Don’t Be Fooled: Latino = Indigenous

Indian Country Today

Don’t Be Fooled: Latino = Indigenous

Late last night, my father and I talked about how the ethnic term Latino mislabels Indigenous and mixed-Indigenous people from Mexico, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, etc. For a long time, we believed Latino and Hispanic correctly defined the Spanish-speaking mixed-Indigenous and Indigenous people in Latin America.

As we crossed the George Washington Bridge, I wondered, Why is this so? I mean it’s true. We do speak Spanish and we practice Spanish culture. But we also come from a land that is still governed by our Indigenous relatives. I thought hard about how to politely counter argue his belief. His opinion. His Latino identity.

“So I guess this means Filipinos are Hispanics or Latinos, too, right?” I said. “Think about it, they have Spanish names. They speak Spanish. They probably dance to Spanish music, too.”

He laughed at me. He said, “They are Asians, though. You can’t confuse their race with Spanish.”

“Exactly, so why are we the only ones considered Latino or Hispanic? Some of us are Indigenous, right? Think about it, papa. We are Guayakos and Manabítas. We come from family clans that stretch back for thousands of years of Indigenous tradition.”

“Well..” he stammers. “I would say, we’re Ecuatorianos.”

Latino or Hispanic is a term coined by the United States to identify Spanish-speaking people coming from south of Mexico. The reality is Spanish-speaking people from Latin America come from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds. We are like a rainbow.

However, since 2011, Latinos or Hispanics now start to identify as Native American, census shows. Even the New York Times features their article on the cultural change and perspective of Indigenous identity among mestizos, mulattos, and Indigenous people.

Also, Latino comes from the root word Latin which corresponds to the nations that used to form the Roman Empire: Spain, Portugal, Romania, Italy, and France. According to El Boricua, “ The word Hispania thus refers to the people and culture of the Iberian peninsula, Spain in particular. The term Hispano (Hispanic) later was used in referring to Spain and its subsequent New World – New Spain, conquered territories which covers most of Latino America.” The white-mestizo society or descendants of Spanish relatives can claim these labels to themselves.

But Latino is not a person who only looks Mexican and speaks Spanish. Many of us come from mixed-Indigenous heritage and some of us are Indigenous, too. For example, Ecuador is home to 30+ Indigenous nations and a home to 8 million descendants of the Quitu-Shyri and Spanish ancestry. It’s also home to 1 million Euro-Ecuadorians and 1.3 million Afro-Ecuadorians. However, the 8 millions Ecuadorian mestizos form part of the rainbow colors of the Indigenous race mixed with the Spanish and the African cultures. In Ecuador, we say “tenemos la pinta ecuatoriana” (we have the Ecuadorian look) because some of us are brown, have black hair, and some, more than others, inherit the Atahualpa face, our last Tawantinsuyu King in 1535. We also dance to merengue and reggaeton, but we blast to Indian music and do the round dance, stomp the floor, swing the skirts, and chirp like the Curiquingue and Quinde birds.

Ecuadorians make up the majority of mixed-Indigenous and Indigenous population, among other groups like Afro-Ecuadorians and Euro-Ecuadorians, who re-invent a fusion of all cultures, languages, and religions, yet preserve their Indigenous ethnicity, traditions, and roots simultaneously.

The Idle No More Movement is an excellent example of how Indigenous people in North America unite to stand up and fight for their culture, land, and identity against a people who think it’s okay to walk over Indigenous people with mascot names and Halloween Indian costumes. I also think the Idle No More Movement should include Indigenous people and mixed-Indigenous people from Spanish-speaking nations as an effort to collaborate, unite, and support one Indigenous people across both continents.

Do we call an African-American a Britannic because he or she speaks English? Do we call an Arab an Amish because he or she looks white? Why don’t we call Euro-Americans “mixed” or “mestizos” because they also have Irish, Italian, German, African, and Indigenous blood, some more than others? However, there is no debate about our differences. We come from different nations, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and so forth. But the key point is to co-exist in peace and respect each other. The principle is to not step on people’s sacred space without asking their permission. The Indigenous space has been repeatedly trespassed and disrespected in the Americas.

I can only speak of what I‘ve seen in Ecuador. In Ecuador, the label Mestizo provides an opportunity for Indigenous people to climb the social ladder. In order for them to not be hated, insulted, harmed, put down, ashamed, physically assaulted, and to some extent, massacred in ethnic and cultural genocides, the ethnic label “mestizo” provides a convenient strategy to avoid all of the aforementioned complications. However, Indigenous people should not feel obliged to make the switch from Indigenous to Mestizo because of the shame with their Indigenous identity. Their culture is as beautiful as that of the African-American, European-American,and Asian-American.

