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Unique Experience-LiveIamA American Indian who grew up and lived on the reservation AMA!

Nov 6th 2016 by EvilRedditBacon • 45 Questions • 4815 Points

My short bio: I grew up and lived on the Oneida Nation rez in Wisconsin. I am part of the Turtle Clan (or Wolf, if you want to be pedantic) I have a lot of insight on tribal affairs, customs and culture. Feel free to be non PC.

My Proof: http://imgur.com/a/k3AEd

Edit: I'm going to answer questions as long as i can. My friends and myself are very moved that so many people took the time to ask me questions. I am very honored

Edit 2: I'm surfing the new section! Keep em coming

Edit 3 : I'm still answering questions in the new section. Also slowly replying to old ones

Last edit: I'm looking through everything and what I thought would be a nice AMA turned out to be enabling some stereotypes that I should have left to myself. Take all my opinions with a grain of salt. I don't speak for any other people besides myself. This is a very nihilistic world view and i hope somebody got something good out of it. Please go to /r/IndianCountry for a more balanced view from other Indians.

Q:

What three things do you believe the government should do to improve the lives of people on your reservation?

A:

They could keep honoring the treaties. I don't think the government will ever help out besides that. It's nice to dream though


Q:

Is your Oneida Nation related to the Oneida Nation in NY?

A:

Same tribe. Moved forcefully to Wisconsin


Q:

Do any young people speak the Oneida language? What do people think about the relationship of language to their identity? What is different about speaking English as an indigenous person versus a native language?

A:

I know a handful of words. I know MAYBE 3 people that can hold a really shitty conversation. It's pretty much forgotten


Q:

How much of the old bush crafting/ living in the outdoor skills are still taught?

A:

Not really. It's more of people teaching beadwork/dancing/language.


Q:

What exactly is the significance of beadwork?

A:

It is just as important as dancing as it connects us to our ancestors. There's a lot of rules for when you bead though. You can't bead when you're tired, when it's stormy, when its dark out, and a whole host of other things.


Q:

How often does your reservation rely on tourism, if you had to take a guess?

Do you mind?

Also, what's the most inconvenient way to roast a strawberry?

A:

We get 99.99 percent of our money from our casino. If you count that as tourism then quite a bit.

I have never heard of roasted strawberry but i would guess on a stick above an open fire. Thanks for making me laugh!


Q:

What was your early education like? Is alcohol abuse a problem on your reservation? What's the biggest misconception outsiders have?

A:

I was pulled out of Turtle school really quickly because the tribe at the time had a terrible program going on. I can't speak for specifics right now. But i know it has gotten a lot better.

Alcohol abuse is a problem is any impoverished community

the biggest one is that (my tribe specifically) wear headdresses. Also rain dances are not a thing, they were never a thing and will never be a thing


Q:

How do people in reservations view "Outsiders"?

A:

The rez is open to the public as it stands right now. The tribe does not own 51% of the land and therefore cannot fully govern the territory. I don't have any disdain for white people living here and i don't really know anyone who does.


Q:

How much of native tradition is carried on in the reservation? Does anyone still believe in the spiritual ways of native Americans in the past?

A:

To be honest, it is pretty much all lost or dead. We still observe certain traditions such as powwows. (I actually had a powwow just for me) The elders are dying faster than we can interview them and there isn't much we can do. Just recently two of our oldest elders were stabbed and murdered in their own home and left to rot for almost a month. I would like to think the good outweighs the bad though


Q:

What a loss (both the tradition and the elders). Any idea who did that or why? *edit additional info

A:

I actually knew the guy personally. He had a really rough life. (physical abuse by all his family) He was probably looking to rob them and things went south. I feel no remorse for this guy. Everything coming to his is what he deserves. He took two lives.

Rest in Peace Harry and Lorraine Brown Bear.


Q:

was he a native Indian too?

A:

Sadly yes


Q:

What is the most common preconception that is false that people have about you and/or your culture?

A:

That (my tribe specifically) wear headdresses. Also rain dances are not a thing, they were never a thing and will never be a thing


Q:

Perhaps in the tribes around OP there weren't rain dances, but that's not a blanket statement as there are a very wide variety of indigenous people throughout North America. It would be like trying to blanket all the cultures of Europe as one thing. I'm plains Cree in Canada and can confirm thirst dances are a thing here, which can bring sun or rain. There are many other cultural dances aside from that. There are so many different beliefs and traditions it's pretty hard to be aware of them all haha.

A:

Maybe it was a blanket statement (my bad). That's super cool that its part of Cree culture though. I'm sure you're keenly aware of how other tribes see Cree people no?


Q:

How bad was/is the drug/alcohol abuse on the Rez? Were you exposed to it a lot?

It seems like we get a lot of meth and alcohol related admissions from our local Rez at the hospital I work at.

A:

There is so much alcohol abuse it's disgusting. There's more heroin then meth from what I've seen. A lot of my family drinks and it will bring them to an early grave


Q:

What a great AMA, thanks for taking the time.
My question, have you found much prejudges or animosity between different native tribes? Or has the history of oppression unified the native peoples somewhat?

