I wasn’t sure whether to take her seriously, or if she thought she owned a wolf. It was confirmed, by her newly Native American friend (not a new friend, someone who had newly decided, reached for, and grasped a non-existent Native American root) that the animal is, in fact, a wolf.
I had no desire to meet the wolf, or challenge the declarations of its owner. I didn’t want my kids to go over and play. Wolves are not domesticated animals. They can be nurtured, but they are wild animals. (*Come PETA defend your animal of prey.) Dogs are domesticated, but even they have to be nurtured correctly and affectionately to live in harmony and happiness with humans. Pit bulls are a point in case regarding dogs of ill repute.
Small, silent girl owned the wolf. She had midnight black hair that lay straight and shiny, well below her waist. When she claimed Native American heritage, you could see it in her eyes. You could sense it in her demeanor. She is a Native American, proud of her heritage, yet assimilated in the predominately white culture that surrounds her.
I respect small silent girl’s Native American heritage. What bugged me, is large loud woman who also claimed Native American Heritage. Interestingly, the rest of large loud woman’s family is from Poland. Unless a drifting glacier veered off course and picked her up, I don’t know how she ended up as a Cherokee Native of Georgia. She bears no resemblance to a Native American, and has the same mother and father as the other seven siblings of Polish descent.
In an effort to establish her Native American roots, large loud woman has had a dream catcher tattooed on her leg. She wears Native American jewelry, but not for show. It is for significance, culture, and ritual. She appreciates the culture. I appreciate that, but I don’t appreciate the genuine, valid culture of another people being monopolized and “owned” by someone who has no connection to the culture whatsoever.
Am I missing something? The New (Not) Native American has hung charms and tokens of the Native American culture around her house, car, mother’s home, Seven Eleven, and everywhere else she has been. Does that make her a Native American, or is she just adopting the Native American culture?
On the other hand, short, silent one has no tattoos and makes no grandiose statements of her genuine Native American Heritage. She doesn’t have to. She is who she is. Her Native American heritage is genuinely a part of her.
Large loud woman is searching for meaning. I’m not deeming her search, but I do want to use this true illustration to make a point. Who you are comes from inside. It is not adopted by behaviors and customs that you don’t really own. Your identity is as much a part of you as the skin in which you live.
I feel for children who are given no link to their heritage, and have no sense of who they are or where they belong in the world. Sometimes they spend their entire life searching. No one ever told them the search begins within.
The same is demonstrated throughout our culture. Emos, skateboarders, punks, gangs; I believe all of these are searching for something, and many of them do not even know what it is. They are searching for identity, and belonging. They are searching for love and acceptance.
If we do not share with our children who they are and teach them about their personal, family, and cultural history how can we expect them to embrace any reasonable sense of destiny? It is up to those of us who have navigated, or are navigating this search to lead younger generations in their own search. They need identity. They need purpose, or they are destined to drift without moorings, or perhaps slide along the next glacial drift into some place that is not a “fit” for their life.