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Voices of American Indian women

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Title:
Voices of American Indian women constructing identity
Creator:
Van Buren, Rebecca
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English
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90 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Indian women -- Ethnic identity -- North America ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- Ethnic identity ( lcsh )
Indian women -- Ethnic identity ( fast )
Indians of North America -- Ethnic identity ( fast )
North America ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 86-90).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Rebecca Van Buren.

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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47832791 ( OCLC )
ocm47832791
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LD1190.L65 2001m .V36 ( lcc )

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Full Text
VOICES OF AMERICAN INDIAN WOMEN:
CONSTRUCTING IDENTITY
by
Rebecca Van Buren
B.A., George Washington University, 1972
M.F.A., University of Colorado, Boulder, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Sociology
2001


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Rebecca Van Buren
has been approved
by
j-IW/OI
Date
Jon Wintertoi


Van Buren, Rebecca (M.A., Sociology)
Voices of American Indian Women: Constructing Identity
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
ABSTRACT
This research study explores identity issues for a generally ignored and
neglected segment of our population, American Indian women. Previous
literature has touched upon blood quantum measures and racial identity,
historical perceptions of Indian women and power, and narrative and language as
survival tools.
Critical race theory emerged in the mid-1970s to question the social
constructions of race and Whiteness, pointing out how legal ideology supports
and sustains class structure in the U.S. Critical race theory suggests that racial
separation and marginalization perpetuate the political and legal empowerment of
Whites as the dominant group. Critical race theory rejects the White experience
as the normative framework and instead sets forth the subjective, experiential
knowledge of people of color to analyze society, promote social activism, and to
improve oppressive conditions. This study looks at racial identity through the
eyes of fifteen women who share their life views of what it is to be an American
Indian woman at the beginning of the twenty-first century, including how being
mixed blood or full-blood define and delineate their identities.
Although race appears to be the master status for Native women, they
have also encountered marginalization due to being female, both at school and in
the workplace. Mainstream civil rights arguments favor the experiences of
African American men, while mainstream feminism is modeled after the life
experiences of white women, leaving women of color with the double weight of
race and sex domination. This study explores the intersection of race and sex in
Native womens lives.
American Indian womens consistent use of narrative is true to critical
race theorys goal of subjective, experiential knowledge. Passing along stories to
successive generations serves to socially construct a powerful identity that
embraces their cultural viewpoints and shared history of oppression. In addition,
in


a spiritual connection with the landscape emerges as a consistent component of
Indian womens identity. Future research might examine how leaving the
reservation, being perceived as a sell-out or acting too White, and mixed
marriages undermine the foundation of ones Indian identity.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
IV


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my four unique and wonderful children, Daniel, Peter,
Merritt, and Lyle. You are indeed part of the Seventh Generation of hope and
potential builders of a more compassionate world in the 21st century: Daniel, ever
kind, you always took time to walk and talk with me. You kept me buoyant,
assuring me I could do this project. Peter, you admired my determination and
always remembered to check in regularly about my progress, Merritt, your
constant presence helped calm me in endless ways. Ill never forget the
encouraging notes you wrote to me, and the many times you told me to take a
bath or go to bed when I worked past midnight. Last but most definitely not least,
five-year-old Lyle, my Oglala Lakota son.. .you are a big part of this work, in
ways you will not fully understand until you are grown. How grateful I am you
have graced all of our lives with your joyful spirit. Mitakuye Oyasin.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
My heartfelt thanks to my lifetime friend, husband, and partner in parenting,
Jeffery Baer, for being patient and understanding with me through three years of
graduate school.. .thrown-together meals, night classes, using the kitchen table as
my workplace, papers on the kitchen counter, little time alone together.. .1 know
how difficult its been. I have truly appreciated your loving support.
Thank you, Candan, for being my advisor, mentor, and inspiration throughout
this life-transforming project. Thank you for teaching me to see the world and
humanity from the precise perspective of a sociologist, yet always with a dose of
verstehen and humility to temper the science. Your believing in me transported
me through some rough passages.
Thank you, Theresa Gutierrez, for the hours I spent in your office, and for your
non-judgmental, emotional support of my parenting Lyle. I will be forever
grateful for your invaluable help in connecting me with many of the remarkable,
strong women in this research study.
Thank you, to every Indian woman who shared a morning, afternoon or evening
with me, amid children, husbands, dogs, and other everyday pieces of your
world. Words cannot adequately convey my gratitude to you for opening up your
hearts, and inviting me to understand the trauma, grief, and joyful existence that
interface in your lives.


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE.....................................1
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.....................................8
Theoretical Perspectives.....................................8
Critical Race Theory......................................8
Race and Racial Identity....................................14
Blood Quantum Measures...................................17
Indian Women and Power......................................19
Narrative as Survival.......................................24
Language and Identity....................................27
3. METHODS.....................................................32
Introduction................................................32
Sample......................................................34
Procedure...................................................36
4. FINDINGS....................................................38
Introduction................................................38
Vll


Critical Race Theory.........................................40
Race and Racial Identity..................................45
Indian Women and Power....................................50
Narrative as Survival.....................................57
Language and Identity..................................59
Reservation Life..........................................61
Landscape..............................................64
5. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION................................68
APPENDIX ........................................................77
A: INTERVIEW GUIDELINE.........................................78
B: CONSENT FORM................................................84
BIBLIOGRAPHY.....................................................86
viu


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE
This research study explores identity issues for American Indian women, a
generally ignored and neglected segment of the United States population. In a
preliminary review of the literature, I searched for concepts that could help me
understand how Native women socially construct their identities. I was interested in
discovering relevant theoretical perspectives, understanding racial identity from the
viewpoint of Indian women, including their opinions about blood quantum measures,
discerning how sexism might contribute to a loss of power for Indian women, and to
construe the roles of narrative and the oral tradition in explicating Native womens
sense of who they are.
Native American, American Indian, Indian, and Native will be used
interchangeably to describe women of color indigenous to North America. Research
respondents generally preferred American Indian, or Indian when asked to
describe their ethnicity, but none objected to these alternative terms.
Several other sociological perspectives, such as postmodernist frameworks
rooted in feminist theories, or symbolic interactionist theories of self and identity, are
relevant to race and racial identity, sexism and power, and narrative and language as
social constructors of identity. However, I decided to look at critical theory and
1


especially critical race theory because of its key objectives to critically examine
society, analyze its conditions, awaken the oppressed, and to ultimately enlighten and
even emancipate them (Ritzer, 2000). Because Native Americans have a long history
of colonization and oppression, the critical theorists recommendation to understand
the past in order to glean meaning from the present seemed appropriate.
Additionally, I have endeavored to question the taken-for-granted dominance and
central positioning of the White experience as the normal standard for understanding
the experiences of others, particularly those of American Indian women.
Critical race theory emerged in the mid-1970s in the aftermath of the civil
rights movement, with social activist goals at its heart. Critical race theory contends
that racism is fundamental to events and consciousness throughout history, and that
an ideology of racism permeates political decisions, laws, and institutions, while it
preserves the privileges and empowerment of the White, dominant class (Crenshaw,
Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). Critical race theory rejects the White experience
as the normative framework and instead, sets forth the subjective, experiential
knowledge of people of color in order to analyze society (Tate, 1997). I was
interested in finding out how race defines and delineates self and identity for
American Indian women. No other ethnic population has been subjected to
government policy and practice of testing to ascertain their degree of Indian blood.
In this study, I look at the history of blood quantum measures and their continuation
2


up into the present day. I wanted to learn about the womens subjective, experiential
knowledge and understandings of what it is like to be living in the United States as
an American Indian woman today.
Early in the study, I began to understand how women of color experience
excluding behaviors in their lives that arise not only from race, but from being female
as well. Historically, Indian women were most often egalitarian partners with Indian
men. Pre-European contact nations respected women, and Indian women figured
prominently in creation stories. As the Christian Euroamericans arrived to conquer
and coloqize, they imparted a patriarchal system that forever changed the status of
Indian women in their societies, decreasing their independence and power.
(Klein & Ackerman, 1995). Writer bell hooks states that the social status of women
of color and White women has never been the same, and therefore, women of color
have been subjected to racial as well as sexual oppressions (hooks, 1981). Guarasci
and Cornwell (1997) offer that our experiences as persons of a certain race are a part
of what defines us. Discussions must begin with difference, with acknowledging race,
and turn away from difference that signifies superiority and power.
The oral tradition of cultural narrative reveals how Native women see
themselves and from where they derive their strength. Narrative and storytelling
clarify identity and shape ones social reality (McClaren, 1993). Critical race theory
suggests the subjective use of voice to socially construct a reality that encompasses
3


peoples shared cultural viewpoints and history of oppression (Delgado, 1989).
Indian people utilize the language of narrative to keep their familys and nations
histories alive. Retelling the stories becomes a survival tool for affirming ones Indian
identity (Bruchac, 1987). In this study, I aim to understand how individuals self-
narratives construct, reconstruct, and define the self.
My data come from 15 face-to-face interviews with American Indian women
between the ages of 21 and 74. The interviews took place between October, 2000
and December, 2000. With each respondents permission, I tape-recorded the
interviews and assured them of confidentiality. In this study, no ones real name is
used, and certain personal details are omitted to ensure privacy. Clandinin &
Connelly (1998) note that there is a unique ethical dimension to the research
relationship when we ask participants to share their stories with us. Since the
researcher is a participant as well, we have the potential to mold or change their
stories, as well as our own. By entering the personal experience research arena with
certain intentions and purposes, as researchers we must be bound to first and
foremost care for and be responsible for the research participants.
Throughout this project, I have endeavored to be sensitive to respondents.
Beginning with my initial phone call contacts, I would first explain my proposed
research and ask for the potential participants help. Every woman I contacted
volunteered to participate. Next, before starting the interview, I began by sharing
4


that I was a graduate student, a mother of four children, and that my youngest son
was adopted, with permission from Oglala Lakota relatives in South Dakota. I told
each woman that a purpose of this study was to learn from them, what it is to be an
Indian woman, to learn about issues that matter to them, and to begin to understand
how experiences of prejudice and discrimination affect them and how they are raising
their children to cope with a less-than-always kind world. As the interviews
progressed, I confess that I could not absent myself from some of these womens
experiences. Raising a child of color, whether birthed or adopted, means teaching
him or her from an early age about difference, and preparing him or her to face a
world where White is the normative standard. As the mother of a child of color, and
as a woman, I acknowledge that I did not detach myself from this research. I took
care that my questions did not have inherent bias. I asked everyone the same
questions, although the way I acted, questioned, and responded to their replies may
have affected or shaped their answers.
In writing about these remarkable women, I have tried to thoughtfully and
compassionately analyze their narratives. I have consistently used the womens own
words, rather than to paraphrase, so that their voices may speak to the reader in
precisely the words that they spoke to me. I have tried to understand and
communicate the spirit and heart behind their narratives. Furthermore, I recognize
5


that in telling the story of this research project, I am also constructing my own
narrative of my experience
The purpose of this research study is to discover and understand how one
group of American Indian women know and define themselves. I explore how Indian
women construct identity from the viewpoint of critical race theory, racial identity,
power, expression through narrative, reservation life and a spiritual connection to the
land. Identity issues of Native women is an area of study that is generally ignored and
neglected by social scientists. I hope that this research may contribute to the body of
social scientific knowledge. As a sociologist operating from a critical theoretical
perspective, I desire to raise issues in a way that will encourage others to think about
these issues.
Results will be accessible to the whole population, not only the Native
participants. Benefits indude Indian women feeling their identities-affirmed because
they are listened to and valued for this study. Another purpose of this research is to
uncover crucial topics for future research in the area of how individuals arrive at
defining themselves, from a racial or ethnic standpoint.
Living in an increasingly diverse United States, where more and more people
partner and mix with families of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, it is essential
to acknowledge that sodety continues to oppress certain members for their
differences. The honest and simple narratives of these 15 Indian women exemplify
6


strength, persistence, and survival, as their socially constructed identities evolve and
unfold in their Eves. We need to pay attention to their stories.
7


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Looking at available literature on the subject of identity for American Indian
women, it becomes apparent that there is not much published material to inform the
researcher. Anthropologists and Black feminist scholars, as well as male sociologists
contribute some observations, but overall, material that addresses identity issues for
Native women is sparse.
Some information surfaced on applicable theoretical perspectives, race and
racial identity discussion, including blood quantum measures, Indian women and
power, and narrative andTanguage as components of cultural survival. These issues
will be the main focus for the following literature review on the subject of
understanding racial identity for American Indian Women.
Theoretical Perspectives
Critical Race Theory
Critical theorists use analysis and reason to articulate the problems of the
modem and the postmodern eras, while suggesting solutions to what ails
8


contemporary society. Because disinterested, objective research is impossible, facts
and values cannot be separated from one another, and the researcher is always a part
of the social situation under investigation.
Beginning with German theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the key
elements of this theoretical perspective are the view that social theory musfbe critical
of oppression in society and it therefore recommends emancipatory alternatives.
Marx stressed the dualistic relationship between consciousness and self-reflection on
the one hand, and social reality on the other. By exercising their ability to use
language, to think, and to analyze their conditions, Marx believed that human beings
could alter their environment and improve their social relations. As they unearth the
real conditions that underlie outward surface phenomena, critical theorists could
suggest an alternative, emancipatory reality. A goal of social theory is to use humans
singular ability to expose oppressive arrangements and to propose enfranchising
alternatives, leading to a better social'fife (Turner, 1998).
The heart of critical theory is to critically examine and change contemporary
society. Rather than direct their attention to societys economic structure, as Marx
did, critical theorists are concerned with aspects of culture and thought in the real
world. Not only can a critical perspective help individuals make sense of what is, but
a critical theorist view of society can help people see what might be. Authentication
will occur when the oppressed victims of distorted communication take up the ideas
9


of critical theory and utilize them to emancipate themselves from that system (Ritzer,
2^00).
German critical theorist Jurgen Habermas is concerned with reformulating
Marxist theory in the light of twentieth century social changes, and he proposes
expanding a Marxist view of humanity by adding language or communication to
labor or work, as a distinct characteristic of human development. This notion of
language as communication led Habermas to concentrate on how undistorted
communication might be possible and could lead the way for humanitys future
emancipation. Habermas proposes three knowledge systems which guide human
action. Particular interests reside behind each system of knowledge, are latent to
everyday people, and it is the charge of critical theorists to uncover them (Habermas,
1984).
The first system is analytic science, found in the environment, societies, and
people within society. Based on technical prediction and control, analytic science has
the potential to strengthen oppressive control in society. The second knowledge
system is humanistic knowledge, with a goal of self-understanding as well as
understanding the world. It posits that understanding our past generally helps us to
comprehend what is happening in the present. This system is neither oppressive nor
emancipatory. Habermas third knowledge system is human emancipation, having to
do with power and the need to free human beings from domination by abstract
10


powers. The expectation was that when the critical theorists awakened the self-
consciousness of the masses, liberating social movements would follow. For
Habermas, social change could only happen when critical theoiy linked theory and
practice through the construction ofan ideal speech community. The ideal speech
community presupposes that all individuals can participate equally and no ones
rights will be denied. The ideal speech situation provides the basis for full realization
of human interests. According to Habermas, new social movements, such as those
connected with feminism or gay rights, could provide avenues for the ideal speech
situation to materialize, and could then become a source for emancipatory
transformation (Habermas, 1984).
The rise of critical theory in the U.S. coincided with 1950s-1960s liberation
movements of oppressed people, such as the civil rights movement, the womens
movement, and various revolts on college campuses. In 1969, Derrick Bell, an
African American civil rights lawyer and scholar, joined the faculty of Harvard
University. His writings on race, his civil rights work, and his commitment to racial
justice, shaped the foundation for what was to become critical race theory. The
criticalface theory (CRT) movement in legal studies originated in the social calling
and conflicts of the 1960s that aspired to justice, liberation, and economic power.
From its beginnings, CRT has encompassed not only academic but social activist
goals (Tate, 1997).
11


Critical race theory resolves to question social constructions and assumptions
about race, especially normative standards of whiteness. Despite the headway made
by civil rights laws and the best intentions to wipe out racism, it continues to figure
prominently in life in the US. Critical race theory alleges that racism is fundamental
to events and consciousness throughout history, and that an ideology of racism is
linked to political decisions, laws, and preserving the privileges of the White,
dominant class (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller, & Thomas, 1995).
Critical race theory aims to eliminate racial oppression and to attain racial
justice. Racism implies a double standard, whereby through prejudice and
discrimination, a person ofcolor is treated differently, in mind or action, than a
member of the majority group (Blauner, 2000). CRT avers that racism dwells in U.S.
society, so deeply ingrained in political and legal structures that it is a part of
individual consciousness. CRT suggests that the governing claims of objective
neutrality, color blind visions of race relations, and meritocracy serve to conceal the
self-interests of those in power (Tate, 1997).
Whites locate racism in. color consciousness and its absence in color
blindness, asserts Bob Blauner. ( 2000, p. 232) People of color explain color
blindness as a type of evasion. Race does affect ones life. Pretending not to notice
race is a way to ignore the effects of race (Blauner, 2000).
12


Racial separation has socially constructed purposes that perpetuate the
political and legal empowerment of the dominant groups. CRT rejects the White
experience as the normative framework and instead, sets forth the subjective,
experiential knowledge of people of color to analyze society (Tate, 1997).
Blauner explains that people of color view race and racism as central to the
reality oflife in America, past and present. Many Whites see race as a secondary
reality, a thing of the past, and they assume that minorities must assimilate to
mainstream values and practices (Blauner, 2000). Basic to the critical race theory
perspective is placing race at the center of analysis in order to better understand
accumulated past discrimination and its extension into the present. A race-centered
framework can raise issues, invite discussion, and inspire research (Parker, 1998).
Feminist author and scholar Patricia Hill Collins is interested in placing
Black womens experiences and ideas at the center of analysis (1990, p. xii). By
presenting the myriad voices of those whose voices have been silenced, she hopes to
invoke a new angle of vision on feminist sensibilities. Proposing that Black feminist
thought includes^ specialized sort of collective knowledge of Black womens reality,
Collins avers that this knowledge is distinct from and opposed to a Eurocentric world
view. For women of color, the historical legacy of struggle against oppression is
fundamental to understanding society and self. In fact, the very confines for self-
definition are connected to this historical, cultural framework, where issues of race
13


and sex are inextricably entwined. Understanding social relations encompasses the
use of dialogue as a means of assessing knowledge, transcending difference and
transforming relations of domination (Collins, 1990).
Race and Racial Identity
Looking at racial identity from a critical race theory perspective makes way
for the possibility of establishing a scholarly, informative voice in the emotional,
personal, and spiritual experiences ofpeople of color. Critical race theorists rejectihe
liberal notion of race as a natural category, arguing instead that race is constructed
and given meaning through legal and social processes (Crenshaw et al., 1995).
Creditable biologists will concur that genetic variation among peoples of
Asia, Europe or Africa is hardly more than the variability within those populations.
Harvard scholar Anthony Appiah (1992) suggests".. .the differences between
peoples in language, moral affections, aesthetic attitudes, or political ideology
those differences that most deeply affect us in our dealings with each otherare not
to any degree biologically determined( p. 35).
Furthermore, Appiah (1992) asserts that the truth is that there are no races
(p. 45), and even the biologists claims are limited. Using the term race instead of
culture erroneously circumscribes or erases entire communities of meaning, rich
structures of the social world, which need to be examined by social scientists, not
14


biologists. Appiah repudiates the utilization of race as a term of difference, stating
that culture should substitute for race. He reasons that in an ideal world, what we
presently call a racial identity would become an ethnic or cultural identity. By
refuting that race is a biological attribute, we can reject that intellectual
characteristics and the ways we think and behave are inherited (rather than learned),
emphasizing that effort and community are what bind together members of a race
(Appiah, 1992).
In her essay, Navigating the Topology of Race, Jayne Chong-Soon Lee
challenges Appiahs argument that culture should substitute for race, thus abolishing
the biological framework for defining racial differences. In examining Appiahs
position, Lee notes that he specifies that race is essentially culture in disguise, and
this culture is the ethnic identities of groups of people who imbue their social worlds
with communities of meaning. Lee argues that relegating race to an ethnic or
cultural identity independent from race will eclipse the prominence of race in
histories of oppression. In other words, we need race to truly understand and
appreciate the persecution and domination of certain races. In addition, theories that
place ethnicity ( rather than race) at the center of study would ignore the ways race
has been formalized into legal, educational, and other institutions in the U.S.
Lee submits that race is defined by the social relations that form it. Its
meanings change as the situation changes, such as when political struggles transpire.
15


Lee advances that race is always defined by its social context and never only by its
content. Race is unpredictable, indefinite, and socially constructed. By embracing
both a biolpgical and a social definition of race, i.e. race and culture, we can Tefer to
multiple definitions of race and use each in the appropriate context.(Lee, 1995)
Gloria Ladson-Billings emphasizes that we live in a racialized society where
Whiteness reigns as the accepted norm. In our communities, everyone is classified
and categorized according to notions of conceptual Whiteness and marginalized
blackness. Critical race theory becomes a valuable social tool to analyze and
deconstruct oppressive structures and discourse, replacing them with fair and just
power relationships (Ladson-Billings, 1995). The use of stories, poetry, narratives,
and revisionist histories serves as a common voice to construct a social reality where
race is central and'will'help negate ethnocentrism (Ladson-Billings, 1999).
Cultivating new forms of subjectivity and historical action will lead to
alternate processes of creating cultural identity, according to Peter McLaren.
Border identities spring from narratives in the context of everyday, ordinary
existence. With border identities, individuals forge a positive, subjective self.
Personal narratives consist ofpassionately deconstructing and reconstructing reality
to form ones identity. McLaren (1993) states, To construct border identities is to
refuse to adopt a single perspective linked to cultural domination (p. 221).
16


Blood Quantum Measures
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Blood quantum measures
became the official basis for constructing a social definition of degree of Indian
blood! This standard of American Indian identification was legislated into existence
by the U.S, Congress as part of the General Allotment Act of 1887. Also known as
the Dawes Act, this legislation gave the U.S. government the power to test blood
levels to identify someone as an Indian. In this way, the government determined
land rights for Indians and non-Indians in the western region of the United States
(Aguirre & Turner, 2001).
Indian reservation lands were redistributed: those Indian people with
documented one-half or more Indian blood received land parcels of 160 acres each;
all others land was declared surplus and made available to non-Indians, effectively
reducing Indian land holdings from 138 million acres to 48 million in less than fifty
years. Blood quantum levels became the eligibility factor for any federal service,
including health care and educational benefits (Jaimes, 1992). Continuing into the
present time, oners percentage of Indian blood decrees who benefits from
government programs and assistance, including affirmative action.
M. Annette Jaimes (1992) finds it unreasonable that Indian nations are not
permitted to exercise sovereignty in determining for themselves who is eligible to
17


be Indian. She states that in addition to the negative material effects (loss of land and
services) of such U.S. government policies, they have also contributed to psychic
disempowerment by stripping Indian people of key elements of their identity. The
implicit racism in blood quantum measures has effected the methodical
marginalization and displacement of more Indian people from their ethnic and
cultural designation than it has retained. Although some Indian nations have initiated
procedures for recognizing members by their own standards and have broadened
enrollment criteria beyond federal norms, most recognized tribes perpetuate the
governments blood quantum measures, requiring varying percentages of verifiable
Indian blood for potential tribal members.
Recently, scientists have suggested DNA analysis to determine who is and is
not Indian. Kimberly TallBear (2000) suggests that this new biological course of
determining cultural identity for political authority undermines the very concept of
what it is to be a tribal nation" (p. 1). Cultural customs and affiliation are not
transmitted from generation togeneration via components of DNA. TallBear
declares, .. .immersion in a culture helps construct an individuals identity and
cultural practices must be actuallypracriceJ in order for cultures to adapt and thrive
through the years" (p. 3).
18