In Santa Elena, Ecuador, we identify as Indigenous people. We go by “cholo comunero," and some, more than others, by “Wankavilka” to emphasize their ethnicity. The Ecuadorian government sends us a census that provides three options: white, black, and Mestizo. We are forced to put mestizo even though in our hearts we know we are Indigenous to our ancestral lands and cultures, but this mislabel affects new generations of youth who start to distance themselves from their Indigenous heritage and encourage outsiders to expropriate our lands because we do not “voluntarily” identify as Indigenous. (Original Source in Spanish). Therefore, in this case, the mestizo concept does not equally glorify two cultures, but only the dominant European one. It serves to disenfranchise Indigenous people in Latin America. In a parallel comparison, there are Latinos, (Indigenous Spanish-speaking people from tribal nations in Latin America who migrate to the United States), who do not want to identify as Latinos and Mestizos but are forced to because it’s the only option.

Appropriating a local tribe that is not yours is also NOT the respectful manner to go about this either. However, US census should provide an ethnic label that speaks for Mexican, Central, and South American Indigenous people. This also gives an opportunity for mixed-Indigenous people to learn from their culture via Indigenous groups in United States settings. Because as mixed-Indigenous people from Spanish-speaking nations, we have a right to learn about our Indigenous past that includes everything before 1492. Our nations started way before the colonial contact.

Imagine what would happen if mixed-Indigenous or Indigenous Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Peruvians, Bolivians, among other Spanish-speaking nations re-identify with their Indigenous roots, how would that cause a chain reaction in Latin America and how would that redefine our culture, our history, and our thought process?

Comments (107)
No. 1-36
demzeo
demzeo

This is such garbage. While “Hispanic” is a term with origins in the US census! “Latino” was coined by the French with intent to create an identity more favorable for imperialism back in the day. But beyond that, the author is unclear as to what constitutes Native identity and status. It is insufficient to say that having ancestry equates a person to being Native, or else we’re back to Elizabeth Warren’s BS. Let’s be clear, diasporic Latinxs, Chicanxs, and even mestizxs in Latin America are NOT Native. The belief that indigeneity comes from ancestry, where percentages of raciality matter is some Eurocentric, colonization garbage. Latinxs have become so assimilated into manifestations of whiteness throughout these centuries that is is inconceivable anybody would accept Indigenous claims like that. Indigenous status comes from significantly more than racist blood quantum associations. This article only serves to further a conversation about self-indigenization that marginalizes Natives, dilutes Native issues, and colonizes Native spaces, all of which are dangerous to Native communities. Please take your Nican Tlaca aspirations elsewhere.

38 Replies

demzeo
demzeo

I find it very interesting that you use a Latina to describe appropriation of Native spaces, and I invite you to educate yourself on how Native populations and many Latinxs criticized AOC’s words. I never said anything about how Latinx struggles are separate, different, or opposing in any way to Native issues; I agree, in many cases, they are similar. What I will reiterate is that an increasing number or Native scholars and activists are holding Chicanismo and Latinidad accountable for continuously diluting Native issues by inserting themselves into a dialogue that isn’t theirs to claim. There is a fundamental difference between Latinxs being native born to the continent, and Natives whose continent it is. As Latinxs, we cannot claim indigenous status simply by ancestry, because we’ve assimilated into versions of whiteness that continue to reproduce oppression onto Native communities. This is an empirical, statistical, identifiable fact, regardless of whether it manifests in the United States or in my native Mexico, or all the way to Chile. There are very real reasons why Latin American countries have departments, organizations, and agencies devoted to Indigenous communities that are equitable and not meant for dominant populations—because Latinxs and Natives are different. I write this as a Mexican immigrant to the United States who used to adhere to the same kind of things that “this is my land.” Except it’s not; Latinxs can still be settlers to still existent Native people.

