So, I’m Lakota Sioux. And for a while I wanted to learn really badly.
What I did was google “learn Lakota language.” And I got all sorts of useful results. There were pages with useful phrases/words. There were pages on how to address other people. There were even a few tapes and books on Amazon on how to speak Lakota.
There is also this school called St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. I donate to them once a month because they’re a poor school for Indian children. They have a website with a bunch of information. And I bet if you called them, they might even offer a class over the internet or something. It never hurts to ask. You could donate a couple bucks while you’re on there, too. They’ll send you cool stuff in the mail for every donation as incentive. Like return address stickers and tote bags and ornaments and stuff. They also include handwritten thank-you letters from kids at the school. It’s for a great cause.
#Lakota grandmothers are rejected as foster parents by#SouthDakota for being too old, rumors, having too small of a house, decades old crimes, too poor, the list goes on.
Then, the children go to non-Native, private, foster group homes and psychiatric institutions. The answer is tribal foster care programs, with unbiased foster standards.
Learn more about the solution: http://lakota.cc/IIaGPC
I think that you are showing signs of being unknowingly racist. It’s not your fault, don’t worry. We live in a racist world.
I once read a list of 21 common racist behaviors and number one is what I believe you are experiencing. It is the attitude that “I don’t associate this with a certain race or culture. I don’t see people as their race. I see us all as equals.” Which is essentially denying anyone who is non-white of their experiences as a minority. You are denying that having feathers in your hair is a culturally native american icon. You are denying the heritage of the moccasins on your feet. You are actually stripping native americans of their culture by claiming it as your own, quirky “style.”
The fact of the matter is, if our ancestry wasn’t dehumanized to the point of being a “style,” if our culture wasn’t stolen from us by the Europeans when they entered our country, white people wouldn’t have access to moccasins or regalia or anything that can be identified as culturally american indian. If our culture wasn’t so objectified, you wouldn’t even know what moccasins are.
My advice isn’t to stop dressing the way you do. It is to recognize the things you are dressing yourself with BELONG to a certain heritage, a certain group of people that you are not affiliated with. Recognize that this could be categorized as racist behavior and instead of arguing that you are not being offensive because the intent isn’t there, realize that you ARE being offensive, regardless of intent, and accept that. Sit down and say to yourself “My name is ____ and this is a racist behavior that I exhibit. I am not a bad person because of this, but I understand that some people may be offended by it. I respect them for their experiences and realize that I will never know what it’s like to be them.”
I think you need to read this article about yellowface and blackface.
It’s wrong to dehumanize or claim a culture that isn’t yours. As an American Indian, it’s really offensive when white people wear headdresses or put feathers in their hair. It’s even worse when white teenagers buy moccasins or fringe bags from places like American Eagle or Urban Outfitters. Because those places claim legitimacy and authenticity in their products, but are really cheaply made bag and moccasin look-a-likes. I mean, do you even know why indians put fringe on their shoes? If you want to respect the culture, go to a pow wow. Donate to indian schools. Don’t try to be like one of us because you aren’t. Embrace your own culture and let us embrace and celebrate ours. We’ve earned it.
And for the love of god, do not get a tribal tattoo.