Indian Women and Power
Historically, Indian war chiefs such as Sitting Bull and Red Cloud, are well-
known, but little has been written about significant Indian women and their
importance in early societies. The overwhelming majority of colonial historians were
non-Indian and male, and their records focused on Indian men as warriors, medicine
men and chiefs. Government reports represent women as they relate to men, as wives
or squaws, initially a term to designate a married woman, which later became a
demeaning expression for all Indian women. However, the ability to trade and
distribute agricultural goods and supplies bestowed considerable power on Native
women. For the Euroamerican colonists, Indian women were an essential component
of rugged frontier life. As wives, mistresses, or companions, Indian women ensured
the survival of White men by helping them acquire food, shelter, and protection
(Green, 1992).
A number of Indian nations believe that their origin as a culture springs from
the female. Women feature prominently in creation stories as the source of life,
someone who provides nourishment, protection, and embodies Indian cultural values.
From the Lakota White Buffalo Calf Woman and her gift of Truth, the Iroquois
Grandmother Turtle who brought Indian people into the world from mud on her
back, and the first mother that Pueblo people knew as Blue Com Woman, women
19


are revered, respected figures with substantial responsibilities (Green, 1992). Among
the Lakota, Ojibwa, Cherokee, and Cheyenne, women rode along on war parties and
some became legendary for their heroic deeds (Niethammer, 1977). Native women
played significant roles in making key military decisions concerning peace and war
( Jaimes & Halsey, 1992).
Southwestern Apache and Hopi nations were usually headed by matriarchs or
clan mothers who were influential and recognized leaders. Native American women
who Teamed the ways of natural medicine earned status and power. In some tribes,
such as the Ojibwa, a woman learned medicinal remedies and secrets from her
medicine man husband. In other tribes, female healers acquired knowledge from their
mothers and grandmothers (Niethammer, 1977)
Male Eurbamerican historians tended to stereotype Indian women as
generally inferior and submissive, but in considering American Indian women from an
Indian perspective, the consensus is that the roles of men and women in many
traditional societies, such as the Oglala Lakota, were complementary. Both women
and men were valued for their contributions. Gender was central to the cultural
system, tied to behavioral rather than biological differences. In most Indian societies,
gender was not closely linked to power (Powers, 1986).
Balanced reciprocity appears to travel through Native North American
societies as a common motif. Although mens and womens worlds were notably
20


different, their roles did not fit into a hierarchy of social stratification. For example,
among Pueblo, Tlingit, and Inuit peoples, the importance of family is central.
Behaviors of men and women are acknowledged as necessary for the well-being of
the family. The family is not solely the realm of women, nor is the family perceived as
an inferior, subordinate institution. Anthropologists Klein and Ackerman (1995)
confirm that most nations have historically treated women as essential members of
their societies, endowing them with respect as wives and mothers, and esteeming
then counsel.
Most precontact Native North American civilizations operated on the basis of
matrilineage and matrilocality. Children received their identity from their mothers
band and traced their lineage through their mother. Men were usually expected to
take up residence near the female partners family. Women were seldom subordinate
to men. Culture was passed down by women teaching languages, attitudes, and
beliefs (Jaimes & Halsey, 1992).
In many indigenous societies, the women owned all or a majority of the
property, such as homes and furnishings. Among the Lakota, a man owned only his
clothing, a horse, and some weapons. To divorce her husband, all a Lakota woman
had to do was set his few possessions outside the entrance of their lodge or tipi
(Jaimes & Halsey, 1992).
21


Euroamerican colonists noticed Indian warriors at first contact, so they
extended gender stereotypes, including that of male superiority, to Native American
women. Christianity and its elaborate patriarchal system, suggested a different sort of
male-female relationship, with an Old World distinction between public and private
lives, and an expected gender hierarchy. European colonialism and conquest altered
Native societies, decreased the autonomy of women, and lessened cultural
egalitarianism (Klein & Ackerman, 1995).
Contrary to the dominant cultured images of Indian women as meek,
tractable and subordinate to males, Jaimes and Halsey (1992) offer that Native
women have formed the heart of indigenous resistance to genocide and colonization,
from the moment of first contact with Euroamericans. Ongoing struggles for physical
and cultural survival dominate American Indian womens lives. Battling alcoholism
and suicide, fighting poverty and substandard medical and health services, and limited
by poor educational opportunities, Indian women have had to find the strength to
persist.
Kimberle Crenshaw (1995) maintains that mainstream civil right arguments
favor the experiences of black men while mainstream feminism is modeled after the
life experiences of White women. This perspective leaves women of color with the
double weight of gender and race domination, and no discourse to articulate their
specific position in social fife. It is evident that women of color face different identity
22


issues than minority men. bell hooks (1981) states, When black people are talked
about the focus tends to be on black men, and when women are talked about the
focus tends to be on white women (p.7). The social status of women of color and
White women has never been the same. While both have experienced victimization
due to their sex, women of color have been subjected to racist oppressions that no
White woman has ever had to suffer (hooks, 1981).
Harvard scholar, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (1992) pursues this
conviction that gender identity is unequivocally meshed with and even determined by
racial identity. She perceives race and racial distinctions as representations of
relations of power in society. In fact, Higgenbotham states that race dominates issues
of gender and class, preventing unity within the same gender group. White feminist
scholars have little to say about race as they analyze their own life experiences. What
is needed is for feminist scholars, especially those concerned with women of color, to
make race more salient in their analyses of power. Women of color cannot be
separated from their culture, consciousness, and life experiences to be part of a
common category called women.
American Indian women consistently renounce any interest in or need for
liberation, saying that they have always been liberated within their tribal structures
and furthermore, they cannot indulge in the luxury of White feminist objectives.
Instead, Indian women assert their desire to keep their families together, find jobs
23


and earn a living, and to engage in the ongoing political contests of their people. The
conviction that Indian women do not need the feminist movement is consistent with
the strong and powerful roles Native women have played within their societies
throughout history. Family ties continue to be paramount. In contemporary society,
Indian women are often single parents, trying to keep the family intact and
functioning, holding onto jobs, and raising the next generation (Bataille & Sands,
1984).
Narrative as Survival
The oral tradition of cultural narrative reveals information about how
American Indian women see themselves and how they are understood within their
culture. Women have been at the center of preserving traditional stories, songs,
languages, ceremonies, and ways of life (Green, 1992). Throughout the years,
narratives of Indian women have been stories of adaptability. They have faced
struggles for survival and growth in constantly changing conditions. Drawing on the
pasts traditional values, they have elicited spiritual stability by passing on to
successive generations the stories and ways of their ancestors. Indian womens
narratives have modeled individual strength and courage (Bataille & Sands, 1984).
Anthropologists Bataille and Sands (1984) question whether women of color can
24


adequately communicate to an audience that has not experienced or shared many of
their cultural concerns or history of oppression.
Margaret D. LeCompte describes storytelling and narrative as purposeful
activities for researchers to discover and analyze individuals, to promote social
activism, and to improve oppressive conditions. Those people whose points of view
have never been heard have voices that those m power deem insignificant. According
to LeCompte, the role of the researcher or participant observer is to explain the
powerlessness of a group, then draw forth stories from members and translate
these previously unheard voices into a more easily understood language for a broader
and likely more powerful audience. Naming these voices gives individuals a deepened
sense of identity (LeCompte, 1993)
When an individual embarks on a narrative or storytelling journey, the
resulting clarified identity speaks for social life, history, and even the identities of
others. McClaren (1993) states that, Narratives structure our dreams, our myths,
and our visions as much as they are dreamt, mythified, and envisioned (p. 206).
They mold our social reality with what they include and what they choose to omit.
Narratives translate different experiences into a coherent story and in that act,
knowing becomes the telfirig. The individual preserves a personal identity through the
congruity of ones story (McClaren, 1993).
25


Critical race theory advocates the use of voice to socially construct reality.
The voices may be stories, parables, chronicles, counter stories, poems, or revisionist
histories. Exchanging stories about individual situations can build a powerful social
reality and wipe out the prevailing mindset with which dominant group members
justify the superiority of Whites. According to Richard Delgado, subordinated groups
survive through storytelling, and the benefits of narrative are many. Telling stories
produces bonds, unity, and shared understandings between members of outgroups-
those on the outer margins of societys dominant group. Counter stories defy the
assumptions of certain ingroup stock stories, inviting the teller to imaginatively blend
bits of different realities into new possibilities (Delgado, 1989).
Black slaves sang to document their pain. Native Americans continue to pass
down warrior stories in the oral tradition, women in feminist, consciousness raising
groups have shared personal tales of oppression, and Chicanos in the Southwest
performed corridos about their persecution by White authorities. Each oral cultural
form advanced a critical collective attitude toward social institutions and the social
world (Saldivar, 19^0).
Storytelling helps outgroups speak the facts of their violence, silencing, and
oppression which helps achieve healing and emancipation. Naming ones reality leads
to psychic self-preservation and encourages group solidarity. Self-condemnation can
act to demoralize members of outgroups, as they sometimes accept the stereotyped
26


images society presses upon them. Listening to others narratives reminds individuals
they are not alone. In addition, storytelling has an effect on the oppressor.
Exchanging stories from teller to listener can overcome ethnocentrism and a view of
seeing the world in only one waythat of White society. Delgado promises that by
listening to various stories, members of the majority race will enhance their own
reality. Because reality is fluid, we are constantly constructing and reconstructing our
identity through the lives we live, the conversations we are part of, and the stories we
tell and hear (Delgado, I9?9).
Indian women telling their stories can potentiaUy be a powerful tool of self-
definition and may extend to tribal definition as well. (Bataille & Sands, 1984). The
ageless oral tradition imparts to each generation their values, concepts, and ideas, as
Indian people. In spite of the trauma of boarding school experiences, where children
were forbidden to speak their languages or practice their spiritual beliefs, Native
people have persisted in living, believing, hoping, and speaking as Indians (Ortiz,
1993).
Language and Identity
Simon Ortiz, an Acoma writer and poet explains that the languages and oral
traditions of American Indian people have transmitted the thoughts and beliefs of
their ancestors to the present generation in contemporary American society. Oral
27


traditions include centuries of knowledge, history, and understanding about the
world. The U S. government and Christian missionaries strove to eradicate Native
languages and culture, and to replace tribal stories with Biblical parables, in order to
forcefully acculturate Native people into a Euroamerican image. Ortiz (1993) writes,
My existence has been determined by language, not only the spoken, but the
unspoken.. .it is language that brings us into being in order to know life (p. 29).
One respondent to a recent survey of American Opinion Leaders on the state
ofNative languages shared that, Our identity and culture is preserved in the
language. One cannot be Lakota if he or she does not speak the language
(Preserving a Way of Life,'2000, p. A5). Another survey respondent offered,
Language is the root to all cultures. Strip the languagestrip the culture (Ibid.).
Native writers utilize language as affirmation, celebration, and a tool of
survival. Declaring ones Indianness, finding ones individual voice, and responding
to the attempted destruction of language and fifethis is how Indian people survive.
They respond to attempted destruction of both language and fife by talking about the
old ways and telling stories of family and traditions, survival of Indian nations and
people as a whole, and their own accounts of persistent, personal survival (Bruchac,
r?87).
Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo) writes about the stories in Ceremony.
28


I will tell you something about stories...
They aren Tt just entertainment.
Dont be fooled.
They re all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.
You don t have anything
if you don rt have the stories. (Silko, 1977, p.2)
Joy Haijo (Creek) speaks of how the oral tradition serves to trigger memories
ofknowledge of the earth and universe.
Remember the sky that yon were bom under,
know each of the stars' stories...
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mothers, and hers...
Remember that you are all people and that all people
are you...
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
Remember
29


to remember. (Green, 1992, p. 100).
Simon Ortiz (Acoma) speaks of Indian peoples survival with spare elegance.
Survival, I know how this way.
This way, I know.
It rains.
Mountains and canyons and plants
grow.
We traveled this way,
gauged our distance by stories
and loved our children.
We taught them to love their births.
We told ourselves over and over
again,
We shall survive this way. (Ortiz, 1992, p. 167)
I am aware that others have studied identity from established roles and
identity perspectives, as well as from middle class (and White) life viewpoints. My
aim was to understand Indian womens socially constructed identities, taking the
intersection of race and sex into account. The purpose of this study is to understand
American Indian womens identity from a critical race theory perspective, guided by
the following research questions:
30


1) In what ways do race and being mixed-blood or full-blood define and
delineate self and identity for American Indian women?
2) How do race and experiences of racism, and sex and experiences of sexism
interface in Native womens lives and identities?
3) How might experiences of discrimination and sexism oppress Native women and
affect their self-definition?
4) In what ways do narrative and language empower, construct, reconstruct and
define the self for Indian women?
5) As a situated, qualitative researcher and parent of an American Indian child,
how may the experience of doing this research and telling these stories become
my own narrative of transformation?
6) In what future directions might such studies_guide the researcher?
31


CHAPTER 3
METHODS
Introduction
A salient concern of the social sciences is humans and their relationships with
each other. Grounded theory begins with observations and then suggests patterns,
themes or common categories. A key element of analytic ethnography is determining
general propositions regarding patterns of human social life. Some of these patterns
may be descriptive while others will suggest explanations of patterns. An inductive
approach allows development of a deeper, richer understanding of the field research
data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Research results cannot be generalized to a larger
population due to the small sample size and nonprobability sampling method.
However, results will be high in validity due to the time spent with each respondent
and the depth of the interview conversations.
This research study is founded on interviews describing the life experiences of
15 American Indian women. Clandinin & Connelly (1998) state that, People live
stories, and in the telling of them reaffirm them, modify them, and create new ones
(p. 155). The narrative researcher studies experience through narrative inquiry,
describing and offering interpretations of research participants stories.
32


Given the theory-driven nature of this study, I designed my interview
guidelines and analyzed the research results based on the concepts suggested by a
critical race theory framework. To address the critical race theoretical aspect, the
first group of open-ended questions asked about experiences of being excluded or
ignored at school or at work due to being Indian. Questions about self-identifying as
mixed-blood or full-blood and passing for White led to discussions about racial
identity and blood quantum issues. To understand the role of power in Indian
womens lives, I asked about parents expectations for the daughters versus the
sons, and about their educational aspirations. In addition, I asked whether they had
ever felt excluded or ignored at school or at work due to being female, as a measure
of having equal or less power than males. To further understand identity, I asked
several open-ended questions about the roles of oral tradition, narrative, and
language in shaping their lives.
Although my interview questions and subsequent analysis were pointedly
informed by critical race theory, the nature of this extremely rich and expressive
qualitative data allowed new themes to emerge, namely those of the impact of
leaving the reservation for the city, and the powerful influence of landscape as a life-
reference point that ever pulls one back home, to the reservation and its lands.
33


Sample
The participants in this study were drawn from a nonprobability, non-
representative sample of 15 Native American women. A key informant provided me
with several initial contact names and phone numbers. Many of these women
participated in the study and suggested additional Indian women who might be
willing to participate. Incorporating snowball sampling, I purposively sought women
of various ages and tribal affiliations.
Key informants are often atypical members of the community under study,
and their marginal status may limit the researchers access to the group (Glaser &
Strauss, 1967). In this instance, I had known the key informant for three years. She
was an American Indian woman, mother of six children, and she was receptive to the
opportunity for Native women to tell their stories.
Sample Characteristics
Respondents in this sample consisted of 15 American Indian women, ranging
in age from 21 to 74 years old. The median age was 39; mean age was 42. In this
sample, 27% of the respondents were between the ages of 21-30 years, 27% were
between 31-40 years, 20% were between 41-50 years, 12% were between 51-60
years, and 12% were between 71-80 years. More respondents were bom in Colorado
34


(40%) than any other state, with the remainder bom in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa,
Nebraska, South Dakota, Arizona, and Washington.
All respondents were high school graduates, and 80% had completed at least
one year of college. Six respondents (40%) out of 15 have bachelors degrees and
two of them (13%) have a masters degree. Nine respondents (60%) were married or
had been married at one time. All (87%) but two women were mothers with one or
more children.
With the exception of one practicing Catholic and one practicing Muslim,
most (87%) of the respondents embraced traditional Native spirituality and beliefs,
such as sweat lodge and sun dance ceremonies and other rites of their ancestors. A
majority (60%) were raised Christian (due to religious-affiliated boarding schools
they or their mothers or grandmothers attended), and 67% of those were taught
Catholicism. Almost half of the women (47%) reported mixing Indian spiritual beliefs
and ceremonies with Christian teachings of their childhood..
The fifteen respondents acknowledged membership and family ties with seven
Indian nations: Apache, Arapaho, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Lakota, Mohawk, and
Navajo. Forty per cent of the respondents identified themselves as full-blood Indian,
while 60% identified themselves as mixed-blood Indian. The respondents are
presently living in Denver, Colorado, but all have lived on a reservation, from one
year to 14 years, with 80 as the sum of all their years living on reservations.
35


Procedure
The research report is a qualitative study with data collected from mid-
October to mid-December, 2000, from face-to-face hour-long interviews with 15
respondents. The measuring instrument was a 39 question interview guideline (See
Appendix A), with 15 demographic and descriptive questions at the beginning,
followed by 24 closed-ended and open-ended questions pertaining to the research
objectives. The first draft of the interview schedule was pre-tested for adjustments.
After completing an interview, I asked each respondent if there was anything more
she would have liked to have discussed. As a result of initial respondent input, I
deleted one question from the interview guideline, adjusted the phrasing or wording
on three, and added two questions. The purpose and content of the interview
guideline remained substantially intact.
Using the key informants suggestions for possible volunteers, I telephoned
potential participants and set up interview appointments. Over the phone, I briefly
explained the research study objectives, stating that participation was voluntary, and
that the tape-recorded interview would last approximately one hour. Before
beginning the interview, I read through a consent form with the participant, assuring
confidentiality (including pseudonyms), voluntary participation, no anticipated risks
36


or harm, and enumerated her rights as a research subject. Participants signed two
consent forms, one to keep and the other for my files.
Interviews took place at a location chosen by the participant: their places of
work, their homes, or coffee shops. Interviews lasted from 45 minutes to two hours,
with the average being one hour. At the conclusion of each interview, I thanked the
respondent, asked if she wished to add anything, and inquired whether she would like
a copy of the research findings mailed to her, upon completion of the project. All 15
respondents requested the research results.
37


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
Introduction
Each interview experience was a step into the life world of an American
Indian woman during the last, months of the 20th century. Their stories were simply
told and compelling in their directness. As little girls, they dreamed of becoming
lawyers, a writer, a world traveler, a fire fighter, a nurse, an archeologist, or the first
person in their family to go to college. They could not imagine what the future held
for them: boarding school teachers that forbade them to speak their language, cut
their long hair, and a priest who would sexually abuse a 10-year-old; the necessity of
leaving family and reservation life for education and jobs in an urban setting; being
raised as a ward of the state and living in 14 foster homes; losing siblings, a spouse,
and even their own children to alcohol; college and the promise of learning how to
help other Indian people.
These women gather their strength above all from their mothers,
grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who were very strong in their beliefs and had
definite ideas of what women were to be, how they should behave, and what their
responsibilities were. One woman derives strength from her 6-year-old daughter, two
women mentioned their fathers and their mothers, another her husband, and one
38


woman feels buoyed by the strength and spirit of her best friend and girl cousin who
tragically died in a car wreck a year after high school graduation, five years ago.
Identifying herself as an American Indian woman is central to all the
respondents. When asked about a time when they most feel their Native heritage,
73% answered, All the time, ccEvery day, 1 dont think I ever dont feel it, or I
always feel Indian. These women noted that this feeling was especially strong when
they find themselves in the midst of non-Indian people. Going to pow wows,
dancing, and singing heightened a sense of identification with Native heritage for
25% of women. A few (20%) felt stronger ties to their Indian culture when returning
to the reservation, When Im out there, among my people, I feel part of them. In
analyzing the transcribed interviews, I sought to connect respondents answers with
the general categories elaborated in Chapter 2 Review of the Literature: 1) Critical
theory and critical race theory (including experiences of discrimination) 2) Race and
racial identity (including blood quantum issues, being part of Indian and Anglo
worlds 3) Indian women and power (including parents life expectations and
experiences of sex discrimination 4) Narrative as survival (including language as
identity). In addition to these four categories, an additional category emerged from
the respondents answers, which was 5) The nature of reservation life (including
feelings of connection with the landscape). All the respondents have lived on
reservations, and all of them are presently urban Indians living in Denver, Colorado.
39


Critical Race Theory
Critical theorists desire to critically examine real-world society, understand
the past to help glean knowledge about the present, and inspire the oppressed masses
to emancipate themselves (Ritzer, 2000). The Indian women in this study have
experienced this reality of discriminatory acts frequently in their lives. When asked to
tell about a time when she felt ignored or excluded because of being Indian, Tanya, a
51-year-old high school teacher (Oglala/Cheyenne) stated:
All of my early life, I was different. I was noticeably different. Many times, I
was the only Indian, or even the only dark person, and I was made to feel
different, just because of the color of my skin. It didnt matter what was in
my mind or my brain. It didnt matter how I was dressed or what kind of a
home I came from. None of that was important. The only thing that was
important to many, even little children, was that my skin was darker and my
hair was black. So from the beginning, I noticed a difference. I was always
conscious that I was Indian.
Some of the elder respondents (over age 70) described childhood experiences of
discrimination with detailed recall. A 73-year-old retired government employee and
nurse (Lakota/Cheyenne)recounted:
In 1948, you couldnt be at the train station. You were like the Black
people. You had to sit in the back of the bus. You had to sit in a certain spot
in the train station. You used certain bathrooms, and you werent allowed
to sit in that station, even though you had a train ticket. I think they thought
we were soliciting. We didnt know nothing about that. We were too young.
A 74-year-old (Oglala Lakota) woman, Maryanne, director of an elderly program
40


recalls:
We never went anywhere when I was growing up. When we did go to one
of the Nebraska border towns, I think my parents and grandparents knew
what was going on because we children never got to go into town or to the
store. We camped about a mile away from the town, and the older people
went to do the shopping. Then theyd come back, and wed cook and eat.
Afterwards, wed go to a movie. But at the theaters, we had to sit upstairs.
Now I thought that was a treat, cause theyd say, OK you guys, go
upstairs. So we grew up with that.
The way they bought us clothes, my mamad buy the clothes and
bring them back to us. Wed try them on, and if they didnt fit, theyd take
them back. So we didnt really know why we did that. We just thought that
was part of life.
We couldnt eat in a cafe because they had a sign in there that said
No Dogs or Indians Allowed. Actually, I always wish I could have
saved one of those signs. So we never did eat in a cafe. Couldnt.
From the perspective of a critical theorist, examining and remembering past
acts of discrimination are essential to understanding what is happening in the present
(Ritzer, 2000). The view of some Whites, that prejudice and discrimination have
been legislated out of our society, is not borne out by these Indian womens day to
day experiences, at work, at school, and in the social world. Casey, a 26-year-old
(Mescatero Apache) woman described being ignored at a college computer lab:
I was having a problem with the computer I was using, and there were a
computer assistant and an instructor there. It was my first semester, so I
didnt know who was the instructor and who was the lab assistant. But I
went up to both of them, they were talking to each other, and I said, Please,
could you help me out? Im having a problem with my computer. Well, they
looked ait me, and then they just kept their conversation going.
Its not like somebody punching you or giving you a slur. But its
something small, and it seems insignificant to somebody else. It feels
differently when youre a different people, and theyre acknowledging that.
And it really affects the way you feel about yourself. You know, like Do you
41


see me as nothing?
Critical race theory submits that racism is fundamental to events, institutions,
and consciousness throughout history, preserving White privilege in our society
(Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller & Thomas, 1995). Three women casually mentioned
being shadowed by sales help in stores as a regular occurrence .. and I know why
theyre doing that, because of skin color. One respondent told of her elementary
school teacher who scolded the students for being unruly and said they were acting
like a bunch of wild Indians. Some mentioned being the last to be seated and served
in a restaurant. Rosie, a 37-year-old (Oglala Lakota) assistant social case worker
remembered being taunted in elementary school for wearing her hair in two braids:
They used to harass me about that, tease me for being Indian. The boys used
to get my hair and pretend they were reins on a horse. I was even called a
drunken Indian once.
Some women currently in college reported subtle sorts of marginalizing behavior in
the form of people asking them to be the spokesperson for all Indian people; A 26-
year-old (Oglala Lakota) college student reported:
A lot of times, I think that I may need to defend my opinion a little
more. Every Indian, once they step into a classroom, naturally has to become
an educator because there is so little out there about our culture and identity.
Its not always a good thing because you cant speak for all Indians or
anything like that, but I think everyone looks to you to be that Indian voice.
A 21-year-old college student, Ashley, (Mohawk) confided:
When I was younger, I used to feel excluded, but now I kind of feel more put
in a spotlight because of that. You know, you can learn a lot of things about
42


me, but as soon as you hear Im an Indian person, then all the jokes kind of
revolve around that, do you know what I mean? Its just kind of weird, like,
if I never told people that, they would know me as a person, but once they
hear that Im Indian, its kind of this whole different, other way of thinking
about me.
One aspect of the critical theory perspective is that humans have a singular
ability to use language, to think, to analyze their conditions, and to expose
oppressive social arrangements (Turner, 1998). After listening to stories of being
slighted, ignored, ridiculed, or excluded, I asked respondents whether they had done
anything about the perceived discrimination. More than half of the women, 53%,
chose to not do anything about it. Of those who did take steps, 30% got into school
yard fights or confrontations with people. Another 20% fought back with the system,
by excelling at school, sports, or at work.
Sometimes months or years of being singled out for being Indian brought a
child to a point of frustration. Katherine, a 32-year-old Cheyenne /Arapaho woman
recounted:
Public scfioolwas very difficult! My most liberating moment was when I
finally couldnt handle it anymore. When I was in the 5th grade, there was this
pack of 6th grade girls who were always harassing me. They never said it was
because I was Indian, but I dont know why else it would be. They were
going to beat me up, they didnt like me, and they said I thought I was so
great. My grandma bought me a lot of cute little dresses... and I dont think
this met the expectations of people. I had better clothes than they did.
Finally, one day, I was so tired of being tortured and followed
around and harassed and cornered, I just blew up at them. I told them what
I thought, swore at them, yelled at them on the playground, and I turned
around to go back into the school. I thought, Oh my God, Im going to have
this pack of girls on my back, Im going to get the crap beat out of me, but
43


