"How large the families can get.
In Native American culture, your 'aunts' would be considered your mothers (same thing on the male side), and your 'cousins' would be your siblings.
Because of this, I have six grandmas. It's just an interesting fact that I don't think is very commonly known."
"Our identities are super diverse in terms of tribes, regions, assimilation, traditions, religion, education, socioeconomic statuses, language, and urban.
Because of this, you're going to get a lot of native people who prefer different things, so be aware of all the voices that speak out about the things that happen in Indian Country and on reservations.
Native identity is extremely complex that comes with different levels of security within cultural identity. Some people can grow up on a reserve but never be a part of their traditional cultural practices, but understand the culture from a collective lived experience.An urban Indian might go to the ceremony and know the language but not understand the way life is on the reservation and growing up around just natives and the protocols of everyday life living within a tribal community.
So many different variations are going to give you different ideas of what being Native means. Is it a lineage? Is it blood quantum? Is it acceptance from a tribal community? Is it more complex than that? Sovereignty, culture, language?
So sometimes when you ask questions as a non-native, realize that you are hearing from the perspective of one native person that has a unique lived experience of what it means to be an indigenous person and that sometimes might lend to the responses you may receive, pending the question (such as life on a reservation, mascots, blood quantum, tribal government, language, culture).
With that said, this does create a lot of tribal politics amongst our own people and it can get pretty vicious, especially when you include nepotism in a tribal community."
"I'm Native American. I'm in my mid-20s and I've been sober for my entire life. 70% of my family members are heavy drinkers or addicted to pills and other things. The pill problem on the reservation has gotten worse.
Five years ago I barely heard about it, now it's everywhere. Young people between the ages of 18-35 are the biggest users of it. Anyone older than that is pretty much sticking to drinking. So that generation will probably die before the grandparents. Girls have kids young, like 15-18 for their first kid, so there's lots of grandmas in their early 30's. There's usually a casino, gas station, or dollar store to work at if you're not educated enough to work at the tribal building, but the problem with that is Natives do not want to keep jobs. They want to drink every night, take pills, show up late, call in, and lose their jobs.
The casino here where I work sees workers come and go at a rapid pace."
"We don't all have reservations. My tribe (The HoChunk Tribe of WI), back when we were given the name 'The Winnebago Tribe' was forced from our lands and put in Nebraska. Some of my ancestors came back to Wisconsin and bought our ancestral lands back. The government recognized our lands and 20 years ago our name changed.
Same thing happened with the Cherokees being moved to Oklahoma then the Eastern band bought back a small piece of our homeland and boom, there's the little reserve
Cherokees do not/have never worn war bonnets/head dresses. They have three different tribes (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, United Keetoowah Band, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma). The language is alive and well, not as widely spoken as say Navajo but the newer generations are real interested.
They used blowguns to hunt small game.
Cherokees didn't have kings or queens, princes or princesses. If you've ever heard of any talk of a 'Cherokee princess'- they have never existed."
"That not all First Nations have their education paid for by the government. My mom worked three jobs to pay her way through a private university, and she worked hard to help me with mine.
Some people just think it's cool to undermine one's education by flippantly assuming the government pays for all First Nations. When I finished my flight training, I remember being so hurt by people, instead of quick congratulations, people were quick to judge me because they assumed the government footed the bill for the expensive training. Meanwhile, I was hustling my butt off, getting paid a crappy salary, and sending over half my paycheck to my mom to pay her back for her generous loan.
I don't care how you paid for your education but we all have different stories, so think first before putting everyone into one category and crapping on another's achievements and hard work"
"That a lot of the problems that are seen are a result of the residential schools.
I have five uncles and six aunties. My mom, who is in the middle, was one of the first to not be taken to a residential school. A few of my uncles, some of the strongest people I know, weep when they recount what their experience at that school was like.
My grandfather lied about his age to get into the army at 16 during World War II to get out of going to that school. He would rather go to the battlegrounds of Europe before going back to that place.
My grandmother on my other side of the family cannot speak her native language without feeling sick to her stomach because when ever she did at residential school, she had her mouth washed out with soap. I don't have many other stories as it was always a touchy subject to ask about."
"My great grandmother was Dorothy Sunrise Lorentino, the first Native American to attend a public school. At the time, all native kids attended schools run by the BIA. Her father sued the local school district for not letting her attend, and after they won, her case was presented as precedent in several similar cases in the following decades and in Brown v Board of Education, the SCOTUS decision that desegregated schools for black students. She was also the first Native American national teacher of the year, in 1996. We're Comanche, from Oklahoma, and our line descends directly from Quanah Parker, the tribe's last chief.
As for the Comanche tribe itself, one thing that comes up in most synopses is how vicious our warriors were. We had huge herds of horses, which were battle trained and well cared for, and essential to waging war with bands of Spanish and neighboring plains tribes. And we scalped people a lot, way more than we probably needed to. Also, historically Comanche and Kiowa tribes have always been very close, and anecdotally I have several cousins who are Kiowa, where historically most tribes wouldn't cross lines to marry. Comanche and Kiowa are close, but mutually dislike members of pretty much every other tribe on earth. There's a rumor about the intertribal racism, and I can vouch for that. It's real."
