Monday, June 14, 2010

Measurement of Indianess: wannabe to FBI

Little Hawk is Troy Westwood an ex-football player in the Canadian Football Leagues Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Troy was in a music band called Eagle and Hawk that my cousin Vince Fontaine had formed. Troy is one of those that has an "Indian soul". The person that has found Indianness to be a calling and has been accepted (to some degree) into the world of the Indian. This is an interesting phenomenon. People becoming another culture and heritage other than their own. This practice is not new or without some controversy. There are numerous cultures that have been infiltrated with the wannabe. Indian's have Archie Stansfeld Belaney,aka Grey Owl the infamous Indian environmentalist. Not to mention the famous crying Indian Espera DeCorti, Iron Eyes Cody. These guys were different types of wannabees, they were pretending to be Indian to further their career or escape their life. With Troy I don't see that. I see a guy that is doing fine without having to pretend to be Indian. He acknowledges that he is white but likes Indian heritage. So he does what he can to hang around Indians. I kind of get a kick out of wannabees, but I realize that there is something askew to that phenomenon.

I remember that Indians pretended to be something else as well. Many pretended to be French, Italian, or whatever they thought they could pass for. Anything except being Indian. Society for Indians (and other minority groups) could be harsh. People tried to escape the stigma of being who they were. There really is a societal privilege to being white, but that's another story. It is kind of ironic that people want to be Indian while many Indians tried to be anything other than who they were.

I once thought that people want to be Indian (Black, Japanese, and others) because they did not have any heritage of their own. They like the "text-book" image of what those groups are associated with; the noble savage, the Samurai, the strength and coolness. Not sure if that is the reason they become Indian.

Indian people have become more Indian than Ira Hayes. Indians are all FBI's, Full Blood Indian. Indians are seen by other Indians as tainted if they are not FBI. Even if you are not FBI but have the brown look, they will claim to be FBI and the mixed bloods are less than them. You are "nose bleed", red bone, apple, white, and wannabe. The whole identity picture is really abstract. In a way it is a good thing, we no longer are hiding that we are Indian. Actually it is a great thing that we have never lost that pride in our heritage. It was really hard for our old people to continue with their identity. Society, specifically government, tried hard to eradicate the Indian.

It's (now) cool to be Indian.

One thing I am not a fan of is the belittling of others to feel superior. That is what some of us do. The Reserve Indian will act superior to that urban Indian. Saying they are more Indian because of the link to the community. Other Indians will put down the fair skinned Indian because they don't have the features with being FBI.


  1. Troy is one of us in spirit. Great Guy.

    Identity.. for all of important to accept, celebrate and pass on to the next generations.

    I Just wanted to share with you: First Nation Literacy Blog

  2. Being indian has very little to do with the colour of your skin or the card you carry in your wallet. Many old ones won't carry that card or sign as a status indian because it's a label that the waabishkiiwe gave us. To be Anishinaabe is more different and important than being indian. It is about respecting all peoples and honouring our differences, to carry those Grandfather Teachings.

    It is becoming cool to be an indian and that's definitely a good thing. Like Maria said, it's important for us to celebrate our identities and pass them onto the next generations. They are the ones that give us purpose to continue fighting the fight on the red road.

    G'chi miigwech for your blog, it's very inspiring.
    Anishinaabewinini from Ontario

  3. Meegwetch for the comments.I will blogging about the hierarchy of Indian-ness.

  4. During 2nd world war Hitler used to test blood of Jewish people to determine their race...The idea of "one race"testing "another race"is just crazy.And what about rich twinkies=can they buy some native blood?Are spooks becoming red?I agree with Andrew,being Indian has nothing to do with an ID.Some of my ancestors had to look for exile in Europe;I speak "ancient version "of an Apache dialect(I can chat only with some elders...)and I look like everyone else on the rez,but what's make me Apache is fight.No matter what tribe or clan we're from,our path is struggle.I don't care about Carter's look alikes claiming NDN origins till they say "You people or this people"talking about the" not so glamorous" relatives of mine.