I pit my fellow whiteys who think they are Native American

Straight Dope says that one of the main purposes of the pit is “rants about the world,” and so I thought I would use this section of the Dope forums as an outlet to unload on a subject which I feel should be addressed swiftly and with brutal honesty: fake natives.
I am a white American, from a white American family. All my life, I have been told that one of my ancestors, a British regular in the American Revolutionary War, settled in the US after his side lost and married a Cherokee woman, thus making me part Native American in some way or another. However, I don’t view myself as being at all native, and I don’t think other white people should view themselves as being native either, simply because of a long-dead ancestor. Just because Pocahontas and John Rolfe were your great, great, great, great, 50xgreat granparents does not make you an American Indian!
I sometimes look up videos about Native Americans on youtube, and half the people I see at the so-called “native american” events and gatherings are blond, blue-eyed women with shaws around their shoulders. This is, so to speak, “identity theft.”
Look at the history of what we did to the indigenous people: we took their identity, raped it, beat it to nothing, burned it and then urinated on the ashes; and now we’re trying to claim said identity as our own? It’s bad enough that we have called ourselves the “Great White Father” and acted like some kind of benevolent parent who owns** the native people, but even more arrogant than that is to steal their name after having stolen their very existence. It’s almost as if we want the world to forget that real American Indians exist in order to make them think that we’re** the natives. A racist conspiracy of sorts.

I agree with you, though there are some people who have actual Native American ancestry. That being said, yes there are people who claim Native ancestry for some reasons, whether I don’t know to get certain benefits available to those people, or simply to look more “exotic”.

The last part is sadly not unheard of, one could be of English ancestry but claim to be Native American, or claim another European ethnic group.

Similar to people from the Middle East who sometimes claim to be Italian. Take an Iranian guy at a club who maybe out of shame or thinking he may score a girl better, claims to be Italian or Spaniard.

There are people who falsely claim an ethnic group for a whole host of reasons. Sad.

I’m native Pangaean.

I agree in part with your rant. White people who have little native heritage and little connection to native culture shouldn’t call themselves Native American. In my experience, few do. (at least seriously).

On the other hand, you cannot accurately identify someone as non-Native just because they’re blond or blue-eyed. Native Americans come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. I’m willing to allow people to decide for themselves what group to identify with. Plus, most tribes have standards for enrollment, that don’t include eye or hair color.

Hear hear, my Aryan brother! How dare those blond haired blue eyed imposters claim to be part of some tribe dirty injuns! Hell, they look like us so by God they should act like us and hold the same beliefs WRT race as us, right?!

What kind of dumbass, narrow-minded racist piece of shit are you? Personally, I trace various branches of my family tree back to 1) the Blackfeet Indians of northern Montana, 2) a small village in Czechoslovakia, 3) The Scottish Highlands, and 4) Tuscany. What part of that family tree I choose to identify with is my choice, and your racist cries to the contrary mean fuck-all to me. Identity-theft, indeed.

I worked with a white woman who claimed Cherokee ancestry. She used the minority status to get a research grant set aside for minorities.

Soon after I met her I mentioned I had played lacrosse and how it was a Native American sport. She didn’t know anything about it, but meh.

Better yet was when she told another co-worker about being Cherokee. The co-worker had some Cherokee heritage and asked her about the Trail of Tears and where her ancestors ended up. She didn’t know much about that, either.

Ah, yes. I think every family who’s been in the US for a few hundred years has a legend of having a “Native American Ancestor”. Said ancestor is also almost always Cherokee. No one ever has an ancestor who’s, say, Wampanoag or Hassanamisco. Probably because they’re harder to pronounce. .

I dont’ care for the “Cherokee Princess Ancestor” trope myself, but beware of being too quick to judge who is or is not “real”. My stepfather (born in the 1920s) was legitimately (as in, his family had documentation) at least***** 1/4 NA and had dark blond hair and blue eyes.

***** We say “at least 1/4” because we only know the ancestry of my stepfather’s grandfather, which was 100% NA. We do not know if there were any others in his immediate family.

I was told I was part native growing up. It was considered to be something cool and positive (and I lived in Oklahoma). Then I ran a 23 and Me test and 0.2% of me is Native or Yakut (see below for my details). I shared the information with my family and crickets were heard.

