Coming Home as Native People

Because of genocide, many of our people survived by marrying into other constituencies, assimilating into other cultures, and taking on the patterns of other groups. Everything our ancestors did that helped get us here to this day, alive, were successful decisions to deal with policies of genocide.

All Native people today have work to do in terms of reclaiming those things that genocide took away from our families and our people, whether from assimilation into other cultures or from the distresses that came into our communities through missionaries, boarding schools, foster care, or other outside forces.

For those of us who are Native and were raised in mixed-heritage homes or non-Native cultures and communities, these are steps in the process of getting all of ourselves back fully, and coming home as Native people. Some may be useful to those raised Native as well.

1. Spend at least a year being completely pleased with, and totally proud of, whatever culture or cultures you were raised in—white, Latino, Chicano/a, black, Spanish, Asian, and so on. Discharge on all the things that are good and wonderful about growing up in that culture and community. Look at the patterns and struggles of growing up in that community, culture, and identity. Discharge any parts that are, for you or your family, based in distress. Hold on to the good things you got and be proud of everything human.

2. Talk to your family and find out everything you can about your tribal heritage. Do not give up. Ask what tribe you belong to. If your family stopped being tribal, ask why. Get support to get information that terror and genocide have kept hidden. Keep asking.

3. When you are confident you know which tribe is yours, go back to the land of your original Indigenous people or peoples if you don’t live there currently. See what the land looks like, smells like. Spend some time there. If your people are still there, spend time with your people. If not, find out where your people are today.

4. Go to events in the Indian community where you currently live. Go first in the identity that is real for you now—Chicano/a or white or African heritage . . . . See, connect, and be present. Then discharge on whatever comes up, how it feels sitting in different identities as you go to pow-wows, events, movies, gathering places. This will change over time, and the discharge will change with it. The process will evolve as you discharge on what comes up connecting with Indigenous people where you live now, your own people, or other tribes.

5. Discharge, discharge, discharge.

Marcie Rendon
White Earth Anishinaabe
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA


Last modified: 2023-08-10 18:39:40+00