The Importance Of Native American Identity

Submitted By sas558
Words: 947
Pages: 4

Identification; the act of identifying, something that identifies, or acceptance as one’s own of the values and interests of a social group. For most people identity is a question or idea that is never given a second thought. It is summed up simply with their name or a group they are a part of. But for a person who is struggling to find their identity a name doesn’t hold quite the same significance. The author; Deborah is lost in her identity as a mixed-blood Indian woman. Her parents divorce caused a separation between her and her Native-American heritage. The struggle is not so much knowing whether or not you are of Indian blood, it is knowing what that means and the rich culture that you are a part of because of it. How does an Indian who has gone through their entire life without knowing any piece of their heritage catch up? In comparison to how many schools there are in the United States and Canada there are few universities that have Native American programs. What is the reason for the lack of these programs in grad schools?; one reason is the lack of professors qualified to teach Native American studies. Miranda even mentions that she is an undergraduate professor for these subjects simply because there aren’t many other professors. Another reason for the absence of such programs is that Native American students have the highest college drop out rate of all the other ethnic minorities. Therefore there is not a large amount of students making it to graduate school in order to study Native American programs. Without these tools available for a student, there is very little opportunity to learn about Native American culture and themselves as Indians. Legally Native Americans are required to have an ID card containing a photo, their name, their tribal affiliation and an enrollment number in order to be considered an ‘authentic’ Indian. Although the government claims that this is a step taken in order to provide “repayment services” to Native Americans many people believe that it is just another way for the government to control and alienate native peoples. In order to be recognized as an American Indian one must have blood from a federally recognized tribe or village. There are a few federal benefits to being a Native American which include exemption from income tax while on a reservation and they are often given special hunting and fishing privileges. Another common occurrence is the availability of special scholarships when attending universities. Although there are a few benefits to being a car-carrying American Indian the concept of these ID cards is not just. A point brought up in the essay is that Native Americans are just that; native. The land belonged to them and was taken by the Europeans who now run the country. There was more taken from American Indians than is given to them by the government. In my opinion, the thing that comes most from the requirement of ID cards to a certain tribe is the opportunity for whites to complain about the ‘unfairness,’ just like the story accounted in this essay of the “male, white, blonde, and blue-eyed to boot” (Miranda 339) claiming that the receivers of minority scholarships did not work as hard as he had. So while this form of identification may come with a few benefits, it is not much of a help when questioning the culture and identity of a Native American.
Between the three definitions of identity the most influential one would most often be acceptance of values and interest in a social group. Being a part of a tribe means so much more than just the label. The tribe has its