Can a DNA test make me Native American? As direct-to-consumer ancestry DNA tests gain popularity and narratives of “discovering” or “proving” Native American ancestry through DNA swirl through the media—what does that mean for Indigenous nations?
On this episode we talk with the amazing, badass, super cool Dr. Kim Tallbear (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), who literally wrote the book on Native American DNA. We talk about the concept of “Native DNA,” the problems of ancestry DNA tests, challenges in these areas for Native communities moving forward, Elizabeth Warren, the politics of research in Indigenous communities, and offer potential alternatives for thinking about kinship as a marker of Native belonging rather than false promises of DNA.
Kim Tallbear Bio:
Dr. Kimberly Tallbear - is Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and also descended from the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. She’s an Associate Professor in the faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta where she holds a Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Environment. .In 2013 She literally wrote the book on Native American DNA, entitled: “Native American DNA: Tribal belonging and the false promise of genetic science”. Her Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society work recently turned to also address decolonial and Indigenous sexualities, specifically on decolonizing the centering of monogamy that she characterizes as emblematic of "settler sexualities." This builds on work she has been doing in a blog written under an alter ego, "The Critical Polyamorist." Through this work she founded a University of Alberta arts-based research lab and co-produces the sexy storytelling show, Tipi Confessions, sparked by the popular Austin, Texas show, Bedpost Confessions. She also is active on twitter, is a role model to many of us as an indigenous researcher, public scholar, and feminist scholar.
Links and resources:
Kim’s book, “Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science”: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/native-american-dna
The Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING) Workshop: https://sing.igb.illinois.edu/
If you need more context and understanding on the whole Elizabeth Warren thing, Adrienne and her fellow Cherokee colleagues Joseph Pierce and Rebecca Nagle made The Elizabeth Warren Syllabus: http://www.criticalethnicstudiesjournal.org/blog/2018/12/19/syllabus-elizabeth-warren-cherokee-citizenship-and-dna-testing
Speaker 1:0:00Hi, I'm a Tikka I belonged to this Swinomish and toilet people. I'm a photographer and the creator of project five, six two. And I'm Adrian. I'm a citizen of the Cherokee nation, a scholar and the writer behind the blog, native appropriations. Welcome back to another episode of the all my relations podcasts. We are so grateful to have you with us today. Thank you to all of our relations for joining us on this journey. You have made our heart's so full with your comments, sharing and liking. Thank you. We love you so much. Yeah, the response to the podcast has been so incredible and overwhelming in the best ways. I'm, we're so grateful for all of you who have listened and let us know, um, what it's meant to hear these conversations, uh, on a podcast. So apologies to folks that we made laugh and cry and awkward public places. But we're really, really grateful you're joining us on this journey. And today for our next episode, we have a really amazing and important conversation with Dr. Kim. Tall bear about native American DNA. Can a DNA test make me native American? Nah.
Speaker 1:1:26Why is this bothersome? Adrian? I mean like Kimbal talk in this episode about how she's been doing this since 2005 was the first time she wrote about native American Dna. And so this is something we've been dealing with for a long time, but right now it feels incredibly relevant given what's going on with Elizabeth Warren and with all the conversations were seeing online. And this is something that I talk about with my students, a lot like trying to break down what it means to be a native person outside of these kinds of biological ideas around race. And as a result, I have students who like send me Dna ads from TV and from subways or whatever. And so I have this one that sticks out in my mind so much from one of my students, uh, that she snapped in the subway in New York and it's like this phenotypically older white guy.
Speaker 1:2:18Um, and in big red letters it says, I am 11.7% native American. And then underneath it it says you're more than meets the eye. So it's this whole concept that like discovering native DNA makes you like exotic and cool and different. And there's so many problems with that ad. Like we could spend an entire episode talking about that. But I also just think about the thousands and thousands of people who ride the New York City subway every day and are looking at that and the messages that they take away from that. And so that's why I think having this deep, important conversation about native DNA and what that actually means and the dangers to our communities is so
Speaker 2:3:05important. I can't tell you how many times I've had people tell me that they've done DNA tests and have found out that there are some percentage native American. And I find it so like slightly insulting when it happens. Because, you know, when I think of my traditional understandings of what it means to belong to an indigenous community, I think of the kinship and the relationships and I think of um, standing with as cam and you talk about later on in this episode a standing with my community and that that being from my place or belonging to these indigenous communities cannot be defined in a test tube. And we know that there's no such thing as a native American anyways. So what are we, what is, what are they really saying to me when they say that? And, and in that way, when they say, make that statement to me, I feel like in some ways they're just sort of like reinserting in that moment, their power over me that says that they don't have to know that they don't because they grew up going through this system, the k through 12 system, the education system, the system that marginalizes and oppresses indigenous voices.
Speaker 2:4:19They don't have to know that what they're saying is problematic. And so when they look at me and say that with a straight face, a part of me just sort of cringes on the inside and then I have to decide whether or not in that moment I'm going to like take a deep breath and become an auntie and educate their spiritual deficiency or whether or not I'm just going to sort of like slough off. But either way, it's a micro aggression that definitely digs at me. And I think for our children, for our people coming up for our kids, they deserve the right to hear from our scholars and to have the conversation that we're going to have today to arm them with the language necessary for, for this current political climate. Yeah, definitely. Yeah,
Speaker 1:5:11and I mean I think both of us are Dr. Kim, tall bear fan girls. Um, we, uh, when we were thinking about this podcast, she was one of the first people that popped up that we wanted to have as a guest. And so I think we're both really excited to get to share this conversation with you. Um, because her knowledge is amazing. She is so great. To be around. She has fire tweets on Twitter all the time. And for me is just a real inspiration as a fellow native woman navigating academia in really unapologetic and amazing ways. So
Speaker 2:5:49she's still vivacious. She has beautiful red hair with a big blonde streak in the middle and she has a boisterous laugh and she has, uh,
Speaker 1:5:58just like this incredible big, beautiful brain that just, you know, like I could sit and listen to Kim talk, uh, for hours and hours and hours and hours and never get tired of anything she had to say because it just like one after the other. It takes my breath away. So I think y'all are in for a treat. So with that, we have a big important episode for you today and we're going to dive right in with Dr. Kim tall bear to talk about this concept of native American Dna, the problems with ancestry DNA tests and the challenges they present for communities moving forward. We'll talk about Elizabeth Warren and then a little bit about the politics of research in indigenous communities and potential alternatives for thinking about kinship as markers of need of belonging rather than biology.
Speaker 1:6:54Sorry. Oh, my relationship.
Speaker 1:7:09Dr Kimberly tall bear is Sisseton Wahpeton [inaudible] Yachty and also descendant from the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma. She's an associate professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta where she holds a Canadian research chair in indigenous peoples technoscience and environment. In 2013 she literally wrote the book on Native American DNA entitled Native American Dna, tribal belonging, and the false promise of genetic science. Her indigenous science technology and society work recently turned to also address de colonial and indigenous sexualities, specifically on decolonizing the centering of monogamy that she characterizes as emblematic of settler sexualities. This builds on the work she's been doing in a blog written under an alter ego called the critical polyamory. Just through this work, she founded a university of Alberta art space research lab and Co produces the sexy storytelling show TB confessions sparked by the Popular Austin, Texas show, bedposts confessions. She's also active on Twitter and as a role model to many of us as an indigenous researcher, public scholar and feminist scholar. Welcome Dr. Kim. Tell Bear, thank you for inviting me. I'm so glad you are here. What would you take a moment just to introduce yourself as you would to a large group of people?