"I want people to know how bad residential schools where because some people are still super ignorant of the facts:
-Some residential schools had a five year mortality rate of 60%
-The mortality rates aren't even accurate because a lot of the time they would send the children home to die.
Abuse was rampant. Physically abused by the adults and forced to abuse each other.
-The government allowed the children to be experimented on.
-150,000 kids were taken and at least 6,000 died.
-The last one closed in 1996
-People didn't get to raise their kids, their kids had no idea how a family actually worked and had trouble raising their kids. They had no help dealing with their own pain and this is one of the reasons we have so much substance abuse and other issues.
And now for some random unrelated things I want people to know:
-We don't get all the free money you think we do.
-We have modern traditions. The same way French people don't all wear old clothes and ride horses now, we aren't stuck in the 1800's. We have modern foods, styles and the like while also maintaining our traditions."
"If you're 'lucky' enough to even have a casino in the area, so many of the reservations are in the middle of nowhere, where there is absolutely nothing to do so pill use has become really rampant and a sense of fatalism about us being a dying people has taken hold.
Tribes closer to big cities or economically developed areas seem to fare better but often times as they assimilate with the other races, the tribe loses its culture and identity but gains economic security. Hopefully something changes the fate of the reservations but it's probably best for a lot of the people to disperse and go to the cities and suburbs and make a life there if they can.
And before anyone assumes that this some sort of moral weakness from being Native, I think its more the situation for those on reservations. A bit of anecdotal evidence as my family who's off the reservation seem to be doing quite well, they may drink socially but none are excessive drinkers and as far as I know don't take any pills and hold steady jobs"
"Removing a tribe from its home is devastating to its identity. A tribe's history was generally passed down as spoken tradition, but if you're removed from that tradition's setting you're then placed into an area for which you have no names and the places from your history you can no longer see. The result is that you cannot connect or care about either. That's to say nothing of the fact that some tribes were moved so far away from their home that it put them in an entirely new ecosystem about which they knew nothing.
The boarding schools were created entirely to educate the culture out of our parents and grandparents. Their names were changed, their language forbidden, and their religion forcibly replaced with something completely alien. And you might wonder if that is really as bad as feeding them a bullet. I'd say it's worse. Killing them just ends with their death. Indoctrinating them against their own people and history damages them for the rest of their life, which they will pass down not only to their children but their nieces and nephews as well as their friends and neighbors.
If you've ever wondered why so many (or even most) natives have a chip on their shoulder, this should suffice to sum it up. Even if many of us don't grow up experiencing them directly ourselves, the scars are often there plain to see in our daily lives. It's not hard to look at the state of one's tribe and see what's missing, what's been taken, and what is still dying."
"My great grandfather was Cherokee. In his tribe, if somebody got burnt by something, he would say a chant, blow on the person's burn, whisper, and tap it with his fingers. This would make any pain go away.
My grandmother told me about it but I didn't believe her. So, like kids often do, I spilled some hot water on my hands when I was making instant noodles. Grandma came in, whispers at my fingers and blew on them, tapped them a few times, and the pain was gone.
I like science. I really do. I think it's a thing. I really don't understand how it works or what kind of weird wizardry was going on. I saw her do it again when my aunt got sunburn on her shoulders.
I asked her to teach me, but you can only teach it from man to woman down a generation. So my great-grandfather taught her, so she has to teach a male in the family."
"I'm part Odawa (more commonly known as Ottawan). When a couple came together in marriage, they must choose about four 'sponsors'.
Sponsors are older, respected people who give the couple spiritual and marital advice. During the actual wedding ceremony, the sponsors make a commitment to help the couple."
"I am an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
I participate heavily in the Indigenous community at my school. Being in South Western Ontario, Canada there are many different tribes and clans that exist here.
The acceptance is absolutely amazing. Having been through our own instances of discrimination and trauma, we are very accepting and open to listening about the many stories that people have to share.
I was not too aware of my culture before university; my dad is native, my mom is not, and I grew up with mom, but something I learned that gave me a huge perspective on religion and spirituality is that our creation stories are consistent with those of Christianity. Our creation story says that says the Earth was flooded as a restoration technique, and that is consistent with the early depictions of other religions as well.
Being Native, I feel a huge connectedness to people who share my culture, but I also feel a newfound appreciation for people who don't share the same views that I have, because, we really are all made from the same cloth."
"As a half-Navajo, a couple things worth noting:
1) You don't have to say please or thank you in Navajo, like ever: 'Please pass the salt' is not something that would likely happen (at least in old Navajo ways. I don't know if full assimilation into the dominant white/polite culture has changed this for some people, but it certainly didn't with my father). The only situations where that'd be acceptable is if you're pleading for your life or your life was just saved.
2) Also saying 'I love you' is pretty rare and, when said, extremely meaningful. In Navajo you literally mean what you say, unlike in English: 'Oh I LOVE this Diet Coke' or 'I LOVE the new iPhone' are, again, things you would not say in Navajo. My dad's rule on saying that was always 'If it can't love you back, you shouldn't love it.'
3) Owls are a bad omen. If you hear them say your name, you're done for. Have yet to ever hear of this happening, but you never know.
Points have been edited for clarity.