99.9% European

Northern European
26.5% Scandinavian
21.7% British & Irish
12.0% French & German
0.1% Finnish
36.8% Nonspecific Northern European

0.8% Eastern European

Southern European
0.3% Nonspecific Southern European
1.6% Nonspecific European
0.1% East Asian & Native American

East Asian
0.1% Yakut
0.1% Native American
< 0.1% Nonspecific East Asian & Native Am…

My family has the obligatory “…and he married a half-Cherokee woman” story. Even if I believed it, it wouldn’t make me Cherokee. It is both a little silly and totally undocumented. I find it odd that anyone both believes their family’s version of this common tall tale, and also thinks it entitles them to anything.

The term “Native American” is a poor one, but that is a separate matter.

My paternal grandfather was quite dark skinned for a self-identified white guy. As dark as Halle Berry, perhaps, or even a bit darker. This was explained by two bits of family lore: he labored all day outdoors from about age 4 to age 24, and his mother was part Native American.

Just in the last year, me and my uncle (his son) happened to do those DNA ancestry tests. The result? Some small trace of Native American ancestry (<0.5%). But there was a surprise – a small but significant chunk of African ancestry: 5-6% for my uncle, and 3-4% for me. So my grandfather was probably about 1/8th black – his mother was probably about a quarter black.

I think it’s likely such family lore stories about native American ancestry, which are very common, from what I understand, often came about to hide African ancestry.


The woman I lived with in the late 90s was had a Tlingit mother and a Norwegian father. You’d never guess it by looking at her; she could pass for white easily. But shew grew up in Alaska and in a mostly Tlingit community, and she identified as Native American, not white.

For that matter, my wife has a Jewish father and a black mother. She too could pass if that were a thing anymore, but self-identifies as black. And, culturally, she’s more African-American than I in many ways.

I agree with this pitting. It’s usually boring people who think that they can substitute an interesting background for an interesting personality.

My ex was at least 3/4ths Native American (I think more, but it’s been a while), and he had blond hair, but many other “typical / prominent” Native American features. He grew up in a small town near a reservation, and the majority of the town’s population were Native American.

He would tell me stories about how he was ostracized as a child for his appearance. He would be excluded from events and parties solely because he had hair that was dirty-blond and a fair complexion. I didn’t believe it until I started meeting the townsfolk and seeing how they would treat him. It was never rude, but it was definitely “cold.”

The funny thing is, he was part of a summer internship program for Native American students for 2 years, where the participants would work in D.C. for three months. The second year, I went along with him despite having an extremely tenuous claim to a Native American heritage. (It didn’t help that my grandfather never got his “card.”) But, because of my darker complexion (brown hair, brown eyes, etc.), I would often be more welcome with the program events and participants than he would.

But, to the OP’s point, if I held myself out as Native American, then yes, I feel that would be somewhat disingenuous. Don’t use physical characteristics as the sole defining qualities as to whether an individual has a right to claim to be part of a tribe.


Unless, of course, your 1/32 heritage, along with a bunch of other whiteys with similar native percentages, qualifies you to form a “tribe” and get sovereign rights.

Which in the old days meant somewhere between jack and shit, except for minor hunting and fishing benefits and a few government programs.

Now, it means you can draw a circle on a map, call it the tribal homeland, and open a casino, sell tax-free cigs and booze, etc. There’s billions in being a little bit native.

Is the OP a disguised attempt to beat up on poor Fauxcahontas?

Mine’s Mi’kmaq. :stuck_out_tongue:

But yeah, I have very little knowledge and zero claim of that culture. I have ancestors from Ireland, England, France and ?? too but I grew up in America so I don’t call myself Irish, English, or French either.


  1. I never claimed any kind of racist, Aryan pride that you should sarcastically call me your “Aryan brother.”

  2. I never said anything racist about Indians, nor did I use racial epithets like “tribe dirty injuns.” Thanks for putting words in my mouth.

  3. I never said that the fake natives/people who look like us should act like us. Again, thanks for putting words in my mouth.

I would say “Nice attempt to make me look like a ‘dumb***, narrow-minded racist piece of pig****,’” but I won’t say that, because it’s not true; It was actually a rather lame attempt, not a nice one.

I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing that the stigma has passed and people feel a little pride in their Native American heritage. After all, it was only about 15 years ago that my mother loudly proclaimed, in front of my sister’s Nigerian friend, that she never would have married my father (1/8th) if she’d known he was a (slur). His family had long hid and denied their mixed heritage because of crap like that.

But NO, my 1/16th doesn’t make me “Native American” any more than my 5/8ths German ancestry makes me German. I’m (proudly) an American Mutt.