I couldnt take it anymore. My friends came running in after me and said,
What did you say to them? I said, Why? And they told me they were all
just standing there. And they never bothered me again. So Im thinking, OK
you idiot, why didnt you do that a couple of years ago?
Maryanne (Oglala Lakota) told of standing up for her children in school in South
Dakota:
So my children went to school there, in Hot Springs. Thats when we really
felt the discrimination, because our kids, they were just as smart as anyone
else, but you know, just the color of their skin... So then I thought, I dont
care if I go to jail, it wont bother me cause Im going to defend my kids,
which I did.
Another mother described a time she felt her children were treated differently at
school because they were Indian. Now 47, Jessie, an Oglala Lakota mother of three
grown sons, reported confronting her childrens teachers:
If you demand this of everybody, demand it of my children, too. Do not
belittle them by expecting less because theyre Indian, like theyre some
sub-species.
Sarah, a 49-year-old (Oglala Lakota) researcher and Ph.D candidate spoke of how
she handles being slighted at work:
I usually try to address the situation shortly after it happens. If I feel like
Im being excluded or The Invisible Indian, then I always address it. Ive
just always been so outspoken about that. I mean, some people think that Im
really forward or direct or whatever, but I think that weve fought enough to
be accepted! And I dont think we should experience that anymore. I often
tell my kids to do the same.
44


Race and Racial Identity
Issues of measurable Indian blood have concerned the U.S. government since
the General Allotment Act of 1887 was legislated into existence by Congress. Indian
people lacking the documented percentage of Indian blood lost their lands and all
federal services. Although some nations have begun to propose their own procedures
for recognizing who qualifies for tribal enrollment, most recognized tribes have
continued the U.S. governments blood quantum measures (Jaimes, 1992). The
women from this research study, whether full-blood (40%) or mixed-blood (60%),
all unequivocally designate themselves as Indian, Its the only voice an Oglala
/Cherokee woman who is legally 5/8tfis declared. A Lakota /Cheyenne woman
stated emphatically, T dont even connect with the fact that Im part White. In
explaining her perspective, Jessie (Oglala Lakota) stated:
I know that practically, I am mixed-blood, but its Indian or not. Theres no
half measures. Cause Indianness is not a matter of blood. Its a world view.
You know, theres full-bloods that arent Indian, theyre totally assimilated.
In the 70s there were just as many Indians that wanted to hide it. They
wanted to be even Mexican for a while, instead of Indian. But then it became
vogue to be Indian, and then you had blonde-haired, blue-eyed Indians
coming out of the woodwork!
Katherine (Cheyenne /Arapaho) concurs with the other mixed-blood women, Fm
mixed because my father was White, but my identity is Indian. One of the 15
respondents had an African American father and a Navajo mother. She spoke of
45


growing up in a black neighborhood in Denver where she identified more with the
black community than with her Indian heritage. Before starting college, she
participated in a summer program for Native students which started her connecting
more with her Indian culture.
Tanya (OglaTa /Cheyenne) spoke from the heart about her distress with blood
quantum practices, which divide Indians from other Indian people:
Indian is Indian. It doesnt matter if youre lA Cheyenne, XA Lakota,
lA Cherokee, lA Navajo, youre 4/4ths Indian. Even though my children are
mostly Indian blood, theyre of many nations of Indian blood. When youre
bom with a broad ancestry of many indigenous nations, you will never be
enrolled in that nation of people because youve got so many mixtures of
blood. But that doesnt determine whos Indian and who isnt Indian. Native
people all know who is and who isnt. Its more than just how you look and
how you talk, and how you dress and what color your skin is.
By rejecting the notion of race as solely a biological attribute, critical race
theorists maintain that intellectual traits and ways of thinking are learned and socially
constructed rather than inherited. Identity is built through practicing cultural
practices, as TallBear (2000) asserts. Indianness is not a matter of blood percentages,
rather it is constructed through centuries of culture, custom, and language. Tanya,
(Oglala/Cherokee) stated, I believe that I have a much stronger connection in being
Indian than some people who are higher blood quantum.
I asked each respondent if she or anyone she knew had ever passed for
White, and if yes, how she felt about it. Responses indicated strong emotions and
some conflict about passing as White, whether intentionally or not, especially when
46


the person was the Native womans child or sibling. Sometimes a person is put in the
position of having to prove ones Indianness more, if one looks more White. When
asked if she had ever passed for White, 26-year-old Casey (Mescalero Apache)
replied:
That day wilTnever happen. AndT dont want to! I think that someone with
light skin and even blue eyes wants to be [Indian] even stronger than
someone who looks more Indian. Because they get judged all the time, you
know, people saying, Are you really Indian, or are you just saying it?
A 3T-year-old woman (Rosebud Sioux) mentioned that her light-haired, hazel-eyed
sister is frequently mistaken for White and She hates it. Rosie (Oglala Lakota)
mentioned a friend who has been mistaken for White:
He could pass for White. Lets put it that way. He didnt like it. I think he
felt uncomfortable. His mom is White, so his mannerisms and the way he
talks is more White. She raised him because his parents got divorced when he
was young, so thats what came out. From what I know of him, it didnt
bother him so much when he was younger because he went to an
all-White school. But then, when he went away to college, he had strong
identity issues. He really wanted to identify with that side of him. [the
Indian sidej So then, thats when it bothered him, that somebody was
mistaking him for White. Anyway, he is part White.
It happened to me too, when I was younger, when I was 9 or 10.
Ive always been a dancer, a fancy shawl dancer. I loved dancing, and
Ive always been realty into it. My Indian way. I feel really strong about it.
Well, we were at the old Indian Center and these girls, for some reason,
they didnt like me. They were darker Indians, and you know, Im kind of
fair. They were a lot darker than me, got the coal-black hair, and they were
calling me names. One of the names they called me was White Girl. At the
time, I was in the bathroom, you know, getting ready to dance. They came
in there, closed the door, and they were trying to beat me up. But then my big
sister came in, and they just ran off and didnt bother me any more.
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Despite wishing race was not an issue, some Indian people appear to judge
one another on whether they look Indian enough or have enough Indian blood. A
26- year-old college student (Navajo/Oglala) whose son is fair with light eyes
expressed:
I think itTs hard to look White! I definitely can see that especially on the
Navajo reservation because you know, they have more Indian on their
records than any other tribe, so their blood quantum is usually higher than
everyone elses. Although I consider myself full-blood, Im not full-blood
Navajo, so when I go back, you know, Im still considered half.
Katherine, (Cheyenne/Arapaho) a 32-year-old senior researcher added:
My sisters like that. She dances, she went to an urban Indian survival school,
she lives back there [in South Dakota], Shes more there than I am, but shes
got dark blond hair and green eyes. Its been very hard for her. Shes very
anti-White. So its frustrating for her. Yeah, I understand. And then, maybe
you have to think about your Whiteness more. Or the fact that it might be
there.
In considering the social construction of not only race but the womens
identities through the fives they five, I asked respondents how they managed their
fives while being part of two culturally different worlds, Indian and Anglo. Many
women (47%) replied that they have learned to function in both worlds. Casey
(Mescatero Apache) says simply:
I think Ive made the best of what I have, you know, being Native American
and also living where Im living. Im just trying to make it, because when
youre in the city, you dont get chances to do as much in your traditional
ways as you would in your background. So you kind of interlock them, in
the way that you can. You find ways to mix them. Like creating the hearth,
even though youre not at home.
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Another 13% of the women spoke of heeding to work at keeping their Indian culture
and ways going. Tracy (Oglala/Cheyenne) explained:
I dont let myself get swallowed up by the outside world. You have to make
a conscious effort, every single day to remind yourself, you know, What is
my purpose here? In the next few generations, will there, in fact, be
Indian people? I know that there will be, as long as theres stronghearts,
people who hold out, and people who carry the culture and carry that
teaching on to the next jeneration.
Another group (13%) talked about completely changing their personality, way of
dress, language and ethnic talk in order to fit in with the Indian or the White world.
AshTey (Mohawk) said seriously:
I completely switch who I am. When Im here [at college, in Denver} I am a
completely different person than when I am home. I dress differently, I talk
differently, my friends are different.. .1 have to do this. If I went back to the
reservation the way that I am now, [points to her khaki pants and designer
sweater] I would probably get beat up. People say Im acting too White or
Im a sell-out, or if I speak and dont use the right accent then Im too good
for them.
A 39-year-old fiscal administrator (Navajo/African American) commented:
I did a lot of assimilating. I know how to go in and out cultures. I
definitely manage my life in two different ways. I mean here, Ive got my
work world, and theyre aware Ive jot cultural things going on, but
theres something about who I am that I feel like they wouldnt
fully understand me. I dont act the same, I talk different, I act different,
versus when Im out on the weekend with my friends, or at a pow wow,
or selling jewelry. Its a totally different act. I call it act because I feel like
thats what i,t is..
And thats why I call it assimilation. I have to do that. I dont think
theres anything wrong with that. I think a lot of people are like that. I think
people of color have an extra sense of culture, so its like an added thing.
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The last group of respondents (27%) answered that living in these two worlds was a
constant juggling act and struggle. Rosie (Oglala Lakota) offered that:
Even though I work with Indian people, the dominant society is just
on top of us all the time. Its trying to keep a foot in both worlds. Its
really a balancing act.
When asked about the experience of living in both worlds, Sarah (Oglala Lakota)
replied thoughtfully:
I still feel like iris a struggle. ItTs still a struggle because every day, we face
the oppressor. Facing the oppressor, it brings back a lot of the trauma, I
think.
Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho), explained that for her, the more she does it, manages
the two worlds of her life, the more comfortable she gets, but the more it affects who
she is. For example, she feels conflicted about going against her Indian value of
respect for elders when she needs to be assertive with senior colleagues at work:
When I go home, I know how to act. I respect my elders. I need to keep
my mouth shut. When I have a harder time is when Im in professional
situations, asserting myself with someone who is older than me. Its hard for
me to not feel that its disrespecting them, but in the field that Im in,
particularly, I do know more than some of these old guys do. And its
important that I state it. But that is something that I struggle with, being
assertive professionally, while still maintaining my value of being respectful to
older people.
Indian Women and Power
Historically, American Indian women have been respected and revered among
nations, with many legendary in their courageous roles during wartime, as medicine
50


women healers, and as purveyors of culture, language and beliefs (Jaimes & Halsey,
1992, Niethammer, 1977). Only with the arrival of Euroamerican colonists and their
patriarchal, Christianity-based gender hierarchy, did Native women lose some of their
cultural egalitarianism with men (Klein & Ackerman, 1995). With this historical
backdrop in mind, I asked respondents questions about their parents life
expectations for them and for any brothers. The research objective was to ascertain
what aspirations families had for their young daughters and whether expectations
were different for their sons, as males in the same family. How might parental
expectations affect young girls ambitions and goals for the future? What power and
respect do these Indian women experience in their worlds? How does the reality of
being a person of color and a female affect their lives?
Most of these womens parents (60%) expected their daughters to finish high
school and go to college, and of those women, 89% did attend or complete four
years of college. The remaining parents (40%) did not have any educational or career
expectations for daughters or sons. Tanya (Oglala Lakota) reported that her mother
often said the only thing people had to worry about when she and her 8 siblings were
growing up was that the daughters didnt get pregnant and that the sons didnt end
up in jail. Her parents both worked, however, and inculcated a strong work ethic in
all the children. Tanya and several siblings did go on to complete college.
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At seventy-four, Maryanne is an Oglala Lakota elder from a generation where
families were large and expectations ran along the lines of maintaining Indian ways:
I dont think they ever had any expectations, school-wise. I think it was
just learning about the earth and traditional things, the culture. About the
trees, what kind of tree this is, and why its this way, and how youre
supposed to use it. We even had cedar trees and pine trees. I always
remember that in the springtime, my uncle, my dads brother, he would come.
That sap, hed get it offthe cedar, and hed bring it back, and then hed cook
it, and hed make us gum. Chewing gum. We girls had to learn to cook and
bead, and everything.
A 58-year-old Navajo woman described her parents expectations, particularly for
her, as the eldest of nine children. Her father saw education as a means of
empowering his daughters so they would have other life options than early marriage.
Because I was the eldest, I was taught a lot of the household responsibilities,
including herding 500-600 head of sheep. I started school at age 11
and a half. My grandma and my mom, they hadnt gone to school, so they
didnt think it was necessary. But my dad didnt think it was right to expect
the girls would just get married when they were 12 or something. Girls used
to marry when they were 12, right after they had their first period. Like my
mom, she had me when she was 13. It bothered my dad that this was going to
happen to me. Women had no voice. Women didnt have any say because
they were just expected to marry somebody.
Ashley (Mohawk) at 21, part of a younger generation of Indian women, explained
her parents view on education for their four daughters:
They never once thought that any of us would not go to college. They
expected all of us to go to college. I didnt like school, cause I was
always the darkest person in my classroom, and they always made me
represent all of Native America, so I hated it at first, and I never talked to
anyone. But my mother said that education, knowledge, things that you read,
things that you learn is like a gift to yourself and no one can ever take that
52


away.
A 26-year-old college student (Navajo/Oglala) mentioned that her parents
held the same expectations for her and her sisters as for her brothers, to go to
school, to finish high school, go to college, to play sports, and to be, basically good
people. Having a strong mother as a role model provided encouragement to 53% of
respondents: She had a good job, and she worked hard, and I knew that she also
went to college, was a response from a 39-year-old woman (Navajo/African
American). Casey (Mescalero Apache) told what it was like to grow up without any
siblings:
I think my mom put a lot more focus on me. I know what my mom wanted
for herself. She went to college for about two years, but then after she
had me, she dropped out. She had to sacrifice a lot for me. It makes
me want to work that much harder, not just to pay her back but to
show her I appreciate what she did for me.
A majority of parents (54%) had the same or higher educational expectations
for their daughters as for their sons, which is consistent with the egalitarian,
complementary roles that many Indian women held in societies in the past. In fact,
Rosie (Oglala Lakota) stated that her parents had higher expectations for the girls in
her family than the boys:
My mom was raised by her grandmother, so my upbringing was maybe more
traditional than somebody who was raised by parents. My moms very strict,
very hardworking, believes in education, and stuff like that. So I believe the
expectations for me were higher. For education, and being able to support
myself, and being the carrier of the traditions. It was expected more for
women than for my brothers.
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Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho) averred that Indian men are not pushed like Indian
womep are:
My brother was really coddled. We girls were pushed very hard. I dont
think my mom had lesser expectations in terms of she always hoped hed go
to college and atl that, like we did. But I think she limited him in that she
didnt push him like she pushed us.
Hes the youngest, and hes the boy. Ive talked to a lot of Indian
women, and they say ,Yeah, yeah, Native men, its like that, especially
when theyre the youngest. The women really coddle them a lot. So the
expectations for women are actually higher.
When asked about her parents life expectations for her and her 12 siblings, Sarah
(Oglala Lakota) replied that for the boys, her parents wished for independence and
survival There were no educational expectations, just mostly surviving and trying
to be healthy kids. For the girls, her parents hoped they would marry Indian men.
Only Sarah has done so. Despite few or no educational expectations from her
parents, Sarah is one year away from her doctoral degree.
To learn whether the respondents had experienced diminished power in their
lives because of being female, I asked whether they had ever felt ignored or excluded
at school or at work due to their sex. Fifty-seven per cent of the women reported
that yes, they had been treated differently as a result of being female. A
Navajo/African American fiscal administrator reported:
Ive felt competitive as a female, yes, and its always work-related.
I had to go through extra steps to get a promotion. Or
competition-wise, like when I went and applied for an auditing job.
All the other applicants were in their mid-40s or mid-50s, and they
54


were White males. There were 50 people in that room, and nobody was
like me. So I gave up the thought of trying to get into that job right
away. I changed my strategy. I just went in as a clerk and worked my way up
to this state job. I had to change and say Id go in as a clerk. A lot of
minorities do that. There have been battles Ive had to do, for being female
and a minority.
Female African American scholars maintain that gender identity is interwoven
with racial identity among women of color. Gender and race represent different
relations of power in society (hooks, 1981, Higginbotham, 1992). Several
respondents (33%) brought up the double bind of being a minority woman and how
it is not always clear which aspect of themselves someone is noticing and treating
differently. Casey (Mescalero Apache) replied that, Its hard to tell. When youre
Native American and youre a woman... So its like, Which part of me do you not
like?
Bernice (Navajo), a retired director of a business office for the State of Colorado
mentioned feeling excluded, ...at school, at work, social gatherings, I guess
everywhere. I think at work, it was more, because I was more conscious that I was
the only Indian person and the only woman, too. Speaking about being isolated for
being female, Tanya (Oglala Lakota) added that:
Ive had that feeling of being excluded both in a non-Native world as well
in a Native world; At times, if youre a woman, you have a different role.
Ive always remembered people just making me sometimes feel, you know,
not only was I a dumb Indian, but I was a dumb Indian woman. I felt it
many times.
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Another factor in acts of sexual discrimination at work that affected 20% of
the respondents was age. Being under 50, a female, and a person of color, together
combined to make office situations difficult for some women. Katherine
(Cheyenne/Arapaho) recounted:
Sometimes I think, in my profession, its a combination of age and
being female. My boss is a gray-haired old man. He can get away with saying
really obnoxious things. Hes right. But if I say something half as obnoxious,
I get myself in big trouble.
Sarah (Oglala Lakota) confirms the age/sex/race dilemma:
The research arena is mostly older, male-dominated, White-dominated,
and I find myself having to really get prepared for meetings just so I
can be on the same level, so I can communicate like they do. I used
to think it was a White man personality type, where they wanted to
conquer the world, conquer Mount Everest. And I kept thinking, Wait
a minute, I fit in there somewhere, you know.
Looking at the 43% of respondents who did not feel they had been ignored or
slighted for being female, one said, Maybe once at work, but I laughed it off and
didnt feel I needed to defend my rights. Another felt that although the men treated
her differently at work due to being female, it was better because they took care of
her. The majority of respondents (57%) have experienced being excluded or shut out
at school or work, and, although they believe the reason has been due to their sex, as
women of color, they suspect that being Indian and younger may also be factors.
56


Narrative as Survival
With the exception of Jessie (Ogtala Lakota), who grew up in an orphanage
and various foster homes, every woman in the study, as children or as adults,
remembered hearing stories from mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, great-
grandmothers, or other elders. The stories were creation stories, lessons, myths, and
family histories. A Lakota/Cfieyenne elder remembers her great-grandmothers
stories about the ghost dancers just before the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) at
Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and tales of the great Lakota warrior.
Crazy Horse, whose burial place remains a secret even today.
Narratives of Native women are situated at the heart of preserving traditional
stories, songs, languages, ceremonies, and ways of life. Amid constant change, Indian
women have resolutely helped their culture and languages survive. Narratives in the
form of oral histories and family stories socially construct powerful realitiesvalues,
concepts, ideas, and self-knowledge as they are passed down from generation to
generation. (Green, 1992, Bataille & Sands, 1984, Ortiz, 1993).
An Oglala/Cherokee woman declared that, The stories are who you are,
your history. Its who you are and where youre going. Rosie (Oglala Lakota)
affirmed that the stories, They keep you connected to who you are, to your
57


traditions .. .and they keep our culture strong, which is really good. Casey
(Mescalero Apache) explains why Indian people tell these stories:
So the kids will know where they come from and learn about themselves.
If we ever lost those stories, it would be a real big problem for the tribes.
If there were kids out there that didnt know anything about themselves,
its like being Ipst.
A Navajo/Lakota college student mentioned that she gained a strong sense of who
she is from the stories of her elders:
Because in school, you learn very little about indigenous people. Maybe
something about how Columbus discovered you, or whatever. [She laughs]
But you dont get a true sense of what your people have been through, what
theyve done, or anything. So it gives us a real sense of identity and pride in
what we, Dine, The People, have been through and accomplished. And if you
dont pass it on, if you dont give that identity with the culture to the next
generation, then its lost, and it will eventually disappear.
Several women (27%) mentioned concern about losing the stories and have
begun video-taping their mothers or other elders storytelling. Sarah (Oglala Lakota)
stated,
You know, I think about this all the time, how were losing our oral
tradition. Shortly before my mother passed away, I talked with our
family and said, Look, think about all of the stories that she gave us, her
and our father. Theyre not going to be around anymore, and its up to the
older siblings to pass those down so we can pass them on to our children.
So they thought about it, and they agreed, so we filmed a couple of our
get-togethers, of them telling stories.
When asked why it is important for Indian people to continue telling these narratives,
Jessie (Oglala Lakota) expressed that its because of:
Continuity. A belief in yourself. A belief in a link to the past and the
58


traditions. Keeping it alive. Its a part of identity. If you let go of those
stories, then whats left? Then youre White. Youve assimilated. You
acculturate, you assimilate.. .that fine line between identity kept and
identity gone. Were walking that tightrope that most bicultural,
biracial people walk.
Delgado (1989) reminds us that sharing narratives, partaking in conversations, living
fives, all serve to continuously construct and reconstruct identity, for reality is ever-
evolving.
Language and Identity
Indian people have had to fight to maintain their languages, resisting
Euroamerican attempts to civilize and acculturate them. Despite attempts by
Christian missionaries to abolish tribal stories and traditional ways, and the Indian
boarding school program that attempted to eradicate Indian culture, Native
languages have persisted (Ortiz, 1993). Language is a survival tool of Indian nations
that speaks in a collective as well as a personal voice, and the women of this study
confirmed the deep importance of language. Bernice (Navajo) described her early
years at an Indian boarding school in Arizona in the 1950s:
I spoke Navajo until I was 11 and started going to school. I didnt speak any
English. The day I went to school, that was it. I couldnt speak Navajo any
more. You had to speak English, whether you knew how to speak English
or not. As an Indian, at school, you did not speak your language. But I still
speak Navajo. I never lost it.
When we started school, we had to take different names, I had to
change my language, change my food, change my dress, and my hair was cut
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So I lost five of the key elements of my identity right there on that day, on the
first day of school.
One third (33%) of the respondents went to government boarding schools.
Their parents were threatened with jail unless they complied by sending their
children. Children were taken away from their families and placed in a foreign
environment where their native languages and culture were forbidden. Sarah (Oglala
Lakota) was the third generation in her family to attend boarding school. She recalls:
I dont have any good memories. First of all, it was painful for us to be
dropped off. It wasnt any fun to be separated from our parents. It was strict,
and I thought it was abusive. It was humiliating. I think the biggest problem
for me was not understanding why we were there and why it was that we had
to attend church every morning.
Because language is a vital component of culture and identity for people,
boarding school attempts to eradicate native languages were traumatizing to
children. Maryanne (Ogliala Lakota) speaks Lakota fluently and has always spoken
Lakota at home. Language is very, very important to her because it keeps your
culture and your tradition going. Maryanne and her school mates surreptitiously
maintained their native language at boarding school:
At school, we couldnt even speak Lakota. They cut our hair. Three or
four of us, we would always speak the Lakota language, and when they
caught us, they would punish us. Severely. Such as by hitting us. But
we kept doing it anyway. And now today, theyre all after us to speak the
the language! [She chuckles]
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When asked in what ways language was important to who she is, Sarah
(Oglala Lakota) said simply, Its my whole identity. Jhe Navajo language
continues to play an important role in Bernices life:
Language is really important to me at this point because I can still talk
to my mother. And I can talk to the elders on the reservation when I go
home. Its a part of my identity that I feel fortunate to have been able to
recover. I felt like I could have lost it [from boarding school], but I still
have it. I feel that language is a tool I can use to make connection with
other people, other Navajo people in the city. And it just makes me feel good.
Rosie (Oglala Lakota) spoke at length about the importance of language. Her mother
and her husband speak Lakota fluently, and she is actively learning to be more
proficient. Rosie expressed that:
Our history and our spirituality and even the land is all tied in to our
language. For me, it is nurturing, soothing, and peaceful to hear elders speak
their language. When I hear Lakota and speak Lakota, I feel I have come
home.
Reservation Life
All of the 15 respondents have lived on a reservation for some portion of
their lives, and they have strong-feelings about their experiences. Family and
extended family relationships were warm and affectionate. Great aunts and uncles
were often considered as, additional grandmas and grandpas. Close ties made
boarding school separations painful. Having to leave the security of family for college
or job opportunities made some women feel conflicted about being in the city. In
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spite of problems like poverty and alcoholism at the rez, and the ensuing mixed
feelings about this duality, for all the women, the reservation epitomized home. Sarah
(Oglala Lakota) reminisced:
The overall experience was warm. I loved living in our log cabin. You
know, it was a small log cabin, two bedrooms and a kitchen. But it was still
fun. We were very close. I come from a family of 13 siblings. Of course,
always Mom and Dad there. We had a huge garden, so thats where we got
our vegetables and fruits from. It was just nice being way out there. And we
had horses, you know, we went horseback riding. Then we went down to
the creek and played down there. I really miss those days.
In those days, there wasnt a lot of alcoholism and
violence, like there is now. I remember when my mother and
father had company. They would show up, sometimes they had cars,
but sometimes, they would show up in their wagons, and they would
camp around the house. When we had company, they would ask me to
make a cake, andT would bake a cake in the old-fashioned wood stove.
I just remember everybody sitting around, playing cards, all the adults, you
know, and all the kids were playing outside. Most of the friends and
neighbors would stay a day or two, and then they would leave. It was really
nice.
Bernice was bom on the Navajo reservation in Arizona and never left the area where
she was raised until she went to boarding school at age 11 and a half:
Never leaving the area, where I was bom and raised, not ever going to a city
or town, never experiencing riding in a car... it felt like that was the way it
was supposed to be. Like, this is life. I just never thought I would leave
the area. The mountain was so far away, and the world outside just didnt
exist.
Rosie (Oglala Lakoja) described Iier early life at Pine Ridge reservation in South
Dakota:
As a child, I can remember, it was fim! Oh, it was so much fun! We could just
walk anywhere. We didnt have to worry about anything. All the cousins, all
62


the relatives, lots of kids to play with, always someone to hang out with.
There wasnt a lot to do, but I didnt really know about that until later, cause
we always found stuff to do. It was fun. I really liked it.
Despite the remote and often barren settings, these Native women had fun as children
at the reservation. A young Qglala Lakota mother recalled, We were always
outside, playing with the dogs, playing in the mud. There was stuff to play with, like
make mud pies and act like theyre reaL Another Oglala Lakota mother expressed
that, Theres real family closeness, and being with all Indians, every where you
went. A Lakota/Cheyenne woman said bluntly, It was kind of desolate, nothing to
play with or anything. But we didnt seem to mind. A young Rosebud Sioux
woman, now working at a university, described the family love amid the bone-
chilling poverty:
Oh, the winters are cold, the snow is deep. Youre poor, and when you do
have money for the propane truck, you cant get out because the snows too
deep. The roofleaked. We lived in a trailer, and we had to tie one of the
doors shut with a jump rope because the door wouldnt shut. And then, we
put all our pots and pans down the hallway cause the roofleaked. And thats
when you do get housing. It was poor, and it was rough. But I still remember
it as a happy time. StufFthat was bad, Ive lost. I remember these times. I still
had my mom. Family. Still felt loved.
Not all the women spoke with nostalgia about reservation life. An
Oglala/Cherokee woman reported her reservation time as the worst years of my
life. Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho) had strongly mixed feelings about growing up
on the Flandreau-Santee reservation:

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I find South Dakota to be a very oppressive place, in terms of the politics and
stuff. I find the elements on the. South Dakota plains to be very harsh. I found
the sunlight in South Dakota could be oppressive as well. Its so sunny, and
the skies are so wide open, I fell like somebody could reach down and just
grab me. I mean, there was no protection. Consequently, I like cloudy skies
and urban, closed places. On the other hand, L lived with my great-
grandmother who I was closer to than anybody. I think that is largely
responsible for any stability I have in my life. So it was both a very, very
enriching, happy, loving experience, and very oppressive.
Landscape
Reservations, their land, and the landscape around them evoke myriad
emotions and longings among the Indian women who grew up or have lived there.
Land is first of alt significant to Indian people because of the numerous broken
treaties about land, between the U.S..government and indigenous people. The South
Dakota Black HilTs, Paha Sapa, now converted to camping destinations, Mount
Rushmore carved out with heads of American presidents, and the Crazy Horse
Monument tourist attractions, including ice cream stands and mini-golf venues
these hills are sacred to Indian people who long for them to be restored to their
original, pristine beauty. Reservation demarcations are a persistent reminder of the
U.S. governments shattered promises. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) avowed:
I just have this picture of the boundaries, the reservation boundaries. Im in
such disagreement with that, that I refuse to move back to live within the
boundaries to what the government gave us. Landscape is something weve
had taken away from us. I go back to the Black Hills. Thats where I usually
go to pray. And I'feel really blessed when Im back there. Its sort of a
spiritual renewal. I feel the connectedness there, which is totally different
64


from what I feel oathe reservation.
When asked about the meaning of landscape to her, Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho)
replied thoughtfully:
Even though I have lived all over the country, lived overseas, my dream
landscape, always my dreams are in South Dakota. Even though I say I
would never go back there, other than to visit, of course.
So I do believe that if youre raised there.. .and this could be anybody,
a non-Indian as well, that you become very tied to that landscape. It might
become your reference for everything, whether or not youre actually
out there doing cultural practices, or whatever.
The notion of the reservation and its landscape as home surfaced as a
recurring theme. One third (33%)- of the respondents mentioned the necessity of that
connection to the landscape as something intrinsic to their sense of home and
belonging. Tanya (Oglala/Cheyenne) said firmly, If I cant look and see open space
and trees and things, I get that feeling that Im penned in. I have to see it every day. I
have to feel that connection. A young Navajo/Lakota mother declared:
Theres a lot of nature [at the reservation], and real family closeness, and
being with all Indians. Im definitely glad that I was bom there, and that I
lived there for those times, because I got a strong sense of who I was, as
a wholeness, which is like being around my people and everything.
When I go back to the reservation, I dont know if its a nostalgia
or excitedhess, but I just feel differently. I feel like Im home. Its like this
happy feeling inside of me, and I know I only feel that way there, when I
go home.
When Navajo children are bom, they take the umbilical cord and they
bury it on your land or where you live so your children will always return
home. So Ive always felt that in knowing that, I have a connection to that
land there. Thats my home, and thats where Ill return. Youll always know
thats where youre from. The land is something you cant really
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disconnect from Native people because it defines who they are.
Because of this abiding connection to the land, Indian people struggle while
living in the city. Although urban environments offer education and job opportunities,
they cut people off from the security and support of family. When youre back
home, every face you see is a brown face, and it feels more comfortable, explained
Casey, (Mescalale Apache) Feeling a connection with the landscape makes you
appreciate where you come from, all the things youve learned. And when you go
somewhere, you kind of take it with you.
Maryanne (Oglala Lakota) addressed the difficulty of Indian people living in
an urban environment, away from the stretches of land that affirm the self:
I think theyre having a very, very hard time there. Theyre kind of lost, you
know, but they have no choice. A lot of them are orphans, their mothers and
dads are gone. Theyre young people; they dont have anyone but us, the
elders to go to, or one another. So its very hard for them. Plus there are
mixed marriages, and they have children that I think theyve kind of lost
control of...
Rosie (Oglala Lakota) took her children, at ages six and 14 to live and go to school
at Pine Ridge reservation while she worked as a school counselor:
Its really depressing there because theres so many hardships that people
have. Theres a lot of poverty, theres a lot of abuse, theres a lot of violence,
theres drug abuse, substance abuse... sometimes its just such a desperate
place.
When asked how she felt about bringing her children into that environment, Rosie
answered:
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I wanted them to experience it, And I thought, if anything, its going to make
them stronger. Make them understand where their people are, where they
come from, too. They have to know where they come from. Thats really
important. You have alt this violence and alcoholism, and yet, the richest
culture is there. You cant get that here in the city. Theres Indians here, but
you cant get it like you get it there, the language and the ceremonies. So you
have the worst and the best of both worlds.
I felt really accepted when I went to live there. Before I went, a lot
of people were going around saying that the people on the reservation were
not going to be very accepting because I was from the city. But I didnt feel
any of that. I think that if youre open, and youre gentle, and you have an
open mind, then people are going to see that. I felt like I really blossomed
there. I felt like I went back home.
Whether they are living in the city or returning to a reservation, Indian
women seem to be entwined and bound to landscaperbe it the reservation, or the
expanses of surrounding areas, landscape becomes a reference for home, family and
self-definition. For city-dwellers, landscape sometimes becomes relegated to
memory, but its visions recur to remind and replenish when the strains of urban life
overwhelm individuals. From burying an.infants umbilical cord in the land, to the
spiritual certainty of the sacredness of the Black Hills, landscape serves to recall and
remind Indian women of their connection to the land. Landscape envelops them with
a sense of home that they will always carry with them.
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CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION
One of the last interview questions I asked the Indian women in this research
study had to do with how they thought their lives might change during the next 10
years. Many had experienced difficulties and traumatic events in their lives, tragedies
that would have brought others less strong to their knees. Yet, time and time again,
for themselves, their children^ or for Indian people,, they picked up the pieces and
reassembled their lives to go on, sometimes with stubborn persistence against many
odds. During the coming decade, these women envision themselves in graduate
school, having a child, making it back to the reservation to live, seeing Europe for
the first time, involved in activities reciprocal to their communities, and spending
more time with their families.
I still did not understand with certainty, what enabled these women to go on,
what prevailing forces allowed them to be optimistic about an unknown future. My
final question was: What do you hope for? Many of the women hope for good health
for their children and themselves,, to do their best for their children so they may have
good lives. They hope for their children to grow up and be strong in their
communities and be happy. However, Jessie (Oglala Lakota), who grew up in
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orphanages and foster homes told me, Fm really good with failure, hut I have a very
deep fear of success. So I dont ever hope for anything, so as not to be
disappointed. Understandably, someone with a chaotic, inconstant childhood would
hesitate to articulate specific hopes for the future.
Several women expressed hope that alcoholism among Indian people would
decrease. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) stated simply:
What comes to mind is to be the healthy people that we once were. Ive
seen a lot of suffering. Ive experienced a lot of suffering. We have to be able
to get some sobriety. We have to be able to have happiness in our life. I think
were on the threshold of something larger and more healing. We have to be
able to cpme to terms with, Yes, we were traumatized, but how can we
transcend the trauma and make something different? Create a new path for
us. I think identity not only involves our community, our land, our language,
but our families and our spirituality. Its all interrelated.
Rosie (Oglala Lakota) expressed a similar hope:
This is what I hope for. This is what I pray for, too. That alcoholism will be
no more for Oglala people. Ill start there because thats where I come from.
Those are my people. That clans connected to me. Thats something I hope
for, for my people.
The other thing I hope for is for leaders of this country to be big
leaders when it comes to dealing with Indian people, and the relationships
that the government has with Indian ^people.
For myself, I hope to be more sensitive, to be more compassionate
and humble. For my kids, I hope for a good education for them so they can
go out and educate^ others about their people and who they are.
In writing about how to apply critical race theory to an enhanced
understanding of race and racial identity, most researchers would have difficulty
absenting themselves from the discussion. Whether one is a person of color or White,
69


this discourse involves everyone. Learning about others multiplicity of selves and
culturally silenced voices, due to being Indian or female or both, made me take
notice. Looking to how narrative as method can socially construct a reality that
encompasses and celebrates marginalized individuals opened my thinking to new
ways of conceiving identity. To be color blind requires one to notice race in the
first place, in order to profess that it doesnt matter. But race does matter, and we
need to acknowledge a consciousness of race as well as its singular impact on Indian
women and other women of color. We need to imagine that researchers, social
workers, and scholars could have different opinions based on their race, as these 15
women have testified.
Clandinin and Connelly (1998) espouse personal experience methods as a
means for researchers to penetrate and participate in the social worlds of others.
Personal experience through in-depth, face-to-face interviews engages participants in
conversations about life ways and the fundamental human connection among all of
us, and as a result, social change can take place. Personal experience grants the
possibility of personal transformation and growth.
Delgados (1989) plea for narrative touched me and shook me into
questioning assumptions I may have been overlooking my entire life. Storytelling has
an effect on the oppressor, inviting the listener to see the world from someone elses
eyes. The experience of interviewing and talking with these 15 American Indian
70


women affected me deeply. During my second interview, the woman told me about
the death of her 19-year-old daughter, a young college student of exceptional
intelligence, abilities, and beauty. We talked for two hours, meeting in the daughters
bedroom, where the mother likes to spend time to feel close to her. High school
photos, ribbons, and mementos graced the walls of her room. I imagined myself
grieving my own daughter, and I felt an unbearable ache of compassion and sadness.
Walking into my house that night, hearing the routine chatter of my childrens voices,
I felt like I was a different person. As I continued with the interview experiences, I
knew a transformation was taking place in my knowledge and consciousness.
I began the research experience desiring knowledge and understanding of
Indian womens lives. So interviews like the one I just described are what I wanted. I
didnt know what the journey was going to be like, as I traveled to this uncharted
place. A person could not do what I did and not be affected by the experience. Again
and again, I felt immeasurably touched and honored that each woman was so open
with me. My own reality and identity were reconstructed many times during my four
months of interviewing and transcribing.
When I transcribed the tape-recorded interviews, I made some observations.
Some women became more talkative and relaxed as the interview progressed. I think
that as they gauged the sincerity of my interest,, they opened up more and gave
longer answers. After the first couple of interviews, I slowed my pace somewhat, in
71


order to allow a more natural dialogue to unfold. I also learned to pick up signals for
when someone had more to say, such as There is a story about my daughters
name. My probes became spontaneous and unrehearsed The women I spoke with
often talked beyond the initial questions. They seemed to appreciate being heard, that
their stories and views were important to me.
When listening to the tape-recordings, I noticed that some womens voices
shifted into subtly different modulations^ cadence., and inflections so that they
sounded more relaxed and less formal as the interview continued. Perhaps as they
became more comfortable with me, they felt they could speak more naturally.
As a situated researcher, I experienced the interviews on three different
levels, which seemed to resemble the way the respondents would use narratives to
construct and reconstruct theft Native identities, with increasing detail. First, I lived
the immediacy of the face-to-face interview, with someone I usualLy had not met
before. Along with asking questions, I mentally noted our surroundings, what she
was wearing, facial expressions, any information I would conscientiously record
later, which might afford insights into the interviewee and her life.
Next, I typed up each interview at my home computer with the help of a
transcribing machine and headphones. During this second process, I sometimes heard
sentences or whole paragraphs that I didnt remember from the face-to-face
interview, when I was flooded with visual as well as aural and sensory information.
72


Alone with my recordings* transcribing became a sort of reliving experience for me.
The distinctive quality of each womans voice would take me back to the setting of
our interview, where I might hear the sound of laundry tumbling in a clothes dryer,
smell again the cold scent of new snow outside, or hear a childs voice next door.
The intimacy was powerful and stirring all over again.
The third level of interview experience took place when I analyzed what the
women said. Marking certain passages^ looking for meanings that lay between the
lines of text, I became very familiar with each womans passions and issues. The
women and their voices were a constant presence in my life during that time period.
Their utterances followed me anytime I was driving in the car, walking outdoors, or
lying in bed at night. I thought about what their words revealed. I was excited to
discover similarities, and I was-ihtriguedby the contrasts.
These three levels of experiencingthe interviews produced a powerful
discourse of identities which have attempted to bring together as a body of
knowledge that may inform the reader with insights into Native womens lives.
During the process, I suspect that at least some of the respondents experienced a
clarification of themselves^ when! asked them to articulate how they felt about issues
like racial identity and effects of sexism in their lives. Using language to describe
ones views to a stranger requires a measure of self-examination that may further
explain oneself.
73


In considering my research, questions at the end of Chapter 2, my analysis of
the 15 interviews provided many answers and invited some new questions. Being
mixed-blood or full-blood mattered less (I dont even connect with the fact that
I am part White) than the issue of racial identification by means of blood quantum,
perceived as a White-initiated,, culture-destroying practice. The double weight of
race and sex oppression, with diminished power due to discrimination, was
confirmed and lived out in many Indian womens lives, with indelible effects on their
definitions of self But the sharing and passing down of oral histories, narratives and
the persistence of native languages serve to socially construct powerful realities of
who they are, keeping their culture strong. I had included a few questions about
whether the women had ever lived on a reservation, and I asked what that experience
had been like. I was astonished at the deeply felt emotions of all the women about
their times living on reservations^ and the duality they experienced by living in the.
city now. When I inquired about the meaning of the land in their lives, many spoke at
length about their lifelong, tie to a particular landscape. Reservation life versus urban
life, and landscape as a reference point, emerged as unanticipated themes in identity
construction for American. Indian women.
As a White, female researcher, I have wondered where my studies involving
racial identity can lead me. Ladson-Billings (1999) says that to the extent that Whites
(or in the case of sexism, men) experience forms of racial oppression, they may
74


develop a standpoint of experiential knowledge from a shared history as other. She
states that when White parents adopt transracially, such identification may occur (p.
12). As the mother of an adopted American. Indian child, I affirm that I do experience
this racial identification.
As to whether a White woman has the right to pursue Native American
issues for research and write about them, Wendy Rose, Hopi, (1992) extends that she
knows of no Indian who has ever asserted that only Indians can make valid
observations about themselves. The question is one of integrity and intent, not a
particular topic. Rose relates that many non-Native people, from the stated
perspective of a non-Nativer have written sincere, eloquent accounts of Indian
interests. But a non-Indian cannot write from an Indian perspective or express an
Indian spirituality. What he or she may do is produce another view or spiritual
expression. Something I gained from this research study is the conviction that such
issues are legitimate for me as a researcher, despite being White, and perhaps
because I am a woman and a mother of a Native child. My desire to pursue such
research is driven by my own multiplicity of identities and a yearning to know more.
Future research might consider Erving Goffinans (1959) inductive,
dramaturgical approach, to identify the ways in which, individuals accomplish
interaction in a variety of social contexts. Goffinan paid attention to everyday speech,
physical gestures, bodily appearance, and dress, to interpret events and experiences.
75


A researcher might examine the roles some Indian people feel they must play,
through affected speech, mannerisms, and dress, and the acts they feel they must put
on, in order to function in both White and Indian worlds. How does playing roles or
acting strain ones true identity? In what ways is identity altered when Indian people
move off the reservation to lie in. a city, where they often marry non-Indian people?
How might being perceived as a sell-out or acting too White affect the
foundation of ones identity as an Indian person?
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APPENDIX
77


APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW GUIDELINE
Research Study : Voices of American Indian Women: Constructing Identity
Interviewer: Rebecca Van Buren
/
Interviewee: Research study pseudonym:
Interviewees phone number:
Date:
Location:
Time started:
Interruptions:
DEMOGRAPHIC and DESCRIPTIVE QUESTIONS
1. What is your full birth, name?
2. Does this name have any special meaning in your familys history?
3. What name do you go by now?
a) If different name than birth name: Could you tell me about your present
name?
(If same name as birth name, go on to next question.)
4. In what year were you bom?
5. Where were you bom?
78


6. Where were each of your parents bom?
7. Where did you live during your childhood, from infancy to age 18?
8. What is your level of schooling? (Read or show following list to respondent)
{ } Less than high school
{ } Graduated from high school
{ } Some college
{ } Graduated 2-year college
{ } Graduated 4-year college
{ } Post graduate course work or degree
9. What is your occupation?
10. Have you ever been married?
11. Do you have any children?
If yes, Could you please tell me their names and ages?
12. How would you describe your ethnicity or heritage?
13. What is your tribal affiliation?
14. Are you registered with this tribe?
15. How would ypu describe your religion or spirituality?
NOTES:
79


INTERVIEW GUIDELINE
CONTENT QUESTIONS
Interviewee
1. Have you ever lived on a reservation?
Ifyes,
a) Which reservation ?
b) Where is it ?
c) When did you live there?
d) Could you tell me what this experience was like for you?
If no.
Do you feel you missed out as a child, not being exposed to tribal
traditions?
2. Could you tell me what the idea of place or landscape means to you?
3. In what ways does feeling a connection with a particular place or landscape shape
the person you have become? (Would you be exactly the same person, living
elsewhere?)
4. In your opinion, what role does the land, place, or landscape play in the history of
Indian people?
5. Indian writers, such as Simon Ortiz (Acoma), say that the oral, that is the spoken,
tradition of stories and songs is the foundation for the written word and identity
for many Indian people. Do you remember hearing relatives share traditional
stories when you were growing up?
If yes,
a) Could you tell me who told some of these stories?
b) Do you remember what some of these stories were about?
c) Who were some of the people or characters in these stories?
d) What did you get out of hearing these stories? (How did these stories make you
feel about yourself?)
If no.
Do you think spoken stories and songs are important in your tradition, in
general?
80


6. Have you shared or might you share some of these same stories with your own
children or nieces or nephews or grandchildren one day?
7. Why would someone pass along a traditional story?
8. Do you think it is important for Indian people to continue telling these stories?
Why or why not?
9. Do you have any brothers dr sisters?
Ifves.
a) What are their names and ages?
b) What were some of your parents life expectations for the boys in your
family?
c) Wfliat were some of your parents life expectations for the girls in your
family?
d) Were there any differences in your parents expectations for sons or
daughters?
e) What did you dream about doing or becoming when you were 5-15 years
old? From 16 to 20? From then to the present?
If the answer to Question 9 is no brothers/sisters. skip a) through e): go to ft:
f) In what ways did your familys expectations for you as an only female child
affect your ambitions or goals for yourself?
g) What did you dream about doing or becoming when you were 5-15 years
old? From 16 to 20 ? From 21 to the present?
10. Do you consider yourself to be foil-blood or mixed blood Indian?
If answer is mixed, ask a) and bk if foil-blood, ask bl only:
a) Abenaki writer Joseph Bruchac says that even though a small percentage of
his ancestry is Indian, it seems to be the strongest voice. Do you feel this
statement fits you? (Why?)
b) When do you most strongly feel your native heritage? When do you least feel
it?
11. Have you ever passed for White?
If ves.
a) Could you tell me about a time when this happened?
b) Since you consider yourself Indian, did passing for White feel dissonant or
incompatible to you?
If no.
a) Do you know someone Indian who has passed for Wfliite?
81


b) How do you think he/she felt about it?
c) What do you think about it?
12. Have you ever felt excluded or ignored in a college class (or at work) because
you are
Indian?
If yes.
a) Could you tell me about a time when you felt excluded or ignored?
b) What, if anything, did you do about it?
If no.
a) Do you know someone else who did?
b) Did he or she tell you what happened?
13. Have you ever felt excluded or ignored in a class/at work because you are
female?
If ves.
-a) Could youteli me about a time when you felt excluded or ignored?
b) What, if anything, did you do about it?
If no.
a) Do you know someone who felt this way?
b) Did she tell you what happened?
14. Could you tell me about a time when you felt included and a member of a
group?
15. What aspirations or hopes do you think Anglo women of your age have, in terms
of educational achievement?
16. Hopi-Miwok poet and writer Wendy Rose says that being biologically half-breed
has created identity conflicts for her, as she is too White to be Indian, too dark to be
White. How do you feel about this statement?
17. Is your biological birth mother Indian? What about your biological father?
If ves. a) What are their tribal affiliations?
18. Among some Indian people, the clan and ones identity come through the birth
mother. Is this practice accepted with your tribe? (Is your tribe matrilineal? How
has this affected you and your sense of identity?)
19. From whom or where do you draw your strength? Could you tell me more... ?
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20. Whether full-blood or mixed-blood Indian, how do you feel about being part of
two culturally different worlds^ Indian and Anglo? (How do you manage your life?)
21. What is your native language? Do you speak it?
22. How important is language to who you are?
23. How do you think your life may change during the next ten years? (Your work?
Where will you be Gvihg? Family changes?)
24. What do you hope for?
CONCLUDING REMARKS
1. Those are all the questions I have. Was there anything more you wished you had
a chance to talk about or something else I should be asking the women I talk
with?
2. Later, when I check over my notes or the tape, if Im not clear about something
you said, would it be all right if I caked you?
3. Would you like me to send you the results of this research study? (If yes, note
respondent address here)
4. Td Gke to thank you very much for being part of this study.
Time interview ended:
NOTES:


APPENDIX B: CONSENT FORM
Research Study: Voices of American Indian Women: Constructing Identity
1. The purpose of this study is to understand how Native American women define
and describe themselves in terms of race, and in terms of being female. What are
some of the important things that make up ones identity? The researcher would
also like to understandhow being full-blood or mixed blood Indian affects ones
sense of identity. The researcher plans to interview 12-15 Native women who are
volunteer respondents, for approximately one to 11/2 hours each, over a two
month period.
2. Each respondent will participate in an informal, in-depth, interview lasting
approximately 1 to 11/2 hours. The researcher will tape-record this conversation
so she may Esten attentively to the respondent and write down details of the
interview later. The respondent may always request that the tape recorder be
turned off for some portion of the interview. The researcher may need to phone
the respondent later in order to clarify some details from the interview.
3. Since most questions-for interviews are of a general nature, the researcher does
not foresee any known risks to study participants. If the respondent feels any
discomfort, she may discontinue at any time.
4. Native American women have not often been a topic for sociological studies. By
participating in this study, Native women may realize that their ideas and
opinions matter and are valued. Describing their realities may help Native women
clarify and feel increased pride in their identities. Sharing the research results will
add to the body of social science knowledge and may dispel some ignorance and
prejudice of non-Indian people.
5. This research does not pertain to any medical treatments for research conditions.
6. The researcher will treat each subjects responses as strictly confidential. Written
results of thestudy will only refer to respondents using pseudonyms. The
researcher will change any details which might identity a specific individual. Only
the researcher will transcribe the audio-tapes. All materials from this study will
be stored in a safe, private place. In the unlikely event that confidentiality were
84


breached, the researcher expects few or no negative results, since the interview
questions generally do not deal with controversial topics.
7. All subjects are voluntary participants, and one may abstain from answering any
question or withdraw from the study at. any time without penalty.
S. The researcher will answer any questions a respondent may have concerning the
study, unless the information sought could compromise the study or its
participants confidentiality.
9. If any participant has questions about her rights as a research subject, she may
contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU-Denver Building, Suite 700, 303-
556-2550.
10 Each respondent will receive a copy of this consent form and the research study
results, upon request.
I__________________________________________, agree to participate in this study on
Native American womens identity. I consent to all of the above terms and
conditions. I understand my participation is completely voluntary, and I may
withdraw from the study at any time.
Subjects Name (print)____________________________________________
Date______________
Subjects Signature ______________________________________________
Signature_________________________________
Rebecca Van Buren, principal investigator
85