Speaker 4:8:23Uh, I usually let others introduced me and then I have to correct the name of my tribe. So I'm a citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oh, Yachty and what is now South Dakota, slightly North Dakota, but I grew up in Flandreau, South Dakota, which is another reservation where everybody's related between Sisseton and Flandreau. They're both on the eastern side of the state of South Dakota. And I also grew up partly in the twin cities, which is Dakota homeland set as well as well as additional bay homelands. And so we've always kind of migrated back and forth between the reservations in South Dakota, in Saint Paul and Minneapolis [inaudible]. Wonderful. So
Speaker 2:8:56this podcast is called all my relations and we're really interested in uncovering our relationship based identities and our relationship with one another. Our relationship with land, our relationship with water. And before we dive into anything else, would you relate to that subject for a moment, especially given where you're from?
Speaker 4:9:19Yeah, I mean I, um, I feel like I grew up a hearing more. Um, you should act in a good way or you should act appropriately. Um, and that was often getting at, um, that everybody, like if you were at a power at a community meeting or something, everybody knew who my grandparents and great grandparents were. And so we would be an embarrassment to them if we didn't act appropriately. Right. And I think a lot. So that was kind of more the emphasis growing up. And then I think, um, as I kind of encountered a lot of the writing of, of a chatty Shaka wheen people, um, around this idea, it, it definitely did branch out more into this idea of being in good relation. And I was able to relate that, how you relate with other humans but also other than humans back to how I was told to try and reflect well upon my extended family, the tio shy but also the [inaudible] or the tribe or the people.
Speaker 4:10:15Yeah. So I do relate. Yes. And then of course I brought this really forward into my own work and in ways that are in conversation with um, indigenous and non indigenous academic writing, um, about being in good relation. And I've written elsewhere. I actually think we're in a really great time in the academy in some ways we're not in a great time in terms of the restructuring of the academy, but in terms of the kind of intellectual work that I find nonindigenous people doing, uh, to try and recover a language for talking about their relationships with what they consider inanimate objects or other nonhuman organisms. So I feel like there's a conversation that's possible now where indigenous people can, I think really infuse that with a lot of sophistication.
Speaker 1:11:00So we're going to start the conversation by talking about DNA since that is, uh, something that is very big in the media right now with the conversations around, um, Elizabeth Warren and the continuing conversations around these ancestry DNA tests. Um, but before we dive into that, I would really be curious to hear kind of the origin story of how you came to this work, where the interest came from, how you got involved with this in the first place. Because when you started this a long time ago, these conversations weren't really happening on this level level.
Speaker 4:11:32No. Um, yeah, so I first encountered the politics of identity and race around the mapping of the human genome back in 2000. So I, um, was working as an environmental policy specialist. I had worked throughout the 90s, uh, for the, uh, environmental protection agency for the Council of Energy Resource, uh, as a contractor to tribal governments. And then I was doing a contract with department of Energy in 2000. And, um, I was working for an indigenous research organization in Denver that had had a lot of grants and we had done a lot of work to do tribal involvement in the management or clean up of the nuclear weapons complex. And most of my work in the 90s was, uh, around the intersections of nuclear weapons development, environmental contamination in the cultural resources that indigenous peoples had in and around those nuclear reservations. So doe suddenly starts funding tribal involvement in the conversations around mapping the human genome.
Speaker 4:12:27Kind of strange. But they were at that point, they weren't converting a lot of their scientific kind of resources over to this kind of hot new scientific topic. Um, and we got a big grant to, to host some conversations with tribal representatives throughout Indian country and it became very clear to me there was a whole lot of really interesting conversation going on. People worried about things like, well, they might be able to manufacture biological weapons because of our unique genomes. Well, all human beings are genetically related. So that's not really very as like any way, but, but there were, was also a lot of talk that was around very genetically essential list and the way that blood talk can sometimes be blood essential list. And I was really, really fascinated and I knew I had a lot of questions that I wanted to ask and answer.
Speaker 4:13:11And I immediately knew I wanted to write the, the, the, what my dissertation became. So I decided at that moment, cause I had a master's degree in environmental planning. Um, I'm gonna go back to graduate school, I'm going to do a phd just to write this book. And that's what I did. And so I, um, but I didn't know the field of science and technology studies existed. I knew I couldn't go to native studies because I wasn't getting going to get the mentoring and the science that I needed. So I ended up applying to, I'm getting into the history of consciousness program at Uc Santa Cruz, which, um, there were, Jim Clifford was there who worked on the politics of indigeneity globally and I knew Jim's work, but I didn't know don a heroin at all. And, and then I, I, when I got there, I realized why they had accepted me because those two work closely together and she does feminist politics of science and technology.
Speaker 4:13:54So that's how that came about. Wow. Yeah. I've never heard that story before. That's really, yeah, I know. And I'm an advocate of recruiting graduate students who are coming back to school with a very particular problem they want to solve. I don't think we need to be creating a graduate school at academic lifestyle. Academia is not a lifestyle choice. You should have a very particular problem you want to solve and you should bring the university resources to do that. That's not the most popular position, but that's kind of the, that's the attitude I have towards what academia can do for us in Indian country. I think it would create a lot more healthy relationships to Grad school too, for, for native students. Yeah. Well, let's just start by defining what exactly is native American DNA.
Speaker 4:14:35It's a settler colonial idea. Let's see. Good answer. Yeah. It's um, you know, so in human migrations research, there are scientists who use a combination of ancient DNA, which they're drawing often out of human remains or other kinds of, uh, our articles. You can, ancient DNA isn't just only DNA from thousands of years ago. Technically you use ancient DNA techniques to say get DNA out of menstrual rigs from the 19th century, right? It's any DNA that's hard to get out. Um, and so, but there are people who use ancient DNA techniques, um, to look at the, the, the DNA sequences in ancient remains. And then they might also compare them to, uh, populations living in the world today. And they're both interested in using a DNA markers and the frequency at which they occur in different geographies around the world to trace when they think people migrated, populations migrated through particular areas.
Speaker 4:15:33And of course they have this, the out of Africa narrative, right? It's very much a, an and us based scientists have very much a, an immigration based narrative. So they are thinking about the, they basically divided into four racial groups. Um, so it's not only native American DNA, you have African Dna, you have Europe, Indo European Dna, you have Asian Dna, that's what they call it. And then there of course are overlaps sometimes between those things. Um, but they, so not only are they looking at human migrations, historically, they're looking at how different populations in the world are related to one another genetically. And so they can then tell based on mutation rates, which branches branched off different lines and where people went in the world. So native American DNA is just one of those, um, the, the sets of markers that are found in high frequency, uh, in what are now the Americas in native American populations that have been sampled.
Speaker 4:16:26But you, but have they done like an even net sampling across native populations in the Americas know? Um, either there's multiple factors. First of all, who gets to define who's native in order to get sampled, right? So they are looking for it non admix natives. Right. And so they would go into, they have done a sampling actually assist in Wahpeton where I'm from. And if you know anything about where I'm from, uh, I have a Cheyenne and Arapaho grandfather. We all have multiple tribal lineages, right? This is both precontact and post contact. We're not, we aren't, tribes are not synonymous with genetic populations, but scientists don't know that. So they go in thinking, you know, you know how natives are, oh yeah, I'm a full blood. I'm a full, okay, you're okay. Maybe not. But even if you are, there's how many different tribes in your blood, right?
