Frustrating, but I see why things need to change.
This Saturday I have a meeting with the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center at Mission Dolores to fight to change the state curriculum for fourth graders on how California Indians are portrayed in the Missions. Ironic timing..
Gabe, my little brother who is nine and in fourth grade, started studying Missions today. The day I’ve been nervous about finally arrived.
I walk in the house and see him kinda down.
“What’s wrong?” I ask him
“I started studying about Indians and Missions today,” he said faking a smile
“AWESOME!” I say with totally fake enthusiasm, but hoping for the best… “What did the teacher say about indians?!”
He finally spills why he seems depressed, like it was being held back
“I told the teacher I’m Indian and she told me you can’t be full Indian. She said I’m not a real Indian…”
My blood starts boiling…….
“But our Nana was Indian, and dad is Indian and we are indians too….” he says to me, having to defend his identity from this teacher.
“You’re Indian, you’re Ohlone, it doesn’t matter what she says. Did you ask her if she ever met an Indian?” I ask
“Yeah, she told me she has one friend who is Indian and a real Indian” he says sadly
“I told her my big brother is an archaeologist and works at the Mission and knows our language and everything,” he says, almost like he did something wrong.
A real Indian?
This sickens me to my core, I am livid as I write this. There is no damn reason why a 9 year old has to defend his cultural identity. There is no reason why a 9 year old has to feel insecure. What the fuck is a real Indian? The fact our land was stolen, we have no reservation, our identity was attempted to be wiped out yet we still refuse to let it go, and in 2012 a teacher at a public school is going to tell an Ohlone kid that he’s not a real Indian. Shame.
The cultural genocide continues.
We are going to make this right. Tomorrow, Mama and Papa Medina are having some words with the teacher, and next week… I am going to be making a “presentation” in Gabe’s class on Ohlone culture (like he asked to me to) to show how “real Indians” never give up.
Real Indians fight for what is right.
Real Indians don’t lie about who they are.
Real Indians never surrender.
I’m pretty sure we are real Indians. Everyday is a struggle. But every day we keep going.