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Full Text

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VOICES OF AMERICAN INDIAN WOMEN: CONSTRUCTING IDENTITY by Rebecca VanBuren B A George Washington University, 1972 M F.A., University of Colorado, Boulder, 1979 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Sociology 2001

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Rebecca Van Buren has been approved by /0/ Date

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Van Buren, Rebecca (M.A., Sociology) Voices of American Indian Women: Constructing Identity Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug ABSTRACT This research study explores identity issues for a generally ignored and neglected segment of our population, American Indian women. Previous literature has touched upon blood quantum measures and racial identity, historical perceptions of Indian women and power, and narrative and language as survival tools Critical race theory emerged in the mid-1970s to question the social constructions of race and "Whiteness", pointing out how legal ideology supports and sustains class structure in the U.S. Critical race theory suggests that racial separation and marginalization perpetuate the political and legal empowerment of Whites as the dominant group. Critical race theory rejects the White experience as the normative framework and instead sets forth the subjective, experiential knowledge of people of color to analyze society, promote social activism, and to improve oppressive conditions. This study looks at racial identity through the eyes of fifteen women who share their life views of what it is to be an American Indian woman at the beginning of the twenty-first century, including how being "mixed blood" or "full-blood" define and delineate their identities. Although race appears to be the master status for Native women, they have also encountered marginalization due to being female, both at school and in the workplace. Mainstream civil rights arguments favor the experiences of African American men, while mainstream feminism is modeled after the life experiences of white women, leaving women of color with the double weight of race and sex domination. This study explores the intersection of race and sex in Native women s lives. American Indian women's consistent use of narrative is true to critical race theory's goal of subjective, experiential knowledge. Passing along stories to successive generations serves to socially construct a powerful identity that embraces their cultural viewpoints and shared history of oppression. In addition, iii

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a spiritual connection with the landscape emerges as a consistent component of Indian women's identity. Future research might examine how leaving the reservation, being perceived as a "seII-out" or acting too "White" and mixed marriages undermine the foundation of one's Indian identity. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed IV

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DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to my four unique and wonderful children, Daniel, Peter, Merritt, and Lyle. You are indeed part of the Seventh Generation of and potential builders of a more compassionate world in the 21 st century: Daniel, ever kind, you always took time to walk and talk with me. You kept me buoyant, assuring me I could do this project. Peter, you admired my determination and always remembered to "check in" regularly about my progress, Merritt, your constant presence helped calm me in endless ways. I'll never forget the encouraging notes you wrote to me, and the many times you told me to take a bath or go to bed when I worked past midnight. Last but most definitely not least, five-year-old Lyle, my Oglala Lakota son ... you are a big part of this work, in ways you will not fully understand until you are grown. How grateful I am you have graced all of our lives with your joyful spirit. Mitakuye Oyasin.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT My heartfelt thanks to my lifetime friend, husband, and partner in parenting, Jeffery Baer, for being patient and understanding with me through three years of graduate school ... thrown-together meals, night classes, using the kitchen table as my workplace, papers on the kitchen counter, little time alone together. .. 1 know how difficult it's been. I have truly appreciated your loving support. Thank you, Candan, for being my advisor, mentor, and inspiration throughout this life-transforming project. Thank you for teaching me to see the world and humanity from the precise perspective of a sociologist, yet always with a dose of verstehen and humility to temper the science. Your believing in me transported me through some rough passages. Thank you, Theresa Gutierrez, for the hours I spent in your office, and for your non-judgmental, emotional support of my parenting Lyle I will be forever grateful for your invaluable help in connecting me with many of the remarkable, strong women in this research study. Thank you, to every Indian woman who shared a morning, afternoon or evening with me, amid children, husbands, dogs, and other everyday pieces of you.r world. Words cannot adequately convey my gratitude to you for opening up your hearts, and inviting me to understand the trauma, grief, and joyful existence that interface in your lives.

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CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE ............................................................. 1 2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ............................................................... 8 Theoretical Perspectives ............................................................................... 8 Critical Race Theory ............................................................................... 8 Race and Racial Identity ............................................................................. 14 Blood Quantum Measures .................................................................... 17 Indian Women and Power .......................................................................... 19 Narrative as Survival .................................................................................. 24 Language and Identity .......................................................................... 27 3. METHODS .................................................................................................. 32 Introduction ................................................................................................ 32 Sample ........................................................................................................ 34 Procedure .................................................................................................... 36 4. FINDINGS ................................................................................................... 38 Introduction ................................................................................................ 38 vii

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Critical Race Theory .......................................................................................... 40 Race and Racial Identity ............................................................................. 45 Indian Women and Power .......................................................................... 50 Narrative as Survival ....................................................................... .......... 57 Language and Identity .......................................................................... 59 Reservation Life ......................................................................................... 61 Landscape ........................................................ ................. .... ..... ........ 64 5. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION ......................................................... 68 APPENDIX .............................................................................................................. 77 A: INTERVIEW GUIDELINE .................................................................. .......... 78 B: CONSENT FORM .......................................................................................... 84 BIBLIOGRAPHY ........ .......................................................................................... ... 86 Vlll

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE This research study explores identity issues for American Indian women, a generally ignored and neglected segment of the United States population. In a preliminary review of the I searched for concepts that could help me understand how Native women socially construct their identities. I was interested in discovering relevant perspectives, understanding racial identity from the viewpoint of Indian women, including their opinions about blood quantum measures, discerning how sexism might contribute to a loss of power for Indian women, and to construe the roles ofilarr.ative and the oral tradition in explicating Native women's sense of who they are. "Native American"", "American Indian", "Indian", and ''Native'' will be used interchangeably to describe women of color indigenous to North America. Research respondents generally preferred "American Indian", or "Indian" when asked to describe their ethnicity, but none Qbjected to these alternative terms. Several sociological perspectives, such as postmodemist frameworks rooted in feminist theories, or symbolic interactionist theories of self and identity, are relevant to race and racial identity, sexism and power, and narrative and language as social constructors However, I decided to look at critical theory and 1

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especially critical race theory because of its key objectives to critically examine society analyze its conditions, awaken the oppressed, and to ultimately enlighten and even emancipate them (Ritzer, 2000). Because Native Americans have a long history of colonization and oppression, the critical theorists recommendation to understand the past in order to rneanin.g from the present seemed appropriate Additionally, I have ende avored -to question the taken-for-granted dominance and central positioning of the WhiteeJq)erience as the normal standard for understanding the experiences Qf others, particularly those of American Indian women. Critical race theory emerged in the mid-1970s in the aftermath of the civil rights movement, with social activist goals at its heart. Critical race theory contends that racism is fundamental to events and consciousness throughout history, and that an ideology of racism permeates political decisions, laws, and institutions, while it preserves the privileges and emPowerment of the White, dominant class (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller &. Thomas, 1995). Critical race theory rejects the White experience as the normative framework and sets forth the subjective, experiential knowledge of people orcolor in order to analyze society (Tate, 1997). I was interested in findin.g out how race defines and delineates self and identity for American Indian women. No other ethnic population has been subjected to government policy and practice of testing to ascertain their degree of Indian blood. In this study, I look at history of blood quantum measures and their continuation 2

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up into the present day I wanted to learn about the women's subjective, experiential knowfedge and understandings of what it is like to be living in the United States as an American Indian woman today. Early in the study, Ibegan to understand how women of color experience excluding behaviors in their lives that arise not only from race, but from being female as wen. HistoricaITy, Indian women were most often egalitarian partners with Indian men Pre-European nations respected women, and Indian women figured prominently in creatiori stories. As the Christian Euroamericans arrived to conquer and coloJlize, they imparted a patriarchal system that forever changed the status of Indian women in their societies decreasing their independence and power. (Klein & Ackerman 1995). Writer bell hooks states that the social status of women of coror and White women has never been the same, and therefore, women of color have been subjected to racial as well as sexual oppressions (hooks, 1981). Guarasci and Cornwell (1997) offer that our experiences as persons of a certain race are a part of what us Discussions must with difference, with acknowledging race, and tum away from difference that signifies superiority and power. The oral tradition of cultural narrative reveals how Native women see themselves and from where they derive their strength Narrative and storytelling clarify identity and shape one's social reality (McClaren, 1993). Critical race theory suggests the subjective use of voice to socially construct a reality that encompasses 3

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people's shared cultural viewpoints and history of oppression (Delgado, 1989). Indian people utilize the language of narrative to keep their family's and nation's histories alive. Retelling the stories becomes a survival tool for affirming one's Indian identity (Bruchac, T987). In this study, I aim to understand how individuals' self narratives construct, reconstruct, and define the self My data come from 15 face-to-face interviews with American Indian women between the ages of21 and 74 The interviews took place between October, 2000 and December, 2000 With each respondent's permission, I tape-recorded the interviews and assured them of confidentiality_ In this study, no one's real name is used, and certain personal details are omitted to ensure privacy_ Clandinin & Connelly (1998) note that there is a unique ethical dimension to the research relationship when we ask participants to share their stories with us. Since the researcher is a participant as well, we have the potential to mold or change their stories, as well as our own. By entering the personal experience research arena with certain intentions and purposes, as researchers we must be bound to first and foremost care for and be responsible for the research participants. Throughout this project, I have endeavored to be sensitive to respondents. Beginning with my initial phone call contacts, I would first explain my proposed research and ask for the potential participant's help Every woman I -contacted volunteered to participate. Next, before starting the interview, I began by sharing 4

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that I was a graduate student, a mother of four children, and that my youngest son was adopted, withpermissioll from Oglala Lakota relatives in South Dakota. I told each woman that a purpose of this study was to learn from them, what it is to be an Indian woman, to leam about issues that matter to them, and to begin to understand how experiences of prejudice and discrimination affect them and how they are raising their children to cope with a ress-than-always kind world. As the interviews progressed, I confess that I could not absent myself from some of these women' s experiences. Raising a child oreolor, whether birthed or adopted, means teaching him or her from an early age about difference, and preparing him .or her to face a world where White is the normative standard. As the mother .of a child of color, and as a woman, I acknowledge that I did not detach myself from this research I took care that my questions didnot have inherent bias. I asked everyone the same questions, although the way I acted, questioned, and responded to their replies may have affected or shaped their answers. In writing about these remarkable women, I have tried to thoughtfully and compassionately analyze their narratives. I have consistently used the women's own words, rather than to paraphrase, so that their voices may speak to the reader in precisely the words that they spoke to me. I have tried to understand and communicate the spirit and heart behind their narratives. Furthermore, I recognize 5

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that in telling the story of this research project, I am also constructing my own narrative of my experience The purpose of this research study is to discover and understand how one group of American Indian women know and define themselves. I explore how Indian women construct identity from the viewpoint of critical race theory, racial identity, power, expression throu.gh narrative, reselVation life and a spiritual connection to the land. Identity issues women is an area of study that is generally ignored and neglected by social scientists. I hope that this research may contribute to the body of social scientific knowledge. As a sociotbgist operating from a critical theoretical perspective, I desire to raise issues in a way that will encourage others to think about these issues. Results will be accessible to the whole population, not only the .Native participants. Benefitsinclude Indian women feeling their identities-affirmed because they are listened to and valued for this study Another purpose of this research is to uncover crucial topics for future research in the area of how individuals arrive at defining themselves, from a racial or ethnic standpoint. Living in anincrea.sirlgiy diverse United States, where more and more people partner and mix with famIlies of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, it is essential to acknowledge that society continues 10 oppress certain members for their differences. The honest and simple narratives of these 15 Indian women exemplify 6

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strength, persistence, and survival, as their socially constructed -identities evolve and unfold in their lives. We need to pay attention to their stories. 7

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.cHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Looking atavailable literature on the subjectof' identity for American Indian women, it becomes apparent that there is not much published material to inform the researcher. Anthropologists and Black feminist scholars, as well as male sociologists contribute some observations, but material that addresses identity issues for Native women is sparse. So me iilfurmation surfiiced'on applicable theoretical perspectives, race and racial identity discussion, including blood quantum measures, Indian women and power, and narrative and language as components of cultural survival. These issues will be the main focus for the following literature review on the subject of understanding raciar identity for American IIidian Women. Theoretical Perspectives Critical Race Theory Critical theorists use analysis and reason to articulate the problems of the modem and the postmodem eras, while suggesting solutions to what ails 8

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contemporary society Because disinterested objective research is impossible, facts and vafues cannot be separated from one another, and the researcher is always a part of the social situation under investigation. Beginning with German theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the key elements of this theoretical perspective are the view that social tbeory must be critical of oppression in society and it therefore recommends emancipatory alternatives Marx stressed the dualistic relatienship between consciousness and -self-reflection on the one hand, and social reality on the other By exercising their ability to use language, to think, and to analyze their conditions, Marx believed that human beings could alter their environment and iinprove their social relations. As they unearth the real conditions that underlie outward surface phenomena, critical theorists could suggest an alternative, emancipatory reality A goal of social theory is to use humans' singular ability to expose oppressive arrangements and to propose enfranchising alternatives, leacfmg to a better socialJife (Turner, 1998). The heart of critical theory is to critically examine and change contemporary society. Rather than direct their attention to society's economic structure, as Marx did, critical theorists are concerned with aspects of culture and thought in the real world. Not only can a critical perspective help individuals make sense of what is, but a critical theorist view of society can help people see what might be. Authentication will occur when the oppressed victims of distorted communication take up the ideas 9

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of critical theory and utilize them to emancipate themselves from that system (Ritzer, Gennancriticaltheorist Jurgen Habennas is concerned with refonnulating Marxist theory in the light of twentieth century social changes, and he proposes expanding a Marxist view of humanity by adding language or communication to labor or work, as a distinct characteristic of human development. This notion of language as communication led-Habennas to concentrate on how undistorted communication might be possible and could lead the way for humanity's future emancipation. Habennas proposes three knowledge systems which guide human action. Particular interests reside behind each system of knowledge, are latent to everyday people; and it is the charge of critical theorists to uncover them (Habennas, 1984). The firSt system is analytic science, found in the environment, societies, and people within society. Based on technical prediction and control, analytic science has the potential to strengthen oppressive control in society. The second knowledge system is humanistic knowledge, with a goal of self-understanding as well as understanding the world. It posits that understanding our past generally helps us to comprehend what is happening in the present. This system is neither oppressive nor emancipatory. Habennas' third knowledge system is human emancipation, having to do with power and the need to free human beings from domination by abstract 10

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powers. The expectation was that when the critical theorists awakened the self consciousness of the masses, liberating social movements would follow. For Habermas, social change could only happen when critical theory linked theory and practice through the construction of an ideal speech community The ideal speech community presupposes that all individuals can participate equally and no one's rights will be denied. The ideal speech situation provides the basis for full realization of human interests. to Habermas, new social movements, such as those connected with feminism or gay rigfits,could provide avenues for the ideal speech situation to materialize, and could then become a source for emancipatory transformation (Habermas, 1984) The rise of critical theory in the U .S. coincided with 1950s-1960s liberation movements of oppressed.people, such as the civil rights movement, the women's movement, and revolts on conege campuses. In 1969, Derrick Bell, an African American civil ri,ghts lawyer and scholar, joined the faculty of Harvard University. His on race, hisciVtl rights work, and his commitment to racial justice, shaped the foundation for what was to become critical race theory. The critical'race theory (CRT) movement in legal studies originated in the social calling and conflicts of the 1960s that aspired to justice, liberation, and economic power. From its beginnings, CRT has encompassed not only academic but social activist goals (Tate, 1997). 11

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Critical race theory resolves to question social constructions and assumptions about race, especially normative standards of whiteness Despite the headway made by civil rights laws and the best intentions to wipe out racism, it continues to figure prominently in life in the US. Critical race theory alleges that racism is fundamental to events and consciousness throughout history, and that an ideology of racism is linked to political decisions, laws, and preserving the privileges of the White, dominant class (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller, & Thomas, 1995) Critical race theory allnS to elIminate racial oppression and to attain racial justice. Racism implies a double standard, whereby through prejudice and discrimination, a person or color is treated differently, in mind or action, than a member ofthe majority group (Blauner, 2000). CRT avers that racism dwells in u.s. society, so deeply ingrained in political and legal structures that it is a part of individual consciousness. CRT suggests that the governing claims of objective neutrality, color blind visions of race relations, and meritocracy serve to conceal the self-interests of those in power (Tate, 1997). ''Whites locate racism in color consciousness and its absence in colQr blindness", asserts Bob Blauner. (2000, p. 232) People of color explain color blindness as a type of evasion. Race "does affect one's life. Pretending not to notice race is a way to ignore the effects of race (Blauner, 2000). 12

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Racial separation has socially constructed purposes that perpetuate tbe political and legal empowennent of the d()minant groups CRT rejects the White experience as the nonnative framework and instead sets forth the subjective, experiential knowledge of people of color to analyze society (Tate, 1997). Blauner explains that people of color view race and racism as central to the reality ofIife in America, past and present. Many Whites see race as a secondary reality, a thing of the past., and the'y assume that minorities must assimilate to mainstream values and practices (Bbniner, 2000). Basic to the critical race theory perspective is : race at the center of ana!ysis in order to better understand accumulated past.discrunination and -its extension into the present. A race-centered framework can raise issue!)., invite discussion, and inspire research (parker, 1998) Feminist author and scholar Patricia Hill Collins is interested in placing ''Black women's experiences and ideas at the center of analysis" (1990, p. xii) By presentmg the myriad voices ofthose whose voices have been silenced, she hopes to invoke a new angle of vision on feminist sensibilities Proposing that Black feminist thought includes a specialized sort of collective knowledge of Black women's reality, Collins avers that this knowle
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and sex are inextricably entwined. Understanding social Telations encompasses the use of dialogue as a means of assessing knowledge, transcending difference and transforming relations of domination (Collins, 1990). Race and Racial Identity Looking at racial identity from a critical race theory perspective makes way for the possibility of estaolismng a scholarly, informative voice in the emotional, personal and -spiritual experiences of -people of color. Critical raceiheorists reject1he liberal"notion of race as a natural category, arguing instead that race is constructed and given meaning through legal and social processes (Crenshaw et al., 1995) Creditable biologists will concur that genetic variation among peoples of Asia, Europe or Africa is hardly morethan the variability within those populations. Harvard scholar Anthony Appiah (1992) suggests" ... the differences between peoples in language, moral affections, aesthetic attitudes, or political ideology-those differences that most deeply affect us m our dealings with each other ---are not to any degree biologically determined"( p 35) Furthermore, Appiah(1992) asserts that "the truth is that there are no races" (p 45) and even the biologist's claims are limited Using the term "race" instead of "culture" erroneously circumscnoes or erases entire "communities of meaning", rich structures of the social world, which need to be examined by social scientists, not 14

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biologists. A-ppiah repudiates the utilization of race as a term of difference, stating that '"<{mlture" should substitute for race He reasons that in an ideal world, what we presently call a racial identity would become an ethnic or cultural identity. By refuting that race is a biological attribute, we can reject that intellectual characteristics and the ways we think and behave are inherited (rather than learned), emphasizing that effort and community are what bind together members of a race (Appiah, 199Z) Iii her essay, "Navigating the Topology of Race", Jayne Chong Soon Lee challenges Appiah' s argument that cuhure should substitute for race, thus abolishing the biofogical fhunework for defining racial differences. In examining Appiah's Lee notes that he specifies that race is essentially culture in disguise, and this culture is the ethnic identities -ofgroups of people who imbue their social worlds with "cornrnunitiesof meaning" Lee argues that relegating race to an etImic or culturaIidentifY independent from race will eclipse the prominence of race in histories of oppression. In other words, we need race to truly understand and appreciate the persecution and domination of certain races In theories that place ethnicity ( -rather than race) at the center of study would ignore the ways race has been formalized into educational, and other institutions in the U.S. Lee submits that race is defined by the social relations that form it. Its meanings change as the situation changes, such as when political struggles transpire. 15

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Lee advances that race is always defined by its social context and never only by its content. Race is''unprediCtable, indefinite, and socially constructed. By embracing both a biolpgical and a social definition of race, i e. race and culture, we can refer to multiple definitions of race and use each in the appropriate context.(Lee, 1995) Gloria Ladson-Billin.gs emphasizes that we live in a racialized society where Whiteness reigns as the nonn. In our communities, everyone is classified and categorized accordiI}g to notions of conceptual Whiteness and marginalized blackness. Criticaf race tpeory becomes a valuable social tool to analyze and deconstruct oppressive structures and discourse, replacing them with fair and just power relationships (Ui.dson-Billiiigs, 1995r The use of stories, poetry, narratives, and revisionist histories serves as a common voice to construct a social reality where race IS central and will" help negate ethnocentrisin(Ladson-Billings, 1999). Cultivating new forms of SU1Jjectivity and historical action will lead to alternate processes of creatiitg cultural identity, according to Peter McLaren. "Border from narratives in the context of everyday, ordinary existence. With f)Qrder identities, individuals forge a positive, subjective self Personal narratives consist of passionately deconstructing and reconstructing reality to form one's identity. McLaren (1993) states, "To construct border identities is to refuse to adopt a single perspective linked to cultural domination" (p. 221). 16

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Blood Quantum Measures Toward the end ofthe nineteenth ceritury, ''Blood quantum" measures became the official basis for constructing a social definition of "degree of Indian blood": This standard of American Indian identification was legislated into existence by the US, Congress as part of the General Allotment Act of 1887 Also known as the Dawes Act, this legislation gave the US. government the power to "test" blood levels to identify someone as an "Indian". In this way, the government determined hind rights for Indians andnon-lildians in the western region of the United States (Aguirre & Turner, 2001). Indian reservation were redistributed: those Indian people with documented one-half or more Indian blood received land parcels of 160 acres each; all others' land was decIared surplus and made available to non-Indians, effectively reducing Indian land holdings from 138 million acres to 48 million in less than fifty years. Blood quantum levels became the eligibility factor for any federal service, including Qealth care and educational benefits (Jaimes, 1992) Continuing into the present time, one"s percentage of 'Indian blood" decrees who benefits from government programs and assistance, including affirmative action M. Annette Jaimes (1992) finds it unreasonable that Indian nations are not permitted to exercise sovereignty in determining for themselves who is "eligible" to 17

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be Indian. She states that in addition to the negative material effects (loss ofland and services) of such U. S. government policies, they have also contributed to "psychic disempowennent" by Indian people of key elements of their identity. The implicit racism blood quantum measures has effected the methodical marginalization and displacement of more Indian people from their ethnic and cultural designation tfiaIt it has retained Although some Indian nations have initiated procedures for recognizing members py their own standards and have broadened enrollment criteria beyond Tedera1nonns, most recognized tribes perpetuate the government's blood quantum measures, varying percentages of verifiable Indian blood fot:' potentiaI tribaI members. Recently, scientists have DNA analysis to determine who is and is not "Indian" Kimberly TallBear (2000) suggests that this new biological course of determining cultural ident.ity forpolitical authority ''undermines the very concept of what it is to be a tnoaInation" (p.l). CulturaIcustoms and affiliation are not transmitted from.,generation tQ..generation via components of DNA. TallBear dectares, iffi!Ilersion in a culture helps construct an individual's identity and cultural practices must be actual!ypracticed in order for cultures to adapt and thrive through the years"(p. 3). 18

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Indian Women and Power Historically, Indian war chiefs such as Sitting Bull and Red Cloud, are well known, but little has been written about significant Indian women and their importance in early societies The overwhelming majority of colonial historians were non-Indian and male, and therr records focused on Indian men as warriors, medicine men and chiefs Government reports represent women as they relate to men, as wives or squaws, initially a term to designate a married woman, which later became a demeaning expression for all Indian women. However, the ability to trade and distribute agricultural' goods and supplies bestowed considerable power on Native women. For the colonists, Indian women were an essential component of rugged frontier life. As wives, mistresses, or companions, Indian women ensured the survival of White men by helping them acquire food, shelter, and protection (Green, 1992) A number of Indian nations believe that their 'origin as a culture springs from the female. Women feature prominentlY in creation stories as the source oflife, someone who provides nourishment, protection, and embodies Indian cultural values. From the Lakota White Buffalo Calf Woman and her gift of Truth, the Iroquois Grandmother Turtle wno Drought Indian people into the world from mud on her back, and the first mother that Pueblopeople knew as Blue Com Woman, women 19

