ASK YOUR RELATIVE QUESTIONS

Tags: History, Identity, Identity and Native Pride, Language, My Culture, Sacred Elements, Sovereignty, Traditional Stories and Teachings, Traditions, Uncle Answers

Hi! I have some First Nations ancestry – I’m not sure how much, but it’s farther back than my grandmother. I would like to know this: Is there some sort of tattoo or something that I could get to honor my ancestors without being culturally insensitive?

I am always glad to hear when people want to explore their Indigenous identity and heritage. Indigenous cultures are diverse and beautiful. But this exploration should be conducted with respect to our ancestors, past, present and future. To begin, it is important to understand who Indigenous peoples are. Across North America, Indigenous peoples refer to themselves using different terms. In…

Hi Auntie, my grandma’s family is Choctaw and honoring ancestors is important to us. I want to wear their regalia to keep the traditions of my family alive. However, I was told because I’m White and too removed, that I can’t. What are your thoughts?

Hi Relative, It is so wonderful that you want to honor your ancestors through your regalia and traditions! This is so important. I’m sorry that people have said some things to discourage you from participating in these important cultural traditions. The great and challenging thing is, that you’re the only one you need to get permission from. People will have…

I just found out both Great grandmother’s were Native. Since I am crossed with 2 tribes which roll number should I turn into BIA?

Hi there! Great! What an amazing gift that your family had some information on what tribes you’re from. Keep asking questions, especially from the elders and I’m sure you’ll find some helpful information. It is super common for people to be from multiple tribes, so you are in good company😊 Generally, the BIA is not involved in tribal enrollment, that’s…

I just did my ancestry dna and found out I’m 44% Native American. I was adopted into a family at the age of four. I was always told I was native but I never had proof until last year. How do I see if I qualify for funds?

Hey there, Thank you for your question. I am always glad to hear when someone wants to connect to their culture. The issues around DNA testing are complicated and controversial. The short answer is that there is no DNA test to prove ties to a specific tribe. First off what do people mean by DNA testing? According to the National…

My baby is Native. I’m white & her father’s only 1/16 Chickasaw, looks white & has not been raised up in his culture at all. l want her to be connected to her heritage while being sensitive to people who are full Native.

Dear Anna, You’re a good mom. Identity and knowing who we are is one of the most important journeys we can walk. I encourage you to help your daughter explore her identity. This is a great start. There are many ways you can do this together, yet there is no right or wrong way for doing this. If you feel…

Hi there! I’m currently working on a project for university and I’d really appreciate your input. What is the correct symbol Native Americans used for the sun? Is there a website that contains the proper symbols and their meaning that you could add a link

Hi there! Thanks for writing in! In short, there is no symbol for the Sun that is accepted and used by all Native American Tribes. There are 574 federally recognized tribes with their own religions, languages, art, and customs. Every tribe has different associations with the universe and animals, what may mean one thing to me could be something completely…

Hi! I have a friend who has learned beadwork from an elder in our community. She has started selling her own work, and while it’s not all indigenous designs and symbols, she’s making a profit off of it all. She’s 100% white. Should I call her out?

Hi Emma! By asking this question I can see that you have some concerns. Listen to your gut…and let’s talk it through. From a design standpoint, Indigenous designs are the bomb. However, what is missing when non-Natives replicate traditional designs is that they are likely to not be taught in the proper ways like the meanings of the sacred elements…

I am 50 percent Native American. I’ve always been told I’m Hispanic. I came to New Mexico for work and was shocked to see so many people that look like me. I feel lied to… or that something was taken from us. What should I do.

Dear Relative, 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, yet there is no right or wrong way for doing this. I am always glad to hear when people want to explore…

I am believed to be a mix of Onondaga and Seneca but I can not prove my heritage because of documentation loss and dodging.My grandfather and parents have cut all ties with the Rez.I live all the way across country. How can I connect with my people?

Dear Relative, 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, yet there is no right or wrong way for doing this. I am always glad to hear when people want to explore…
Menu