Speaker 4:17:14But they don't know any of this stuff. So like, oh, I got some full bloods and then they'll, they'll, they'll take out all the people who say they have a white dad or grandparents. So this is how sampling is happening. As scientists who have gone in and done sampling and who have this kind of racial standard racial framework that many Americans have on the world go in and sample according to that framework. Um, and so they have called it native American DNA. And in your book, when you talk about that, you say that one of the major problems with that is the origin story, right? Because it debunks the origins story. If there is oh, that, that's one thing people are worried about. Yeah, that is actually a Oh, a worry. I think some people have, I wrote an article in Gene Watch, which is the magazine of the Center for society and genetics, I think at Berkeley about this because I do think we as native people need to do a better job of articulate, but it's, it's hard, uh, of articulating the idea that um, we have a truth about how we arose in place as peoples that cannot be contained within a genetic narrative.
Speaker 4:18:23So we don't have to reconcile our origin stories about who we are as people with genetic origin stories. But because genetics has such cultural power in a settler colonial society, we are always faced with justifying our knowledges and our definitions and our histories according to the dominant narrative that they set out. And frankly, most other Americans believe. So that's what I try to do in that article to say we don't have to reconcile with them and um, but neither do we have to necessarily say all migration stories around the world, our faults, there is somewhat of an ear reconcile ability in those stories. And I see indigenous genome scientists being able to hold, there's spiritual, for lack of a better word, understandings and traditions on one hand and then their science on the other hand and they just kind of move through the world where they have both of these knowledge systems operating in their lives but not always in the same place.
Speaker 4:19:17That's a very indigenous thing to do. Right. And I, and I want us to just be very confident that we can do that. And as you move through life, I mean, I have found ways to, to, to, to talk about these stories and more overlapping ways, but because I spent so much time thinking about it, but we don't have to do that. I don't know if that's a complete answer to the question. So it's a worry that people have and I think it's an overblown, it's, it's, it's overblown in terms of our own innate, I don't think we need to fear the lack of truth in our origin stories. I think more what we have to fear. And I think a lot of native people do fear this is the deployment of genetic origin stories to mediate our rights in it. And people are particularly worried about maybe rights to land eventually.
Speaker 4:20:00Um, I'm worried about eventually the office of federal acknowledgement may be using genetic ancestry to determine whether or not somebody is authentically a tribe or not. They already use, um, cultural anthropological methods. Why wouldn't they use genetic anthropological methods? And that was gonna be a question that I had too is just in terms of, I think the public has a very hard time. Uh, the non native public, um, has a hard time wrapping their head around why indigenous communities see these tests is inherently dangerous, um, or as threats to sovereignty. Um, and I don't know if you could kind of explicate on that for folks of just understanding that these are not kind of a benign fun thing to learn about your heritage. Yeah. I mean therefore grounding of settler colonial definition of indigeneity. Right. So, and, and I talk about this a lot. That settler colonial definition is focused lineal genetic ancestry alone.
Speaker 4:20:50So you often see Americans, well, I have a grandparent who was from Irish, therefore I am Irish. Right? Even though they tend to be able to distinguish between the right to Irish citizenship versus that. But they, there, there's a way in which, uh, native Americans are so racialized, obviously as other racial groups are in the u s but what we have in addition to the, that racialization is we have indigenous people hood and most Americans cannot get their wrap their minds around the fact that we are not simply racialized. You can't opt out of that. I mean, I hear tribal leaders say, well, we're not a race war nation will yes and no. Right? You don't get to opt out of being racialized. Um, but in addition to that, which we have to live with in which we struggle against as other racialized group mark marginalized, racialized groups do, we do have people hood, um, as peoples who are original to this place.
Speaker 4:21:38And I think our invocation of that, um, I, I'm just going to be frank. I think our invocation of that as a threat to a lot of Americans who are trying to feel comfortable in a stolen land, uh, and they are appealing to this sort of, Canadians do this too, even more than Americans do because they're more on about the multiculturalism up there. I think that Americans are, but wanting to appeal to that as the sort of democratic ideal as we all want to be included into the liberal multicultural state. Well that's not always been true of indigenous people. We want are people who had respected. And that is not necessarily always compatible with being included into your liberal multicultural state. Yes.
Speaker 2:22:13Drop the Mike
Speaker 5:22:14and I get off on top of the mind. It might have got off topic though. No, it's in Pittsburgh.
Speaker 2:22:25I just, I just want to acknowledge this line that you wrote, an introduction of your book. You said that faith in the origins get to operationalize this molecular origins. And I'm wondering if you can talk about while you were doing this retreat research, if your origin stories or if your faith was impacted in any, in any way,
Speaker 4:22:45um, if, if it felt challenged. Did it feel, no, no. I, because I, and I'm really grateful actually for how I grew up. Um, and I think I was saying this to somebody last night. Um, I grew up in a Dakota community that, um, fortunately the missionaries, I got a hold of us wear these kind of more syncratic Presbyterians. Um, so I grew up going to church and the first Presbyterian Church in South Dakota, uh, is on my reservation where I grew up. And it's in Dakota language, the hymns, the sermons. We have Dakota ministers. One of my good childhood friends is a minister, a Dakota Minister, uh, are some of our Minister Sundance and they are ministers. And that's the kind of world I grew up in. So it was, we were, it was compatible. And you kind of chose whether you want it to go to ceremony or church.
Speaker 4:23:33Some people do both. So know it. Growing up in that kind of syncratic world, I had no issue and I was taught there are multiple ways to the creator. Um, what was strengthened was not my religious faith, quote unquote, but my faith in the, the good way of being in the world of my ancestors and how much they struggle to try and accommodate, um, newcomers while also maintaining their, their own worldview and way of life. And they struggled really hard. And you see, then what happens in 1862 when little curl, my four greats, grandfather has drug reluctantly in as a leader to the Dakota war against settlers at that time in what became Minnesota, what was becoming Minnesota. Um, so I would say my faith and who we are as a people was strengthened. Um, we have a very complicated understanding of how to live with seemingly irreconcilable knowledges and life ways.
Speaker 4:24:27And, and uh, we, I feel like we, we have been a very non evangelizing culture and that is not true of settler colonial culture. They want to shove every single thing down your throat, you know, you either die or you get on board with what they're doing. There's no other choice. And our people were just smarter than that and more goodhearted. Sorry, I just, I became more of a show called Dakota chauvinist. I Dunno. So I'm really interested in having you talk about and describe blood lead politics. And also while you were talking about that, you can talk about the notion of purity. You know, I, I want people to be careful not to conflate blood with jeans. Um, I see people going back and forth between, you know, uh, well that's genetically essential list when they're talking about blood quantum blood quantum is not genetically essential.
Speaker 4:25:18It's blood quantum is about fractions on paper. It's not about the physiological substance. There's no examination of blood going on. We all know how his blood quantum work, it's fractions on paper, right? That get negotiated visually or you know, whatever the local politics are of people looking at people and deciding what their race or breed was or whatever, you know. Um, so I, I do write about that in the book where we need to attend very carefully to what the actual histories were in particular places when blood quantum fractions were put to paper, when they were assessed, how they're entangled with the breakup of the collective indigenous land based and used very much in concert with the rise of private property. Right? So there are very particular histories. Uh, Alexander Harman has a book on this here in the Pacific northwest, right? About how blood quantum was worked out here.
