I’m mostly white but there is Wampanoag on my mom’s side. Is it wrong to seek community with Natives? Other whites have said Natives don’t want me around. Is this true? My spirit has always been with nature. I have nothing but respect for Native people.

Identity and knowing who we are is one of the most important journeys we can walk. I encourage you to explore your identity. This is a great start.

There are many ways you can do this, and yet there is no right or wrong way.

If you feel comfortable, reach out to your mom’s extended family. By asking simple questions like, “Can you tell me what names your mom used, or what names did you hear growing up?”, you may be able to start piecing things together.

I would also ask these questions from other family members too who may be able to provide a little more information. And, if it’s helpful write this all down in a journal. Sometimes things that don’t make any sense initially may start to once you’ve gathered more information.

Start with an Internet search – a lot of tribes have official tribal websites where you can at least find a phone number to their tribal office. Give them a call. Most tribes have someone who can answer some questions for you. Ask for youth events like; language classes, youth groups, community gatherings, in-school or after-school programs, elder lead groups, pow-wow/ dance groups, or anything else you might get involved in.

As for your friends, they can’t speak for others. So I would take this with a grain of salt. If you’re curious, I might ask why they think this way just to get clarification.

Make sure through this process of learning more about your culture, the history of your tribe and traditions, that you start from a place of respect and curiosity.

Our history as Indigenous people carries the dark cloud of what’s left over from colonization. By asking each other to ‘prove’ how Native we are, we’re doing exactly what the colonists wanted us to do and that doesn’t serve anyone well.

I believe that all people who have a connection to their culture, land and traditions, have the right to identify in the ways they choose.

I hope this helps.

Best of luck to you!

Auntie Manda

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