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The minority minority

September 21, 2010

Wow.  I was just reading over my entry from last night and noticed that I did not include Native Americans in my list of various ethnic groups in the United States.  I included blacks, whites, and latinos, but not Native Americans–yet I live on an American Indian reservation and teach at a tribal college!

If this isn’t evidence that Native Americans are largely forgotten at the national level, I don’t know what is.  It only took me two days at a national conference (at which there is significant black and latino representation but only a single Native American participant) to lapse back into thinking of the United States as comprising blacks, whites, and latinos.  Native Americans, who once used to populate the entire continent, are now the minority minority.  Once a person steps off the reservation, it’s easy to forget that Native Americans still exist, which is sad.  Our nation’s first peoples not only take a backseat to whites, but also to the other minorities in our country (except, of course, on Thanksgiving Day).  It’s striking to be enveloped in Native American culture and concerns so thoroughly and completely during my day-to-day life, only to step away for a few days and realize that these same concerns are far, far from anyone else’s conscience.

And no, Native Americans do not still live in teepees.  Most never did to begin with.

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