home. Mitakuye oyas'in, Ms Red Shirt?

Catherine Rayburn

"Treat the earth well:
it was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children."

More responses to "These Are Not Indians"
"Red Shirt can confuse citizenship with race if she wants to, but the people of Connecticut ought to be clearer-thinking than that."
"Unfortunately, she has joined ranks with Chief Justice Rehnquist, and seeks to reclassify Eastern Indians as social clubs."
"Shame on Delphine Red Shirt for using skin color as the basis for her critique of the racial identity of Connecticut's Indian tribes."

Related links
Greedy Indians
The facts about Indian gaming
The essential facts about Indians today

Readers respond
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