Speaker 4:26:09I also would say, I mean, and I, I wish I want us to move past blood quantum and have other ways of doing tribal citizenship, but blood is assemble as a powerful symbol across cultures and time. I do not accept that it was simply imposed as an idea onto indigenous people. I think that there was some agency that we had and reckoning with that those symbolic blood ideas. And I still think there's agency. So we see in tribes all across the country, this is why we have referendums. This is why we're always changing our, our, our blood rules. Right. And you seem in tribes increasingly in the last 25 years moving towards lineal descent away from blood quantum rules. You see them moving from total Indian blood to now having
Speaker 1:26:44to have a trace to the base roll that, so in, in my tribe for example, they still use one quarter total Indian blood, but um, that's total, they'll, they'll consider all of the lineages that I have in multiple tribes, they just want to trace to the base roll. It's very complicated. Right. And so I'm Kirsty Grover, who's, I think she's from New Zealand, wrote a book on, uh, uh, she's a legal scholar, wrote a book, uh, surveying over 300 tribal constitutions and the sort of shifts in enrollment policies over the 20th century and has shown that tribes are actually, I think moving away from this racialized idea towards these, what she calls a tribal Jeannie theological ideas. Now that's still inflecting dominant racial ideas, but there is agency happening as tribes attempt to tweak that. So yes, we need to keep speaking against, um, blood quantum and blood politics as they work out, uh, as they are worked out.
Speaker 1:27:34But I think we are making moves away from that. Um, but I also think it is a little naive to think we can just quote unquote go back to traditional ways of doing inclusion. We don't live within, we do have our traditional kinship networks, but that those are overlapping now with the Fed, with a federally recognized tribe or whatever other forms of recognized tribes that we have. And again, you don't simply get to opt out of that colonial structure. We are, we're kind of hemmed in and working and resisting within the edifice of that colonial structure. Um, so is that an adequate answer? Yeah. That, that was actually,
Speaker 2:28:11I really wanted you to say that out loud about, about tribes and, and the way that we connect to, um, that there was some agency in the, in the blood, yeah. Definition. But then it's up. But it's also very complicated. And so how does that play into our genetic memory or the conversation where we say it's in the blood? Um, and yeah, and what of the ways that we can talk about our connection to our ancestors that doesn't,
Speaker 1:28:37well, I was just going to say, even so in the, um, in this space, all, many of the guests that we've had in here, when we're talking about these cultural practices or understandings of our relationships to land these metaphors that we use of, like, it's in our blood or now it's shifting and you talk about this much more to, it's in our DNA. It's in our genetic memory. And when we know that there are so many challenges around using those as identifiers of uh, identity and culture, what do you think about those conversations and that language and what are ways that we can talk about those relationships without drawing upon these biological fallacies? Yeah, I know, I do think actually some indigenous ethnography or needs to go interview people and figure out what they mean. What, what do they think is happening in our blood and DNA. I think that's an interesting ethnographic project. I'm not going to do it, but so rod jacked idea. Cause I think people mean different things, right? We don't know what people mean but I do, I have to say, I just heard some native person on a news clip this last week talk about something being in their DNA. And I'm like, ah.
Speaker 4:29:42First of all, it's just a cliche. I don't like cliches. You should come up with a more original way to say something that's all. But you know, I don't purport to know what they mean. I think it's just an easy, it's an easy thing to say. Um, I don't talk like that though. And the, the, the idea of blood memory is really interesting. I wonder what people mean. Scott Momaday is maybe one of the first people credited with publishing so that that term, right. I don't know what he means. You know, I, I hear it a lot now though. And I was going to say, and now there's this movement into the conversations around epigenetics and then that gets completed in these conversations too. And yeah, and the epigenetic stuff is really interesting. So we might do a summer internship for indigenous peoples and genomics around intergenerational trauma and then we would have an epigenetic component to that.
Speaker 4:30:25I think that is a really interesting conversation to have. That might be a good use of the term blood memory. Right. But what, what, what I want us to recognize is that there was an interplay here to get back to the relationality and this is what makes, what should make our philosophizing on these issues different than settler philosophizing in part. Um, there are relationships between human relatives and our other than human relatives. And so that comes into play in epigenetics. The environment, quote unquote actually can change your genome. Right? Uh, and, and that environment includes historical trauma from war and colonization and things like that. So it is not a buy, it is not a biologically essential is thing to say. In fact there are biological inputs to race now because race is something that is also shaped by physical trauma to your body into populations and it can change, it can change your genetics.
Speaker 4:31:20So I'm working with a group of indigenous and nonindigenous scientists and thinkers who are really putting forward this biosocial notion of race, bio, social notion of populations and bodies. Um, and I think that is kind of compatible with being, thinking about being in good relation and attending to us having multiple relations where multiple relations have agency. So like micro organisms have affects on your bodies, right? You know, the environment has affects on your body as the climate has an effect. So according agency to those non human entities helps us kind of reconfigure the way that we're thinking about ourselves as humans. I think I'm getting off track again. No, that's perfect. I, I'm really interested in the ways that people can use your research and what you've been talking about and reform policy and our tribal communities, you know, and what does that look like? How do we, how do we inspire the next wave of thought in our own communities to be more inclusive? Yeah. I mean I don't feel like probably tribes are going to take up native American DNA and I don't know, I mean I don't know the degree to that where my academic work has translated into the way that they use DNA testing. Uh, they're not using the kind of DNA tests that I largely talk about. Right. Cause they're irrelevant, you know,
Speaker 1:32:40genetic ancestry testing that find some relatives, some unnamed ancestor six to 10 generations ago is not relevant when you're trying to show that you are descended from somebody on the base roll [inaudible] name. Right. So, so it's just, it's not relevant. That's largely what I, what I talk about. I do try to educate the public that there is a big difference between the DNA tests that tribal governments using the DNA tests that are being sold. Like two people like Elizabeth Warren because most people don't understand there. I've had a lot of blow back on Twitter. Oh, you're being critical of Elizabeth Warren's DNA test, but you guys use DNA. I'm like, yeah, not the same DNA test. You know, it's not even remotely the same. When I talked to different tribes around the country about this that always comes up is that we don't have the infrastructure to deal with the backlash of DNA testing and it's people coming with these genetic ancestry tests.
Speaker 1:33:30Yeah, so I just got asked by a reporter, do I have data on this? And I said, I have con off the record conversations at tribal enrollment conferences and people I meet out in public because tribal enrollment is confidential and you can, I can give you some contacts, but they may not talk to you about it, but what I hear word on the street is we've been being an undated since about 2003 with these, with these genetic ancestry tests that have nothing to do with our particular tribe. And these are these no nothing. Americans who think that to be native American is just being erase and I can just go around and I, I mean I read this side reporter reported on somebody in the Pacific northwest who took the genetic ancestry test found out he had some like low percentage of native American ancestry, so just randomly sent out applications to like five tribes in the Pacific northwest.
Speaker 1:34:09So it's true. Are you doing like the shows he like knows nothing, right? It's a thing. It's a real thing. And so I reached out to about seven different tribal enrollment offices for this segment and each one of the enrollment officers who I'm friends with said to me, well seek, obviously we can't go on record about that, but we will get you some data and you can talk with our publicists. Okay, well that works. I'll take it. Yeah, I know it's going to be really hard because they're not, they're the ones with the data and they can't be public about it. And I think it points to the larger danger of a lot of this is the fundamental misunderstanding by settlers of indigenous identity is you were saying, but also when in the last week or two when we've been talking about Elizabeth Warren on Twitter, I know other native folks who are in roles where they are in student services at universities or a scholarship officers or whatever it is.
