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While tribal citizenry and membership are important they still aren't enough to make one Indigenous. 

By Jen Deerinwater When I first heard that Senator Elizabeth Warren was Tsalagi (Cherokee) I was beyond excited. What a blessing it was to finally have a Native senator and one from my tribal nation at that. However, after looking further into her claims I realized that she simply wasn't Tsalagi. She was merely another pretendian trying to spice up her white bread life through false claims to an experience she's never had. Sen. Warren's claims to the Cherokee and Delaware nations first came to light during her 2012 race for Senate seat in Massachusetts. It brewed a storm of controversy and anti-Native hate speech from then Sen. Scott Brown that still has not ceased. Since running for office, President Trump and his followers have repeatedly used racial slurs such as “squaw” and “Pocahontas” to disparage Warren for her lies. While Trump's comments are a slap in the face to all Indigenous women, so are Warren's false claims of Indigeniety. In 2010, Native People represented approximately 1.7% of the U.S. population. There are many non-Natives, particularly those of Oklahoma, who have been told stories of great-great-great-grandmas who were “Cherokee princesses.” My mom, who is white, has told me that we might have Native ancestry in her family, but thankfully she knows not to claim a nation and community that is not her own. My Tsalagi roots are through my father and I would never claim Indigeniety via my mom based off little more than family tales. David Cornsilk (United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Cherokee Nation) is a Cherokee genealogist and historian who has reviewed the research by Twila Barnes on Warren's family tree. According to Cornsilk, Warren is neither Cherokee nor Delaware. Between 1817 and 1909 there were 30 rolls taken of the Cherokee people by the federal, states, local, and tribal governments. “Cherokees are among the best documented people in the world, right up there with European royalty and Mormons.” If a genuinely Tsalagi person doesn't have ancestors on the Dawes Roll their direct and collateral ancestors will still be in one and often more of the rolls.
Related: MEET THE NATIVE WOMEN AT THE HEART OF THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE PROTESTS

The story of Sarah Winchester and her unfinished mansion is one that would not exist without the violence of white colonialism.

In San Jose, there stands an extravagant mansion with hundreds of rooms that is still, technically, unfinished. It has secret rooms, hidden passageways, trap doors, windows in the floors, and staircases that lead to nowhere. The construction of this surreal, monstrous structure was commissioned by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Following the unexpected deaths of both her infant daughter and husband, Sarah visited a spiritual medium who gave her a grim answer to her existential questions. Sarah would forever be haunted by the vengeful spirits of those who had fallen victim to the Winchester repeating rifle, more popularly known as “The Gun That Won The West.” Slaughtered by the weapon that created the Winchester fortune and helped to ensure Manifest Destiny, the restless spirits seemed to be attacking the Winchester family in retaliation for the destruction that the rifle had caused during the American-Indian Wars. The spiritual medium convinced Sarah that this haunting was responsible for the deaths of her family, and that it would forever be attached to her. In an effort to deter the angry ghosts, she began to build the San Jose home in 1884 and the building continued until her death in 1922. It was believed that the maze-like layout and sheer size of the mansion would confuse the spirits and therefore protect her from their wrath. The story of Sarah Winchester and her unfinished mansion is one that would not exist without the violence of white colonialism, but I do not expect that to be contemplated much in the newest sensationalized version of her story, a biopic and horror drama starring Helen Mirren. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built” is set for release Feb. 2. With this feature, Hollywood continues the tradition of sensationalizing and distorting the reality of Native American suffering in order to tell horror stories that center white characters. The same is true of narratives with Black ghosts that use racialized U.S. chattel slavery and antebellum violences. Rarely are the lives or deaths of Black and Native people explored in horror films unless they are done so in this way. These racialized violences are used as nothing more than plot devices, rather than as a means to interrogate and condemn the white supremacy and colonialism that necessitates them.
Related: NON-NATIVES ARE USING THIS TRIBAL LAW LOOPHOLE TO RAPE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

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