White people are out of control. Everyone wants to be a victim. Of course, whites love to patronize minorities and label them victims, who of course need white people to rescue them. Then, white people try and create their own victim groups, so others can feel the need to pat them on the head and tell them they're special. Also, white people love "ethnic" things, as if German or French is not ethnic but Vietnamese is. Every rich liberal has said "I love ethnic food," which of course makes no sense at all. Nutty, nutty white people.
DER SPIEGEL 3/2006 - January 16, 2006 URL: http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,395703,00.html
Going Native in America
The Benefits of Becoming Indian
By Jörg Blech
In the United States a growing number of white people are discovering their Native American roots. Some are doing so for financial gain, but most are just looking for the meaning of life.
A few weeks, Betty Baker was still just a white housewife. But now the woman, with her piercing blue eyes, goes by the name "Little Dove" --and has jettisoned her apron for an elaborate deerskin dress. "I am an Indian and I've sensed this my whole life," says the 48-year-old Baker, who lives in a wooden house on the edge of the small town of Pinson, Alabama.Five years ago, after her parents told her that her family probably had some Native American ancestry, she assembled documents and birth certificates and last September was accepted into the Cherokee Tribe of northeast Alabama. The cultural neophyte is now zealously learning the rituals and dances of her newly discovered ancestors. But she certainly isn't alone. Little Dove is just one of thousands of people in the United States who are becoming Indians. The government's official grouping of "Native Americans" is an extremely fast growing minority: between 1960 and 2000 it grew by 640 percent. More than 4 million Americans now describe themselves as Native American, which cannot be explained by the birth rate alone. Much of the growth is due to people like Betty Baker changing their ethnicity.Most of these new Indians have pale skin, some are even blond, and almost all were considered white before. Others point to high cheek bones, brown eyes and straight, glossy hair in their families as unmistakable signs of Indian ancestry.
The self-described 'half bloods' may still live in their old homes, but their free time is now taken up by organizing powwows and walking around in costumes like those straight out of old Western movies.
But the benefits of racial identity aren't the only ones Indian converts are after. The Indian identity has attracted some poor Americans for the access to university scholarships or free health insurance that comes with it. Potential income from casinos. Indian tribes are allowed to have gambling on their reservations, as long as the tribe is recognized by the US government. A loophole that was originally intended to help many Native Americans out of poverty and deprivation has developed into a huge business. The gambling income nationwide amounts to over $18 billion annually and much of it is distributed among the members of the tribes. One of the biggest casinos in the world -- with 40,000 visitors a day -- is run by the Mashantucket Pequot near Norwich, Connecticut. Since gambling was established in 1986 the number of Indians living there has increased tenfold -- and each week there are new applications.
According to Joyce Walker, the administrator of applications, "People say: I've just found out that I'm an Indian, and want to know how I can get my cash." Meanwhile the Mashantucket Pequot have made their entry requirements tougher and demand proof of blood ties. They and other tribes recognized by the state insist that they alone can decide who they accept and who they don't. Even those who turn up with DNA proof can be rejected. This doesn't seem to be putting off these "wannabe" Indians. If they are not accepted by the established tribes many simply found their own. While there are only three recognized Cherokee nations (two in Oklahoma and one in North Carolina), for example, there are now more than 240 tribes from Alaska to Mexico that have been attempting to gain government recognition for years. So far without success.
A sense of belonging
Circe Sturm of the University of Oklahoma believes these second-class Indians are often simply enjoying themselves. The anthropologist has interviewed more than 70 people who changed ethnic groups about their motivation. She doesn't believe that most of them are just after the money. Many are frustrated and are looking for some kind of meaning in their lives. "If being white is just an empty plate," she says, "then being Indian is a gourmet buffet."
Many of the converts connect the indigenous existence with ideals such as equality between the sexes, more democracy and a romantic affinity with nature. The anthropologist found that two things were particularly attractive to the pale-faced Indians: the spiritual rituals and the idea of belonging to a group. An increasing number of Americans want to experience those pleasant feelings -- and that is causing some unrest amongst Indians. In order to escape an invasion of outsiders, even many of the newer tribes are trying to seal themselves off from further claimants. Little Dove's husband Steve Baker is a mechanic and also feels like an Indian. He wears moccasins and a loin cloth, goes to the folklore meetings and wants to be accepted into his wife's tribe as "Running Bear."
However, this isn't likely to happen anytime soon. The once so modest hobby tribe in northeast Alabama has swelled to 4,000 Cherokees and is now re-examining its integration policies. Until further notice, no new Indians will be accepted.