This I Believe

Veronica - spokane, Washington
Entered on November 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: legacy

Am I Native American, or am I white? I believe I am both. I know I am fifty percent Native American. I am also fifty percent French and German. But the Native Americans don’t accept me because I am part white, and the white doesn’t accept me because I am part Native American.

My Tribe Is in North Dakota. The native people call themselves The Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa. The tribe is one of the largest and most important Indian tribes in the great lake regions. I am lost when it comes to my native heritage. I am trying to find my culture. I want to know about my people. My mother raised me in what the native people called the white man’s world. I was never taught my native heritage. It was when I was in middle school when my mother told me I was part Native American. I was amazed and mad. Why am I just finding this out now? I started to read the text books they had at my school, and also at my public library. I wasn’t feeling satisfied with the information I was given. I still felt empty. I started to blame my mother. Why had my mother kept this beautiful culture away from me? The native people were strong and brave and their beliefs were spiritual. I went to confront my mother with my confusion and misunderstanding. My mother also has the native blood. I asked my mother, “Why didn’t you teach me about anything of my native heritage?” My mother told me that her mother, my grandmother, didn’t want to teach her children or the younger generation the native ways, and also that the native ways were gone. My grandmother says we live in the white man’s world and not to question it. My grandmother is a full blood Chippewa. When she was a little girl, she was taken from her family by white men that invaded her family’s camp ground. She was put into a boarding school. She was beaten and couldn’t speak any English. She doesn’t know what happened to her people. My grandmother has so much pain from her childhood that she didn’t want to remember.

My native heritage has been silenced and hidden away for years. I understand my grandmother’s way of what she kept from her kids and the grandkids she shouldn’t have. I have made several attempts to talk to my grandmother about what happened and our heritage. She will not speak about it in anyway. I am now a student at a community college. Over the last couple years I have found little to no information on my native people. I have studied other native cultures to find my large native family. I have had no luck. It seems that my native people have disappeared. I will not give up on looking for my people. I will find you. I will learn about you.