I’m a half breed. Half breed am I.
Those are the lines from a poem my auntie wrote over a decade ago. The struggle of mixed,opposing blood within my veins was inherited, it was learned, it was experienced.
I hear my last semester’s professors voice in my head, “You will never be white enough, you will never be brown enough. You have to be YOU enough.”
I heard an elder speak today about feeling the isolation that sometimes comes jointly with being a half breed. I heard another say that it took them until they were 60 to look at themselves and say that they were good enough.
I don’t want to spend the next decade wondering if my introduction of myself as a Dane Zaa and Cree woman leaves people with questions of my fair skin. When I was in Guatemala and introduced myself as an Indigenous woman I could see the eyes study my facial features until they could detect it. I watch as brown faces and heads nod at me with satisfaction. Sometimes I went as far as showing pictures of my beautiful Grandmother as if her brown skin could provide me legitimacy. I don’t like the feeling that this provides me with.
I sometimes try to introduce myself with honouring the caucasian blood in me and speak about my beloved Grandfather who had blue eyes and was from Montana. He was an amazing man and I claim his bloodline in a heart beat. Yet, my identity is grounded in my Indigenous blood, it is how I have come to see and understand the world.
The half breed, mixed blood dilemma. My father once broke it down for me and told me I was precisely 13/16ths Indigenous, which is more than half. I don’t know how he came up with this calculation but it puts me at just over 3/4s. I have a darker skinned brother who may very well sometimes be envious of my light skin. I sometimes am envious of his dark skin.
I am who I am. Beautifully mixed blood, and as long as I know where I belong then none of it matters right?
It is a process. Decolonization is a good start. Dismissing status cards as a proof of “Indigenousness” is another. Not allowing others to define you is another. Sticking to your truth is a must. Knowing your history is invaluable. Self examination is necessary. Questioning the world around you and how they define things for you is mandatory.
Much mixed blood love!