MamaMimi
MamaMimi

Except much of what you stated is actually opinion and not fact. The fact is that not all NA tribes view things as cut and dry as you apparently do (or claim a handful of scholars do) because they understand that the Latinx claim of being indigenous is part of that struggle to reclaim spaces and fight against the colonization that was forced upon their ancestors. Example: I started to write a novel and approached the tribe it was based on before doing so. They had no problem with me writing it, viewing me as extended kin despite the fact I'm not part of their tribe. Too, I have never personally met any NA to judge others because the government refuses to recognize them. They most certainly do not discriminate when I'm at marches and rallies, fighting for land and water rights. I have actually been invited to speak (though I turned down the opportunity). Again, all this only serves to show that there is no authority as to who may claim their roots. So perhaps you, too, could be invited to educate yourself on the fact that there are as many different narratives as there are Latinx, and not all can fit into one box. You may claim yourself as a Mexican immigrant. That is fine. I don't know your story. It isn't my position to say anyway. However, you cannot rightfully speak for everyone else either. I was born Taina and will die as such regardless of how much the government wishes to say my people are extinct. I will continue to learn the broken language we inherited, the language I'm sure OUR scholars will one day fully restore. I will continue to include our gods in my regular worship. I will keep on fighting for federal recognition and, more importantly, I welcome other Taino descendents to do likewise... including those who previously "assimilated into versions of whiteness" they now wish to reject.

demzeo
demzeo

Self-indigenization is among the most dangerous conditions by whichever Latinxs, or literally anybody else, can attempt to appropriate Native space because it involves activities, thinking, and realignment of identity that is not sanctioned by a pan-Native philosophy. I am not advocating for Latinxs to abandon awareness of our indigeneity or reject attempts to connect with it. I am simply restating the positions held by several Natives that that behavior needs to not be taken for granted. If your experience with Natives has been successful in your terms of kinship and belonging, I congratulate you. But that acknowledgement is not universal among Natives and other ethnic groups and Latinxs must be aware of that, instead of operating under the assumption of open-armed welcomings. I bring up my own identity as an example to illustrate how many Latinxs have lost connection to Indigenous ancestors, through and because of the assimilation into whiteness in Latin America, which extends into Chicanx populations in the USA. Our countries have violent histories against Natives and Native identitification to observable points where the modern Latinx is not the same as the contemporary Native. I’m all in favor of rejecting Eurocentric, white supremacist labels, but that needs to be conditional with how Native identity is extended, and that can only be extended by Native groups, nobody else, or else it becomes appropriation and a reproduction of genocide considering the praxis of Native identification. I would encourage you to read M. Bianet Castellanos’ “Introduction: Settler Colonialism in Latin America,” (it’s only 4 pages) for a better, more academic understanding of what I’m referring to when I say both Latinx and Native academics are increasingly determining differences between Latinxs and Natives, and to contextualize why things like Neo-Mexica, Neo-Taíno, Nican Tlaca, Chicanismo, and Mechista doctrines are harmful to Native causes and sovereignty.

cassiereds
cassiereds

I’m going to interject here due to the amount of notifications I get about this article lol. I’m full blooded Navajo and married to a full blooded Shoshone man for background. We do not extend our tribal recognition to Latinos because they do not share our historical struggle. My Navajo lands are being settled by both white people and by Latinos. when Latinos say they deserve the same recognition of sovereignty that we do, it hurts us because Latinos colonized our land the same way. If Latinos want to learn about their Native American roots they are welcome to, but that does not make them Native American at all. Why would I welcome a white person who was a fourth Navajo, for example, into my nation? @demzeo is right in saying blood quantum is not enough for Latinos to “be” Indigenous. We consider tribal status and identity along many more things than just ancestry, which is always unreliable anyways. The issue with Latinos claiming to be indigenous is that they will claim it without doing anything to help us. They won’t go to standing rock with us. They are unaware about how our women go missing more than anyone. Latinos do not hold our spiritual, cultural or tribal traditions, or fight for our issues in the same context so there’s enough reason there to hold Latinos accountable. Many Latinos only shed their identity and call themselves by a tribal one and think it’s good enough. But it isn’t! It’s literally a genocide of our people all over again by those with privilege. If Latinos are not fighting for Native American sovereignty, which means returning ALL countries in the Western Hemisphere to Native American owners, then Latinos are not fighting alongside us at all

Rey12
Rey12

If you're a Mexican with 100 native american blood and only speak Spanish, how is that your fault or make you any less Native American? How are you suppose to be proud and fight with Native Americans, about something you know nothing about, but then when you want to you are told you're not native american because its just blood. Maybe they are not the "whiteness" as you say but a product of it.

demzeo
demzeo

Once again, you're defining Native status by reducing it to blood quantum in your first sentence, which has been thoroughly understood as being an insufficient marker to claim Indigenous affiliation. Why do we, as Mexicans who have ancestral Indigenous blood and who have assimilated into mestizaje, get to decide who is Indigenous when there are literal, real, tangible Indigenous communities who are fighting for liberation? If blood quantum is insufficient, it is not up to non-Natives to decide that it is.

cassiereds
cassiereds

Why do you feel the need to tell Native Americans like me that we need to be more accommodating to Mexicans when Mexicans also enslaved and killed us? Also I will add that if a person has 100% Indigenous blood, they would never identify as Mexican because Mexican is a settler identity and not a native one.

