Homework 3

Listen to Part II, Thomas KingThe Truth About Stories, “You’re Not the Indian I Had in Mind.” Listen with family members if possible, and discuss. Do different generations in your family have different stories about Indigenous identity? Which of King’s stories or comments did different family members relate to? Write about any generational or other differences. (due Thursday, September 8)

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About susanbriscoe

English teacher, writer
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8 Responses to Homework 3

  1. Nick_Styres17 says:

    Yes different generations in my family do have different stories about Indigenous identity because most people are blended, people are concerned as to what percentage native they are. I am adopted and have a mix blood quantum so it’s really hard to say because of my biological mother was adopted by a white man but her mom was full native and her biological dad is unknown as of mine as well. My adoptive parents were raised in the traditional ways but my mom “Valerie Styres” who listened to the audio with me is full Kanienkeha:ka as of my dad “Joe” is half Kanienkeha:ka and Cayuga.

    The story my mother related to most was the one when King headed to New Zealand and Australia because when she first got married she traveled to 6 different states because of military transfers. She had explain to others about her nationality that she was a “North American Indian the ones that wear feathers, not an East Indian”.

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    • susanbriscoe says:

      Identity can get especially complicated when we add unknowns, though it sounds like there is lots that you do know too. It is interesting –or sad, rather– that your mother would have had to resort to the stereotype of the Indian wearing feathers, which Thomas King also mentions, for others to understand her identity.

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  2. Skawenniioa_Horn12 says:

    I would think that there are different generations in my family that have their own stories concerning aboriginal identity ;however, none of which that I know about. My dad is full blooded Mohawk as well as a Jehova’s witness whereas, my mum is an Irish catholic. My older sister inherited my dad’s looks and I inherited more my mum’s. All our life we grew up in Chateauguay going to a bilingual elementary school, french middle school and bilingual high school. We were never really taught about Mohawk culture. My dad doesn’t get along with his side of the family for personal reasons, but that’s why I couldn’t really learn anything through family either.

    It’s pretty embarrassing to say that I honestly don’t know much about my heritage. I only knew what was taught in school, but I know that the books mostly have it all wrong. The part of Thomas King’s speech that I can relate to most was when he was told by the German chef that he didn’t look like an Indian. There were so many times in my life that I was told that I didn’t look native because of my lighter brown hair, green eyes and fair complexion. I remember at the 2014 NAIG in Saskatchewan there were a few girls from team British Colombia that said “go home stupid cracker” and other things like that. I’ve also been harassed by assholes before telling me to kill myself for being a half breed and things like that. But that’s because everyone has their own idea of how aboriginal people should look and how much indigenous blood they should have in order to be considered native, which is sad.. Thanks to most movies, the common stereotype is long black hair, feathers, dark complexion, buckskin clothing and moccasins. I’m not saying that they never looked or dressed like that ;however, times have changed. I believe any true identity lies within the blood, heart ,and soul of each and every individual. But for some reason, there will always be people trying to make you feel less than what you’re really worth. So, because of that I also believe that indigenous identity is ultimately what you make of it.

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  3. Kawennanó:ron Canadian says:

    Unfortunately I was not able to listen with family because my parents are very busy and I’m not on speaking terms with my grandfather. I think he’s upset that I’m not a full native and it hurts to know that. It bothers me to know that I’m not a “full native”. In my family I know my mother and her side of the family have their own stories to do with their identity. The only one I know of is that my mother grew up outside of kahnawake like me. She moved there when she was 20 with her parents and she hated it. It seemed as though all my grandfather cared about was proving “how native he was”. (He still acts like this to this day) she hated living there so much that after a month she moved out with my dad.

    I’ve fought with my identity my whole life. Before I had changed my last name it was an Italian name. Kids would pick on me and tell me I’m not native cause I have a “white name” or I don’t look native or I don’t live on the reserve. For years this went on. To this day I still get remarks like “you’re native?” “You don’t look native!” As though I’m supposed to look like the stereotypical Pocahontas. They’d say my skins too light and my hairs too curly. “Natives don’t have freckles”. Things like that. I feel like an outcast not having grew up around my culture. I know more about my Italian side because it was more exposed to me. My mother didn’t know much about her culture either. If she had I believe she would’ve raised me to know. I only learnt through books and spending time at my work at step by step. Even when I was working I’d be stared at as an outcast because I couldn’t do the morning ritual with the kids because it was in Mohawk and I had no idea how to speak it. I don’t think you need to have 100% blood to be native. I don’t believe you need to have dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. That’s just the stereotype. There’s different colored natives. Not everyone is going to look the same and that’s fine as long as you know who you are. Not what others think of you.

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    • susanbriscoe says:

      Identity is a deeply complicated issue for many people — probably most. I’m very sorry you have been subject to negative prejudice about this. That is definitely undeserved: no one gets to choose their parents’ heritage. It’s also important to recognize that these identity issues are a direct result of colonialism, which, through the Indian Act, created rigid territorial tensions and identity classifications that have nothing to do with traditional Kanienkehaka concepts.

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  4. karahkwinetha says:

    Sage Goodleaf

    For this assignment, I decided to discuss Thomas King’s Lecture, with my mother Suzy Goodleaf. My mother wanted to discuss the different matters of Indigenous identity. She wanted to discuss this matter because she does not match society’s indigenous physical perspective. She told me about an event that took place in Kahnawake, in the early 70’s. They, at the time, called it the Indian Village, a place strictly for entertainment of the non-native people.

    My mother told me the non-natives would come to the Indian village to watch the little natives dance. My mother told me they would dance to traditional music, but make up dances that meant nothing. They were just part of the ideal native look. The only reason my mother was a part of this absurd scene, was to earn money for her family. She was forced to learn the nonsense dancing and look native in order to gain approval of the non-natives. They would wear leather, and have their hair in braids to demonstrate their native heritage. My mother, later on, states that she truly despised the activities in which she was forced to participate, because she was dancing and acting to gain the approval of the outsiders. She than states; “We were selling what they wanted to see.”

    However, in the generation in which I am a part of, people are still blind to the idea of seeing us as indigenous and as people. It’s as if the non-native still see us a wild, unique creatures and never truly acceptance us for who we are. In the lecture, Thomas King talks about the ignorance of the non-native reacting to the aboriginals in Australia. This is similar to how it is to this day in age; people still view us as lesser. So the contrast between the native here and in Australia is pretty non-existent. Yes, it is true, people are becoming aware of history. However, it still does not influence the future.

    My mother said the most influential part of the lecture was all of it, because King understands what it feels like to be considered an outcast, and when people do not know who you are. Just like King, my mother is mixed blood and doesn’t have the stereotypical native look, so she said that King’s lecture was fairly compelling, and that she can relate to it. I, as well, understand completely where my mother is coming from. However, I was never truly discriminated based on my appearance. In this day and age, this is still occurring? We need to influence the outsiders and say, “Hey, we’re still here and absolutely alive and real, and we are not going anywhere!”

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