A:

I'll be blunt with this one. There are respectable tribes and there are not respectable ones. Theres a lot of shit some tribes do that make me angry


Q:

Do they update the card as you grow taller?

A:

I guess i could get a new one but i don't fancy paying 5 bucks for it.


Q:

I currently teach high school students US History, every year we briefly talk about the Native American Movement (AIM), have you in anyway been apart of that, or think that change in general needs to change for those on reservations? Is it looked down on to leave the reservation life? So cool to see an AMA on this!

A:

I personally have not been part of that. The biggest change that i would like to see with Indians is to get off of welfare and actually have the US have good programs for a change. It's so hard when people are this poor and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Leaving the rez is not looked down on the traditional sense. There's more of a jealousy going on. Very few people can just leave. Feel free to PM for more in depth stuff. I'd love to help you

Edit: I made a generalization that i should not have. I just feel very strongly about certain assistance programs that my family has gone through and how they were abused


Q:

Where do you live now? What do you do for a living? Will you go back to live on the rez in the future? Who's your idol?

A:

Right now I live in Appleton Wi. I'm currently on the path to becoming a Firefighter! I go back the the rez every weekend pretty much to visit my family. My Father is my idol. He has worked hard all his life (and continues to do so) to give his children a future. He's tough as nails and a big reason I'm going into a Firefighting career. He continues to volunteer at the Oneida Fire Department and hes a huge influence on my life.


Q:

I have heard obesity and alcoholism is rampant in reservations across the US. Can you elaborate on what you've seen this issue or what the validity of the statement is? (I'm sorry if this comes off as insinuating or rude. I'm not trying to be offensive. I just want to understand.)

A:

When you're poor you have nothing to do besides eat and drink. Most of my aunts and uncles are diabetic through no fault of their own. Indians have to watch what we eat. Most of my family does not process sugar well.


Q:

Does it bother you at all to be called "Indian"?

Here in Canada, aboriginal people prefer to be called "native".

EDIT: after reading all these replies, apparently I'm wrong. This has only been true in my own experience.

A:

Frankly, I have been an Indian longer than iv'e been a Native American and most people here like it that way.


Q:

Hello. So Im a utility worker and a big part of my job is to go unannounced into peoples yard to check their gas lines. When I was assigned a reservation, I noticed there were a lot of free roaming dogs, and I'm not talking about cute little Chihuahuas and shitzus, I'm talking about pitbulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds. I was attacked 3 times that day. One of them by two dogs at the same time. I was lucky not to have been mauled. So my question is if ferral dogs are a problem in the reservation you live in or was it just the reservation I visited?

A:

It's a problem on a lot of reservations. Mine is too cold for them to survive. We also shot all of them


Q:

Do you feel like racism towards natives is more openly accepted? Like if you're racist towards blacks or Latinos, you're labeled a racist, but everyone can do it to natives. Do you feel that way at all? Ever had personal experience with it?

A:

People call me a dirty redskin all the time. Cops openly pull me over for having native american plates and people act like we dont exist

Edit: I guess i'm an apple now too


Q:

Hey what's up man? I'm from Bad River! Always cool seeing Natives help battle the misconceptions a lot of non-native folks have about our people.

A:

Hey dude. I've always wanted to go up there


Q:

Do you feel like an American? I'm not suggesting that you should, but I just find the social status of American Indians odd in that way. You didn't choose to have this government or culture put upon you, but do you accept it and feel a part of it?

This part is more Yes or No. I don't want you to feel like you have to explain yourself, and as a fan of sports I just want an honest/no bullshit answer without debate. Do sports team mascots make you feel like you're being degraded? Redskins? Indians? Braves?

A:

If I lived on the rez forever I would never feel like a American Citizen. Nobody gives a shit about us. Sports mascots do not offend me in the slightest


Q:

Hello

I'm not from the US, but I've been there a couple of times now. I was wondering, if I meet an Indian/Native American is there anything it wouldn't be alright for me to ask about?

I always find culture and history of people interesting, so I like to ask questions, when I get the chance. I just don't want step on people's toes or what have you. Thanks!

A:

Just like any normal person, be polite and respectful. Anything is on the table as long as it is a genuine question


Q:

I'm a noticeably very white person but i love language. Would your tribe be offended if someone like me wanted to learn and speak your language? I don't like the idea of languages dying.

If i were to move to France i would want to learn about their culture and traditions, maybe even observe some. I am, however, American. Would it be offensive if i went about Native American culture in a similar way?

A:

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO IT. My language is dying and i'd love to be able to hear it


Q:

Do you like listening to slayer?

A:

I'm more of a Iron Maiden fan.


Q:

Traditional, Fancy, Grass, Chicken, Hoop, Southern Straight or Gourd? and can you gimme a ride to da powwow... i will totally get you back on the first...

