Natives from North & South America Cultures and Education Forward to friends

  • View author's info Author Posted on Nov 23, 2005 at 10:39 PM


    I have a certain curiosity about the way our Northern cousins see us Natives from South America.

    Down there (I was born and raised in Bolivia) we learn a bit about the North American Natives, mostly the Sioux confederacy and other larger groups (like Pueblo and Apaches). We are also taught that in North America for the most part Natives are mixed (usually with Europeans).

    Are full-blooded Natives rare in most parts of the USA and Canada? I've seen that quite a lot of people who claim to be Native here in North America have physical characteristics that in South America mark you as mixed--ergo, facial hair.

    Down there, if you're a man and can grow a bit of a shadow, that means you're not a full-blooded Native and you must have some European blood (usually Spanish). I wonder if perhaps in North America some Natives could actually grow some facial hair *before* the arrival of the Europeans (I've seen claims to that).

    Also, it seems government among Natives in North America was much more flexible and closer to state-nations (or tribe-nations) instead of the centralized Kingdoms or Empires found in South America and Mexico/Central America.

    The Aymara background is quite old, and the Tiwanaku Kingdom saw its zenith around 500 CE. It decayed and by 1200 CE it was a confederacy of small nations, which were conquered by the Inkas.

    The roads, irrigations and bridges (all made of stone) were in use by the Inkas and some are used even now. Tiahuanaco city is but ruins now, although at some point it had over 40,000 people and was the capital of the kingdom.

    For the most part, Natives in Latin America have mixed, too, although in Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay there are large areas where "pure" Natives still live.

    Something I found strange and fascinating is that among some the fact that you're "pure" seems like a big deal. A Native growing in a Native area (similar to your reservations) but who is mixed will not receive certain traditions that a full-blooded Native can receive--even if the "full-blood" was raised in a European family!

    That was my case, since even though I was adopted as a toddler, my parents both came from an "area" that had only full-blooded Aymara in them. So when later I went to search for my heritage, I received a warm welcome because, due to my lineage, I could prove I was "pure."

    Is purity such a big issue among North American Natives?

    I've talked about these things with Natives I've met in real life, but chatting about them on the net gives me even more chances to hear other opinions. Which will be most welcome.
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  • View author's info Posted on Aug 04, 2011 at 04:59 PM


    Quoting author:

    Yes, sometimes the fascination of people with race and purity is puzzling. One of the main reasons people marry within their race is because they want to save their children the difficulties of being inter-racial, that is, not entirely fitting with one world or the other.

    Which is a shame, because they leave good men and women aside just out of fear for the future.

    The ideal would be, to me, if love were free of shackles and conditions, free of prejudices and ideas of what is beautiful or not. There is too much shallowness when choosing a partner in life, and it translates in a high rate of failure: divorce, separation, unhappy marriages, etc.

    I've also suffered of dircrimination and ostracism, and I've been harrassed because of my ethnicity, but I've learned to take it with a grain of salt. The good people out there are the ones who make life worthwile.

    It's good to have you here, Raindancer!



    That's the opposite of what always happens to ME. I'm Choctaw Indian and only Blacks seem to want me, so they must be about mixing the race up MORE. Because I know damn well I'm not "all that" from the fact that I can't get in at any modelling agencies; the way Black men leer at me you'd think I was "all that" and I'm NOT. It's just that I have CLEARLY Native features and dark skin, so they think "black." It's the bane of my existence because I can't attract anyone in my class standing, college graduate suburban-raised middle class educated, and have to spend all my effort beating Black ghetto-trash lowlifes off of me. Even online. When I post my picture all I get are Blacks and no one with any higher education like mine; just like in person. I'm beginning to wonder why bother at all. In high school I was voted most likely to become a hermit, because I never liked the lowlife trash that was all that liked me.
  • View author's info Posted on Mar 23, 2006 at 12:28 PM


    Yes, sometimes the fascination of people with race and purity is puzzling. One of the main reasons people marry within their race is because they want to save their children the difficulties of being inter-racial, that is, not entirely fitting with one world or the other.

    Which is a shame, because they leave good men and women aside just out of fear for the future.

    The ideal would be, to me, if love were free of shackles and conditions, free of prejudices and ideas of what is beautiful or not. There is too much shallowness when choosing a partner in life, and it translates in a high rate of failure: divorce, separation, unhappy marriages, etc.

    I've also suffered of dircrimination and ostracism, and I've been harrassed because of my ethnicity, but I've learned to take it with a grain of salt. The good people out there are the ones who make life worthwile.

