"You see the one thing that I've always maintained is that I'm an American Indian. I'm not a Native American. I'm not politically correct. Everyone born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans. And if you notice, I put American before my ethnicity. I'm not a hyphenated African-American or Irish-American or Jewish-American or Mexican-American.
There is a mistaken belief that [the word Indian] refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492.... Columbus called the tribal people he met 'Indio,' from the Italian in Dio, meaning 'in God.
It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain.
Golden eagles don't mate with bald eagles, deer don't mate with antelope, grey wolves don't mate with red wolves. Just look at domesticated animals, at mongrel dog's, and mixed breed horses and you'll know the Great Mystery didn't intend them to be that way. We weakened the species and introduced disease by mixing what should be kept separate. Among humans, intermarriage weakens the respect that people have for themselves and their traditions. It undermines clarity of spirit and mind."
Russell Means, Oglala Lakota
A Tribe or an Organization
"Do we belong to a Tribe or an Organization? Over the years I have pondered this question many times when our family would travel to a meeting, a gathering, pow-wow etc. Over these last six years I would always go away with the same sad spirit after the event. Even though I couldn't quite put my finger on it there was always that feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that things just didn't seem to fit, and neither did I. When I would witness the bickering among the people. The hostility among my brothers and sisters. The political infighting.The splinter groups cropping up just like Pitter said, 'wild weeds everywhere.
'A people that seek but are not finding. Listening but not hearing. Looking but not seeing. No ceremonies, no language, no culture except that which was wrapped up in an arrogant Religious Superiority reminiscent of a time long ago when the ANIYVWIYA had to listen to the sound of Amazing Grace from their kinsmen, as they were being forced from their homelands by the same people that brought not only this song but a way of life that was foreign to our ancient culture.
'Recently Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Oklahoma, referred to themselves as 'an organization. 'When I heard that, it fit! This brother had described not only CNO but also most of the 200 or so non-federally recognized Cherokee Nations, Tribes, groups or whatever. We belong to 'an Organization' not a Tribe. When I think of how most of these groups out here fashioned their Tribal Governments after Oklahoma who fashioned theirs after the U.S. Government it is no wonder we have all the problems we do. It's no wonder we have such corruption among our leaders and their puppet Tribal Councils. We have formed organizations bent on getting every government hand-out we can get. There is nothing cultural about it except pretending to be 'Indian' we can sell our arts and crafts put on pow-wows etc., and 'make that almighty dollar. 'There is nothing spiritual about it and it certainly in no way resembles the spirituality when our ancient ancestors were all 'ANIYVWIYA' and not just simply 'Cherokee.'
'A real tribe is not based on 'Blood Quantum' but instead it is based on the spiritual and cultural that are so woven together that they are inseparable. A real tribe practices the culture. They speak the language; they do the dances and ceremonies that our people have always done. It is their culture, their spirit, their religion, their profession, their way of life. All revolves around the tribe, the community. Their objective in tribal life is to be governed by the spiritual traditions, which have been preserved and passed down through our people from the beginning of time.
'A real Tribal Government operates with roots firmly planted in the ancient past of our ancestors. Clan affiliation is necessary and will be established for all [Tribal Enrollee]. Just because one can prove they have Cherokee blood will not automatically entitle them to join a real tribe. In the old days as it is today, if one were 'Full Blood' but did not practice the culture, they were looked at as 'Mixed Blood.' If one were mixed blood but practiced the culture, they were looked at as full blood. Practicing the culture is what makes you Indian--not your blood quantum or tribal membership. It's your Spirit and the Path you follow."
Yona Egwa, The Cherokee Trails Newsletter (circa 2004)
Like so many, I have a life blocked by fear, led by fear and governed by fear that was created in those childhood days."
Walter Littlemoon, Lakota
"We as Indian People need to come together and forget this quantum measurement that divides us as a people. It is doing just what the white man intended it to do, destroy the Indian People. And we as Indian People are allowing this to happen. It is only when we come together & realizes that there is power in numbers, will we be able to make a change for the betterment of all Indian People." David Crazy Crow, Cherokee
"I have Indian Blood in me I have just enough white blood for you to question my honesty."
