Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mockery of Native American Heritage?...


I was reading a commentary today on the issue of mocking “Native Heritage” and how it “perpetuates Native issues.” Contained in the article was an analogy of how offensive this mockery was to “Natives” with the use of someone parading around in “blackface” and how it would be offensive to “blacks” in this country.

In making this argument the writer does what I believe a lot of writers, Native and otherwise do, establish their arguments by using black people as the measuring stick for what is deemed offensive.

Granted blacks have been used in so much racial hatred by way of caricature that I understand why the author of the article thought it was a useful tool for arguing against such insensitive behavior when people appropriate certain aspects of culture but the blackface argument may not apply because one is culture, the other is racially tinged.

Which brings me to another aspect of this article that I find rather disturbing when it comes to defenders of “Native culture” and how it weaves an intricate maze of misinformation regarding the intersection of native culture and history?

When people talk about the parallels of oppression or cultural insensitive behavior visited upon “Native Americans,” rarely do they write, discuss or vaguely bring up that “Native Americans” are not a monolithic community or race of people. They never make the connection of how Native Americans were oppressors in their own right when you look at the history of the so called Five Civilized Tribes and their enslavement of people of African ancestry. When they discuss the issues of Native American blood and culture, the years of slavery and miscegenation among the five slave holding tribes and African descendant people never reaches polite conversation.

Why?

I would think someone, so thoughtful, so articulate and seemingly knowledgeable about “Native Issues” would be as thoughtful and articulate about the history of the five slave holding tribes and their abuses during the antebellum period?

I would think their concern for being “sensitive” to the issues of mockery of culture would surely have them speak out on the history of racism in their own community?

Yet, we see once again that an issue of Native American culture being mocked is another justification to measure their pain and suffering with another marginalized community that has a sordid history among the Native American community and very few enlightened “Native Americans” ever broached the subject of the Five Slave Holding Tribes and their legacy of racial intolerance.

Why?

The last question on my mind is; what is "Native Culture" when it comes to the Five Slave Holding Tribes? Is the culture they are now attempting to portray as an ancient people with customs that demonstrate their close family ties, respect for ALL life and spirituality as they run like Forest Gump from their racist past when the institution of slavery was every bit a part of their way of life and culture?

1 comment:

  1. This information is right on point. There are so many contradictions especially from some who say that they speak for the traditional ways, yet they themselves live modern lives. There are others who defend the culture as being usurped by others but throughout the larger half of the 20th century they had the rights and priveleges of the oppressors, and NEVER fought for rights of those whom they oppressed, especially in what is now current day Oklahoma.

    Please continue to share this useful information.

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