Rey12
Rey12

Native American is a race.Its not my definition. Its not anyone's decision to determine what you are, Native American or not. There is an objective truth. Thats like if a person from Africa told an African-American "you're not black because i said so". Imagine if a black person from Africa told an African American you didn't struggle like us and dont speak our language or have our culture therefore you are not black. When in fact their ancestors were enslaved by the white men which is WHY they dont have any of those things. That is the exact same scenario with Natives and Latinos. Both were screwed over so why does one dictate what the other one is?

cassiereds
cassiereds

Wowwwwwww. How many times does a Native American have to tell you that Native tribes DO NOT CONSIDER RACIALITY AS A PREREQUISITE FOR NATIVE STATUS? Literally get out of here with your colonialist ideas of “objective truths.” We’re not discussing Africanness, we’re discussing areas of heritage, culture and ethnicity as being appropriated by Latinos. Latinos have no right or authority to determine how Native they are based on this bullshit about percentages, and ESPECIALLY when Latinos continue to oppress us.

demzeo
demzeo

The fact you think of Natives as a racial category only shows that you don't understand the praxis of Native identity, which is defined by Natives themselves and Natives only. That's literally why Indigenous people everywhere called out problematic Elizabeth Warren for trying to establish racial uniformity when it does not exist in that way. You're applying a white, Eurocentric model to Native ethnicity that is not universal, nor consistent with Natives. And what I find most surprising is that we literally have a Native person in our comments here (@cassiereds) telling you you're misguided and you refuse to believe it.

claykid
claykid

latinos literally killed my Pima great grandfather to make room for cattle ranches but go off and tell us how we're identical. news flash: we're not! even if our racial makeup is similar, we do not share experiences or culture or traditions or history. latinos and native americans are not the same kind of identity

Rey12
Rey12

You keep saying im telling Natives what to do, when all i have done is ask questions. I've learned that Natives do not consider race. So im assuming a person of any race can be native? But i need to say this, maybe we are just having a conversation of what a word means honestly. I think in the "colonial" world as you say the word Native American just means descendant of a native person of the Americas that use to live here. But in YOUR Native American world it means a person who was raised in a tribe(correct me if im wrong). Im more talking about genetic makeup whereas I believe you're talking about culture. I dont think we are talking about the same thing. But the word "Native American" IS an English whiteman word that is to describe race and genetic makeup and not the word you are thinking of.

Rey12
Rey12

You corrected me thank you. I meant the word American Indian im talking about genetic makeup oppose to culture.

cassiereds
cassiereds

When we, as Natives or Native Americans or Indigenous or American Indians or NDNs (whatever people want to call us), talk about determining exactly who is Indigenous to this land, we are referring to ethnicity through culture. For some reason, you're unwilling to accept how our definitions for race include a giant cultural heritage aspect. I am Navajo. My husband is Shoshone. @claykid has said he is both Sami and Hopi. All of our nations have stated that "blood percentages" are not enough to determine Native status. The ONLY reason why our tribes talk about genetic makeup, like you are, is because the United States and Canadian governments force us to, whether it's thru govt documents or reservation rolls or aid, etc. THEY are the ones defining us through genetic makeup, when WE DO NOT. White people define us through genetic makeup, NOT US.

So, think about this for a second: when you try to explain to us, Indigenous people, a sense of belonging and being "native" to this land through genetic makeup and ancestry, you're using the white, colonizing version of race that we've had to deal with for centuries. You use the same kind of USA garbage narrative that tries to define Native Americans as a genetic identity when that's not how we define ourselves at all, and only we have the authority to define ourselves, not any other groups.

