How do I deal with family members who treat me differently because I’m mixed and act ugly to my mom ugly because she’s not a tribal member?

Dear Relative,

I am so sorry that your family members are not treating you well. Not being appreciated for your heritage can be difficult, especially if it’s coming from your family members who you want to love and respect. Not feeling connected to your family because of it can be really disheartening.

You’re not alone in feeling this way. I have people write to me all the time about not feeling “Native enough”. Being half-Zuni, I have felt this myself. What I can tell you, is that you are enough…of everything.

Many people of different backgrounds share this experience. However, it’s particularly difficult for American Indians and Alaska Native people. This is due to the strong work of colonization, which was to impose the dominant groups religion, economics, and medicinal practices on us. We were forced to leave our lands, our culture and traditions and this translates into Historical Trauma.

There are a couple things you can do:

  1. Educate – if you feel up to the challenge; start to teach your family about the things that make you proud to be mixed. Speak up when you feel you’re being disrespected. Over time your family members perceptions of your Native heritage may change.
  2. Celebrate Who You Are – learn as much as you can about your tribal community. Seek out tribal members, events, talk to your elders, visit your tribe’s website.

One of the great things about life is that you get to decide the type of person you want to be. When we are younger we live with our families ideas of who they want us to be and sometimes it doesn’t always match with what we know to be our authentic path.

Seek your authenticity, respect yourself and family. Remember it’s not your job to change the way people see Native culture, but it is your job to live your best life possible.

Take care,

Auntie Manda

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