The thing is, fractional identities (the institution of using a fraction to represent identity and their associated verbiage; #halfcaste – don’t get me started) are a Victorian colonial construct representing Victorian ideas of race and the express political objective to erase native populations (Kukutai, 2007).
As an issue of race: it ensures that inferior indigenous identities, cultures, and histories are naturally and inevitably replaced by superior colonial ones (Meredith, 2000).
As an economic issue: smaller indigenous populations makes colonial seizure of land and resource more defensible, and eventually frees settler administration of what small fiscal responsibility they have to the Native population (Smith et al., 2008).
Fractional identities are a colonial structure with the express goal of perpetuating racial inferiority and indigenous erasure motivated by a desire to have less and less financial responsibility to Native communities.
Rachel Cocker Hopkins
Defining, measuring and labeling indigenous groups is an intensely political and debated process.
On one hand Native peoples are glamorised, objectified , sexualised , romanticised and endlessly imitated. On the other we are victimised, or vilified, as impoverished, imprisoned, addicted, pagan, fatherless, overweight + diabetic, dependent, complainers who go to college for free (period. No nuance or exceptions there). To borrow phrasing from Paul Mooney: everyone wants to be Native but no one wants to be Native.
In our communities we can be a little obsessed with whether people pass our preferred test for ‘Indian enough‘. (I’ve seen heated debates about why we aren’t introducing DNA testing to determine tribal membership). And outside, we’re simultaneously seen as an ephemeral, ambiguous, concept that anyone can access, and a minute but definitive resource drain on the general population. Entering the debate can be a black hole. So…
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