Growing up in the Deep South I faced many challenges, and still do to this day. While this article was difficult for me to write, it was pressed on my heart to share with the world.
I grew up with the understanding of my Native American, Irish, Scottish, Spanish, and various ethnicities. Little did I know some 20 years later, that I would be on a journey to reclaim, support, and rediscover my heritage through learning and education.
As a little girl, I dealt with my share of racism from strangers. Recalling one vivid incident that was like a flashback to yesterday. I was with my mother and sister in a grocery store, and the cashier couldn’t believe that I was my mother’s daughter. She has noticeably darker skin than I do with dark hair, and at the time I spent more time inside than in the sun, which made my skin appear much lighter, like my dads. That feeling of separation in society is scarring for children, especially when the public eye shouts judgement with a glare of eyes or through words. One more heartbreaking moment was while my family and I were on vacation. While we were at the hotel pool, my mom walked away from the pool lounge chairs for a moment, so it was just my dad, my sister, and I. When that happened, an elderly couple spoke to my father and said, “Oh! Now that makes sense. You see I knew those kids couldn’t be hers, they had to be yours. I just had to make sure.” Referring to the way she looked, and how as very little children, my sister and I used to look lighter skinned. What would the couple have done if my sister and I didn’t come up to my dad? Incidents like that happened often.
The encounters continued throughout my teenage years, and adulthood. While I pass as white when I hide from the sun like a vampire, people still give me snide looks, stupid questions, and offensive remarks regarding my ethnicity. It will never keep me down.
As years passed by, I began to dive deeper into my DNA for my research, I discovered that I am mixed of multiple Indigenous groups. Now that I’m in my 20’s, I will forever be on the path of discovery of my Indigenous heritage. I do it for my ancestors, and for justice.
My house and on my mothers side, has always been about our Native American culture and Irish traditions growing up. It’s what I know, it’s who I am. I am very proud of my mixed ethnicity, heritage, and culture. It gives me more appreciation to my ancestors, cultures, and the history of the world. I will use it as a platform to help those in my community, promote awareness, learn, educate, give back, and spread love.
Below I have compiled 3 Ways YOU Can Be an Ally for Indigenous Americans, and promote positive change as a person of any race for Indigenous peoples:
1. NEVER ask a Native/Indigenous/POC/WOC how much their percentage is of “Indian blood”, if they have a cool “Indian name”, or any other blood quantum percentage question towards any POC.
My blood percentage does not define me, culture does. Due to ethnic “cleansing”, Native Americans were forced to falsify their birth records thanks to the disgusting Act of 1924 (Racial Integrity Act of 1924). Many modern day Indigenous Americans are mixed, some do not know their ancestors, and as a reminder, Indigenous ancestors were murdered, beaten, exiled due to their “percentage”. Educate yourself. Many grew up away from reservations, therefore have little to no connections to a specific Nation, Indigenous language, or way of life. I had a very ignorant elderly man once “give” me an “Indian name” because he knew some of my heritage. “Smiles-A-Lot”…
Was that funny? NO. I’m not a Save-A-Lot store, you’re not my family, and Indigenous American names are nothing to joke about. Lets just say, it shocked me to my core. I thought something along the lines of, “He cannot possibly be this ignorant, right?”, “Why did he say that? What was he thinking?”. The immense lack of intelligence, knowledge, and understanding about Native Americans is baffling. Something needs to be done, and it must happen now. Without the proper education of Indigenous American history to our youth; generations of cultural appropriators, racists, and insensitive people will flourish. It’s a mindset, and a heart problem that must be changed.
2. Whether you’re Native/First Nations/Indigenous or not, YOU can be an active Ally.
You can be an active ally, but by listening first. Listen, remain in solidarity, support, and stand strong. Remember, we don’t always provide free emotional labor. Wanting to learn more and get properly educated is one thing, but raising words as fists to constantly challenge our beliefs, history, or stances on certain topics will not always be given/acknowledged. When we give free emotional labor, it’s because we want to, not that we have to. The internet is a great place to learn about what you can do in the communities around you, so always utilize that free resource, not us. There are so many blogs, articles, papers, and other sources written BY the Indigenous communities/persons of the Americas who share information to the world for educational or personal use. Don’t slide into our DM’s arguing lengthy topics, mocking our culture or beliefs, and demanding an answer. I can speak for myself. I write on my blog for education, I may comment back to certain comments if I feel like it, but I spend most of my energy into the future/progression/learning more so I can be that light in a dark world.
(the following links are not sponsored. They reflect the personal views of Faith Fuentes. This is not an ad.)
Some wonderful articles regarding on how to be an Ally to Indigenous peoples:
3. Support those who make a positive impact in their community FOR Native Americans/Indigenous Americans/First Nations or other POC/WOC
Healing and progress starts when we come together as a community to positively support Indigenous/POC/WOC/Native peoples. Whether it’s purchasing beautiful fashion/jewelry from Indigenous peoples/WOC/POC instead of “Native Inspired” rip-offs, look for “Inspired Native”. Donate, support, stand up for what is right, learn, listen, and become an active member of what is just. Read: https://eighthgeneration.com/pages/inspired-natives-project and https://www.powwows.com/support-inspired-natives-not-native-inspired-find-out-how/ for more great info.
There are so many ways how you can be an ally for Indigenous Americans, but these key 3 are a good start. I will share other ways soon!
Tell me your thoughts in the comments! xoxo
(Also, Check out the link below for more!)
https://throughhernativeeyes.com/ -blog of perspectives from a Lakȟóta wíŋyaŋ (@Caliwolf on IG)