Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ancestry

On Saturday, after the photo shoot, several of us decided to go to dinner at a great Italian restaurant in south Denver...The Saucy Noodle. I think Spencer will know what I'm talking about.

During dinner, we got to talking about ancestry...one because we were trying to figure out where our waitress was from (Brazil), and also because my friend who was with me is from Russia. Anyway, I mentioned that I'm 1/8 Chickasaw, and of course someone then asked me if I was registered. You see, with the Chickasaw tribe, you just have to be able to prove that you had someone on the Dawes Rolls of 1890, which my Great-Great Grandfather was on. That means that if I wanted to go through the paperwork, I could have myself declared Native American.

And of course, everyone thinks that's a great idea because then you can get money from the casinos. Of course, not every tribe has a casino, and the majority of native peoples living on reservations actually live below the poverty line...but you wouldn't think so with the propaganda spit out by the government.

However, I am yet again digressing. There are a couple of reasons why it can be a good idea to register. For one thing, if there are casino, oil, uranium residuals and such, I could get a portion. Also, if the tribe receives any kind of aid from the government, I would also be eligible. In addition, I would be able to check the little box that says Native American rather than white, and there could be all kinds of benefits to that.

Why don't I? It's actually pretty simple. I don't feel I deserve any of that. I am very proud of my heritage, and would certainly like to help in any way that I could, but I've never lived on a reservation. In fact, I basically grew up in white suburbia, so I don't really know what it means to be an Indian. Therefore, I've never felt that I deserve any of those benefits. Not only that, but anything that I could get would have to be taken from someone else...and there are a lot of people living on the reservations who need a lot more help than I do. I'm basically poor because I choose to be poor...it's called wanting to be a writer.

Not really sure what prompted this post, but there it is...

3 comments:

Keith said...

Somewhere back in the early 1800s, one of my great-great-great... grandmothers was Algonquin. I am descended from John and Priscilla Alden. I am a 15th generation Blauvelt, which is an interesting Dutch family tree. The Blauvelts have lived in this area since the middle 1600s. I am also descended from Theosophus Polhemus who was the first Calvinist minister in the new world. My great-great grandfather (on the Galbraith side) was known as the greatest bartender in New York. The Galbraiths are shirt tail cousins of the John Kenneth Gailbraith (but that whole side of the family are great liars so it is hard to believe what they say). My great grandfather (on the Graham branch) was a vaudeville performer and magician who was friends with O Henry. Several of the Barrymore acting family lived at his house in Harlem for a few years. He was also, as a young man, a pitcher on a New York baseball team that later merged into the Yankees. My Grandmother was personal assistant to one of John D. Rockefeller's daughters. My cousin played guitar with Black Sabbath. Lots of other cool family links. Once your family is traced back 5 or 6 generations there are all kinds of interesting bits of history.

chiefmoe said...

I find the reason for you not registering to be honorable. Although you dont need to hear that from me. But I still wanted to say it. To few people these days have little or no concept of honor. Thats all. have a nice day.

Marva said...

I was drawing a conclusion, then reached the paragraph where you drew it yourself. You should be proud of the Chickasaw blood you have, but don't try to take any advantage of a connection a few generations past.

I, too, have some relative connection to a Southwest tribe, but I haven't pursued it other than to take an interest in Native American history and lore.