I was at the grocery store one night, several years back, and I saw this woman who looked just like my Grandmother…I’m not kidding, just like her, though Mema’s been dead since, like, 1963. (I don’t know exactly when Mema died, but I do recall understanding death when JFK was shot in November of ’63, because my grandma had died shortly before. I was five.)
So, there I am at the supermarket, and I see this woman who’s a dead ringer for Mema, so I approach her and I ask “Are you Native American?” (Mema was a half breed Delaware Indian, you see, that was on the roles, plus maybe a quarter some other kind of Indian, Creek, or Cherokee, and definitely some Wyandotte)
The woman pulls herself up tall and proud and says “Yes I am.”
“What tribe are you?” I ask.
“What?” says the woman.
“What tribe are you?”
“I AM Native American,” she answers, then retorts angrily “I was BORN here.”
Wow. Not what I meant by the question, but, okay, I concede, being born here does make you a native.