Speaker 1:35:02They started telling all those stories just like enrollment of the kids coming in with the DNA tests to look for what they get or the services that they can access. And I know, um, I used to work in admissions at a college and, um, we actually would send a heritage form two students who checked the native American box because it's about citizenship and it's not just the racial category. And I would get students who would send back the, the printout from their DNA test as proof of them checking that box. And I know, and it's terrified because I know many other schools are not doing that. Secondary level of asking for additional information is exactly the kind of strategy we need. Yeah. And it's, um, I think it's just, uh, I think about all of the ways that settler colonialism is successful in trying to erase indigenous presence and that our bodies and our families and our ancestry is like this next avenue of just complete a, of indigenous peoples. Um, and so to me these DNA tests, I think there like on one level they're funny. Like we can sort of be like those poor white folks who are looking for something and it's sad that they don't have any connection to their people. But on the other hand, I think of these actual tangible ways that it can really wreak havoc in our communities when we're already struggling so much for just some try to visibility, which kind of brings me to my next
Speaker 1:36:39Which is, if you can talk about the ways your tribe or your community or yourself perhaps has been DNA profile and how has that reconfigured your concept of a tribe?
Speaker 4:36:48Um, well my, so the tribe that I'm presently enrolled in, I used to be enrolled Cheyenne Arapaho, but I switched because I never, Oklahoma's kind of strange to me, but I live in Oklahoma. But yeah, but no, I look like tall bears and when I go down there, it's kind of like being an adoptee cause I'm like, oh my God, Hey, I look just like you all. But they're culturally so different from sue people. Like it's, it's really, it's, it's cool. Anyway, so up in system though, um, we have um, 10th about, I bought 10,000 tribal members. I think half are on reservation, half off. And we of course will use on a case by case basis a DNA parentage test as I think probably all tribes now do. Um, and that's usually, say you've got a child who you need to get on the rolls and uh, it's usually paternity that's in question.
Speaker 4:37:33And he needed the fathers, the bio dad's tribal enrollment documents to enroll the child. You'll go do a paternity test. But we will also do a signed affidavit by three relatives from his family if they claim that child. And there are other tribes that do that as well. That's a great alternative to DNA testing. It's, it's um, it's invoking a more traditional form of kinship. Um, so we don't have and, but also we are a very rural reservation. Um, we're not really close to any major urban area so our casinos are profitable enough. We've got three where there the profits feed back into tribal programming. I think the elderly get a lot of benefits, but we don't do per caps per say. So we don't have per cap, sir. You do that you're going to have all kinds of enrollment problems and DNA is going to play a part in that, right?
Speaker 4:38:15That this across the board DNA testing that some tribes have done, they, that that is one problem. If you take and do the DNA parentage test, um, and you go in and you test all tribal members, you, if you go into any room and you parentage tests people, you could come up to 10% miss attributed paternity. You don't want to be doing that in, uh, in your, in your community because you're to disenfranchise people. You're going to open up old family stories that people didn't know about. So that I think that is a really, really inappropriate thing to do. But, but people do it where there's economic benefits to be had. No, thank you for saying that out loud. I think that, yeah,
Speaker 2:38:48it's really useful for our community. Um, and it's up to our communities to decide the alternative right.
Speaker 4:38:55And there, but there are quite, there are quite a few that will do these affidavits, but, but again, I, you know, when there's economic incentives, it's really hard. You know, and I, I, I've never been on tribal council and I never would be. I'm sure it's really hard to hold off the people who want to do, uh, get really, really strict about the roles, right. When there's money at stake.
Speaker 2:39:15Well, in fact, tomorrow we're doing a segment talking with the attorney who is represented several tribes, uh, and people who have been disenrolled yeah. Based off of blood quantum enrolls. Yeah. Yeah. And so there are very, it is really happening around our communities and this is one way that it's happening. Yeah. And so it's really powerful and really meaningful to have you. I have done this research in this work in our communities and I'm grateful for it. Oh,
Speaker 4:39:40thank you. I was going to say something else too. I, one of the things I think that will really help us is not necessarily me as a social scientist writing a book that's critical of DNA testing, but that this the training that we're doing of indigenous genome scientists now, so I work with indigenous genome scientists, nonindigenous genome scientists who get it and we've got the summer institute for indigenous peoples in genomics that has expanded from the u s to New Zealand and is now in Canada. Australia is probably going to come on board, but we've got these young indigenous genome scientists who are, I think we need to train scientific advisors in our own communities. We cannot rely on non indigenous people to be giving us this science because they don't understand how to apply it. They don't understand federal Indian policy. They don't understand tribal ways of doing kinship.
Speaker 4:40:20Those are really important forms of knowledge is that you have to understand if you're going to apply DNA in a way that is, um, helping support tribal sovereignty rather than violating it. Hmm. So that's for me, what's most exciting about my work in the collaborative work I've done with others. And in doing that research, I met all of these young genome scientists that have now graduated and are taking up faculty and postdoc positions and they're taking leadership globally and reconfiguring a genomix to be more ethical, uh, as it's kind of a intersecting with tribal populations.
Speaker 7:40:56Funding for this season of the all my relations podcast comes from the emergency fund and the women's donor network. We'd like to thank the Tacoma Art Museum for all of their support as well as our new patrons on three, if you'd like to support the editing costs for our future episodes, you can send us a donation on paypal or become a monthly contributor on Patrion. Both links are on our web page, which is all my relations podcast. I come, I want to, uh, talk a little bit about the Elizabeth Warren. I was going to say storm. Can I say it? Storm Elizabeth Warren? Shit storm
Speaker 1:41:35or fart storm. Fart storm. I just got this like mental, like thought of like going through a fart storm anyways. It is. I don't, I don't think they're both bad cannabis clouds on the streets of Toronto. That was last week. Okay. So the Elizabeth Warren Fart storm. Um, but in terms of native folks who've been talking about Elizabeth Warren's heritage and conversations are had it since her first campaign in 2012. I was at Harvard during the time I got interviewed on the news. I was like a first year Grad student. I got interviewed on the news about it. And, uh, the conversations have been ongoing and as soon as she released her DNA results with that video that has all kinds of problems in terms of the content. Um, the response was immediate from native peoples that this was not something she should have done and that this was harmful.
Speaker 1:42:35And I think a lot of Democrats or people who consider themselves liberal, we're very surprised by that kind of really intense response from native people. And then in the meantime, um, I know you got inundated with questions from the media, um, and from other folks on Twitter and everything. And this is a conversation you've been having since like 2005 around these genetics. So I would just love to hear your kind of quick take on this because I know we've belabored it a lot. Um, and then also how you responded to all of this media attention. Uh, well I woke up, was it Tuesday and was it a Tuesday morning? I think so. Tuesday. Yeah, I woke up and I get to my computer about six 45 and I think I had an email from a reporter at Indian country today and I went Oh, more Elizabeth Warren.