When it comes to Latinos, Natives are not antagonists to their cause. We can recognize similarities in our struggles but we are not identical people. Native Americans continue to suffer at the hands of Latinos in the same ways that we have had to deal with white people. Latinos killed us, enslaved us, displaced us, took our resources, our art, our religion, everything. They are not exempt from responsibility for their atrocities against us. And when Latinos try to form some kind of genetic connection, like you are suggesting, to say they are indigenous, it erodes our progress as Natives to find liberation. We can recognize that Latinos have assimilated away from their Native roots, but Latinos need to also realize that calling yourself Indigenous does nothing for Indigenous people. That's why activists like @demzeo are very important to us. I don't know who he is or anything but the fact he is aware of our differences as a Mexican immigrant, means he can hold other Latinos accountable for harming our tribal communities and that includes fake self indigenization.

Rey12
Rey12

Ok you clarified a lot of things thank you. I have a completely unrelated question to you as a native american though, what are you thoughts on the NFL team called the Washington "Redskins". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7wI0353rxc, On this sports show 2 of the guest got in to it whether the name was offensive or not personally i think it is offensive, but i wanted to hear your thoughts?

donjulio1999
donjulio1999

I descend from the natives from the Caribbean region of Central America so my question to you is how are am I different than y’all? ( I wish I knew what kind of natives I descend from but I know it has to be Lenca, Maya, Arawak, one of those tribes ) what’s Your tribe?

donjulio1999
donjulio1999

Since when do Latinos oppress y’all Ima Mestizo ( Mixed ancestry between Spaniard which is European and Native American ) the Mestizo Latinos ( in which the majority look more native American ) we never oppressed y’all as a matter of fact’ when we see a Native American we actually think they Latino too, We Love Y’all what do you mean. The thing we have in common is " The european invasion " and the opression from the white man, all I can say is... Natives Stand Up ✊🏽

donjulio1999
donjulio1999

If the Mexicans did that then it’s probable that it was the Mexicans descendant of Europeans so

osdog7299
osdog7299

I'm a latino whos family is from guatemala I can tell you that latinos have oppressed the native peoples. Ever heard of the Guatemalan Genocide? Thousands of Mayan people were killed at the hands of a US backed Guatemalan army. Many of the people in that Guatemalan army were probably mestizo, doesn't mean they were sympathetic to natives based on some blood relation. Genetics can only account for so much and most times it doesnt mean anything at all

osdog7299
osdog7299

Reading all of the comments that have followed your initial comment have helped me learn a lot. And @cassiereds you have helped me learn a lot too. From my personal experience I think that the temptation to identify as native american when we are in fact latinos who have nothing in common with natives other than possibly genetics is that here in the US anyone who isn't "White" white (meaning europe other than the iberian peninsula because many white people here don't even see spaniards as properly white even though spain is quite clearly in europe) is oppressed and treated as 2nd class citizens. some latinos who self indignize do it to give them a tie to the land and justify their presence in america. Many white people do this too, here in north carolina where i live many a white person have said "im part cherokee" when they are very clearly white and have no tie to native american culture. Its like a way to try and take the moral high ground and pretend like they are the victims when they arent. I admit there have been times in my life where i tried to say that i was native american because i had much darker skin than the rest of my family and had a more "native american" look. It was wrong of me to do so because i speak spanish and practice christianity. I knew nothing about being a native american, their language, the religion, nothing. Similar genetics doesnt determine anything. Culture, shared history and etc determines more who you are than genetics. If similar genetics determined everything, than like the whole western hemisphere would be one country, all of europe would be one country, all of asia, etc. There are different cultures, languages and all that determines what kind of person you are. So if you are a latino and you speak spanish, practice christianity and generally don't live the life a native person don't claim it just because you are brown and have "native american features"

ElDeskalzo
ElDeskalzo

Reading your post on the surface “seems” to make sense but in reality it is totally flawed and untrue.

What is agreed on, is that terms such as Hispanic, Latino is yet another ploy to create division. In the 1950’s, 60’s and even early 70’s “Hispanics” were principally Mexican-Americans. This was the case since the refugees from the US sponsored civil wars in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina were yet to occur later on in the 1980’s and onward. Thus is the diasporic nature of what is now termed “Hispanics” in 2019. In the 1960’s, and 1970’s Mexicans were thrown in with the “White” label though we did not consider ourselves as white which is also true even to this day.