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are revered, respected figures with substantial responsibilities (Green, 1992). Among the Lakota, Ojibwa, Cherokee, and Cheyenne, women rode along on war parties and some became legendary for their heroic deeds (Niethammer 1977). Native women played significant roles in making key military decisions concerning peace and war (Jaimes & Halsey, 1992) Southwestern Apache and Hopi nations were usually headed by matriarchs or clan mothers who were influential and recognized leaders. Native American women who Teamed the ways ofnaturaI medicine earned status and power. In some tribes, such as the Ojibwa, a woman learned medicinal remedies and secrets from her medicine man In other tribes, female healers acquired knowledge from their mothers and grandmothers (Niethammer, 1977) Male EUfoamerican historians tended to stereotype Indian women as generally inferior and submissive, but in considering American Indian women from an lndkm perspective, the consensus is that the roles of men and women in many traditional societies, such as the Oglala Lakota, were complementary. Both women and men were valued for their contributions. Gender was central to the cultural system, tied to behavioral rather than biological differences In most Indian societies, gender was not closely linked to power (Powers, 1986). Balanced reciprocity appears to travel through Native North American societies as a common motif Although men's and women's worlds were notably 20

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different, their roles did not fit into a hierarchy of social stratification. For example, among Pueblo, Tlingit, and Inuit peoples, the importance of family is central. Behaviors of men and women are acknowledged as necessary for the well-being of the family. The familyis not solely the realm of women, nor is the family perceived as an inferior, subordinate institution. AnthropolQgists Klein and Ackerman (1995) confirm that most nations have historically treated women as essential members of their societies, endowing them with respect as wives and mothers, and esteeming their counsel. Most precontact Native North Ainerican civilizations operated on the basis of matrilineage and matrilocality. Children received their identity from their mother's band and traced their lineage through their mother. Men were usually expected to take up residence near the female partner's family. Women were seldom subordinate to men. Culture was passed down by women teaching languages, attitudes, and beliefs (Jaimes & Halsey, 1992). In many indigenous societies, the women owned all or a majority of the property, such as homes and furnishin.gs. Among the Lakota, a man owned only his clothing, a horse, and some weapons. To divorce her husband, all a Lakota woman had to do was set his few possessions outside the entrance of their lodge or tipi (Jaimes & Halsey, 1992). 21

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Euroamerican colonists noticed Indian warriors at first contact, so they extended gender stereotypes, including that of male superiority to Native American women Christianity and its elaborate patriarchal system, suggested a different sort of male-female relationship, with an ord World distinction between public and private lives, and an expected gender hierarchy. European colonialism and conquest altered Native societies, decreased the autonomy of women, and lessened cultural egalitarianism (Klein & Ackerman, 1995). Contrary to the dominant irriages of Indian women as meek, tractable and subordinate to males, Jaimes and Halsey (1992) offer that Native women have formed the heart of indigenous resistance to genocide and colonization, from the moment of first contact with Euroamericans Ongoing struggles for physical and cultural survival dbmiiuite American Indian women's lives. Battling alcoholism and suicide, fighting poverty and substandard medical and health services, and limited by poor educational opportunities, Indian women have had to find the strength to persist. Kimberle Crenshaw (J995) maintains that mainstream civil right arguments favor the experiences of black men while mainstream feminism is modeled after the life experiences of White women. This perspective leaves women of color with the double weight of gender and race domination, and no discourse to articulate their specific position in sociaIlire. It is evident that women of color face different identity 22

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issues than minority men bell hooks (1981) states, 'CWhen black people are talked about the focus tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about the focus tc;:nds to be on white women" (p.7) The social status of women of color and White women has never been the same. While both have experienced victimization due to their sex, women of color have been subjected to racist oppressions that no White woman has ever had to suffer'(hooks, 1981). Harvard scholar, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (1992) pursues this conviction that gender identity is unequivocally meshed with and even determined by racial identity. She perceives race and racial distinctions as representations of relations of power in society. IiI fact, Higgenbotham states that race dominates issues of gender and class, preventing unity within the same gender group. White feminist scholars have little to say about race as they analyze their own life experiences What is needed is for feminist scholars, especially those concerned with women of color, to make race more salient in their analyses of power. Women of color cannot be separated from their culture, consciousness, and life experiences to be part of a common category called '''women''. American Itidian women consistently renounce any interest in or need for "liberation", saying that they have always been liberated within their tribal structures and furthermore, they cannot indulge in the luxury of White feminist objectives. Instead, Indian women assert their desire to keep their families together, find jobs 23

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and earn a living, and to -engage in the ongoing political contests of their people. The conviction that Indian women do not need the feminist movement is consistent with the strong and powerful roles Native women have played within their societies throughout history Family ties continue to be paramount In contemporary society, Indian women are often single parents, trying to keep the family intact and functioning, holding onto jobs, and raising the next generation (Bataille & Sands, 1984). Narrative as Survival The oraItradition of cultural narrative reveals information about how American Indian women see themselves and how they are understood within their culture. Women have been at the center of preserving traditional stories, songs, languages, ceremonies, and ways of life (Green, 1992). Throughout the years, narratives of Indian women have been stories of adaptability. They have faced struggles for survival and growth in constantly changing conditions Drawing on the past's traditional values, they have elicited spiritual stability by passing on to successive generations the stories and ways of their ancestors. Indian women's narratives have modeled indiVidual strength and courage (Bataille & Sands, 1984). Anthropologists Bataille and Sands (1984) question whether women of color can 24

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adequately communicate to an audience that has not experienced or shared many of their cultural cOlicerns or history of oppression Margaret D. LeCompte describes storytelling and narrative as purposeful activities for researchers to discover and analyze individuals, to promote social and to improve oppressive conditions. Those people whose points of view have never been heard have voices that those iil power deem insignificant According to LeCompte, the role of the researcher or participant observer is to explain the powerlessness of a group, then draw forth stories from members and '1:ranslate" these previously unheard voices into a more easily understood language for a broader and" likely more powerful audience. Naming these voices gives individuals a deepened sense of identity (LeCompte 1993) When an individual embarks on a narrative or storytelling journey, the resulting clarified identity speaks for social life, history, and even the identities of others. McClaren (1993) states that, "Narratives structure our dreams, our myths, and our visions as much as they are dreamt, mythified, and envisioned" (p. 206). They mold our social reality with what they include and what they choose to omit. Narratives translate different experiences into a coherent story and in that act, knowing becomes the telling. The individual preserves a personal identity through the congruity of one's story (McClaren, 1993). 25

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Critical race theory advocates the use of voice to socially construct reality. The voices may be stories, parables, chronicles, counter stories, poems, or revisionist histories. Exchanging stories about individual situations can build a powerful social reality and wipe out the prevailing mind set with which dominant group members justify the superiority of Whites. According to Richard Delgado, subordinated groups survive through storytelling, and the benefits of narrative are many. Telling stories produces bonds, unity, and shared understandings between members of outgroups-:' those on the outer margins of society's dominant group. Counter stories defy the assumptions of certain ingroup stock stories, inviting the teller to imaginatively blend bits of different realities into new possibilities (Delgado, 1989). Black slaves sang to docUment their pain Native Americans continue to pass down warrior stories in the oral tradition, women in feminist, consciousness raising groups have shared personal tales of oppression, and Chicanos in the Southwest perfOrmed "corrieros'" about their persecution by White authorities. Each oral cultural form advanced a critical collective attitude toward social institutions and the social world (Saldivar, 1990). Storytelling helps outgroups speak the facts of their violence, silencing, and oppression which helps achieve healing and emancipation. Naming one's reality leads to psychic self-preservation and encourages group solidarity Self-condemnation can act to demoralize members of outgroups, as they sometimes accept the stereotyped 26

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images society presses upon them. Listening to others' narratives reminds individuals they are not alone. In addition, storytelling has an effect on the oppressor. Exchanging stories from teller to listener can overcome ethnocentrism and a view of seeing the world in only one way---that of White society Delgado promises that by listening to various stories, members of the majority race will enhance their own reality. Because reality is we are constantly constructing and reconstructing our identity through the lives we live, the conversations we are part of, and the stories we tell and hear (Defgado, Indian women telling their stories can potentially be a powerful tool of self definition and may extend to tribal definition as well. (Bataille & Sands, 1984). The ageless oral tradition imparts to each generation their values, concepts, and ideas, as Indian people. In spite of the trauma of boarding school experiences, where children were fOrbidden to speak their languages or practice their spiritual beliefs, Native people have persisted in living, believing, hoping, and speaking as Indians (Ortiz, 1993) Language and Identity Simon Ortiz, an Acoma writer and poet explains that the languages and oral traditions of American Indian people have transmitted the thoughts and beliefs of their ancestors to the present generation in contemporary American society. Oral 27

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traditions include centuries of knowledge, history, and understanding about the worfd. The U S.government and Christian missionaries strove to eradicate Native languages and culture, and to replace tribal stories with Biblical parables, in order to forcefuIIy accultUrate Native people into a Euroamerican image. Ortiz (1993) writes "My existence has been determined by language not only the spoken, but the unspoken it is language that brings us iiito being in order to know life" (p 29). One respondent to a recent survey of American Opinion Leaders on the state ofNative languages shared that, "Our identity and culture is preserved in the language One cannot be Lakota ifhe or she does not speak the language" ("Preserving a Way ofLite,""ZOOO, p A5). Another survey respondent offered, "Language is the root to all cultures Strip the language---strip the culture" (Ibid ) Native wilters utilIZe fanguage as affiilnation,celebration, and a tool of survival. Declaring one's Indianness, finding one s individual voice, and responding to the attempted destruction ofJanguage and Iife:"--this is how Indian people survive They respond to attempted destruction of both language and life by talking about the old ways and ten-mg stories oframiIy and traditions, survival of Indian nations and people as a whole, and their own accounts of persistent, personal survival (Bruchac, Leslie Marmon Sitko (Laguna Pueblo) writes about the stories in Ceremony. 28

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I will tell you something about stories ... They aren't jiJst entertainment. Don '{ be fooled They're all we nave, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death. You don't have anything if you don '(have the stories. (Silko, 1977, p 2) Joy Harjo (Creek) speaks ofh6w the oral tradition serves to trigger memories ofknowledge ofthe earth and universe Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the stars 'stories Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give youform and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother's, and hers ... Remember that you are all people and that all people are you ... Remember that language comes from this. Remember the dance that language is, that life is. Remember 29

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to remember. 1992, p.100) Simon Ortiz (Acoma) speaks ofIndian people's survival with spare elegance. Survival, I know how this way. This wcry, I know. It rains. Mountains and canyons and plants grow. We traveled this way, gauged our distance by stories and loved our children. We taught them to love their births. We told Ourselves over and over again, "We shallsurvive this way." (Ortiz, 1992, p. 167) I am aware that others have studied identity from established roles and identity perspectives, as wen as from middle class (and White) life viewpoints My aim was to understand Indian women's socially constructed identities, taking the intersection of race and sex into account. The purpose of this study is to understand American Indian women's identity from a critical race theory perspective, guided by the fonowing research questions: 30

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I) In what ways do race and being "mixed-blood" or "full-blood" define and delineate self and identity for American Indian women? 2) How do race and experiences of racism, and sex and experiences of sexism interface in Native women's lives and identities? 3) How might experiences of discrimination and sexism oppress Native women and affect their self-definition? 4) In what ways do narrative and language empower, construct, reconstruct and define the self for Indian women? 5) As a situated, qualitative researcher and parent of an American Indian child, how may the of doin..g this research and telling these stories become my own narrative of transformation? 6) In what future directions JP.i...ght such the researcher? 31

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CHAPTER 3 l\.1ETHODS Introduction A salient concern of the social sciences is humans and their relationships with each other Grounded theory begins with observations and then suggests patterns, themes or common A key element of analytic ethnography is determining general propositions patterns of human social life. Some of these patterns may be descriptive while others will s1,lEgest explanations of patterns. An inductive approach allows development ofa deeper, richer understanding of the field research data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) Research results cannot be generalized to a larger population due to the small sample size and nonprobability sampling method However, results will be bj..gh in validity due to the time spent with each respondent and the depth of the interview conversations. This research study is founded on interviews describing the life experiences of 15 American Indian women. Clandinin & Connelly (1998) state that, People live stories, and in the of them reaffirm them, modify them, and create new ones" (p 155). The narrative researcher studies experience through narrative inquiry, describing and offering interpretations of research participants' stories. 32

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Given the theory-driven nature of this study, I designed my interview guidelines and analyzed the research results based on the concepts suggested by a critical race theory framework. To address the critical race theoretical aspect, the first group of open-ended questions asked about experiences of being excluded or ignored at school or at work due to being Indian. Questions about self-identifying as "mixed-blood" or ''full-blood'' and "passing for White" led to discussions about racial identity and blood quantum issues To understand the role of power in Indian women's lives, I asked about parents' expectations for the daughters versus the sons, and about their educational aspirations. In addition, I asked whether they had ever felt excluded or ignored at school or at work due to being female, as a measure of having equal or less power than males To further understand identity, I asked several open-ended questions about the roles of oral tradition, narrative, and language in shaping their lives Although my interview questions and subsequent analysis were pointedly informed by critical race theory, the nature of this extremely rich and expressive qualitative data allowed new themes to emerge, namely those of the impact of leaving the reservation for the city, and the powerful influence oflandscape as a life reference point that ever pulls one back ''home'', to the reservation and its lands 33

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Sample The participants in this study were drawn from a nonprobability, non representative sample of 15 Native American women. A key informant provided me with several initial contact names and phone numbers. Many of these women participated in the study and suggested additional Indian women who might be willing to participate. Incorporating snowball sampling, I purposively sought women of various ages and tribal affiliations Key informants are often atypical members of the community under study, and their marginal status may limit the researcher s access to the group (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) In this instance, I had known the key informant for three years She was an American Indian woman, mother of six children, and she was receptive to the opportunity for Native women to tell their stories Sample Characteristics Respondents in this sample cO!lsisted of 15 American Indian women, ranging in age from 21 to 74 years old The median age was 39; mean age was 42 In this sample, 27% of the respondents were between the ages of21-30 years, 27% were between 31-40 years 20% were between 41-50 years, 12% were between 51-60 years, and 12% were between 71-80 years. More respondents were born in Colorado 34

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(40%) than any other state, with the remainder born in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Arizona, and Washington. All respondents were high school graduates, and 80% had completed at least one year of college. Six respondents (40%) out of 15 have bachelor's degrees and two of them (13%) have a master's degree. Nine respondents (60%) were married or had been married at one time. All (87%) but.two women were mothers with one or more children. With the exception of one practicing Catholic and one practicing Muslim, most (87%) ofthe respondents embraced traditional Native spirituality and beliefs, such as sweat lodge and sun dance ceremonies and other rites of their ancestors. A majority (60%) were raised Christian (due to religious-affiliated boarding schools they or their mothers or grandmothers attended), and 67% of those were taught Catholicism. Almost half of the women (47%) reported mixing Indian spiritual beliefs and ceremonies with Christian teachings of their childhood .. The fifteen respondents acknowledged membership and family ties with seven Indian nations: Apache, Arapaho, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Lakota, Mohawk, and Navajo. Forty per cent of the respondents identified themselves as full-blood Indian, while 60% identified themselves as mixed-blood Indian. The respondents are presently living in Denver, Colorado, but all have lived on a reservation, from one year to 14 years, with 80 as the sum of all their years living on reservations. 35

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Procedure The research report is a qualitative study with data collected from mid October to mid-December, 2000, from face-to-face hour-long interviews with 15 respondents. The measuring instrument was a 39 question interview guideline (See Appendix A), with 15 demographic and descriptive questions at the beginning, followed by 24 closed-ended and open-ended questions pertaining to the research objectives The first draft of the interview schedule was pre-tested for adjustments After completing an interview, I asked each respondent if there was anything more she would have liked to have discussed. As a result of initial respondent input, I deleted one question from the interview guideline, adjusted the phrasing or wording on three, and added two questions. The purpose and content of the interview guideline remained substantially intact. Using the key informant's suggestions for possible volunteers, I telephoned potential participants and set up interview appointments. Over the phone I briefly explained the research study objectives, stating that participation was voluntary, and that the tape-recorded interview would last approximately one hoUT. Before beginning the interview, I read through a consent form with the participant, assuring confidentiality (including pseudonyms), voluntary participation, no anticipated risks 36

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or hann, and enumerated her rights as a research subject. Participants signed two consent forms, one to keep and the other for my files. Interviews took place at a location chosen by the participant: their places of work, their or coffee shops. Interviews lasted from 45 minutes to two hours, with the average being one hour. At the conclusion of each interview, I thanked the respondent, asked if she wished to add anything, and inquired whether she would like a copy of the research findings mailed to her, upon completion of the project AllIS respondents requested the research results 37

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CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Introduction Each interview experience was a step into the life world of an American Indian woman of the 20th century. Their stories were simply told 'and compelling in their directness. As little girls, they dreamed of becoming lawyers, a writer, a world traveler, a fire fighter, a nurse, an archeologist, or the first person in their family to go to college. They could not imagine what the future held for them: boarding school teachers that forbade them to speak their language, cut their long hair, and a priest who would sexually abuse a 10-year-old; the necessity of leaving family and reservation life for education and jobs in an urban setting; being raised as a ward of the state and living in 14 foster homes; losing siblings, a spouse, and even their own children to alcohol; college and the promise of learning how to help other Indian people. These women gather their strength above all from their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who were very strong in their beliefs and had definite ideas of what women were to be, how they should behave, and what their responsibilities were. One woman derives strength from her 6-year-old daughter, two women mentioned their fathers and their mothers, another her husband, and one 38

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woman feels buoyed by the strength and spirit of her best friend and girl cousin who tragically died in a car wreck a year after high school graduation, five years ago. Identifying herself as an American Indian woman is central to all the respondents. When asked about a time when they most feel their Native heritage, 73% answered "All the time," "Every day," "I don't think I ever don't feel it or "I always feel Indian These women noted that this feeling was especially strong when they find themselves in the midst of non-Indian people Going to pow wows dancing, and singing heightened a sense of identification with Native heritage for 25% of women A few (20%) felt stronger ties to their Indian culture when returning to the reservation, "When I'm out there, among my people, I feel part of them." In analyzing the transcribed interviews, I sought to connect respondents' answers with the general categories elaborated in Chapter 2 Review of the Literature: 1) Critical theory and critical race theory (including experiences of discrimination) 2) Race and racial identity (including blood quantum issues, being part of Indian and Anglo worlds 3) Indian women and power (inCluding parents' life expectations and experiences of sex discrimination 4) Narrative as survival (including language as identity). In addition to these four categories, an additional category emerged from the respondents' answers, which was 5) The nature of reservation life (including feelings of connection with the landscape) All the respondents have lived on reservations, and all of them are presently urban Indians living in Denver, Colorado. 39

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Critical Race Theory Critical theorists desire to critically examine real-world society understand the past to help glean knowledge about the present, and inspire the oppressed masses to emancipate themselves (Ritzer, 2000). The Indian women in this study have experienced this reality of discriminatory acts frequently in their lives. When asked to tell about a time when she felt ignored or excluded because of being Indian, Tanya, a 51-year-old high school teacher (Oglala/Cheyenne) stated: All of my early life, 1 was different. I was noticeably different. Many times I was the only Indian, or even the only dark person, and I was made to feel different, just because of the color of my skin. It didn't matter what was in my mind or my brain It didn't matter how I was dressed or what kind of a home I came from None of that was important. The only thing that was important to many, even little children, was that my skin was darker and my hair was black. So from the beginning, I noticed a difference I was always conscious that I was Indian Some of the elder respondents (over age 70) described childhood experiences of discrimination with detailed recall. A 73-year-old retired government employee and nurse (Lakota/CIieyenne J recounted : In 1948, you couldn't be at the train station. You were like the Black people You hanto sit in the back of the bus. You had to sit in a certain spot in the train station. You used certain bathrooms, and you weren't allowed to sit in that station, even though you had a train ticket. I think they thought we were soliciting. We didn t know nothing about that. We were too young A74-year-old (OglaIaLakota) woman, Maryanne, director of an elderly 40

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recalls : We never went anywhere when I was growing up. When we did go to one of the Nebraska border towns, I think my parents and grandparents knew what was going on because we cfuldren never got to go into town or to the store. We camped about a mile away from the town, and the older people went to do the shopping. Then they'd come back, and we'd cook and eat. Afterwards, we'd go to a movie. But at the theaters, we had to sit upstairs Now I thought that was a treat, 'cause they'd say, "OK you guys, go upstairs" So we grew up with that The way they bought us clothes, my mama'd buy the clothes and bring them back to us We'd try them on, and if they didn't fit, they'd take them back. So we didn'l reaITy know why we did that. We just thought that was part oflife. We couldn't eat in a cafe because they had a sign in there that said "No Dogs or Indians Allowed" Actually, I always wish I could have saved one ofthose signs So we never did eat in a cafe. Couldn't. From the perspective of a critical theorist, examining and remembering past acts of discrimination are essential to understanding what is happening in the present (Ritzer, 2000) The view of some Whites, that prejudice and discrimination have been fegislated out orour society, is not borne out by these Indian women's dar to day experiences, at work, at school, and in the social world. Casey, a 26-year-old (Mescalero ApacheJwoman described being ignored at a college computer lab: I was having a problem with the computer I was using, and there were a computer assistant and an instructor there. It was my first semester, so I didn't know who was the instructor and who was the lab assistant. But I went up to both ofthem, they were talking to each other, and I said, "Please, could you help me out? I'm having a problem with my computer." Well, they looked alme, and then they just kept their conversation going. It's not like somebody punching you or giving you a slur. But it's something small, and it seems insignificant to somebody else. It feels differently when you're a different people, and they're acknowledging that. And it reaITy affects the way you feel about yourself. You know, like 'TIo you 41

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see me as nothing?" Critical race theory submits that racism is fundamental to events, institutions, and consciousness White privilege in our society (Crenshaw, Peller & Thomas, 1995). Three women casually mentioned being shadowed by sales in stores as a occurrence and I know why they're doing because of skin coror." One respondent told of her elementary school teacher who scolded the students for beiqg unruly and said they were "acting like a bunch ofwildlildians Some mentioned being the last to be seated and served in a restaurant. Rosie a 37:year-old Lakota) assistant social case worker remembered being taunted in elementary school for wearing her hair in two braids : They used to harass me about that, tease me for being Indian The boys used to get my hair and pretend they were reins on a horse. I was even called a drunken Indian once. .. Some women currently iii college reported subtle sorts of marginalizing behavior in the form of people them to be the spokesperson for all Indian people; A 26year-old (Oglala Lakota) college student reported : A lot of times, I think that I mCiY need to defend my opinion a little more. Every Indian, once they step into a classroom, naturally has to become an educator because there is so little out there about our culture and identity. It's not always a goodthihg because you can't speak for all Indians or anything like that, but I think everyone looks to you to be that Indian voice A 21-year-old college student, Ashley, (Mohawk) confided: When I was younger, I used to feel excluded but now I kind of feel more put in a spotlight beqause ofthat. You know you can learn a lot of things about 42

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me, but as soon as you hear I'm an fudian person, then all the jokes kind of revolve around that, do you know what I mean? It' s just kind of weird, like, if I never told people that, they would know me as a perSO!h but once they hear that I'in Iridian, it"s kind of this whole different, other way of thinking about me One aspect of the critical theory perspective is that humans have a ability to use language, to think, to analyze their conditions, and to expose oppressive social arrangements (Turner, 1998). After listening to stories of being slighted, or excluded, I asked respondents whether they had done anything about the perceived discrimination. More than half of the women, 53%, chose to not do anything about it. Of those who did take steps, 30% got into school yard fights or coi:lfrontations with people Another 20% fought back with the system, by excelling at school, sports, or at work. Sometimes months or years of being singled out for being Indian brought a child to a point of frustration. Katherine, a 32-year-old Cheyenne IArapaho woman recounted: Public schoof was very difficult My most liberating moment was when I finally couldn't handle it anymore. When I was in the 5th grade, there was this pack of 6th grade girls who were always harassing me. They never said it \yas because I was-Indian, butl don't know why else it would be. They were going to beat me up, they didn't like me, and they said I thought I was so great. My grandma bought me a lot of cute little dresses .. and I don't think this met the expectations of people. I had better clothes than they did. Finally, one day, I was so tired of being tortured and followed around and harassed and cornered, I just blew up at them. I told them what I thought, swore at them, yelled at them on the playground, and I turned around to go back into school. I thought, Oh my God, I'm going to have this pack ofgids on my back, I'm going to get the crap beat out of me, but 43