Speaker 1:43:25I didn't stop thinking about it all these years and I wrote him a big long email. And, um, then when I got done writing that and sent it off, I had about 15 more reporter emails and then by noon I had 15 more. You know, I probably had 50, 60 emails by the end of a couple of days. So I turned what I had written to him into a press release after he got his story up. Um, which really then I was able to just post and deal with, cause I couldn't respond to all of those reporters. So, um, I hadn't watched the video. I guess the initial, um, news that morning was in response to the video she had released and I hadn't watched it. So I was basing my response just off my engagement with this issue around her since 2012 and then my engagement around DNA since 2005. So to me this is an old story, right? I don't know why, how that for non natives, it's like a new news blip. Right. So my, my response was what it, what it has been all along, which is that first of all, I was asked by reporters in the last few months should she do a DNA test. And I said, no, I don't see what the point would be. It's not going to change anybody's mind. You're still going to have Trump calling her Pocahontas and all his menu hate, hate her. Um,
Speaker 4:44:32indigenous people are still going to say that's got nothing to do with being a native in our, by our definition. And all the non native worn supporters are going to say, see, she wasn't lying. I mean, nobody's position is going to change. Right. And meanwhile it's um, it's not really good for native people in that it reinforces this racialized idea of what it is to be native and seems very lacking and understanding of tribal citizenship. Now the response is always, well, she made, she makes a distinction between tribal citizenship and native American ancestry. Well not really. First of all, she didn't do that until she was called on it. She didn't really have an understanding of that in and of herself. Secondly, it doesn't matter if she says it's not the same as being a tribal citizen. The vast majority of Americans don't care or know anything about tribal citizenship.
Speaker 4:45:17What, what sticks in their mind is native American ancestry is proof that you have some right to claim to be native American in some way. And it doesn't matter how much we clarify how problematic it is. And I have clarified this with an incredible amount of detail in multiple media interviews and still I get this like Automaton response from Warren Twitter that should be a Hashtag Warren Twitter. But she said she wasn't a tribal citizen. She's only claiming ancestry. That's her. Right. And my responses, uh, Gee, I did 10 media interviews today where I said individually, you don't have an individual right here. You know, there's a difference between these kinds of individual claims and our definitions that are forged and collectivity. There's a fundamental difference in definition here and, and what you're doing by asserting with all of your cultural power, um, her right to claim.
Speaker 4:46:08This is basically saying that that definition in fact does matter more than our definition. Right? You know, and there is no real engagement with our definitions and our critiques. There has been pretty much nothing but defensiveness. So well I have had, I actually, I have had some emails from a few people who heard my NPR interview last week who said, okay, I learned something. I've gotten a few of those. That's great. That is hard to name a few. Yeah, it's been good. And I've gotten a few tweets but I would say, um, I've mostly gotten trolled on Twitter on this issue
Speaker 1:46:37and you had the day that it all, hey, you had tweeted out something. I was getting so stressed out because I was getting an equal number of press contacts. Um, and I don't consider myself any sort of expert in the DNA side of things. I can talk about being a Cherokee person and what that means in citizenship. And so I was very, I was very stressed out and that you put up a tweet and you just said having to respond to settler infighting takes up too much of indigenous peoples time. And I was like, yes it does. I don't have to sit here on Twitter on day all day, like these people will have no right to my time. Like Kim has said this so many different ways, so many different times. I have 25 tweet threads about this and so I just was re posting things that we've already been saying for decades
Speaker 4:47:24or you get these appeals will educate me. I want to learn what since when did I become your genetics and identity one o one for free.
Speaker 1:47:30Like I got all kinds of emails, you know, just big long diatribes from, from you know, White Women, Warren supporters and then, and then I got called mean. I'm like, yeah, I'm supposed to sit here all day and tutor you for free and do it with a smile on my face. Okay. Yeah. I'm sorry, I'm not being mean. I'm just, I got things to do. Right. And um, and so I also do a lot of like public talks where I'm in these spaces. Matea does too. And I don't know if this has been your experience, but I almost every talk I do, we'll get someone who comes up to me and says, like, I've taken a DNA test, I have found out that I'm native American and it would like to like connect more or like give some question of like, what do I do now? Um, and I don't know if either of you have good answers for that because I am too nice of a person and I often just fudge around and say, that's nice. I actually have
Speaker 2:48:23template email for that that my assistant has. Really, what does it say? I can't, it just says thank you so much for reaching out. We do believe that we would like to strengthen our nation's by having strong allies and advocates for our indigenous communities. I recommend uh, connecting with the local indigenous community and finding a way to give back and be of service. Oh, that's a good email. And so beyond that, I am not able to help you connect with your, with your community in any way because I'm full to come out at that capacity. But I have about four that my folder that has, that it has about 4,800 emails in it right now.
Speaker 1:49:00Just one. I save those emails to actually under DNA emails from the public. I should count them. Yeah. I get big sob stories from people and long, really, really long. Some of them are really heartbreaking and some of them. And so that's the hard thing that I have with these conversations is that, um, I think because it's been so dominated by settlor voices and indigenous voices, we know that there are real stories of disconnection in our communities. I hardly get any of those emails of the real ones. Yeah. And I, and if of course, if I get somebody who said I was adopted by a white family and I know that I'm first nations, of course I would, I write them a response and try to give them some resources about where to go and, and say, well, it depends on, you have to know the biological parents.
Speaker 1:49:42If you don't know who the biological parent or have an idea of who the family is, there's not going to be any way to get proof and connect. You can't do a native American DNA test. Yeah. You have to do a parentage test. Tourists, you know, a sibling test. But yeah, I probably, I would say 1% of the emails or less that I get are that it's, it's these other things. It's Elizabeth Warren type people. That's interesting. Yeah. And I know it's probably because I'm very public about my story of like reconnecting with my community and they get those, I get a lot of college students or high school students who have grown up away and feel disconnected and then they hear these stories of people saying like, well, it's not just your ancestry like it needs to be who claims you. It needs to be what community you're connected to.
Speaker 1:50:22And they're like, I didn't choose where I grew up and I really want to connect and I don't know how to that. And I feel like I'm not allowed to. So I have a lot of conversations with young people about how these settler conversations are not your conversations or different understandings of what it means to be an indigenous person and you're fine and you can, you can start that journey and it's okay if reconnection. Yeah. Um, and that's different than someone who is taking a DNA test to figure it out and maybe has an ancestor 10 generations ago, right. Where they don't know where from the America's. Yeah. That's different. I get this question a lot and I just, I, they're not the same story. They're not even remotely the same story. I wanted to transition a little bit and talk about research as an indigenous person. Um, and one of the things that as a early career scholar, I've been, I'm in such admiration of your work in the ways that you think about the politics of actual research. And so I know I'm with native American DNA, you made specific choices about who you were going in to talk to for the book and who you weren't going to talk to. And um, was wondering if you could tell us about those decisions. And what that meant for you as a researcher in that space?
Speaker 4:51:34Well, you know, I, it's funny that I didn't initially realize that I should do this, but it was when I went home and I had had my IRB is approved and I realized I didn't want to bring out an informed consent form and push it across the table at the cafe and have some, you know, l older person or anybody in my community talk to me about their perspectives on genetics. It's just was very uncomfortable. And you know what people do at home. If you're sitting around the cafe and somebody gets in storytelling mode, they might not be in storytelling mode in 20 minutes and they're not going to be in storytelling mode on command, you know, and it's the minute I give them that form, it's going to, they're going to stop. Not because they don't, they want to keep things secret, but because it just changes the whole dynamic.