To say that “Latinxs, Chicanxs, and even mestizxs in Latin America are NOT Native” is a straight out lie and an error, hopefully due to being naïve about the issue and hopefully not in a deliberate manner. This statement undercuts the issue of being native, indigenous to these lands. Your statement “The belief that indigeneity comes from ancestry, where percentages of raciality matter is some Eurocentric, colonization garbage.” also is erroneous. If we were to agree to this falsehood, Latinxs, Chicanxs, and Mestizxs would be nothing. Not only do you not provide an answer to what constitutes “being indigenous” but you deny what does prove one to be indigenous or not. If being indigenous comes from something else than belonging to a family what is it? Let me put a bit more bluntly. If having an indigenous status comes from something other than familial haplogroups what is it then?

Is the indigenous status conferred by the foods we eat? Would the remnants of a cultural identity be the basis for being indigenous? Would it be the preservation of a language? Would you consider it to be the clothing someone wears? If as you say “indigenous status” comes from something “significantly more than racist blood quantum associations what is it? Do I deny my grandmothers Purepecha’s blood running through my veins? Do I deny my genetic makeup which projects externally vestiges of my native self?

The perspective of the author of this piece is from that of someone from 3,120 miles South of the U.S. Your perspective based on the statement “blood quantum” is that of a hopefully First Nations individual which as I have learned sadly was used to dispossess the disposed from their lands (where quantums were the “legal” basis - 1/8 this and that not to lose land grants in Oklahoma etc). To be clear, I offer yet another perspective, one from the middle lands who is neither from here nor there. I do concur with you that the very modern invention of Nican Tlaca has no place at the table for issues which are far more complex for First Nations Peoples.

I do see the threat perceived to the dilution of as you say “Native Issues”. I do not think that was the intent of the author but rather to draw parallels between what has gone on in the South (Ecuador) and perhaps witnessed in the North (US). What is absolutely true is that the term and concept of “race” is truly a Eurocentric construct, which does cause separation and divisions even amongst those of us who should consider ourselves as brothers, or cousins at the very least. Let unite on what we do have in common.

cassiereds
cassiereds

Did you like even read any of this conversation or are you just trying to victimize yourself? I fucking tired of having to respond to mestizo's like you who are willingly ignorant about Natives

claykid
claykid

I already answered questions about my identity in this thread. I am registered Hopi. And the fact you mention that you wish you knew from which Natives you are descended is proof of how Natives and Latinos are different. What indigenous practices, traditions, and customs do you adhere to, if you’re so-called indigenous? Natives don’t consider your heritage as enough to justify your Native identity, so don’t come at me with your blood quantum shit. We’ve already discussed it in length here.

claykid
claykid

You don’t get it at all, do you? When we, as Natives, say that Latinxs do not qualify as Natives, we are discussing the very undeniable fact that Latinxs do NOT practice culture, traditions, and customs that Natives do. We are referencing the ongoing oppression that Latinxs have over Natives across both North and South America. We are talking about things like the Apache wars vs mestizxs, the Guatamalan Genocide at the hands of mestizxs, the settler colonialism of Chicanxs in the United States.

Latinxs, Chicanxs, Mestizxs, whatever you want to call yourselves, do not hold identical status or positionality with Natives, and that is a statistical, quantifiable, and verifiable fact. You don’t understand our oppression so you don’t get to comment on it when we call you out for it. The fact you’re in denial about Latinxs as oppressors shows how you’re more interested in distancing yourself from responsibility than actually being down with Native sovereignty. Nobody here is saying that Latinxs, Mestizxs, and Chicanxs can’t identify with having Native ancestry, but it is a big stretch for them to claim they are Native because of it, considering actual Natives don’t.

cassiereds
cassiereds

You’re so naïve as to Native culture, it’s embarrassing. There are two Natives in these comments defending @demzeo, a Latinx who actually understands our struggles and helps us by holding other Latinxs accountable. @demzeo is an immigrant from a border region, he understands displacement and the Borderlands better than anybody here, and yet you want to attack him for reproducing the comments that @claykid and I are making? You want to attack him instead of ask ACTUAL Natives what we think about your colonizing comments? We haven’t said you cannot call yourself descendant from Natives, we are just saying that the racist mindset of people like you and white nationalism throughout the entire hemisphere only serves to dilute our Native issues. So if you have a problem with Natives telling you that, “Yes! When Latinxs call themselves Natives, it is very detrimental to our Native causes!” maybe you should @ a Native instead of a Latinx ally…

You’re too focused on proving your belonging to us than actually attempting to understand where Natives are coming from and how our continued experiences with Latinxs has made our communities very different recipients of structural violence and systemic oppression. Tell me, how is that supposed to help Natives in our fight for sovereignty? How does that help our ability to improve our agency or our tribes or out poor? It doesn’t. It does nothing for us, except broaden the scope of who is Native to degrees that Natives do not recognize and only serves as infiltration of our activism, activism that we are murdered for every single day.

