A variety of factors can cause us to feel disconnected from our Native culture. Perhaps you think of your skin as “too light” or you haven’t spent much time around other indigenous people throughout your life. Maybe you were impacted by bullying or discrimination as you grew up. Maybe you married into a tribe you were unfamiliar with or were adopted.
Identity is complex. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doubting whether you are native “enough” based on the judgements or doubts of others. Before you know it, you might be inflicting those doubts and judgements on yourself.
Your identity is just that: yours. No one can take it from you or define it for you. So, what do you do when you feel like you’ve lost it?
Rediscover Your Genealogy: Am I Indigenous?
Identity isn’t all about DNA, but it can be helpful to know where you come from. You might find it helpful to trace your ancestry using libraries, archives, online tools, or even a DNA test.
Understanding your indigenous ancestry might help you to feel more at home in your own story and to feel a part of something larger than yourself. If you’re someone who likes facts and statistics, discovering exactly “how native you are” might go a long way toward your peace of mind -- especially if you still have the taunts of bullies or other negative judgements ringing in your ears.
Practice Self Love
Even if you don’t feel like “enough,” retraining your brain to love yourself can change your life. Instead of focusing on how you are less than, focus on all the ways you are truly enough.
Journaling can help you to reinforce positive messaging into your daily life. Take time each day to list all of the ways you are comfortable in your identity and deserving of love by yourself and others -- regardless of heritage or culture.
Remember You Are Not Alone
Many indigenous people feel disconnected from their ancestry. You are not alone in this feeling; it is a repercussion of historical trauma that has plagued Native people for generations. Discrimination, turmoil, and violence has lead to a cycle of loss and rediscovery for an entire culture of people.
Seek out stories like your own. Feel comforted in collective experiences and use the journeys of others to help define your own identity.
No matter what you look like or what “percentage” Native you are, you are still indigenous.
Belonging is about more than your DNA, it’s about who you believe in and who believes in you in return; it’s about what you value and what community you feel most at home in.