Speaker 4:52:16Right. And I, I just never was able to do that. I didn't want to interrupt my time at home and the great stories people were telling him. Then I went, wait a minute, I've been reading, you know, Vine Deloria junior's critiques of anthropology and Laura Nader's, feminist critiques of anthropology. And she wrote this article around the time vine was a published, Custer died for your sins. She wrote a really important article called up the anthropologist, right where she talked about the need to, why are we always researching the poor, exploited, marginalized populations. Let's research those in power. And this is during the Vietnam War. And I'm like, yeah, wait a minute, who cares what Dakota people think about genetics? We'll figure that out. Eventually the people giving us the problems are non native scientists. What did they think about genetics? And I went, oh so this gets me out of the predicament of not wanting to interview at home and it's a really important decolonial performative move. Yes. So that's when I decided to do in the book. Yeah. And it's really great to go out to genetics meetings and have people say, they assume because I'm a native studies scholar, I studied natives. I'm like, no, I study you cause you're a danger to indigenous sovereignty. And they don't, they don't know what to do with it. What, I mean they can't say anything cause they're out there trying to get an Indian blood, you know, in their tubes or whatever.
Speaker 1:53:26Hudson, they don't use those anymore, but they're all trying to draw blood. So, um, and you have this beautiful article that I quote all the time, the article about standing with rather than necessarily giving back. And I think that is such a powerful reframing. Um, in terms of eye, again, work with native high school and college students and a lot of the conversations in reasons why native students are going to higher ed is this idea about giving back. And I feel like it puts a really undue pressure on native students and they think about giving back in very specific ways about like being in your community, about serving your community. Um, and so having your reframing of this idea of standing with rather than giving back I think is really powerful. Um, and was wondering if you could talk about that as well. Well, so that little article took a long time to write.
Speaker 1:54:15I think it's only five pages and it took me about 40 hours to draft it in the first place. But you know, I, um, I was reading an article by for t toddy or that's around about a Filipina film, big famous film star. And Neffer t was one of our professors at UC Santa Cruz. I didn't work with her and wasn't influenced by her work at all until much later when I actually just went back and for some reason read this particular article where she pulls out a Filipino concept, which I'm probably, I did speak Indonesian, but so maybe it's some Pala Taya. Um, and that's, that's what that means and it just really resonated with me. And so it was a, it was a such a concise idea that enabled me to think about how I actually am already doing that in the kind of indigenous planning work I had done in, in my more community based research.
Speaker 1:55:08So yeah, I have to credit an fet toddy are for four. I'm opening that analytical frame up for me or helping me explain what I knew, but in more theoretically nuanced language. Um, but yeah, it was really hard to write because, um, we don't, it's not a framework that's, that's operative normally in ethnography or academic research. And there's a lot of adjuncts that happens in the social sciences about how do I, how do I do inside ethnography? Am I really an insider? You know, a lot of people being angsty over their identity, which I find not very, not a very good use of one's time. Um, and so yeah, that, that little idea really, but it's a big idea. It really helped me crystallize my refusal to be too preoccupied with my own identity, but because it's not identity, it's about who I'm relating with and the, I don't like the word identity and I want us to get away from using it whenever we can. What are we talking about when we're using that? Much like when we use the word sexuality, what are we talking about? I'm not talking about identity, I'm talking about my relations. I'm not talking about just who I am as an individual. And that's again, the difference between us and settler colonial thinking about what it is to be native. You know, I, it's, it's, it's really about how, yeah, I'll stop there because I think I've said what I have to say.
Speaker 4:56:33Kim, I wanted to bring us back to this idea that you mentioned earlier of us as indigenous folks needing to kind of expand the ways that we think about our conversations around our origin stories are around that this is our land and um, how we expand the relationality with settlers and other folks who are on, um, our land. Yeah. I, so I have a paper that's in press called, um, American dreaming is indigenous elimination. Um, it's the elimination of, of a lot of our nonhuman relatives too. Actually. I may have to change that, the title a bit. Um, and in that paper I talk about the fact that the, the American dream, whether it's a right wing xenophobic version of that or whether it's the liberal quote unquote progressive form of it, it's based on indigenous genocide. And that is not the answer for, and it's clearly not been the answer.
Speaker 4:57:27I mean, you know, look at, look at what the American dream has got us. It's based upon a human nonhuman hierarchy. Yeah. Uh, so nonhuman animals are considered lesser life forms. The word animal is used to degrade other humans. Animals should not be an insult, but it's, it's an insult, right? I, it's the whole term dehumanize. Well, that's a problematic idea to right. It's very problematic because it puts the human at the pinnacle and among humans, straight white men are at the pinnacle. So, so racism used to be a race was originally species before it became just about humans. So racism and speciesism are intimately interconnected in the history of science and of Western European thinking. So I think, um, the American dream has all of that, that hierarchy of life within it. It's fundamental. It cannot be recuperated. So we need another narrative to live by.
Speaker 4:58:18And I was just at a, an event at the performance space in New York where, um, uh, uh, an Italian film maker who made a film about a Donna Haraway, a storytelling for earthly survival. I think he screened the film and then Donna skyped in from Santa Cruz and I gave a talk about this, a book that we're in together making can not population and we were, it became very, very clear to me, I, I kinda knew Donna and I were on a similar project these days but it became very clear in that that what I'm trying, she, she has this film storytelling for earthly survival. I really, really believe we need to change the dominant narrative according to which we live. By this the American dream is destroying the planet. It is environmentally, economically and emotionally unsustainable and it's built upon a hierarchy of life that includes a hierarchy of race and a hierarchy of men and women in a hierarchy of Queer and stage straight folks enabled people and everything else.
Speaker 4:59:07So what do we replace it with? We cannot simply do away with it without another guiding narrative. And I think indigenous peoples across cultures have this guiding narrative which is being in good relation and one does not have to be us to be good kin and what's happening, you're getting a lot of non indigenous people wanting to be us instead of doing the work of being in good kinship. Well it's a lot easier to go take a DNA test and do your genealogy than it is to work to be in good relation with indigenous people. That is the challenge in front of them. And historically I've actually learned a lot from some of the indigenous studies academics and Canada, people like Robyn as who have focused on kinship as well as nation. And by reading his book elder brother, it was an epiphany for me because then I went back and read some of the historical documents around what my ancestor little crow is doing because he's kind of viewed as this sort of like he was being really pragmatic.
Speaker 4:59:55He was being too tolerant with settlers than these like hot headed young Dakota men went and killed this settler family. Cause Dakota people were starving, the annuities were coming from Washington after they were incarcerated and you know, a reservation basically. And they had no right to hunt and they were, you know, the people were starving. So this whole war breaks out. And um, little crow was viewed as this somewhat politically compromised person because he had cut his hair, he went to church, he was, he still kept his four wives. He still wanted to live in his tp, but he was trying to find a way to, to kind of live in ways that were somewhat accommodating, but while also maintaining a Dakota worldview and largely Dakota kinship structures. And because what was, what it was becoming very clear to me and looking at that history after reading Rob's book was that he was attempting to make Ken out of settlers.
Speaker 4:60:44And that's the way that some of the treaties tend to get, I think, interpreted by some indigenous thinkers and Canada more. And I said, when I moved up there, that was like a news flash to me. I don't think about our treaty history is kinship. We talk a lot about that as nation to nation down here. But there's another person in my tribe, a tribe, Gabrielle, to take Ashcan Sean who also talks about this Gabby's in my tribal writer's group. She talked about the fact that when we look at 1862 and the Dakota war, we can't look at it as only whites versus native. She said there were actually already kinship entanglements at that time. She said we need to focus on what the big capitalist in the twin cities were doing. What was the impetus for that war? So it's not that we don't look at these white supremacists structures that were happening in the 19th century because they were, and there was real racial oppression, but there was also already these kinship entanglements and this was an indigenous effort I think to make kin right.
