Title

What is a real Indian? The interminable debate of cultural authenticity

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

This article is less an attempt to answer the question of what it means to be a “real” Indian than an examination of the question itself. The complex process of separating the genuine from the spurious has been necessitated by the federal government’s continued employment of a blood quantum to determine who is and who is not Indian, the increasing numbers of people who are claiming Indian descent because of the popularity of Indian culture and, more recently, the financially inspired racial awakenings of those hoping to partake in the massive wealth generated by casino revenue. After five centuries (and counting) of colonization, miscegenation and forced assimilation, the issue of cultural authenticity has become a hotly debated and polarizing matter for everybody involved—everybody that is, except Indians themselves for whom the notion of an authentic cultural identity has always been very clearly defined.

Journal

AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples

Volume

8

Issue

2

First Page

176

Last Page

188