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 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…

I had a vivid dream where I was told my native name. This young woman I’ve seen more than once, unsure if she is my ancestor or my spirit guide, announced or gave it to me. I’m proud of my name but am curious if it’s okay to use my native name publicly?

Hi Merrick! Dreams are such a fascinating story to tap into. I too have incredibly vivid and detailed dreams. Often, I can feel, smell, and make decisions within them. They used to scare me because some of them were pretty intense. If you have an elder to talk to, start that conversation. This is a great question to ask your…

Hello! I feel kind of embarrassed by some “full” natives saying things like “you’re not actually native if you’re half native” and things like that. My mother is native, my dad is white. What do I say or how should I feel when people say things like that?

Dear Angelique, 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…

Hi! I have some First Nations ancestry- Im not sure how much, but it’s farther back than my grandmother-but I would like to know this: is there some sort of tattoo or something that I could get to honour 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…

I want to learn about the story of the spider catching the snake but I can’t verify or find it. Is this a real Ojibwe tale? I am trying to learn more about my Native American culture.

Hi there! And, thanks for writing in. There are many stories about spiders, like spider woman or grandmother spider. However, I’m not familiar with the spider catching the snake story. Perhaps because it is Ojibwe, which I’m not so familiar with. If it’s possible, try to reach out and start building connections and relationships with Ojibwe family or others, especially…

In Maine, many native children were taken and placed in non-native families up until the 1970s. I believe my late grandmother was one of these children, but I don’t know if these records were kept. How can we reconnect when there was so much displacement?

Yes, our history of being colonized has left a dark cloud over our identities and familial ties, but the good news is that there is a large community of folks with similar stories who have got your back. I applaud you for beginning your journey of discovering more about who you are and where you come from. Where to start?…

HI, I want to make a Ribbon Skirt inspired mask to share my heritage and art. I want applique something on top, can it be two columns of a bldg I enter each day? be anything? Or does it have to be cultural? Can I put two coo

I love this idea! Ribbon skirts are about women being empowered and remembering our sacredness, Tala Tootoosis shares that “It’s teaching them [women] to be empowered and that they already are resilient. Women already have power. A woman is protection because she is a woman. And when you have that understanding you learn boundaries.” Ribbon skirts have become a universal…

Is it ok to create the art work of another tribe? As a kid I was taught Haida art by a Haida artist and I would like to explore it more now. I am part Cree but did not grow up with the culture as my father was put into foster care during the 60’s scoop.

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…

Hi, Auntie. As an undocumented Native (Cherokee/Osage/Senca) married to Choctaw Native, what clothing is acceptable to wear? My daughters wear Choctaw diamonds and ribbon skirts.

Hi there and thanks for writing in! There are all types of identities: personal, group, cultural, racial, ethnic identity… and the list goes on. The really great thing about identity, is that ultimately you get to decide how you want to see yourself. If you have a strong connection to Native traditions, integrate that into your belief system. Just because…
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