The editor has been “playing Indian” for over 20 years now. What began as a quest to explore his wife’s Native heritage has become a lifestyle choice. He has been an “Indian” and a chief; he has called himself a pipe-carrier, an artist and an educator. He has watched ersatz tribes and nations rise and fall. He has vigorously defended his right to claim a place in the Native American community and endured the rejection and ridicule of individuals in that community. But he has found some acceptance or, at least, tolerance as well. And he has learned that, sometimes, those who ridicule do so because they know that some of their claims are equally tenuous.
It should be stated, for the record, that the editor knows he does not actually fit the definition of “pretendian”, in that he is not fabricating his ancestry or trying to pass himself off as a CDIB Indian. In the end, he has come to realize that he is, truthfully, an enthusiast, and a re-enactor. A non-Native seeking a place in the Native community. But he has also developed a love and respect for this culture he was not raised in; he wants to rise above the colonizer mindset he was raised with and embrace the worldview and traditions of the Native peoples. Thus, he has learned to develop a skin of seven spans as he persists in this pursuit, and to be honest about his lack of understanding. He has learned to laugh at himself, because wannabes may be certain that they are being laughed at by others.
The personal perspectives offered on this blog are gathered from the editor’s 20+ years in the Native enthusiast community of western Pennsylvania, mostly among groups purporting to represent the Lenape (Delaware) culture. Thus, not all the observations may hold true for other locations or hobbyist groups. But 10+ years on national forums and observing the online wannabe community suggest that they will, to some extent. If the shoe fits…
Initially, much of the perspective material will be drawn from an unpublished manuscript on the editor’s experiences. But this blog offers the opportunity to address a much broader spectrum of subject material, in the context of finding a place in the Native community, such as crafting regalia and artifacts, learning herbalism and spirituality, recommended resource materials, and so forth. Hopefully, material will suggest itself in such a way that this community can continue indefinitely.