We have a funny situation in our household. Whenever we are out and about, the dark haired "Wolf" male is thought to be the "Indian" , whereas it is the light haired female who really is. Yet, those who are Native come in all shades, sizes, body types and facial features. Some even are light haired.
A trip to my tribe's annual pow wows would have most people puzzled. They aren't the Indians of the old westerns. There are light and dark, some sure look to be African American, some look to be Latino, some look to be Irish! They all are. Being on the eastern seaboard, the tribes first had to endure the English, Dutch, French, and then more and more nationalities came. Germans came to fought and stayed. Irish and Scottish came to fight with the Brits in the French and Indian War and stayed. Some were not so friendly and raped and stole Native women. Some asked to stay in the tribe and did. Many on the rolls of eastern tribes have Irish, Scottish, French and German last names.
There are people of African American decent in my tribes. There are also all of the above listed nationalities along with Portuguese and English descendants.
Yet the same thing is said over and over by many people in many places of Native decent. It is what is in your heart. Now, this doesn't mean, "I love the Native American culture, and want to join in.". It really means, "I respect and want to follow the Native culture and honor it.". There is a big difference. The easiest way to see the difference is in respect and knowledge.
I have seen people claim the Native way and do all kinds of things Native (like go to a sweat lodge or pow wow). Yet their knowledge is about 10% and their respect is not there, because their knowledge is not there. You cannot fully respect a belief you don't understand. You can't respect a ritual that you do not know the process of, the reason for, or the feeling behind it. You can respect another person's need to follow that ritual, but you cannot respect something you know nothing about.
When you see a blonde or red head dancing or drumming, never doubt their authenticity. They may not be pure blood, but there are an awful lot of pure bloods out there who are not interested in the traditional ways. There are a lot of non Natives who respect, honor and live the traditional Native ways. It is not in your hair or skin, but in your heart.
There are many who "love" the NA ways and emulate them to some degree or another. That is good. However, if you are going to do this, learn the ways , the protocol, the meaning behind things. Just loving the NA culture is not enough.
Matt has taken the time, and the effort to learn the right ways of doing things, and has demonstrated by his words and actions that he knows much and is willing to learn more. he is fully accepted. I have Native blood, but I still have to do the same things, know the reason behind things, know the protocol, know the ways, the stories, the history, the feeling, the songs, the words. There is much to learn.
But it all starts with what is in your heart, and no matter where your ancestors were from, if you truly honor the NA ways, you will take the time and effort to learn the right way, the traditional ways, the history of the people. Otherwise, you are just faking it.....
Be honest with yourself first, it is the hardest part, as once you are honest with yourself, you can be honest with others.
Know what is in your heart, and when it is truly there , nothing will stop you from achieving that desire.
Do the right things for the right reasons.
...and one more thing, don't judge a book by its' cover...even if it is a red haired one.
(C)2011 Dr. R M Reiter Wolf. May not be used, copied or reproduced without prior written permission.