The other day I chatted with a good friend in a private Facebook group who has, like myself, been on a journey of discovering and reconnecting with Native heritage.
My friend confessed,
I think I am dealing with some fear issues in regards to Native heritage because of so many missing pieces, and I almost let myself get really discouraged in the process. The group has kind of been a lifeline for me even though I've been really quiet for awhile. Just wanted to say thank you.I told my friend that it's a significant and special thing to care about that, as opposed to not caring and just self-identifying. It shows a caring about Natives, not wanting to BS, not wanting to assume or appropriate culture/identity.
I wrote out a lot of my fear & missing pieces thoughts on older blog posts here. I was so absorbed in my own fears and feelings about my "missing pieces" then I didn't stop to think much of how others must feel the same—especially those who have been adopted or have parents or grandparents who were adopted.
There are many of us who may have great "probabilities" but can't always "prove" them because of "missing pieces"—question marks, missing records, links to records or pieces of information
Where did this ancestor come from? What was their ethnicity? Who were they? Oral histories in the family may tell of Native heritage, but we want to be sure so we examine those as carefully as we can to weed out what's rumor versus what's probably true, etc.
And all the while as we search for "evidence" we may have this huge, overpowering witness screaming in our spirits and hearts.
How does it feel? It was almost as if I felt like everyone else was legit and I was fake, even though legit Native friends affirmed and accepted me, and even though the Spirit and my spirit kept witnessing over and over.
Along the way as l wrote on this blog, I also realize that a lot of the feelings of the pain of the separation from my tribe, the ache for reunion, and the missing pieces in the ancestry search— I realized that the feelings paralleled what Native adoptees feel, but of course in far more acute measure for them.
The comparison was valid, but it would also focus me on their greater and more immediate pain, and I might be tempted to feel ashamed as if I might be exaggerating my own pain. That feeling is not wholly out of place, since their immediate adoption trauma is far more acute and deserved reverence. In this, however, I was relieved and honored when chatting with a couple adoptees who understood and affirmed what I was feeling. Here again the Native understanding of ancestral/blood memory helps— they know that generational trauma passes down the bloodlines, and that our ancestors are a very real part of us.
If I hadn't been brought by the Spirit so deep inside my heart to its roots, I certainly would have never felt the sadness and grief of not knowing with certainly about the missing pieces. But I began to realize that it was passed down in the family through the generations, and it needed to come out. This helped me finally break through to understanding that some of my ancestors *hid* their heritage. And when I realized that it was like generations of pent-up tears came rolling out. That was a huge turning point—knowing for the first time that my feelings of doubt came in large part because of the intentional effort to hide on the part of one or more of my ancestors.
I'm trying to remember or figure out all of the stepping stoned that helped ebb away the fear of then missing pieces. In addition to the what I've already written above, countless words the Creator spoke to me whittled away at the fears and feelings of illegitimacy. And paintings & prayers helped a lot, often coming just before or after the Spirit spoke a word of reassurance. The surprise desire to serve and to be a blessing to Native people was another huge turning point—it turned me away from my own fears and feelings.
(I want to say the poems helped me too, but really that picked up as the fears were nearly beaten to silence, and the poems more or less chronicle the earlier journey as I look back on it.)
I'm realizing now that I wasn't alone in those feelings, and I hope my writing about this will help others.
I want to tell people of Native descent with "missing pieces" that their feelings of fear are rooted largely in a desire to respect others and just be *real*, genuine, and not fake. Those feelings often come from a good heart and deserve to be honored. While it is possible to be too self-absorbed, I believe that this is just a stage people go though, which will eventually pass as they rest in the loving hands of Creator and in the affirmations of Native elders and fellow travelers on the journey.
If you can understand and feel what I've written about here—you're not alone! I'm praying for you! And many others are walking on the same path, and have walked it before. Our Creator will give us His peace as He leads us on. Rest in His love!
Here are links to writings on this blog about "missing pieces" or that mention doubts. And some affirmations to encourage you, too!—
• Welcome Home
• "I Never Knew"
• Following a Rumor in My Youth
• Crazy or Not!
• Not Knowing
• Memories of Home
• "I Want to Dance"
• "Is This Who I Am?"
• Walking the Road
• With My Son
• Community (parts 1, 2, & 3)
• A Path Prepared For Us
• "Resurrecting Roots" (by CMS)
• First Welcome
• "To Be Together"
• Hold On
• "Did It Happen to You, Too?"
• Don't Be Ashamed
• "Coming Out of Hiding"
• Two Years on the Journey
• "A Lost Child"
• "Walking Back"
• Welcoming Home Lost Children
• A Prayer For Those Beginning the Journey
• Aching For Family
• Help the Aching Ones (a word)