Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where Creator Places You

One of the things that fascinates me beyond my understanding is how Creator draws people to certain parts of their heritage more than others.

I'm half-Mexican, but the pull towards Cherokee heritage is much stronger for me. Other friends of mixed heritage experience similar draws towards one particular part, towards one tribe instead of another. In one friend's case, she is Chiricahua Apache, but her family became the nearby Delaware people who adopted her, and it is among them and their culture that is Creator has filled her and her son.

Another friend, Charles Raianerastha Black, also has an interesting story. He comes from a mix of Cherokee, Lebanese, Caucasian and possibly Mohawk heritage. He was adopted by a couple with Mohawk and Cherokee heritage, but who totally suppressed and didn't identify with it because of the difficult times and situation they lived in. When Charles' Native heritage was awoken by Creator, he was drawn to Mohawk heritage.

I was curious about this, and I asked him about why he wasn't drawn to Cherokee heritage instead.

He told me,
Really, I think Mohawk resonates because that is what Creator wants me to be, as simple as that.

In fact it was Richard [Twiss] who suggested that since I was adopted by a Mohawk mother, and both the Mohawk and Cherokee are matriarchal, I should pray and explore my mother's side. I initially explored both, but various circumstances as well as the feeling in my spirit led to the Mohawk side.
I had a thought and commented that Creator sets people in certain places. Originally the Cherokee were not from the Smoky Mountains, but that is where He led them and planted them. That is where they were set, where they were called. In a similar way, I said, it's not always about where you're "from" genetically, but about where you are *called* and "set" by Creator.

Charles replied,
Exactly. That is why the wisest don't consider blood quantum or a name on a list as an indicator of whether someone is Native, but rather has that person found the place he or she is meant to be. That is demonstrated by words and acts that come from the heart, supporting the community of relations, embracing traditions, learning the language, and being willing to share in any hardships.
I mused that somehow I think the concept of "tribe" comes into this... that He has made us to be in communities, in tribes, and that we belong to a tribe somehow. It's not always about how much "percentage" one has that determines tribe, but where He has made your heart to belong.

Charles said,
You are touching on a difference in the concept of individuality between Native world view and Euro-American world view. For Natives, individuality is expressed within a contribution to the community. It's why our names often reflect something we have done that has had an impact on the community or on how people perceive us.

In Euro-American world view, individuality is defined in terms of how a person has separated himself from community by attempting to distance himself from convention.

The Native view of individuality is to celebrate the persons contribution to the community, just as each piece in a jigsaw puzzle is unique.

The Euro-American view of individuality is the opposite, an expression of self-indulgence designed to minimize the impact others in the community have upon the life of the individual.

The Native view of tribe is one of inclusiveness and community, whereas Euro-American view tends toward exclusiveness and rejection of those outside the tribe.

The difference in world view is one reason why Natives can be so accepting of those who have different beliefs or lifestyles, while Euro-Americans tend toward fear and prejudice. Hence the misguided idea that the way to avoid prejudice is to say that "we are all just the same", which is actually quite dehumanizing. Native way to avoid prejudice is to say "We have our way, you have yours, because that is Creator's plan. NOW LET'S POWWOW!"

Then colonists impose their own world view on how they view Native people and assume that because we take pride in our heritage and our Nations, it means we are prejudiced against anyone outside of our tribes. They view tribal preference as a choice by the individual based on personal preference, implying that anything not chosen is inferior. Natives view tribal preference as an act of Creator within our lives to place us in balance in the place He wants us to be.

A Native must dwell where he is placed by Creator, otherwise he is not complete. A person meant to be Cherokee will never be whole if he tries to be anything else. That also applies to being non-Native. Someone meant to be Irish or White American or French or Indonesian is going to be unbalanced if he or she tries to be Native American, not matter how much passion is involved.
As I was typing with Charles, I reread his "Native On, Native Off" blog post. He mentioned how when a Native ministry came to his church, many people became excited about their heritage for awhile, but then eventually put away all their "Indian stuff."

As I reread that, realized that I *can't* go back. Consciously I think, hey, I look white and can navigate the white world and "be American"... and maybe I had some pride in that kind of I-can-be-whatever-I-want feeling. But then deep inside in my spirit, I realized I can't go back to that. I can't be anything else. Not anymore.

It was the first time for me realizing that.

My mind still wanted to think I could go and be something else or what I once thought I was... but something deeper is saying, "No, you can't" (and is maybe quietly laughing at me, haha).

I must explore this more...

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