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I couldn't take it anymore. My friends came running in after me and said, 'What did you say to them 1" r said; 'Why?" And they told me they were all just standing there. And they never bothered me again. So I'm thinking, OK you idiot, why didn't you do that a couple of years ago? Maryanne (Oglala Lakota) told of standing up for her children in school in South Dali:ota: So my children went to school there, in Hot Springs. That's when we really felt the discrimination, because our kids, they were just as smart as anyone else, but you know, just the color of their skin ... So then I thought, I don't care if! go to jail, it won't bother me 'cause I'm going to defend my kids, which I did. Another mother described a time she felt her children were treated differently at school because they were Indian. Now 47, Jessie, an Oglala Lakota mother of three grown sons, reported confronting her children's teachers: 'If you demand this of everybody, demand it of my children, too. Do not belittle them by expecting less because they're Indian, like they're some sub-species. Sarah, a 49-year-old {Oglala LakotaJresearcher and Ph.D candidate spoke of how she handles being slighted at work: lusually try to address the situation shortly after it happens. If! feel like I'm being excluded or "The Invisible Indian", then I always address it. I've just always been so outspoken about that. I mean, some people think that I'm really forward or direct or whatever, but I think that we've fought enough to be accepted: And"! don't think we should experience that anymore I often tell my kids to do the same. 44

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Race and Racial Identity Issues of measurable Iildian blood have concerned the U.S government since the General Allotment Act of 1887 was legislated into existence by Congress. Indian people racking the documented percentage ofIndian blood lost their lands and all federal services Although some nations have begun to propose their own procedures for recognizing who qualifies for tribal enrollment, most recognized tribes have continued the U .S. government's blood quantum measures (Jaimes, 1992) The women from this researcn study, wnether fuIT-blood (40%) or mixed-blood (60%), all unequivocally designate themselves as Indian, "It's the only voice" an Oglala /Clierokee woman who is "legalIy 518tns" declared A Lakota {Cheyenne woman stated emphatically, ''1 don't even connect with the fact that I'm part White." In explaining her perspective, Jessie (Oglala: Lakota) stated: I know that practically, I am mixed-blood but it's Indian or not. There's no half measures 'Cause Indiarmess is not a matter of blood It's a world view You know, there's full-bloods that aren't Indian, they're totally assimilated In the '70s there were just as many Indians that wanted to hide it. They wanted to be even Mexican for a while instead of Indian But then it became vogue to be Indian, and then you had blonde-haired, blue-eyed Indians coming out of the woodwork! Katherine (Cheyenne /Arapaho) concurs with the other mixed-blood women, ''I'm mixed because my father was White but my identity is Indian." One of the 15 respondents had an African American father and a Navajo mother. She spoke of 45

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growing up in a black neighborhood in Denver where she identified more with the black community than with her Indian heritage. Before starting college, she participated in a summer program for Native students which started her connecting more with her Indian culture. Tanya (Oglala ICheyenne) spoke from the heart about her distress with blood quantum practices, which divide Indians from other Indian people: Indian is Indian. It doesn't matter if you're Y4 Cheyenne, Y4 Lakota, Y4 Cherokee, Y4 Navajo, you're 4/4ths Indian. Even though my children are mostly Indian blood; they're ofinany nations of Indian blood. When you're born with a broad ancestry of many indigenous nations, you will never be enrol1ed"iIi that nation ofpeople because you've got so many mixtures of blood But that doesn't determine who's Indian and who isn't Indian. Native people aITknow who is and who isnT It's more than just how you look and how you talk, and how you dress and what color your skin is. By rejecting the notion oftace as solely a biological attribute, critical race theorists maintain that intellectual traits and ways of thinking are learned and socially constructed rather than inherited. Identity is built through practicing cultural practices, as TallBear (2000) asserts. Indianness is not a matter of blood percentages, rather it is constructed through centuries of culture, custom, and language. Tanya, (Oglala/Cherokee) stated, "I believe that I have a much stronger connection in being Indian than some people who are higher blood quantum." I asked each respondent if she or anyone she knew had ever passed for White, and if yes, how she felt about it. Responses indicated strong emotions and some conflict about passing as White, whether intentionally or not, especially when 46

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the person was the Native woman's child or sibling Sometimes a person is put in the position of having to prove one"'s Indianness more, if one looks more White When asked if she had ever passed for White 26-year-old Casey (Mescalero Apache) replied : That day wilT never happen And I don't want to! I think that someone with light skin and even blue eyes wants to be [Indian] even stronger than someone who looks more Indian. Because they get judged all the time, you know, people saying, "Are you really Indian, or are you just saying it?" A 31-year-old woman (Rosebud Sioux) mentioned that her light-haired, hazel-eyed sister is frequently mistaken for White and "She hates it". Rosie (Oglala Lakota) mentioned a friend who has been mistaken for White: He could pass for White. Let's put it that way. He didn't like it I think he felt uncomfortable His mom is White, so his mannerisms and the way he talks is more White. She raised him because his parents got divorced when he was young, so thaCs what came out. From what I know ofhim, it didn't bother him so much when he was younger because he went to an all-White school. But then, when he went away to college, he had strong identity issues He really wanted to identify with that side of him. [the Indian sideJ So then, that's when it bothered him, that somebody was mistaking him for White. Anyway, he is part White It happenecfto me too, when Iwas younger, when I was 9 or 10. I've always been a dancer a fancy shawl dancer. I loved dancing, and I've always been really into it. My Indian way. I feel really strong about it Well, we were at the old Indian Center and these girls, for some reason, they like me They were darker Indians, and you know, I'm kind of fair They were a lot darker than me, got the coal-black hair, and they were calling me names. One ofthe names they called me was White Girl. At the time, I WaS in the bathroom, you know, getting ready to dance. They came in there, closed the door, and they were trying to beat me up. But then my big sister came in, and they just ran off and didn't bother me any more 47

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Despite wishing race was not an issue, some Indian people appear to judge one another on whether they look Indian enough or have enough Indian blood. A 26year-old college student (Navajo/Oglala) whose son is fair with light eyes expressed: I think it'" s hard to look White : I definitely can see that especially on the Navajo reservation because you know, they have more Indian on their records than any other tribe so their blood quantum is usually higher than everyone else's. Although I consider myself full-blood I'm not full-blood Navajo, so when r go back, you know, I'm still considered "half'. Katherine, (Cheyenne/Arapaho) a 32-year-old senior researcher added : My sister T s like that. She dances, she went to an urban Indian survival school she lives back there [in South Dakota]. She's more there than I am, but she's got dark blond'Ilaii" and green eyes It's been very hard for her She's very anti-White. So it's frustrating for her. Yeah, I understand. And then, maybe you have to think about your Whiteness more Or the fact that it might be there. In considering the sociaTconstruction of not only race but the women's identities through the lives they live, I asked respondents how they managed their lives while being part oftwo culturally different worlds, Indian and Anglo. Many women (47%) replied that they have learned to function in both worlds. Casey (Mescalero Apache) says simply: I think I've made the best of what I have you know, being Native American and also living where I'm living. I'm just trying to make it, because when you're in the you don't get chances to do as much in your traditional ways as you would in your background. So you kind of interlock them, in the way that you can. You find ways to mix them. Like creating the hearth, even though you're not at home 48

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Another 13% ofthe women spoke of needing to work at keeping their Indian culture and ways going. Tracy (QglalaJCheyenne) explained: I don't let_ myselfget swallowed up by the outside world. You have to make a conscious effort.., every QIDT to remind yourself, you know, What is my purpose the next few generations, will there, in fact, be Indian people? I know that there will be, as long as there's stronghearts, people who hold out, and people who carry the culture and cany that teaching on to the nextgeneration. Another group (f3%) talked about completely changing their personality, way of dress, language and ethnic talk in order to fit in with the Indian or the White world. Ashley (Mohawk) said seriously: I completely switch who I am. When I'm here [at college, in Denver} I am a completely differentperson than when I am home. I dress differently, I talk differently, my friends are different ... 1 have to do this. If I went back to the reservation the that I am now..Jpoints to her khaki pants and designer sweaterllwoufd.probably get beat up. People say I'm acting too White or I'm a sell-out, or if I speak and don't use the right accent then I'm too good for them. A Jg.:.year-old fiscal administrator (Navajo/African American) commented: I did a lot of assimilatiIJ...g. I know how to go in and out cultures. I definitely manage my life in two different ways. I mean here, I've got my work world, and. Jhey're aware cultural things going on, but there's somethiiJg about who I am that I feel like they wouldn't fully understand me. I don't act the same, I talk different, I act different, versus when rin out on the weekend with my friends, or at a .pow wow, or selling jewelry. It's a totally different act. I call it act because I feel like .. that'!i whaqt is .. And that'"s why lcall it assimilation. I have to do that I don't think there's anything with that. I think a lot of people are like that. I think people of color l1ave an extra sense of culture, so it's like an added thing. 49

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The last group of respondents (27%) answered that living in these two worlds was a constant juggling act and struggle Rosie (Oglala Lakota) offered that: Even though I work with Indian people, the dominant society is just on top of us aU the tiine It,.s trying to keep a foot in both worlds. It's really a balancing act. When asked about the experience ofIiving in both worlds, Sarah (Oglala Lakota) replied thoughtfully : r still feellike it,.s a les still a struggle because every day, we face the oppressor Facing the oppressor, it brings back a lot of the trauma, I think. Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho), explained that for her, the more she does it, manages the two worlds of her life, the more comfortable she gets, but the more it affects who she is. Forexampte, she reels conflicted about going against her Indian value of respect for elders when she needs to be assertive with senior colleagues at work: When I go home, 1 know how to act. I respect my elders. I need to keep my mouth shut. When I have a harder time is when I'm in professional situations, asserting myself with someone who is older than me. It's hard for me to not feel that it's disrespecting them, but in the field that I'm in, particularly, rd6 know more than some of these old guys do. And it's important that I state it. But that is something that I struggle with, being assertive professionally, while still maintaining my value of being respectful to older people Indian Women and Power Historically, American Ihdian women have been respected and revered among nations, with many legendary in their courageous roles during wartime, as medicine 50

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women healers, and as purveyors of culture, language and beliefs (Jaimes & Halsey, 199Z, Niethammer, 1977) Only with the arrival ofEuroamerican colonists and their patriarchal, Christianity-based gender hierarchy did Native women lose some of their cultural egalitarianism with men (Ktem & Ackerman, 1995). With this historical backdrop in mind, I asked respondents questions about their parents life expectations for them and for any brothers The research objective was to ascertain what aspirations families had for their young daughters and whether expectations were different for their sons, as males in the same family How might parental expectations affect young girls' ambitions and goals for the future? What power and respect do theseIndian women experience in their-worlds? How does the reality of being a person of color and a female affect their lives? Most of these women"s parents (60%) expected their daughters to finish high school and go to college, and ofthose women, 89% did attend or complete four years of college. The remaining parents (40%) did not have any educational or career expectations for daughters or sons. Tanya (Oglala Lakota) reported that her mother often said the only thing people had to worry about when she and her 8 siblings were growing up was ''that the daughters didn't get pregnant and that the sons didn't end up injail." Her parents both worked, however, and inculcated a strong work ethic in all the children. Tanya and several siblings did go on to complete college 51

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At seventy-four, Maryanne is an Oglala Lakota elder from a generation where families were large and expectations ran along the lines of maintaining Indian ways: I don' t think they ever had any expectations school-wise I think it was just learning about the earth and traditional things, the culture. About the trees, what kind of tree this is, and why it's this way, and how you're supposed to use it. We even had cedar trees and pine trees I always remember that in the springtime, my uncle, my dad s brother, he would come. That sap, get it off the cedar, and he'd bring it back, and then he'd cook it, and he'd make us gum. Chewing gum We girls had to learn to cook and bead, arid everything A 5g-year-old Navajo woman described her parents' expectations particularly for her, as the eldest of nine children Her father saw education as a means of empowering his daughters so they would have other life options than early marriage Because I was the eldest, I was taught a lot of the household responsibilities, including herding 500-600" head of sheep. I started school at age 11 and a half My grandma and my mom, they hadn't gone to school, so they didn't tIiiillc it was necessary But my dad didn't think it was right to expect the girls would just get married when they were 12 or something Girls used to marry when they were 12, rigIit after they had their first period Like my mom, she had me when she was 13. It bothered my dad that this was going to happen to me Women had no voice Women didn't have any say because they were just expected to marry somebody Ashley (Mohawk) at part ofa younger generation of Indian women, explained her parents' view on education for their four daughters : They never once thought that any of us would not go to college. They expected all of us to go to college I didn't like school 'cause I was always the darkest person in my classroom, and they always made me represent all of Native America, so I hated it at first, and I never talked to anyone. But my mother said that education, knowledge, things that you read, things that you learn is like a gift to yourself: and no one can ever take that 52

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away. A 26-year-old coITege student (Navajo/Oglala) mentioned that her parents held the same expectations for her and her sisters as for her brothers, ''to go to school, to finish high school; go to conege, to play sports, and to be, basically good people Having a strong mother as a role model provided encouragement to 53% of respondents: "She had a good job, and she worked hard, and I knew that she also went to college," was a response from a 39-year-old woman (Navajo/African American) Casey (Mescalero Apache)told what it was like to grow up without any siblings: I think my-mom put a Tot more focus on me I know what my mom wanted for herself She went to college for about two years, but then after she had me, she dropped'out.Shehad to sacrifice a lot for me. It makes me want to work that much harder, not just to pay her back but to show her I appreciate what she did for me. A majority of parents (54%) had the same or higher educational expectations for their daughters as for their sons, which is consistent with the egalitarian, complementary roles that many Indian women held in societies in the past. In fact, Rosie (Oglala Lcikotarstated that her parents had higher expectations for the girls in her family than the boys: My mom was raised by her grandmother, so my upbringing was maybe more traditional than somebody who was raised by parents. My mom's very strict, very hardworking, believes in education, and stufflike that. So I believe the expectations for me were higher. For education, and being able to support myself, and befug the carrier of the traditions It was expected more for women than for my brothers 53

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Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho) averred that Indian men are not pushed like Indian womell are: My brother was really coddled'-We girls were pushed very hard. I don't think my mom had lesser expectations in terms of she always hoped he'd go to college and an that, like we did. But I think: she limited him in that she didn't push him like she pushed us. He"s the youngest, and he's the boy. I've talked to a lot ofIndian women, and they say ,Yeah, yeah, Native men, it's like that, especially when they"re the youngest. The women really coddle them a lot. So the expectations for women are actually higher. When asked about lier parents"'life expectations for her and her 12 siblings, Sarah (Oglala Lakota) replied that for the boys, her parents wished for "independence and There were no educational expectations, 'Just mostly surviving and trying to be healthy kids." For the girls, her parents hoped they would marry Indian men. Only Sarah has done so. Despite few or no educational expectations from her parents, Sarah is one year away from her doctoral degree. To learn whether the respondents had experienced diminished power in their lives because of being female, I asked whether they had ever felt ignored or excluded at school or at work due to their sex. Fifty-seven per cent of the women reported that yes, they had been treated differently as a result of being female A Navajo/African American fiscal administrator reported: I've felt competitive as a female, yes, and it's always work-related. I had to go through extra steps to get a promotion. Or competition-wise, like when I went and applied for an auditing job. All the other applicants were in their mid-40s or mid-50s, and they 54

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were White males. There were 50 people in that and nobody was like me. So I gave up the thought of trying to get into that job right away. I changed my strategy. I just went in as a clerk and worked my way up to this state job. I hadto change and say I'd go in as a clerk. A lot of minorities do that. There have been battles I've had to do, for being female and a minority. Female African American scholars maintain that gender identity is interwoven with racial identity among women of color. Gender and race represent different relations of power in society (hooks, 1981, Higginbotham, 1992). Several respondents (33%) brought up the double bind of being a minority woman and how it is not always clear which aspect of themselves someone is noticing and differently Casey (Mescalero Apache) replied that, "It's hard to tell. When you're Native American and you're a woman So it's like, 'Which part of me do you not like?'" Bernice (Navajo), a retired director of a business office for the State of Colorado mentioned feeling excluded, .. at school, at work, social gatherings, I guess everywhere I think at work, it was more, because I was more conscious that I was the only Indian person and the only woman, too." Speaking about being isolated for being female, Tanya (Oglala Lakota) added that: I've had that feeling of being excluded both in a non-Native world as well in a Native world : At times, if you're a woman, you have a different role. I've always remembered people just making me sometimes feel, you know, not only was I a dumb Indian, but I was a dumb Indian woman. I felt it many times. 55

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Another factor in acts of sexual discrimination at work that affected 20% of the respondents was age. Being under 50, a female, and a person of color, together combined to make office situations difficult for some women. Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho) recounted: Sometimes I think, iii my profession, it's a combination of age and being female. My boss is a gray-haired old man. He can get away with saying really obnoxious things He's right. But if I say something half as obnoxious, I get myself in big trouble. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) confirins the age/sex/race dilemma: The research arena is mostly older, male-dominated, White-dominated, and I find myseIffiaving to reany get prepared for meetings just so I can be on the same level, so I can communicate like they do. I used to think it was a White man personality type, where they wanted to conquer the world, conquer Mount Everest. And I kept thinking, Wait a minute, r fit in there somewhere, you know. Looking at the 43% of respondents who did not feel they had been ignored or slighted for being female, one said, once at work, but I laughed it off and didn't feel I needed to defend my rights." Another felt that although the men treated her differently at work due to being female, it was better because they "took care" of her. The majority of respondents (57%) have experienced being excluded or shut out at school or and, although they believe the reason has been due to their sex, as women of color, they suspect that being Indian and younger may also be factors. 56

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Narrative as Survival With the exception of Jessie (Oglala Lakota), who grew up in an orphanage and various foster homes, every woman in the study, as children or as adults remembered hearing stories from mothers grandmothers grandfathers, great grandmothers or other elders The stories were creation stories lessons, myths, and family histories. It Lakota/Cheyenne elder remembers her great-grandmother's stories about the ghost dancers just before the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and tales of the great Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse whose burial place remains a secret even today Narratives of Native women are situated at the heart of preserving traditional stories, songs ceremonies, and ways of life. Amid constant change, Indian women have resQIlJteIy helped their culfure and languages survive Narratives in the form of oral histories and family stories socially construct powerful realities---values, concepts, ideas andself..:knowledge--as they are passed down from generation to generation. (Green, 1992, Bataille & Sands 1984 Ortiz, 1993). An Oglala/CheroKee woman declared that, "The stories are who you are, your history. It's who you are and where you're going." Rosie (Oglala Lakota) affirmed that the stories, "They keep you connected to who you are, to your 57

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traditions ... and they keep our culture strong, which is really good." Casey (Mescalero Apache) explains why Iridian people tell these stories: So the kids will know where they come from and learn about themselves. If we ever lost those stories, it would be a real big problem for the tribes. If there were kids out there that didn't know anything about themselves, it'"s like being tpst. A NavajolLakota college student mentioned that she gained a strong sense of who she is from the stories of her elders: Because in school; you learn very little about indigenous people. Maybe something about how Columbus discovered you, or whatever. [She laughs] But you don'"t get a true sense of what your people have been through, what they've done, or anything. So it gives us a real sense of identity and pride in what we, Dine, The People, have been through and accomplished. And if you don't pass it on, if you don't give that identity with the culture to the next generation, then iCs rost, and it will eventually disappear. Several women (27%) mentioned concern about losing the stories and have begun video-taping their mothers or other elders storytelling. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) stated, You know, Ithirik about this all the time, how we're losing our oral tradition. Shortly before my mother passed away, I talked with our family and said; <'Look, think about all of the stories that she gave us, her and our father. They're not going to be around anymore, and it's up to the older siblings to pass those down so we can pass them on to our children." So they thought about and they agreed, so we filmed a couple of our of them tening stories. When asked why it is important for Indian people to continue telling these narratives, Jessie (Oglala Lakota) expressed that it's because of: Continuity. A belief in yourself A belief in a link to the past and the 58

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traditions. Keeping it alive It's a part of identity. If you let go of those stories, then what"s left,! Then you're White. You've assimilated. You acculturate, you assimilate .. that fine line between identity kept and identity gone. We"'re walking that tightrope that most bicultural, biracial people walk. Delgado (1989) reminds us that sharing narratives, partaking in conversations, living lives, all serve tocontinuously construct and reconstruct identity, for reality is everevolVing. Language and Identity Indian people have had to fight to maintain their languages, resisting Euroamerican attempts to "civilize and acculturate them Despite attempts by Christian missionaries to aooIish tribal storie s and traditional ways, and the Indian boarding school program that attempted to eradicate Indian culture, Native languages have persisted (Ortiz, 1993). Language is a survival tool of Indian nations that speaks in a collective as well as a personal voice, and the women of this study confirmed the deep importance oflanguage. Bernice (Navajo) described her early years at an Indian boarding school in Arizona in the 1950s : I spoke Navajo until I was 11 and started going to school. I didn't speak any English. The day I went to school, that was it. I couldn't speak Navajo any more You had to speak English, whether you knew how to speak English or not. As an Indian, at school, you did not speak your language. But I still speak Navajo. I never lost it. When we started school, we had to take different names, I had to change my language, change my food, change my dress, and my hair was cut. 59

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So I lost five of the key elements of my identity right there on that day, on the first day of school. One third (33%) of the respondents went to government boarding schools. Their parents were threatened with jail unless they complied by sending their children. Children were taken away from their families and placed in a foreign environment where their native languages and culture were forbidden. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) was the third generation in her family to attend boarding school. She recalls: I don't have any good memories. First of ali, it was painful for us to'be dropped off. It wasn't any fun to be separated from our parents. It was strict, and I thought it was abusive. It was humiliating. I think the biggest problem for me was not understanding why we were there and why it was that we had to attend church every morning Because language is a vital component of culture and identity for people, boarding school attempts to -eradicate native languages were traumatizing to children. Maryanne (Oglala Lakota) speaks Lakota fluently and has always spoken Lakota at home. Language is "very, very important" to her because "it keeps your culture and your tradition going. n Maryanne and her school mates surreptitiously maintained their native language at boarding school: At school, we couldn't even speak Lakota. They cut our hair Three or four of us, we would always speak the Lakota language, and when they caught us, they would punish us. Severely. Suchas by hitting us. But we kept doing it anyway. And now today, they're all after us to speak the the language! "[She chuckles] 60

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When asked in what ways language was important to who she is, Sarah (Ograra. Lakota) saidsiinply., "ICsmy whole identity." .The Navajo language continues to play ali important role in Bernice's life : Language is reany-important to me at this point because I can still talk to my mother And I can talkto the elders on the reservation when I go home It's a part of my identity that I feel fortunate to have been able to recover I felt like I could have lost it [from boarding school], but 18till have it. I feel that language is a tool I can use to make connection with other people, other Navajo people in the city And it just makes me feel good. Rosie (Oglala Lakota) spoke at length about the importance of language. Her mother and her husband speak Lak-otatluently, and she is actively leamingto be more proficient. Rosie expressed that: Our history and -our spirituality and even the land is all tied in to our language For me it is nurturing, soothing, and peaceful to hear elders speak their language. When rhear Lakota and speak Lakota; I feel I have come home ; Reservation Life All of the 15 respondents have lived on a reservation for some portion of their lives, and they have strongfeelings about their experiences Family and extended family relationships were warm and affectionate. Great aunts and uncles were often considered aadditional grandmas and grandpas Close ties made boarding school separations painful. Having to leave the security of family for college or job opportunititfS made some women feel conflicted about being in the city. In 61

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spite of problems like poverty and alcoholism at ''the rez", and the ensuing mixed feelings about this duality, for all the women, the reservation epitomized home. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) reminisced: The averaIf experience was warm I loved living in our log cabin. You know, it was a small log cabin, two bedrooms and a kitchen But it was still fun We were very close. I come from a family of 13 siblings. Of course always Mom and Dad there. We had a huge garden, so that's where we got our vegetables and fruits from. It was just nice being way out there. And we had horses, you know, we went horseback riding Then we went down to the creek and played down there_ I really miss those days. In those days, there wasn't a lot of alcoholism and violence, like there is now. I remember when my mother and father had company. They would show up, sometimes they had cars, but sometimes they WQuld show up in their wagons, and the.y would camp around the house When we had company, they would ask me to make a cake, and-I would bake a cake in the old-fashioned wood stove. I just remember everybody sitting around, playing cards, all the adults, you know, and--allthe kids were playing outside. Most of the friends and neighbors would stay a day Qr two, and then they would leave It was really ruce Bernice was born on the Navajo reservation in Arizona and never left the area where she was raised until shewent to boarding. school at age 11 and a half Never leaving the-area where I'was born_ and not ever going to a city or town, never experiencing riding in a car .. it felt like that was the way it was supposed to oe. Like, this is life I just never thought I would leave the area. The mountain was so far away, and the world outside just didn't exist. Rosie (Oglala Lak0,Pi) described her early life at Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota: As a child, I can remember, it was fun! Oh, it was so much fun! We could just walk anywhere. We didn't have to worry about anything. All the cousins, all 62