I’m tired of having to explain this over and over and over. Many Latinxs have Native ancestry, sure, let’s all agree on that. But let’s also remember that many Latinxs are white, or are Asian, or are Middle Eastern and don’t have Native ancestry. And let’s remember, most of all, that Natives DO NOT recognize ancestry as enough for Native status. Period.

AncientOwlKing
AncientOwlKing

I understand your concern in terms of some Latinos or Latin Americans considering themselves native just because of their ancestry, yes Native Americans from the continental United States have beliefs and customs which they practice and some of these natives from the U.S aren’t even fully native or only have 30% or less native blood in them, they can claim native status and join a tribe and practice customs etc. but you are missing the eyes of another, step into the shoes of a mestizo or Native American from Latin America for a second here, the spanish came, burned all your texts, raped your women, appropriated your culture and “blended it” with European culture, which is just a nice way of saying they diluted and utterly raped the essence of these people lives so they would be easily controlled and used and then they left you with no recollection of who you were and what you are... this is THE reality of natives from south of the border, many of our people were killed or raped (which is why the majority group of most Latin American countries is the mestizo). For this reason many Latinos of native ancestry don’t practice customs or rites because they have NONE and you still do, you still have that gift which YOU can share with your native brothers and sisters south of the border but instead you allow division and discourse to intrude, a commenter said we do this to claim victim-hood well so do you by victimizing yourselves from victims in a show of who IS MORE of a victim! The reality is you are just as native as the person from Guatemala and Mexico and DNA can prove that, the only difference is you still have your rites of passage, your culture is in tact for the most part but slowly dying for some since they allow anyone to join their tribes, I've seen tribes that have little blonde blue eyed kids running around with pig tails and moccasins and you’re telling me DNA doesn’t matter? Ancestry doesn’t matter? It DOES matter, but so does the culture and traditions, in order to restore the true Native American you need both of these things, you have tradition and we have blood, I personally didn’t even know I had native ancestry until I took an DNA test and found out that I have 75% Native American blood, and you know the map on the test highlights all of the American you know why? Because our BLOOD is your BLOOD, the only difference and I’ll repeat this is that we don’t know our culture because it was ripped from us, so yes we are ignorant of this struggle but we are also WILLING to see it through because a victory of the Lakota is a victory of the maya and a victory of the Crow is a victory of the Omaha etc etc. teach us so that we may be stronger not shun us for something that was out of our control.

ElDeskalzo
ElDeskalzo

@claykid When I say what I say, I am not saying “Latinxs, Chicanxs, Mestizxs,” are putting themselves on par to “Natives”. What I speak to is the undeniable heritage we possess. In my statement, I do not advocate for “Latinxs, Chicanxs, Mestizxs,” to hold “identical status or positionality with Natives”. This is the reason I use quotation marks, to extract the statements put forth and address these ideas individually, precisely to avoid confusion.

Also, to clarify, I do not think that in my statement I ever mentioned sovereignty nor did I address that issue. What you seem to miss is the point that we do have a shared heritage and as someone else posted, a shared DNA. I did not nor do I condone oppression.

As to culture, traditions and customs, these are evidently not the same in “Natives” as in “Latinxs, Chicanxs, Mestizxs”. The do not have Pow Wow’s down in Guatemala, yet they are “Native”. Did you know that they still burn copal in Chichicastenango? I know, I saw it and smelled it. I know it exists.

Culture, traditions and customs change yet remnants survive. I would like to share some insight on “Latinxs, Chicanxs, Mestizxs,” as to the “Native” aspect. “Latinxs, Chicanxs, Mestizxs” are not “Native” in the North American sense as you know it to be. In this sense, neither are my brothers in Guatemala, “Natives” who As a matter of fact, I can attest 100% and with whom I have shared meals with and in whose houses I have stayed in in the Mayan highlands, who dress traditionally, speak Tzutuil and are also Tzutuil.

Whether it is in South America (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia etc), Central America (Guatemala), Meso America (Mexico), North America (USA), Hawaii (USA) we still do have “Natives”. What I am looking at is broader context, much like the author of this article. What you seem to fail to see is that whether South, Meso, North or Pacific Islands the commonality is First Nations status, Indigenous to the lands, Native, endemic whatever word you can conjure up to convey the idea.

