It’s that time of year, the time of year when kids run around with fake feather headdresses and recite the same story of sharing and how those noble Native Americans saved the pilgrims from starvation. This year there also seems to be more in the media regarding Natives than usual. First was around Halloween when Ohio University students started the campaign “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume.” The link is to the CNN story about the campaign. Then a couple of days ago Kris Jenner says on Good Morning America “Well, I hate an Indian giver. Don’t you? It’s a gift. Keep your gift.” It’s not that I consider the Kardashian clan to be the moral beacon for us to look to for guidance, her daughter did find fame via home movies after all. It’s the fact that even now while a “decent” white person would never say the “n” word, or call someone a spic it’s still ok to use the term Indian giver. Even on the liberal news blog Huffington Post the comments to the story are “Lighten up,” “We are too PC, when will it end?” Yet when Ann Coulter states that her conservative blacks are better than liberal blacks, a firestorm ensued.
Looks Twice is not just the name of my blog, it is also my last name and my mom’s last name, and her dad’s last name. It is a funny sounding name when I think about it, but it is my name and I’ve always been proud of it. I grew up with ribbing from teachers, friends, strangers and mostly good-natured. One receptionist at a doctor’s office once asked if I was a “good Indian or a bad Indian.” I still think about what I should have said, but in the moment I was too shocked. A friend of mine in high school had family friends from France and when she told her I was Native America her friend was surprised. She asked her “Aren’t you scared to sleep at night with her around?” She grew up in France and only knows what she has seen in American movies and tv. Why are Natives so degraded and yet have so many people who claim to have Indian blood? I don’t find many people who brag “I am 1/16th Mexican!” or “My great-great-great-grandmother was black.” The schools here in Texas teach about Native Americans within the context of history, as in Once upon a time… I offered to help out with my daughter’s preschool class with it was Native American history month and her teacher told me she didn’t need my help because she knew all that she needed to know, her sister-in-law was descended from a Cherokee princess. I really need to learn to be more outspoken, maybe refer her to an article like “Why Your Great-Grandmother Wasn’t a Cherokee Princess.”
November is Native American Heritage month, it’s not well publicized, but maybe in honor of that we could stop using the terms Indian giver and Cherokee princess? I don’t know if I need to just “lighten up” but I do know it does hurt.