Native > Indigenous > Indian

Native > Indigenous > Indian

My newsletter is called I know a Native. It’s not, I know an Indian. Or I know an Indigenous Aboriginal. It’s Native.

Growing up in Northern California surrounded by reservations, I would hear many different names for our people. Native, Indian, Jine, etc. I had never heard the term indigenous until I went to college. To be honest, I always thought indigenous was a term for people outside of America. These days you’ll hear a lot of our people refer to themselves as indigenous, which is fine, it’s just not for me.

I choose the word Native as my preferential term over the rest. But why? Let me explain.

In this country, anytime there is an alternative name or description given to a White person, it’s simply, American. Not European American, or British American. Simply, American.

So why is it when everyone addresses a Black person by an alternative name, those individuals are called African-American? Why is there a need to add African? Or Mexicans, they are constantly identified as Mexican-American. Why the additional specificity? Why not simply American?

Is it a way to keep their origin and history alive? Is it a way to segregate and devalue them as a race?

Also, whose choice is it?

I mention this because you can interpret the reason for the extra identifier of _____-American in anyway that you wish. It can be accidental or purposefully. It can be a positive or a negative. However, when it comes to the term Native American, there is only one interpretation, that we are the original people from here. I prefer the term Native American because it can never be taken as negative.

Why not American Indian?

The use of American Indian can be taken as negative due to the main fact that we are not Indian at all. We never were. Even if you’re one of those land bridge conspiracy theorists, us migrating from India makes absolutely no sense.

Why not Indigenous?

Like I had previously mentioned, I didn’t hear the term until I was in college. I find it hard to identify as a word that I didn’t discover until that late in life.

As a side note and trigger warning, this may offend some of you. I think it’s anti-American, which I am not. I know this country in its founding and formation did a lot of bad things to our people. We have a lot of issues to discuss, figure out and heal from. However, I don’t hate America. I think it’s the best country in the world. It could be even better if we added some real Native elements to it.

We can’t do that if all we do is continue to drown our souls in historical trauma and segregate our people from society.

So in closing I’ll leave you with this.

If we focus only on past causes and try to explain things solely through cause and effect, we end up with determinism. What this says is that our present and our future have already been decided by past events and can’t be altered.

I don’t believe this to be true. I think we can change our future for the better.

If you don’t know, now you know, a Native.

Land Back

The Upper Sioux Community will be receiving a little over 2 square miles of State park land back from the state of Minnesota.

The park rests upon the gravesites of many Natives in the Tribe. Members have had to pay a state park entry fee to visit the grave sites of their own people. Now they can finally be at peace and back with their tribe.

This will be the first time Minnesota transfers a state park to a Native community

Ann Pierce-Director of Minnesota State Parks

A national park has never been transferred from the US government to a Tribal nation. Grand Portage national monument in northern Minnesota, Canyon de Chelly national monument in Arizona and Glacier Bay national park in Alaska, are co-managed according to Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles of the National Park Service.

This will be the first time Minnesota transfers a state park to a Native community, said Ann Pierce, director of Minnesota state parks and trails at the natural resources department.

As good as the news is, some Tribal elders may not get to see the completion of the transfer, as it will not be completed until 2033.

MarJon Beauchamp - Luiseño

MarJon is a member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians. He was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1st round of 2022 NBA draft. He’s currently 1 of 2 players in the NBA of Native descent.

Growing up, Marjon and his father Jon moved around alot and at times were even homeless. According to him, seeing his dad do everything he could to put MarJon in a position to reach his dreams is something he’ll never forget. To come from nothing and create a path to everything you’ve dreamed of is on another level of inspiration.

Once we are there, we must continue the success of our people by inspiring the next generation, and that’s exactly what he is doing.

He continues to take time out of his busy schedule as an NBA player to meet with various Native youth groups. His message to young Natives is quite clear. He has been quoted in saying, “I'm happy to be here. I appreciate you. You have a new friend in me. I'm always here—I'm willing to connect.”

This is extremely pleasing and comforting to hear. Good luck to Marjon in the upcoming season.

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