ASK YOUR RELATIVE QUESTIONS

Tags: 10 - Mental Health, 2 - Identity, 3 - Intolerance, 5 - Spirituality, 6 - 2SLGBTQ, Family, LGBT - Two Spirit, Life Transitions, My Culture

Dear Auntie Manda, I have recently started to seriously try to reconnect with my Choctaw culture. My Great-great Grandpa, was an enrolled member of Choctaw Nation. He was orphaned as a child and enrolled in 1903, signing the Dawes Roll and moving to Oklahoma. For some reason, his children we not enrolled, which meant neither was my Nana or my father. My mom is full white and my dad is mixed, which makes me look very ambiguous to people because of my lighter skin and freckles. I’m afraid of overstepping by reconnecting since I’ve been socialized as a white person. I’ve started learning Choctaw and Tribal history, but I’m afraid to openly claim my heritage as a part of my identity for fear of backlash, not just from people who don’t know me, but from people that do. A few times, I’ve had friends and even family ask me, “Why is this so important to you? Why now?” I can’t put it into words, but I’ve always felt so lost and have had no cultural connection to anything growing up. I don’t want to feel disconnected anymore. Also, another thing that complicates my existence is the fact that I’m transgender. Perhaps, this is another reason why I feel lost. Not only do I want to feel like a whole woman, I want to feel like a whole person. Anyway, do you have any advice?

Hi there, Halito relative! Yakoke for writing in – I always get a lil extra excited when I see other Choctaws reach out 🙂 Let’s see where I can support you! I definitely want to acknowledge what youv’e written, because there’s so much there – goodness. I want to give my heart out to you because I am so sorry…

Dear Auntie, what are you grateful for this year?

I love this question! In reflecting back on this crazy year, one thing that stuck with me was when we first started hearing and preparing for COVID, I, probably alongside most of the world, was looking at the world infection maps. Maps that showed varying sizes of red dots indicating how many cases each country had. Over the course of…

Hi Auntie Amanda, I was reading about suicide rates in the United States and Native Americans were the highest in rates. As a Caucasian person, would it be acceptable for me to pursue a degree in psychology to help tribes?

Hi there, Thanks for reaching out. It’s important to know about these topics, and to approach them in a respectful way. It is true that Native American communities have high rates of suicide. The Center for Disease Control found that from 1999 to 2017 the suicide rate for American Indian and Alaska Native people rose 139%. There are a lot…

Hi Auntie! I’m pretty fair skinned compared to a lot of my family and it has always made me feel insecure in my identity. I’ve been called “white girl” or when I say I’m Indigenous I’m asked to “prove it.” How do I gain confidence in my identity as a Native?

Hi there, Thanks for reaching out! I answered a question similar to yours recently. Check it out and let me know if you need any more help: www.wernative.org/ask-auntie-questions/get-over-my-light-skin? Best of luck on your journey, Auntie Manda

Hello Auntie, I’ve finally found what people I come from (Purépecha of Mexico)! But, I don’t know how to connect with my culture when it’s so hard to find info? I’ve tried looking online to learn but it gets dicouraging bc there’s not a lot available.

Dear Relative, Thanks for reaching out! 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. 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…

Is making and selling corn husk dolls cultural appropriation?

Thank you for posing this question. This a tough question to answer directly and needs a nuanced understanding, as many people have different thoughts and beliefs about what is appropriation vs appreciation of Native culture. What is cultural appropriation? Cultural appropriation is the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another.…

Hi! I’m a biracial child (African American & Irish) that was inspired by a past teacher to learn about fancy shawl dancers. I’m an aspiring artist as well, I love drawing the shawls that I’ve seen in past powwows. Is that okay for me to do being non-native?

I’m glad you asked this question, Auntie and Uncle asked me as a Diné artist to respond to your question. Please continue to take these precautions and ask these questions, as an artist interested in another culture’s traditional art work. Good to hear that you have respect for other Native cultures, and as a Native artist there are several things…

Is it disrespectful for non-Native people to name their children Dakota?

People will have different opinions about this one. Being Native means different things to each person. There are 573 federally recognized tribes in the lower 48 states, 223 village communities in Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands; each with its own identity, culture, with over 300 languages. For some, it means that they are descendants of the original people of North…

Hey Auntie! So what’s the deal with the COVID vaccine?

Yeah, there’s a lot of information out there right now about the COVID-19 vaccine. At the moment, Dec 4th, there are eight different vaccines and four of those are in clinical trials, which means they are now being tested by 120,000 volunteers to determine whether it is safe and effective. There are multiple safety measures being taken and participants are…
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