My husband has no information on his biological father other than the Indian tribe he was from. He never built an interest in his genetic past so didn’t much research the tribe. I however have always had a great deal of appreciation for Native American tribes and their rituals. I have even been honored with the opportunity to be a part of a religious ceremony with a local tribe in my youth. So when I married my husband I began to research his tribe.
My oldest son is a Cub Scout and part of what he’s supposed to review with me is our family’s belief system. Well, our family believes in the First Amendment. That is what we teach and practice in our household. It would be simple enough to go the traditional route of “here’s Christianity in a nutshell. Have fun at your grandparents church” but I wanted to teach my son something new. I went back to the religious practices of his tribe, for which he is one quarter, and thought that would be a good one. But then I became nervous.
He’s awkward to speak to, so may not articulate well what he learns. Someone who does not know him well may take his knowledge the wrong way. If I help him make a headdress with feathers carefully placed in the unique manner his tribe did, then it would be thought that he was being inconsiderate of tribal fashion by those who don’t know what we’re doing. If someone sees me, naturally blonde with green eyes and glow-in-the-dark-white skin, teaching my son about his tribe it will look like I’m misinforming him about Native Americans.
It is not okay that I should fear teaching my children about their ancestral past. It is ridiculous that I should be nervous to teach feather placement and bead color of a headdress. I hate that I can’t speak about Spirit Animals without someone assuming I’m making light of it when they have no idea the amount of research I’ve put into the beliefs. I need to be able to speak with my son about the religious practices of the tribe he comes from even if we don’t live anywhere near it or know who among the tribe he is related to.
I’m doing it anyway. I don’t give a shit what other people think of it, I don’t have patience for that right now. So tomorrow we’re studying the culture and I won’t allow my fear to get in the way this time.