I am sure many of you are aware of Deb Haaland is a Pueblo woman running for Congress in New Mexico. Her opponent has accused her of not being Indian because she was lives off the reservation. This is one of the many myths that are out there regarding our people and only shows the ignorance of those who make such statements. According to the 2010 census over two thirds of all Native Americans live off the reservation. This is an old divide and conquer strategy that the government and others have used for years to keep us from being more politically active. If you are a member of a Tribe you are by definition Native American. And even if you are not enrolled if you can prove your ancestry you are still Native American.
Another version of this is if you don’t speak your language you are not Indian. This is also patently false. It is not anyone’s fault that they don’t speak their language as many of our people were punished very harshly in the boarding schools if they were caught speaking their language. This was just another attempt by the government and churches to “civilize” our people. While many are not fluent in their language there are many who are learning to speak their language.
We have many brothers and sisters who live in urban areas and they go back and forth to their Tribal homeland as well as to other Tribal lands for various cultural events and to see friends and family. While there is still conflict between those who live on the reservation and those who are in urban areas it has improved considerably over the years. As time goes on these divisions will continue to heal as we are who we are regardless of where we live. Many people throughout Indian country, on and off the reservation, are excited about Deb Haaland’s race to become the first Native American woman in Congress and once she is elected she will not only be a leader for those in her congressional district in Albuquerque but for all of Indian country.