    It's good to have you here, Raindancer!
  • View author's info Posted on Mar 14, 2006 at 09:21 PM


    am a multi racial Native American. And I am with you, once people find out there is native American blood in your veins it is sort of a turn off. Any Indian for that matter. I have had people on the street tell me to go back to the reservation where I came from I have never been on a reservation.

    People find out I follow my native American cultural ways, then I am a pagan already without any body asking just what that is. We are not pagan or heathens, or savages. I dont have a mean bone in my body not intentionally anyway. But I will not tolerate racism around me no matter what the color of there skin.

    I to would like to know where all the Native Americans are on this site too. I sometimes wonder if they are afraid to come out and admit who they really are.


    I for one am not ashamed of who I am. And being a mixed blood native American, the full blood native Americans do not want us and the whites do not want us where is our place in society.

    Maybe one day I for one will find out where my place is in this United States of America. And having white blood also in my veins and Irish where do I put my foot I feel like I am walking in two worlds one world fits the other world dont fit but I have to walk in it any way.

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  • View author's info Posted on Dec 14, 2005 at 02:10 PM


    Thank you so much Keihan. It was a great read, and it's true, I think that Natives in the northern part of the continent were probably mixed with Caucasians before the times of the discovery and colonization.

    On the other hand, Native Americans in South America seem to have received an influx of South East Asian blood at some point. Cavalli-Sforza (the guy who mapped human genes with his team) found some things that would agree with both theories.

    That's why South American Indians look so similar to Filipinos and Cambodians, while North American Indians look more like the Mongols and other Northern Asia groups, that plus the (small) influx of Caucasian blood with some.

    I'm sure such mixing has occurred all over, from Scandinavia to Zaire. It'd be interesting how and why. Was it out of romance, or out of violence? Was such mixing the product of Pocahontas-like love stories (I know, the Disney version is wrong) or was it because the victors took possession of their privilege.

    Was all that initial mixing the fruit of love... or that of war?
  • View author's info Posted on Dec 13, 2005 at 08:30 AM


    If one takes a look at a globe you can readily see that the distance between Greenland and Baffin Island (in Canada) is relatively small. The water that separates the two (The Davis Strait) is narrower than the Hudson Bay (maybe 350-400km at it's narrowest point and 650-800km at it's widest). It would only make sense that Norseman would explore these areas and it's probable that they settled among some of the Natives 500 yrs before Columbus even made his Journey...but we know he, in fact, was simply lost.
  • View author's info Posted on Dec 13, 2005 at 08:05 AM


    I think it worthy of note to mention that the History books have long told the story of Leif Ericson, the so-called Viking, whom discovered the American continent somewhere around 1000 AD. However, the History books are incorrect in a number of ways.

    First, Ericson was not a Viking, rather he was a Norseman... a Greenlander to be more specific. A Viking is a Norse raider or pirate and Ericson was neither. He was an explorer. Early accounts of his journey to the Americas make this pretty clear. The way he dressed, the type of ship he used and his objective all testify to this. It is noted that on his way back to Greenland he even rescued some people from a shipwreck earning him the nickname "Leif the Lucky".

    There is no mention in the Norse record, however, that he ever created a settlement although it is said that he built houses.

    There is much debate over the area in which he and his men landed as well.

    It was originally believed that he went ashore in what is now Newfoundland... (it is quite clear that he discovered Baffin Island and Labrador). However it is now believed that the area where he went ashore could be as far south as Florida, but it is speculated that it is more probable that it was in New England and maybe even more specifically Cape Cod. This would put him in close contact with Algonquin and Iroquois peoples.

    It should be noted that Ericson may have been the first Norseman to set foot in the Americas, but he most likely didn't discover them. There is another Norseman before him whose recorded account Ericson used as a guide to his expedition (Bjarni Herj?lfsson around 986 sighted the Americas on an Expedition).

    It should be noted that 2 of Ericson's brothers led later (albeit separate) expeditions as did his sister Freydis. Some of the expeditions were met with failure and fighting with Natives.

    There were most likely many more expeditions after.
  • View author's info Posted on Dec 13, 2005 at 07:45 AM


    There is another school of thought which is interesting as well.

    Iroquois and Tlingits although separated by quite a distance have many things in common.

    It is speculated that Norsemen from Greenland may have had regular contact for quite some time among these Native Peoples of the North and may have even settled amongst them and thus became absorbed.

    There is a lot of Anthropological evidence to support this theory, but there is no written record.

    Here is something which I'll quote ...I found it on the web... It is in reference to Natives of the NorthWest...