Speaker 4:61:33So there, there were efforts to draw newcomers in until they stop becoming kin. Cause sometimes newcomers did become kid, right? We see this. But then you get these, these increased numbers of settlers who are coming in who have no interest in being kin, who just want to appropriate everything. And so I think that that it is about learning how to be not only good relations with indigenous people without trying to be us and you serve everything that's ours. It's also about learning to be better relations with the planet. Uh, and there's a lot within that American dream that has to go and it's already going. The U S is in decline, you know, and it's, Trump is not the reason it's in decline. He wouldn't have gotten elected if the U s weren't already in decline. It's an unsustainable worldview. Thank you. I, that's powerful. So dope. What you just said. Well, I stand on the of a lot of other indigenous thinkers in some non indigenous, right. I really never thought of it. Yeah.
Speaker 2:62:23That way I, I've been, I've been teaching, so I'm, I've been doing this government training and part of the government training that I've been, I don't even know what to, how to frame this because it's, it takes a very long time to have this conversation. But basically I frame it through what Thomas King says, where he tells the creation story, right. And he talks about the Anishnaabe, a creation story and sky woman and coming down and being put on a turtle's back and, and how, you know, it's together with that woman and her two children and all of the animals that life and turtle island is created and how there's this relationship and how the animals are foundational in building the world and, and how it was created by a woman giving birth. And, and then he goes on to like say, you know, this is the foundation for the way of life of Anishinaabi people.
Speaker 2:63:09So our creation story shapes the entire world that we live in. And then I go onto tell like five or six different creation stories around Indian country and then how that shaped, uh, like how the great law and the story of the peacemaker shaped Hudna Shawnee democracy. And I talk about it here, how our creation story and to transforming duration creation story in the northwest shaped our longhouse potlatching economy. Anyway, then I tell the American creation story, right? And I like to say it is an American creation story because the majority of our country is Judeo Christian. And foundationally believe in that idea that we had, that men have dominion. And I think that's probably one of when you boil down Christianity, I think that that's the most damaging effect of Christianity is that men have dominion over land animals and women and power and control. And so as much as it's the American dream, I also think we have to look at religion shaping the American dream. And I, I've been wondering, that's why I asked you the question earlier about when you talked about science and faith and faith.
Speaker 4:64:23No, I actually, they're the, the state, the Church and science, uh, have worked in tandem and the colonial project, they war between themselves, but they have more in common than they have different, they're all run by straight white men and they're all about managing everybody else's life for their benefit and within their control. So I don't, you know, when I see scientists, I mean, sure they have to fight for keeping evolution in the public schools and all that. Sure. That's it. That's a real fight. But they are coming out of the same origin story as the clergy that they're fighting against. Right. Which does put white men at the top, you know, and my daughter is writing a paper actually on private property, white men. She's pulling apart some of that US history. I was reading it last night and she, it, she's really saying, you know, no, the u s democracy was really created for white men with property.
Speaker 4:65:08That's really what it's about. And once anybody else gets access, that's not really what they want. We see that, right? Oh yeah. 16. Right. She's 16. Yeah. She's, she's, yeah. She's, I won't say she's right. That shouldn't be radical. That shouldn't be radical. But in this day and age, yeah. Yeah. In the conclusion of your book, you say the scientists who contributes to her intellectual work into the processing and analysis of DNA in the lab in the U S legal paradigm has the greater property claim. Oh yeah. So, um, it's really, that is about the idea that only those who develop property have the right to it. Right. And so this is where, what the genome sciences are inheriting from this kind of colonial pioneer mentality. So the idea that because native people were viewed as not owning the land, as not developing it in a capitalist man or they were wasting it basically, and they didn't have a claim to it.
Speaker 4:66:03This is a lot of the kind of philosophy that is his guiding, subtler claims to territory in the 19th century. And Similarly in the 20th and 21st century. It's an idea that's guiding, uh, some genome scientists claim to our DNA because we're not using it. It's just there in our bodies and, and they need to use it to produce knowledge for the good of all will. The good of all never includes us and it's always on our backs. So science and the state doing the same thing in 1850 and 2018 in very fundamental ways that the title of this episode is called Kennedy and a test make me native American. Can we get a, an answer on that one? Well, if you want to take Elizabeth Warren's definition of native American, sure. I hope we don't come to that. You know, I hope that our definitions, which are not simply native American, I mean that puts us under an umbrella where we communicate with and have relations with one another. Right? We can't get out of that racialized structure, but we know as indigenous people within that structure, we have all of these people, specific traditions, languages, territories, and relations that both predate and exist after contact. So by that definition, of course not. Thank you. Wow.
Speaker 7:67:30Kim Has such a big brain and it's thinking about such diverse topics. We actually split our conversation into two parts. Our next episode we're going to talk with her about the other parts of her work that surround her blog, the critical polyamorous and her stage show, which is called tp confessions. So we'll have some conversations around that and the broader idea around decolonizing sec.
Speaker 4:67:55You know y'all want to talk about sex with us. Wow. Wow. De Colonized sex. [inaudible] it's a time machine that you happen to and you go back and have old ways. Sex. Okay, I'm kitty. Please subscribe, rate and comment. Itunes.
Speaker 7:68:16We'd love to try and get the pod to the new and noteworthy page and reach all the peoples. You can follow the podcast at Amr podcasts on Instagram. You can follow me email@example.com Matea can be found at project underscore or five six two on Instagram or at Matika Wilbur on Twitter. Her website is project five six to.com. You can follow Kim's fire tweets at Kim tall bear on Twitter and her book is native American Dna, tribal belonging and the false promise of genetic science and you should seriously buy it and read it. It is available on the internets where books are sold. Huge thanks to our amazing production team, audio engineer and art director, Teo. Shaun's producer books Sweeney and production assistant, Juanita Toledo, amazing episode art by Sierra Sauna who is on Insta at art by Sierra. We're going to be having amazing video clips coming out too, so huge shout out to our set designer.
Speaker 7:69:19It's tunneled Sunburg and Emily would south side all stars where they built the set are set lighting expert Jonathan Hauser. Our color is Tristin Synack and musical assistance from Max Levon and Kyle sharer. If you have any original music that you'd like to have featured on our future episodes, please email your clips to all my relations firstname.lastname@example.org. We also set it up now on our website to have this really cool little widget where you can send us a voicemail from your computer, which is super cool. And we're really interested in hearing your thoughts and responses to the podcast or any questions that you might have. So the widget is on the contact us page of all my relations podcasts, [inaudible] dot com leave us a message. He old school. We do have some specific things that we'd probably like people to leave us messages about right in the Tikka.
Speaker 7:70:12Uh, some of our next topics include conversations around, uh, our indigenous languages. You know, we want to hear your thoughts about that. Are you a language warrior? Are you preserving language? Uh, what was your access like to your own indigenous language? Uh, how do you feel about your ability to speak or not speak your own language? Uh, what are some of the teachings that are held in your language? We're also diving into blood quantum. Uh, are you enrolled or you disenrolled what is the enrollment policy like in your community and how does that affect your life? And so if you could send us a voicemail around those topics, we would love to hear your thoughts. Oh, my relationship.