I am very proud of my heritage, but sometimes, I think, that being of a mixed heritage isn’t easy. Being of just one heritage probably isn’t easy either.
I am Cherokee and Welsh. My grandmother was Cherokee and my grandfather was from Wales. Although I feel more Native (probably because there is a lot of Cherokee in my family) than I do Welsh, I won’t deny what I am. It is part of me.
Sometimes it seems people expect a lot from you though. I’m Cherokee, but unlike my grandmother and her siblings, I don’t look like it. So, unless people ask, they think that I am white and if you’re white, well you’re expected to be white. I’m not even sure what being white is.
And if you’re Indian, well you’re expected to have thick skin. Plus, if you don’t have the proof of being Indian a lot of people don’t want to be believe you’re Indian. Especially if you’re Cherokee. I’m told that every white person says they are Cherokee.
I’ve met a few people who are like me, they are of mixed heritage and look white. The one girl I met she grew up on the reservation and another girl I met from Powwows.com, who was Cherokee and like me, didn’t look like it. But besides those few people, I haven’t heard any white people claim to be Cherokee or any other Indian. I’ve met white people who tell me they are Irish, Spanish, German, Pennsylvania Dutch and some others, but I’ve hardly met anyone who told me they were Indian.
Sure, there are probably people who think it is cool to be Indian and so they say they are. But I believe there are a lot of people who are Indian, whether they look like it or not and whether they can prove it or not.
But growing up, I didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t like looking white and I guess you can say I felt lost. Unsure of who I was. I believe it is called an identity crisis and I’ve learned that it is a common thing for Native Americans to go through. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time.
I’m fine now, completely comfortable with myself and have become even more so when I began to learn more about my family and heritage. Since I have learning and connecting with my Cherokee heritage, I feel like whatever piece of me that was missing has now returned. I feel whole and I look forward to learning more.
But I’ve heard some Indians say that we have to walk in two worlds, our world and the world of white people. I think I am beginning to understand that, but maybe in a bit of a different way. I’m white and Indian, I’m both and have to walk in both of these worlds. They are a part of me, they are mixed and I can see and understand the views of both of these worlds. Some people say that Indians and white people are so different, but really, we’re more alike than we think. I hope that everyone can see that one day.
Perhaps being of a mixed heritage isn’t always easy, but I really love it. I think being of two worlds have given me a unique view on the world and life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.