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the relatives, lots of kids to play with, always someone to hang out with. There wasn't a lot to do, but I didn't really know about that until later, 'cause we always found stuff to do. It was fun. I really liked it. Despite the remoteand often barren settings, these Native women had fun as children at the reservation. A young Oglala Lakota mother recalled, "We were always outside, playing with the dogs, playing in the mud. There was stuff to play with, like make mud pies and actlike the.y're real" Another Oglala Lakota mother expressed that, ''There's real family closeness, and being with all Indians, every where you went." A Lakota/Cheyenne woman said bluntly "It was kind of des olate, nothing to play with or anything. But we didn't seem to mind." A young Rosebud Sioux woman, now 'Working at a university,
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I find South Dakota to be a very oppressive place, in tenns of the politics and stuff I findthe elements on the_South Dakota plains to be very harsh_ I found the sunlight in South Dakota could be oppressive as well. It's so sunny, and the skies are so wide open, I felt like somebody could reach down and just grab me. I mean, there was no protection. Consequently, I like cloudy skies and urban, closed places. On the other hand, llived with my great grandmother who I was closer to than anybody. I think that is largely responsible for any stability I have in my life. So it was both a very, very enriching, I,appy, loving experience, and very oppressive. Landscape Reservations, their and the landscape around them evoke myriad emotions and longings among the Indian women who grew up or have lived there. Land is first of an significant to Indian people because of the numerous broken treaties about land, between the U.S. governmentand indigenous people. The South Dakota Black HiIIs, Paha Sapa; now converted to camping destinations, Mount Rushmore carved out with heads of American presidents, and the Crazy Horse Monument tourist attractions, including ice cream stands and mini-golfvenues---:these hills are sacred to Indian people who lang for them to he_ restored to their original, pristine beauty. Reservation demarcations are a persistent reminder of the u.S. government's shatteredpnimises Sarah (Oglala Lakota) avowed: I just have this picture of the boundaries, the reservation boundaries. I'm in such disagreement with that, that I refuse to move back to live within the boundaries to what the government gave us. Landscape is something we've had taken away from us. I go back to the Black Hills. That's where I usually go to pray. Andlfeel really blessed when I'm back there. It's sort of a spiritual renewal. I feel the connectedness there, which is totally different 64

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from what I feel oD-the reservation. When asked about the meaning of landscape to her, Katherine (Cheyenne/Arapaho) replied thoughtfully: Even though I have lived-all over the country, lived overseas, my dream landscape, always my dreams are in South Dakota. Even though I say I would never go back there, other. than to visit, of cours.e_ So I do believe that if you're raised there ... and this could be anybody, a non-Indian as wen, that you become very tied to that landscape. It might become your reference for everything, whether or not you're actually out there dOing Cultural practices, or whatever. The notion of the reservation and its landscape as home surfaced as a recurring theme. One third (3.J%) of the respondents mentioned the necessity of that connection to the landscape as something intrinsic to their sense of home and belonging. Tanya (Oglala/Cheyenne) said firmly, "If I can't look and see open space and trees and things, I get that feeling that I'm penned in. I have to see it every day. I have to feel that connection." Ayoung NavajolLakota mother declared: There's a lot of nature [at the reservation], and real family closeness, and being with aU Indians rm definitely glad that 1 was born there,. and that I lived there for those times, because I got a strong sense of who I was, as a wholeness; which is-like being around my people and everything. When I go back to the reservation, I don't know ifit's a nostalgia or excitedness, but I just feel differently. I feel like I'm home. It's like this happy feeling inside of me, and! know I only feel that way there, when I go home When Navajo children are born,. they take the umbilical cord and they bury it on your land or where you live so your children will always return home So I've always felt that in knowing that, I have a connection to that land there. That's my home, and that's where I'll return. You'll always know that's where you>-re frOID. The land is something you can't really 65

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disconnect from Native people because it defines who they are Because ofthis abiding connection to the land, Indian people struggle while living in the city. Although urban environments offer education and job opportunities, they cut people offfrom the security and support offamily "When you're back home, every face you see is a brown fact; and it feds more comfortable," explained Casey, (Mescalale Apache) ''Feeling a connection with the landscape makes you appreciate where you come from, aU the things you've learned. And when you go somewhere, youkind of take it With you." Maryanne (Oglala Lakota) addressed the difficulty of Indian people living in an urban environment, away from the stretches of land that affirm the self I think they're having a very, very hard time there They're kind oflost, you know, but they have no choice. A lot of them are orphans, their mothers and dads are gone. They're young people; they don't have anyone but us, the elders to go to,.or one another. So it's very hard for them. Plus there are mixed marriages, and they have children that I think they've kind oflost control of. .. Rosie (Oglala Lakota} took her children, at ages six and 14 to live and go to school at Pine Ridge reservation while she worked as a school counselor: It's really depressing there because there's so many hardships that people have. There's a lot of poverty, there's a lot of abuse, there's a lot of violence, there's dfl,lg abuse, substance abuse .. sometimes it's just such a desperate place. When asked how she feltabout bringing her children into that environment, Rosie answered: 66

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I wanted them to experience it, And I thought, if anything, it's going to make them stronger Make them understand where their people are, where they come from, too. They have to know where they come from That's really important You have all this violence and alcoholism, and yet the richest culture is there You can't get that here in the city There's Indians here, but you can't get it like you get it there, the language and the ceremonies So. you have the worst and the best of both worlds. I felt really accepted when I went to live there. Before I went" a lot of people were going around saying that the people on the reservation were not going to he very accepting because I was from the city But I didn't feel any of that. I think that if you're open, and you're gentle, and you have an open mind, then people are going t9 see that. I felt like I really blossomed there I felt like I went back home. Whether they are living iil the city or returning to a reservation, Indian women seem to be entwined and bound to landscape:---be it the reservation, or the expanses of surrounding areas, landscape becomes a reference for home, family and self-definition. For city dwellers, landscape sometimes becomes relegated to memory, but its visions recur to remind and replenish when the strains of urban life overwhelm individuals_ From burying an. infant' s umbilical cord in the land, to the spiritual certainty'.of the sacredness of the Black Hills, landscape serves to recall and remind Indian women of their connection to the land .. Landscape envelops them. with a sense of home that they will always carry with them. 67

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CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION One of the last interView questions I asked the Indian women in this research study had to do With how they thought their lives might change during the next 10 years. Many had experienced difficulties and traumatic events in their fives, tragedies that would have brought others less strong to their knees. Yet, time and time again, for themselves, their OT. for Indian people, they picked tip the pieces and reassembled their lives to go on; sometimes with stubborn persistence against many odds. During the coming decade, these women envision themselves in graduate school; having a making it back to the reservation to live, seeing Europe for the first time, involved in activities reciprocal to their communities, and spending more time with their faniilies. I still did not understand with certainty, what enabled these women to go on, what prevailing forces allowed them to be optimistic about an unknown future. My final question was : What do you hope for? Many of the women hope for good health for their children andthemselves, _to. do their best for their children so they may have good lives. They hope ror their children to grow up and be strong in their communities and he happy However, Jessie (Oglala Lakota), who grew up in 68

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orphanages and foster homes told me" "I'm really good with failure, but I have a very deep fear of success. So Idon't ever hope for anything, so as not to be disappointed." Understandably, someone with a chaotic, inconstant childhood would hesitate to articurate specific hopes for the future. Several women expressed hope that alcoholism among Indian people would decrease. Sarah (Oglala Lakota) stated simply: What comes to mind is to be the healthy people that we once were. I've seen a lot of suffering_ I \re experienced a lot of suffering. We have to be able to get some sobriety. We have to be able to have happiness in our life. I think we're on the threshold of something larger and more healing. We have to be able to come to terms with, Yes, we were traumatized, but how can we transcend the trauma and make something different? Create a new path for us. I think identity not only involves our community, our land, our language, but our families and our spirituality. It's all interrelated. Rosie (Oglala Lakota} expressed a similar hope: This is what I hope for This. is what I pray for, too. That.alcoholism will be no more for Oglala people. I'll start there because that's where I come from. Those are my people; That clan's connected to me. That's something I hope for, for my people. The other thing I hope for is for leaders of this. country to be big leaders when it comes to" dealing with Indian people, and the relationships that the government has withlndian 'people. For myself, I hope to be more sensitive, to be more compassionate and humble. For my kids, I hope for a good education for them so they can go out and educate. others about their people and who they are. In writing about how to apply critical race theory to an enhanced understanding of race and: racial identity, most. researchers would have difficulty absenting themselves from the discussion Whether one is a person of color or White, 69

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this discourse involves everyone. Learning about others' multiplicity of selves and culturally silenced voices, due to being Indian or female or both, made me take notice. Looking to how narrative as method can Rocially construct a reality that encompasses and celebrates marginalized individuals opened my thinking to new ways of conceiving identity To be "color blind" requires one to notice race in the first place in order to profess tliat it doesn't matter But race does matter, and we need to acknowledge a consciousness of race as well as its. singular impact on Indian women and other women of color. We need to imagine that researchers, social workers, and scholars could have different opinions based on their race, as these 15 women have testified. Clandinin and Connelly (1998) espouse personal experience methods as a means for. researchers to penetrate and participate in the social worlds of others. Personal experience through in-depth, face-to-face interviews engages participants in conversat i ons about life ways and the fundamental human connection among all of us, and as a result, sociarchange can take place. Personal experience grants the possibility of personal transformation and growth. Delgado's (1989) "plea for narrative" touched me and shook me into questioning assumptions lmay have been overlooking my entire life Storytelling has an effect on the oppre ssor, inviting the listener to see the world from someone else's eyes The experience of interviewing and talking with these 15 American Indian 70

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women affected me deeply During my second interview, the woman told me about the death of her 19-year -old daughter, a young college student of exceptional intelligence, abilities, and beauty We talked for two hours, meeting in the daughter's bedroom, where die mother likes to spend time to feel close to her. High school photos, ribbons, and mementos graced the walls of her room. I imagined myself grieving my own daughter, andI felt an unbearable ache of compassion and sadness. Walking into my house that night, : hearing the routine chatter of my children's voices, I felflike I was a different.person. As I continued with the interview experiences, I knew a transformation was taking place in my knowledge and consciousness I began the research experience desiring knowledge and understanding of Indian women's lives So interviews like the one I just described are what I wanted. I didnrt know what the journey was going to be like, as I traveled to this uncharted place_ A person couldnot do what I did and not be affected by the. experience Again and again, I felt immeasurably touched and honored that each woman was so open with me My own reality and identity were reconstructed many times during my four months of interviewing ami" transcribing. When I transcribed the tape.,.recorded interviews, I made some observations. Some women became more talkative and relaxed as the interview progressed. I think that as they gauged the sincerity of my interest, they opened up more and gave longer answers. After the first couple of interviews, I slowed my pace somewhat, in 71

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order to allow a more natural dialogue to unfold. I also learned to pick up signals for when someone had more to say, such as "There is a story about my daughter's name." My probes became spontaneous and unrehearsed The women I spoke with often talked beyond the initial questions They seemed to appreciate being heard, that their stories and views were important to me When listemngto the tape-recordings, I noticed that some women s voices shifted into subtly different modulations,.. cadence?and inflections. so that they sounded more relaxed and leSs furmal. as the interview continued Perhaps as they became more comfortable with me, they felt they could speak more naturally. As a situated researcher, I experienced the interviews on three different levels; which seemed to resemble the way the respondents would use narratives to construct and their Native identities, with increasing detail. First, I lived the immediacy of the face-to-face interview, with someone I usually had not met before. Along with asking questions, I mentally noted our surroundings, what she was wearing, facial expressions, any information I would conscientiously record later, which might affOrd insights into the interviewee and her life Next, I typed up each interview at my home computer with the help of a transcribing machine and headphones. During this second process, I sometimes heard sentences or whole paragraphs that I didn't remember from the face-to-face interview, when lwas flOOded-With visual as well as aural and sensory information 72

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Alone with my recordings, transcribing became a sort of reliving experience for me. The distinctive quality Ofeach woman's voice would take me back to the setting of our interview, where I might hear the sound oflaundry tumbling in a clothes dryer, smenagain the cold' scent ofnewsnow outside, or hear a child's voice next door. The intimacy was powerful and stirring all over again. The third"IeveI ofinterview experience took place when I analyzed what the women said Marking certain passages,. looking for meanings that lay between the lines oftext, I became very familiar with each woman's passions and issues The women and their voices were a constant presence in my life during that time p eriod. Their utterances fOllowed me anytime I was driving in the car, walking outdoors, or lying in bed at night. I thought about what their words revealed I was excited to discover similarities, and r was-intrigued by the contrasts. These three levels of experiencing .the interviews produced a powerful diScourse of identities wlikhlhave attempted to bring together as a body of knowledge that may inform the reader with insights into Native women'.s lives During the process, I sUspect that at least some of the respondents experienced a clarification of themselves,.. when 1 asked them to articulate how they felt about issues like racial identitY and effeCts of sexism in their lives. Using language to describe one's views to a stranger requires a measure of self-examination that may further explain oneself 73

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In considering my resear-ch questions at the end of Chapter 2, my analysis of the IS interviews provided many answers and invited some new questions. Being "mixed-blood or '-'full-blood" mattered less ("1 don't even connect with the fact that I am part White'') than the issue of racial identification by means of blood quantum, perceived as a White-initiatoo.culture,..destroying practice. The double weight of race and sex oppression, with diminished power due to discrimination, was confirmed and lived out in many Indian women's lives, with indelible effects on their deffuitions of self" Btit the sbaring and passing down of oral histories, narratives and the persistence of native languages serve to socially construct powerful realities of who they are, keeping their culture strong. I had included a few questions about whether the women had ever lived on a reservation, and I asked what that experience had been like. I was astonished at the deeply felt emotions of all the women about their times living on and the duality they experienced by living in the. city now. When r inquired about the meaning of the land in their lives, many spoke at length about their lifelong tie to a particular landscapcReservation life versus urban life, and landscape as a reference point emerged as unanticipated themes in identity construction for American. Indian women.. As a White, female researcher, I have wondered where my studies racial identity can lead mc. Ladson-Billings (1999) says that to the extent that Whites (or in the case of sexism, men) experience forms of racial oppression, they may 74

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develop a standpoint ofexperientiaUrnowledge from a shared history as other. She states that when White parents adopt transracially such identification may occur (p. 12). As the mother of an adopted AmericanIndj.an child I affirm that 100 experience tIlls racial identiffcation As to whether a White woman has the "right" to pursue Native American issues for research and write about thein, Wendy Hopi, (1992) extends that she knows of no Indian who has ever asserted that only Indians can make valid observations about themselves_ The question is one of integrity and intent, not a particular topic Rose relates that many non-Native people,from the stated perspective of a non-Nativer have written sincere,,eloquent accounts of Indian interests. But a nonInolan cannot write from an Indian perspective or express an Indian spirituality Wbat. he or she may do is produce another view or spiritual expression. Something 1 gaiiIed1rom this research study is the conviction that such issues are legitimate for me as a researcher, despite being White,. and. perhaps because I am a woman and a mother of a Native child My desire to pursue such research is driven by rnyown multiplicity of identities and a yearning to know more. Future research mighfconsider Erving Goffman's (1959) inductive, dramaturgical approach. to identify the ways in which individuals accomplish interaction in a variety of social contexts. Goffman paid attention to everyday speech, physical gestures, podily appearance, and dress, to interpret events and experiences 75

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A researcher might examine the roles some Indian people feel they must play through affected speech, mannerisms; and dress and the acts they feel they must put on, in order to function in both White and Indian worlds. How does playing roles or actiilg strain ones true identity? In what ways is identity altered when Indian people move off the reservation to lie in a city,. where they often marry non-Indian people? How might being perceived as a "seU':'out" or acting '100 White" affect the foundation of one's ideI}.tity as an Indian person? 76

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APPENDIX 77

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APPENDIX A INTERVIEW GUIDELINE Research Study: V oites of American Indian Women: Constructing Identity Interviewer: Rebecca VanBuren Interviewee: Research study pseudonym : Interviewee's phone number: Date: Location : Time started: Interruptions: DEMOGRAPIllC ana DESCRIPTIVE QUESTIONS 1. What is your full birth. name? 2. Does this name have any special meaning in your family's history? 3. What name do you go by now? a) If different name than birth name: Could you tell me about your present name? (If same name as birth name, go on to next question ) 4. In what year were you born? 5. Where were you born? 78

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6. Where were each of yow: parents born? T Where did you live during your childhood, from infancy to age 18? 8. What is your level of schooling? (Read or show following list to respondent) { } Less than high school { } Graduated from high school { } Some college { } Graduated 2-year college { } Graduated 4-year college { } Post course work or degree 9. Wfiat is your occupation? 10 Have you ever been manied? 11. Do you have any children? If yes, Could you please tell me their names and ages? 12. How would you descnoe your ethnicity or heritage? 13. What is yourtribal affiliation? 14. Are you registered with tIlls tribe? 15. How would Y9U describe your religion or spirituality? NOTES: 79

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INTERVIEW GUIDELINE CONTENT QUESTIONS Interviewee ------..,-1. Have you ever lived on a reservation? If yes, a) Which reservation? b} Wliere is it ? c) When did you live there? d)Could you teU me wnat thiS-experience was like for you? If no, Do you feel you miSsed out as a child, not being exposed to tribal traditions? 2. Could you tett me what the idea of place or landscape means to you? 3. In what ways does feeling a connection with a particular place or landscape shape the person you nave become?" (Would you be exactly the same person, living elsewhere?) 4 : In your what role does the land, place, or landscape play in the history of Indian people? 5. Iildian writers, such as Simon Ortiz (Acoma), say that the oral, that is the spoken, tradition of stories and songs is the foundation for the written word and identity for many Indian people. Do you remember hearing relatives share traditional stories when you were growing up? If yes, a) Could you tenme who told some of these storie.s? b) Do you remember what some of these stories were about? c) Who were some of the. people or characters in these stories? d) What did you get out of hearing these stories? (How did these stories make you feel about yourself?) !fno, Do you thipk spoken stories and songs are important in your tradition, in general? 80

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6. Have you shared or might you share some of these same stories with your own children or nieces or nephews or grandchildren one day? 7. Why would someone pass along a traditional story? 8: Do you think it is important for Indian people to continue telling these stories? Why or why not? 9. Do you have any brothers or sisters? If yes, a) What are their names and ageS{ b) What were some of your parents' life expectations for the boys in your family? c) What were some of your parents' life expectations for the girls in your family? d) Were there any differences in your parents' expectations for sons or daughters? e) What did you dream about doing or becoming when you were 5-15 years old? From 16 to 20? From then to the present? Ifthe answer to Question 9 is no skU> a) through e); go to f): f) In what ways did your family's expectations for you as an only female child affect your ambitions or goals for yourself? g) What did you dream about doing or. becoming when you were 5-15 years old? From 16 to 20 ? From 21 to the present? 10. Do you consider yourselfto be full-blood or mixed blood Indian? If'answer is ask aJ and b); if"full-blood", ask b) only: a) Abenaki writer Joseph Bruchac says that even though a small percentage of his ancestry is Indian,. it seems to be the strongest voice Do you feel this statement fits you? (Why?) bJ When do you most strongly feel your native heritage? When do you least feel it? 1 I. Have you ever passedfor White? if yes, a) Could you tell me about a time when this. happened? b) Since you consider yourself Indian, did passing for White feel dissonant or incompatible to you? If no, a) Do you know someone Indian who has passed for White? 81

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hl How do you think he/she felt about it? ru What do you think about it? 12. 'Have you ever felt excluded or ignored in a college class (or at work) because you are Itylian? If yes, a)-Could youtell me about a time when you felt excluded or ignored? b) What, if anything, did" you do about it? If no, a) Do you know someone efse who did? b) Did he or she teU you what happened? I3. Have you ever felt excluded or ignored in a class/at work because you are female? -a) ould youtell-nreaboutatimewhen you felt excluded or ignored? b) What, ifanything, did you do about it? If no, a) Do you know someooe who feft this way? b) Did she tell you what happened? 14. Could you teIT me aGout a tiine when you felt included and a member of a group? IS. Wfiat aspirations or hopes-do you think Anglo women of your age have, in terms of educational achievement? 1"6. Hopi-Miwok poet and writer Wendy Rose says that beinR biologically half-breed has created identity conflicts for her, as she is "too White to be Indian, too dark to be White'''. How do you feel about this statement? 17. Is YOQr biological birth mother Indian? What about your biological father? If yes, a) What are their tribal affiliations? 18. Among some Indian people, the clan and one's identity come through the birth mother Is this practice accepted with your tribe? (Is your tribe matrilineal? How has this affected you and your sellSe of identity?) 19. From whom or where do you draw your strength? Could you tell me more ... ? 82

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20. full-blood or mixed-blood Indian, how do you feel about being part of two cufturally different worldS., Indian and Anglo? (How do you manage your life?) 21. What is your native language? Do you speak it? 2Z. How important is language to who you are? 23 How do you think your life may change during the next ten year&? (Your work? Where will you be IivingT Fariiily 24. What do you hope for? CONCLUDING REMARKS 1 Those are all the questions I have. Was there anything more you wished you had a chance to talk about or something else I should be asking the women I talk with? 2 : Later, when 1 check over my notes or the tape, if I'm not clear about something you said, would it be all right ifl called you? J. Would you like me to send you the results of this research study? (If yes, note respondent address here) 4 : rdlike to thank you very much for being part of this study. Time interview ended: NOTES: 83

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APPENDIX B: CONSENT FORM Research Study: Voites of Ameritan Indian Women: Constructing Identity 1 The purpose of this study is to understand how Native American women define and describe themselves in terms. of race, and in terms of being female. What are some of the important things that make up one's identity? The researcher would also like to understand how being lillI-blood or mixed blood Indian affects. one's sense of identity. The researcher plans to interview 12-15 Native women who are voTunteer respondents, for approximately one to 1112 hours each, over a two month period 2 Each respondent wl1J participate iii an-informal, in-depth, interview lasting approximately 1 to 11/2 hours. The researcher will tape-record this conversation so she may listen attentivdy to the respondent and write down details of the interview later. The respondent may always request that the tape recorder be turned offfor some portion of the interview The researcher may need to phone the respondent later in order to clarify some details frDm the interview 3 Since most questiOns. for interviews are of a general nature, the. researcher does not foresee any known risks to study participants. If the respondent feels any discomfort she may GiScontinue at any time 4. Native American women have not often been a topic for sociological studies. By participating ill this study, Native women may realize that their ideas and opinions matter and are valued Describing their realities may help Native women clarify and feerincreasoo pride in their identities.. Sharing the research results will add to the body of social science knowledge and may dispel some ignorance and prejudice of non-Indian people. 5. This research does not pertain to any medical treatments for research conditions. 6 The researcher will treat each subject's responses as strictly confidential Written results of the' study win onTy refer to respondents using pseudonyms.. The researcher will change any details which might identity a specific individual. Only the researcher will transcribe the audio-tapes. All materials from this study will be stored in a safe, private place. In the unlikely event that confidentiality were 84

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breached, the researcher expects few or no negative results, since the interview questions generally do not deal with controversial topics. 1. AIr subjects are voluntary participants, and one may abstain from answering any question or withdraw from the study at any time without penalty. g. The researcher win answer any questions a respondent may have the study, unless the information sought could compromise the study or its participants' confidentiality. 9. Ifany participant has. questions about her rights as a research subject, she may contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU-Denver Building, Suite 700, 303556-2550. roo Each respon(fent wiJfreceive a copy of this consent form and the research study results, uponrequest. I agree to participate in this study on Native American women's identity. I consent to all of the above terms and conditions. I understand my participation is completely voluntary, and I may withdraw from the study at any time. Subject's Name (print) _____________ .-Date ----Subject's Signature _______________ Signature ___________ Reoecca Van Buren, priilciparinvestigator 85

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Aguirre, & Turner, J.H. (2001). American ethnicity: The dynamics and consequences qf discrimination.. Boston: McGraw Hill. Appiah, K.A. (1992): In my father's house: Africa in the philosoph1 of culture. New York: Oxford University Press Babbie, E. (1998) The practice of social research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company Bataille, G :M". & Sanas, K.M. (1984). American Indian women: Telling their lives. Lincoln, NE: University ofNebrilska Press. Blauner;B. (2000). Talking past each other: .Black and white languages of race. In KE. Rosenblum & T. C. Travis (Eds.), The meaning of difference: American constructions of race, sex and gender, social class, and sexual orientation (pp. 731239). Boston : J\lIcGraw Hill. J (19&7). SUrvival this way: Interviews with American Indian poets. Tucson, AZ: Sun Tracks and The University of Arizona Press Claridinin; &Coooeny, F M. (1998) Personal experience methodsIn N.K Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Collecting and interpreting qualitative matena/s (pp. lSO:"Y78) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc Collins, P.R. (1990) Blackfeminist thought. Cambridge, MA: Unwin Ryman Crenshaw, K:,Gotanda,N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K (Eds.). (1995). Critical race theory: The key writings '(hat formed the movement. New York: The New Crow Dog, M., with Erdoes, R (1990). Lakota Woman. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 86

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