Again, I advocate to this commonality, in math the common denominator to unite and not divide. We have had enough of the us vs. them mindset which has weaken positions. I do not ascribe to the victim mentality either.

Last night I made Pozole. Basically a soup of what is made from what is known as hominy, a type of large corn. My ancestors would make the same dish using as meat the flesh of their conquered enemies in battles. I made mine of chicken because the adapted version uses pork which I do not like. I still used the same spices, chile guajillo for kick, chile nuevo mexico, chile california to round out the flavors and add color to what otherwise would be a pale looking chicken soup. I seasoned it with garlic, an import from Egypt which made its way to this continent. I accompanied that with tostadas, a corn meal based flat bread looking thing which is toasted to a crisp as opposed to the soft version of the same ingredients, corn and water with lime to soften the corn during cooking. I garnished it with finely shredded raw cabbage and sliced radishes. My recipe might differ a bit from that of my ancestors but the meal was deliciously healthy. There are still vestiges from ancestral culture, traditions and customs, give or take a few things.

ElDeskalzo
ElDeskalzo

@cassiereds I would love to know what it is that I said, that you construed or took as "colonizing comments". Maybe I can clarify, amplify, rectify..... in good faith I say this.

ElDeskalzo
ElDeskalzo

@cassiereds I am going to interject in the interjection just to add this. Not all Latinxs are interested in their roots.

Also, for clarity, when used the word Latino, which is a uniquely US invented term, is not usually the word a person uses to identify oneself.

In conversation it will usually be the country or nation of origin ie. Chile, Peru or the nickname of the people in the country: "Tico" for Costa Ricans, "Chapin" for Guatemala, Mexicans have no nicknames so they will self identify as Mexican. Latinxs come in various flavors. :-)

Erik_Damien
Erik_Damien

Keyboard commandos infighting about identity politics. Since these are our opinions and not facts, I'd like to offer my two-cents, or wooden nickel. I draw the hardline with: You're either in the struggle helping where you can, or you're assisting in settler colonialism.

This blood quantum business, and victimization speak does not help get indigenous communities access to needed resources, nor will it aid in maintaining sovereignty. No debate online ever brought back a relative from murder, suicide, disease, or displacement.

From colonized paper-ndns disenrolling their own relatives for financial greed, to generational identity loss. The war against genocide is fought on many fronts, including lateral-oppression.

With some of these impassioned words, I hope some of you actually get out in the dirt and contribute to the fight, instead of peddling this elitist approach to indigenous identity, online.

Reading Vine Deloria, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ,etc. is great for when you're debating identity politics on social media. But are you keeping ceremony alive? Are you committed to building alliances; while decolonizing our indigenous relatives beyond all the borders? Helping elders?

I read "culture", but I have not read anything about relationship to the land. Hmmm...

It's funny/sad in a way... to read this thread.

From the places where I have taken a stand, action matters more than philosophy. Allies can have fundamental disagreements, because in the end, the dominant culture is still encroaching on resources while armchair activists fight online.

In a small way, it pains me to see that this is where the majority of strong indigenous thinkers spend their time. Debating online.

If you fight by using knowledge, that's great. But educate, don't pontificate! (oooh that rhymed)

Here I am, another Ndn with an opinion. LOL

Let's make commitments, not comments.

Naitgùnlì hnzhù-gu.

Shì-ma Ndé, Shì-ma Raramùrì

PixelPixie
PixelPixie

Yeah there is a strain of angry Natives that are literally kicking their relatives (All My Relations) and people who are trying to help in the face, with this over analytical supposition about who and what people are, in the end everyone bleeds Red. You say Natives don't consider race, that's not true, ask the Lumbee Nation. Also I live in the South, so there are MANY racist Natives because they have white skin (assimilated). It is a big problem in the South. Also, There is a difference between Tribal People, Indigenous People, Mixed Indigenous People, and if Latianx people have heritage that they want to explore they get lambasted by Natives constantly crying "Pure Blood Only" which there are many Tribal Women that are sick of it. There are Natives like you who cry and then there are others who say "Welcome Home". You are perpetuating Settler Colonialism by telling people what they are and are not. Also YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR ALL NATIVE PEOPLES. Just as others cannot speak for you. I have not read every wordy post here, however I've read enough to know that you need more Ceremony.