“Who’s Your Family?”: How To Find Out Who Is And Who Is Not Native

I previously wrote about certain people who claim to be Native American but are not. Native Americans, of course, know there are “Wannabe Indians.” Somehow, everyone has a Cherokee great-grandmother and thus claim to be Native.

I never claimed to be Native, so I don’t know the kind of grilling, if you can call it that, one gets when Natives meet. And my daughter, who I love more than anything, has never, to my knowledge, ever been grilled because she comes from a known Choctaw family. It’s just known she is Choctaw. If she’s ever asked by another Native who her family is, she can say so.

Indian Country is small. Sooner or later, people are going to find out if you are not really Native. You will be outed.

If you are a non-Native and want to find out if a given person is Native American, you can simply ask if they are enrolled. Being enrolled or not does not make one a Native American per se. But it’s a pretty good indicator.

Being a Native American is, in the end, more about being a citizen or being eligible to be a citizen of a tribal nation. So if a person is enrolled, which means they are a citizen of their tribal nation, you can know for sure they are Native.

I’m not the identity police. And, in the end, this is not about “identity.” This is about what nation you are a citizen of.

People who say they are Native but are not are, then, saying they are a citizen of a nation they actually are not a citizen of.