A:

Fancy all the way. That's the way i was taught. I won't be dancing for a while as i am currently designing my regalia. IM SO EXCITED


Q:

Do you guys have casinos? If so how big are your monthly membership checks? How does the tribe determine who gets what amount of money?

A:

We have one large casino and members get 1000 dollars a year from it. Far from a monthly check. Elders get more money though and have other benefits such as free wood and housing


Q:

My father worked as a consultant for reservations, and I took a bunch of Native American studies classes(aka get depressed fast classes). IMHO, Indians have had it worse than Black Americans over the last 300 years. While we progress slowly with eradicating prejudice toward blacks and other minorities, people still hardly even acknowledge Natives as worth a discussion. Well it absolutely sickens me, but I am wondering how you feel. At some point for sanity's sake do you just forget about it all and move on? Is there still deep rooted frustration? Hope that things will get better? - at least until they find oil or gold on a reservation and a special interest decides to redraw the boundaries, of course

A:

Thank you for your question. At this point the older i get the more i realize that nobody will ever give a shit about us. We will cease to exist and only become a footnote in a history book. I personally have moved on from the past, it's just that nobody cares about their neighbors anymore


Q:

I saw your response about most of the spiritual beliefs going away from your tribe. What do most people believe now? (religiously)

A:

There's a lot of catholics


Q:

How would you compare life on the reserve to the life you currently have in the city?

A:

I can walk down the street without feeling like i'm going to get robbed. Also there is so much more things to do here. The rez is poor and boring to be honest. In Oneida you have to drive a good 40 minutes to get to any place of culture that is not a bar.


Q:

Why do some people call your clan the Turtle Clan if it's really the Wolf Clan?

A:

Oneida is a Matriarchy and my ancestry is through my father which would put me in wolf clan. My Grandma is Turtle though, so i choose to go off of that.


Q:

What is your opinion of the team name of the Washnington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians?

A:

Who gives a flying fuck! Let them have their team! Nobody really cares on my end haha


Q:

Have you ever read the graphic novel "Scalped"? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Genuinely curious how this subject comes off to someone living on a reservation, such as yourself. If not, are you interested in it?

A:

Thanks for the link! I'm putting that on my book list.


Q:

What are your thoughts on this? I drive through Browning, MT (Blackfeet Rez) every other week on the way to visit my girlfriend who lives another hour East. I see a couch in the bushes which is always inhabited by people next to the Exxon station. This couch has been there for about a decade and I was wondering if you think anyone would be offended if I dropped off my old couch. I'm not using it any longer and it's way bigger and more comfortable-looking than the one that's currently there. People think I'm native because I have darker skin (1/2 Pakistani), so I don't fear getting shanked in Browning, I'm just wondering if there's some sort of tradition that deals with someones' lodge that I should be made aware of before I roll up and say, "Hey, guys! Take this couch...it's nicer." Also, do you enjoy Brockett 99?

A:

Brockett 99

Thanks for that! I'm going to give it a listen

I think you should. That's some of the funniest shit i've heard all week


Q:

Please don't take this as an attack. I don't know much of your culture but I do mean to respect it. My experiences deal with my sister in law... Please don't think I'm applying a blanket prejudice.

My sister in law is native and works helping native women (and men) who are subject to domestic abuse. Apparently it's rather prevalent, at least where she grew up. I forget which tribe sorry.

Have you witnessed this? Do you have anything you could offer as advice or insight for someone experiencing this no matter their culture or location? Are there any specific native problems related to this? Laws, consequences, etc?

A:

Thanks for asking! With any poor community it is hard to escape domestic abuse and even harder when you basically trapped in a area for the rest of your life. It has gotten better though with programs helping these women.


Q:

What is the most obnoxious/ridiculous thing someone has ever said to you? and what do you think will help combat institutionalized discrimination in the United States?

A:

"we should get rid of reservations they are racist" They are all we have left. Don't take it away from us


Q:

As a native American, who's lived on a reservation, how do you or other native Americans feel about people with mostly white ancestry who have a small percentage of native American blood?

A:

Depends what you call a small percentage. If you're just collecting a check you're kinda an ass.


Q:

Hey, how are ya?

A:

Pretty swell. Its a nice day today


Q:

What does the "Sportsman" sticker on the back of your ID mean?

A:

That I can hunt on Indian land


Q:

How hard is it to get fast foods like McDonalds or more unknown ones, or are you stuck using food from the stores on the reservation?

Apologies if my question is ignorant, feel free to correct me.

A:

Where I lived I was a 15 minute drive from a McDonald's and 20 minutes away from a grocery store. The reservation touches Green Bay Wi.


Q:

Have you traveled internationally as just a regular tourist? What do people from other countries say when you tell them you American Indian?

A:

I'm too poor to travel. Most Indians are.


Q:

What's your favourite thing about being a Native American?

A:

The sweet parties


Q:

In what ways have you felt or witnessed structural violence towards indigenous populations and more specifically towards yourself?

A:

I get pulled over by police all the damn time and searched for drugs. They keep me there for hours thinking that I have something. It's really frustrating when you can't trust the police to help you