    "Their most outstanding physiological characteristic - and this took the early European explorers by surprise - is the profusion of facial hair among the males. Mustaches and beards were commonly noted in the earliest records, in marked contrast to Indians everywhere outside this geographical region. The frequently wavy hair emphasizes the physical contrast with Indians elsewhere. Rather than the jet-black color popularly believed to be universal among Indians, a very dark brown prevails. The skin color varies from as light as southern Europeans, in the northern nations, to a somewhat darker hue toward the Puget Sound area. Nowhere in Totemland, however, does the skin coloring of the natives conform to the "redskin" concept so ingrained into American folklore. As a matter of fact, the first European to explore the Bella Coola country, famed Alexander Mackenzie, whose name is legend in Canada, discovered that these ethnic relatives of the Coast Salish and Kwakiutl often had hair of a rich brown shade and comparatively light-colored eyes. Investigating anthropologists and ethnologists, during the past century, disclosed no definitely established reasons for this provocative variation. (Joseph H. Wherry, The Totem Pole Indians, Funk & Wagnalls, New York 1964:5-7, emphases supplied)"
  • View author's info Posted on Dec 13, 2005 at 06:15 AM


    cyupanqui write:
    Are full-blooded Natives rare in most parts of the USA and Canada? I've seen that quite a lot of people who claim to be Native here in North America have physical characteristics that in South America mark you as mixed--ergo, facial hair.

    Down there (Bolivia), if you're a man and can grow a bit of a shadow, that means you're not a full-blooded Native and you must have some European blood (usually Spanish). I wonder if perhaps in North America some Natives could actually grow some facial hair *before* the arrival of the Europeans (I've seen claims to that).

    First, I'll try to answer this one.

    It appears that, "yes" many full blood Natives to the far NorthEast (Iroquois, Algonquin, etc) and NorthWest (Alaska Natives) could and do grow facial hair and light body hair.

    I believe what we are seeing here is, simply, man's adaptive (evolutionary) processes.

    As Natives migrated further South to warmer climates, there was less need for body hair due to the heat in those regions. Over a span of thousands of years, it is probable that the bodies of these natives have adapted by eliminating some or most of this body hair because it was not needed to protect the body from the cold. The actual function of hair is to protect the body from the elements. This also, would explain the reason natives of the southwest and south of the border are darker in complexion. The body's pigmentation has adapted as well in order to protect the skin from the sun's radiation.

    Here is a picture of Ely Parker whom was a full Blood Seneca (Iroquois like myself) and Brigadier General in the Union army during the U.S. Civil War ...note that he has plenty of facial hair. Also look up pictures of the Haida and Tlingit and you'll see men with long mustaches and beards in almost the Chinese (Asian) fashion.

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  • View author's info Posted on Dec 13, 2005 at 05:58 AM


    Cyup,

    I read this right after you posted it and although I wished to answer some of your questions at that time, the problems with my hands stemming from stress and strain of using a mouse and keyboard, I just couldn't at that time.

    I will try to answer shortly, however, as best as I can.
  • View author's info Posted on Nov 29, 2005 at 06:26 AM


    You know, it makes a big difference to people who have very closed minds,that is, about being "pure blood". The fact of the matter is, there really are no real pure bloods. Even native nations have had mixed relations with thier distant cousins from other tribes, etc. Depending on who you talk to, its a big deal. One of the main reasons they want to know if your pure blood is that they really want to know if you're mixed blood, meaning, do you have european roots. The native people of this land have suffered through every indignity possible and somehow, the only sense of identity they can hold on to, is whether or not you are still "pure". In my opinion its not about blood quantum, but its more about perpetuating the traditions, culture and ceremonies that have been practiced and handed down from your ancestors, to you. Today, so many people are trying desperately to connect with something from thier past, to recall thier ancestors and maybe to discover something magic that thier ancestors had lived through that they can relate to today. Our present day society is empty of culture and all thats left are these Hallmark created holidays, complete with all the stress and hardships that only humans can create. Creating chaos and striving for "excess". Native people here in the northern states, live simply. I know I do. Many of us make our own crafts, we bead, we sew, we gift to our loved ones the things we've put so much of our love, time and effort into, because it has meaning for not only the reciever but for the gift giver. The question of blood quantum is also about filling requirements for preferred nation status. You have to have a certain amount of blood in order to register on the rolls of specific nations. I dont need to be registered on any Indian Nation roll to know who I am and know where I come from. I dont need government funding to help me with education or to put food on my table, although many people do need help. So the question of whether or not you are pure blood, or not, has many reasons behind why its being asked. You have to look beyond the reason they ask, and look at your own views of our world, and the history of our people.
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