The Cherokee Kid" Will Rogers 1879-1935
"Indian ancestry is to be computed only from Federally Recognized Tribes. This change limits 'Indian Blood' to ancestry from a Recognized Tribe and defines the latter as one listed in the Federal Register as a Tribe recognized by the Secretary of the Interior."
Excerpt from, 25 CFR- part 70
Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairs
"I think one of our Elders, my adopted Grandmother, put it real well. [She] said, 'Unless a person knows their language, and they know the songs, and they know their culture, they can have all the pieces of paper in the world and still not be Native. Because it [identity] is not just a legal document; it's a way of life, it's a way of thinking, a way of living, a way of worship that you cannot instill on someone with a notarized legal document.
'And I feel that too many times we get into looking at things from a legalistic standpoint and really lose the idea of what it is to be Native"
"There are a lot of people that I see....who didn't grow up around Cherokee [culture], but know they're Cherokee or learned they're Cherokee. [And they] have something. A lot of people who are what I call marginal Cherokee in terms of [having] that [traditional] culture....really are in pain from not having that in their lives. It's kind of like searching that lasts all your life....and for those people....having that Tribal membership, having some kind of a connection, even if it's by paper, to the Tribe, is tremendously significant."
Julie- a full blood
United Keetoowah Band Cherokee
"I think that a person who says they're Indian that does not have their *CDIB Card [Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood]....they don't know if they are Indian or not so....they shouldn't be saying that they're Indian. And it could be true [that they're Indian], but I think that if it's not important to him to go and see about getting his Indian Card, his CDIB Card, then to him it's not really important for him to be an Indian, so he doesn't need to be telling' people that he is an Indian."
Cornelia- Cherokee Tribe
"It [legal documentation] does give proof....it proves to me that the person has a degree of Indian Blood. That claim is accepted and recognized by the government, so it must be true. I have seen people challenged by other Indian People: *'Show me your CDIB Card.' And the person did show it to prove that they were Indian. Well then they were accepted, so I think it does help to be accepted into the Native Community" Bill Wichita/Seneca
"Henry Hudson sailed down the river that bears his name and met several groups of Natives. He hosted several Indian Leaders aboard his ship and treated them to brandy. One fell into a drunken stupor and remained onboard. When he awoke, he marveled at the occurrence, having never felt such an experience. The Natives thus called this place, Mannahattanik, meaning 'The place where we were all drunk.' Later, in 1612, the Dutch established a trading post on what became known as Manhattan Island."
From the book "Native American History" by: Walter Fleming
"Whole Indian Nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man’s advance. They leave scarcely a name of our People except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers. Where are the Delaware? They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness.
'We had hoped that the white man would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains and settled upon Tsalagi Land. They wish to have that usurpation sanctioned by treaty. When that grant is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Tsalagi. New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country which the Tsalagi and their fathers have so long occupied will be demanded, and the remnants of the Aniyvwiyahi!
'The Tsalagi, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only for a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host.
'Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Tsalagi, the extinction of a whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risk and incur all consequences rather than to submit to further loss of Our Country?
'Such Treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young Warriors about me. We will hold Our Land."
Dragging Canoe Chickamauga Tsalagi
"By the time I was forty, I could see that our country was changing fast, and that these changes were causing us to live very differently. We made up our minds to be friends with them....but we found this difficult, because the white men too often promised to do one thing and then, when they acted at all, did another.
'They spoke very loudly when they said their laws were made for everybody; but we soon learned that although they expected us to keep them; they thought nothing of breaking them themselves. They told us not to drink whiskey, yet they made it themselves and traded it to us for furs and robes until both were nearly gone. Their Wise Ones said we might have their religion, but when we tried to understand it we found that there were too many kinds of religion among the white men for us to understand, and that scarcely any two white men agreed which was the right one to learn. This bothered us a good deal until we saw that the white man did not take his religion any more seriously than he did his laws, and that he kept both of them just behind him, like Helpers, to use when they might do him good in his dealings with strangers. These were not our ways. We kept the laws we made and lived our religion. We have never been able to understand the white man, who fools nobody but himself.
'I am old.I am not graceful. My bones are heavy, and my feet are large. But I know justice and have tried all my life to be just, even to those who have taken away our old life that was so good. My whole thoughts are of my people. I want them to be healthy, to become again the race they have been. I want them to learn all they can from the white man, because he is here to stay." Aleekcheaahoosh (Plenty Coups)