Bloodlines Post

Bloodlines 3.0

Feb 1 • UNG BLOG11 Comments

by LISA CHARLEYBOY

I’ve been thinking a lot about bloodlines again. I go through these stages all of the time. Back in 2008 I wrote about it, swearing to only date Native men ever again. But then something happened. I dated a white guy. Yup. It happened (and I wrote about it here). He was sweet, and kind but in the end we didn’t want the same things out of life so we decided it was time to part ways.

Then I met a Native guy. He was kind of a dreamboat actually. I tried not to fall in love, but I did. I fell hard. Yet after months and months we realized that it would just never be. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. It was just too hard and things weren’t falling into place easily. There was another guy on the horizon that was easy, too easy. I didn’t have to work on it one bit and I kind of loved that.

He is sweet, kind, generous, and would do just about anything for me that I asked. I was his princess. I always wanted to be someone’s princess, and it felt pretty great. So great. I wanted it to stay great. But here’s the problem – he was non-Native. I tried to tell myself that it didn’t matter because I cared for him deeply, and he was head over heels madly in love with me. I could see the kind of life we would have together – he stimulated me intellectually, we had wonderful conversations, a great friendship, similar life goals, and I knew that our life together (if we so chose it) would be comfortable and pretty awesome.  I also knew he’d make a wonderful husband and a great father. The white picket fence was slowly being constructed.

I was feeling pretty satisfied. Or was I? I kept having to compromise. I kept having to explain. Because my life is my work, and my work is my life, I don’t really have a life outside of the Native community. Our lives became segregated and it became increasingly clear that this perfect life that I had somehow convinced myself to be, just wouldn’t be. My life was moving in one direction, and his was staying in the same place.

It’s a hard decision to let someone go that I deeply cared for and who treated me the best that I’ve ever known in this life. There was such a comfort there and an ease in our relationship. As a girl without family and who’s been on her own since 17, that felt nice. Really nice. I liked the stability that I felt like I was finally gaining in my life. I thought I might have been growing up and maybe, just maybe, putting down some roots.

All the while though, I was still with one foot out the door. I wasn’t able to completely reconcile what my future would look like with my work and my life progressing with a non-Native partner, and with having children. I don’t want my children to grow up without having a Native family. How would they know cultural traditions? I wasn’t raised with them, and don’t have that knowledge (yet) to pass that on to them. Sure, I can learn and pass that on, but I’d much prefer to be with a Native man who has family that’s close so they could be raised amongst love, culture, tradition, and pride. All of the things I didn’t have.

And so while I was dating this guy who filled pretty much every ideal that I’ve ever had for a life partner, and then some, he was missing that one thing. I thought if I ignored it and pushed on that eventually it would be okay and I would just “get over it” and our relationship would prevail. It did not. I always had that nagging feeling in the back of my brain that told me that this wasn’t the right relationship for me, and I kept daydreaming about a fictional future with that Native guy of yesteryear. Now *that* seemed like the perfect life.

Finally I had to let the non-Native guy know, that despite the great time that we spent together and how much I cared for him, that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to get married to him and have a family. It broke his heart. It wasn’t the first time he heard that sentiment from me, but we were both hopeful that I’d have a change of heart. And so, we broke up and learned to both get on with our lives without each other.

And it’s not been easy for me. I’m back to being alone, without my best friend who I had such great conversations with, and who was the stable rock in my life. The only stable rock I’d ever known. It’s really hard to be all alone once I’ve had a taste of what that could feel like to have someone there beside you that would stick by your side through thick and through thin. All my life I’ve been alone, just me against the world so to have someone who supported me in everything that I did and continued to love me no matter what might happen was pretty magical.

But for me, it just wasn’t enough. Yeah, I know. Some might think I’m crazy to let that go. But I just couldn’t settle. I want to be with a Native man and have a strong Native family. To me, that just feels right. If I had gone on down that marriage path with my ex, I would have always had that doubt in my head that I wasn’t making the right decision. And now, even though I’m learning to be alone all over again, I know that I have the strength and the resiliency to say no to even the sweetest offer and hold out for something that simply feels right.

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11 Responses to Bloodlines 3.0

  1. Yawna says:

    I understand you, I have struggled with this as well. My mother is 2/3 Native (father, however, was African-American) and I was raised by my maternal family. I am proud of the culture and traditions I was raised in, and because of that, I always wanted to find a Native man and raise a strong Native family. Yet it would be a bit hypocritical of me to not give a chance to someone simply because they aren’t Native; after all I’m a product of an interracial relationship. But at the end of the day whatever you choose, it all comes to knowing yourself and what you want. Kudos to you for that and good luck in your search!

  2. Pam says:

    I’ve been married to my white husband for 2 1/2 years, but been with him for 10 years. When we first dated in high school I was told by my family that they don’t approve of the courtship, so I respected my family’s opinion and broke up with him despite how we loved each other. It broke my heart and his. When I realized how awful a decision that was, I rebelled against my family and we continued dating for years.
    I grew up in the city, with a mostly white community, and I don’t know my own language, but I still consider myself full blooded native, I’m just like Pocahontas that went to England, but loved the clothes, and culture. And sadly the truth is I’m the outcome a successfully oppressed generation. The settlers had a vision of what they wanted the Indian man and women to look like, they wanted to filter out all the culture out us. And you could say I’m a successful outcome of the vision they had, but in some way I also see it as I’m VERY lucky to live the life I do because from what my reservation family has to go through I’m very fortunate.
    I’ve never really got along with my coast salish family here in Seattle, because they are so deep in bedded with bigotry, and ignorance. I get why they wanted me to date just native men. The survival of our race, culture, and pride. I wish I could fulfill their wishes but it’s not their decision. Love doesn’t discriminate. Love is just love.
    Humans are meant to evolve, cultures will change, and sometimes for the better.

  3. Cam says:

    I’m Polish-Canadian and I was lucky to be raised within the Polish culture and I definitely understand the feelings you’re describing. And I bet the feelings are even stronger with Native culture.
    Wish you the best on your journey!

  4. Robert Hall says:

    don’t let race run your life… race is fiction. if race is the most important thing for children then we are practicing Eugenics… don’t wait for an indian man savior to bring you culture… go get it if it is that important. Hell, i know white peopel who grew up on my rez who know culture better than some many people with brown skin. my sympathy lies in the fact that you are letting the failed concept of race dictate your life.

  5. Lu says:

    My family came from a village life in the Maritimes but I found my husband in Toronto. He was from the Philippines of all places. I was amazed how similar our family ways are. We both came from humble roots but our families were so much alike. His grandpa made his house, my dad mine. Our folks hunted and fished. We both grew up running around the woods. The women on both sides of the family shared similar skills. We all loved cards, family get together. Everybody in his village knew and took care of one another. They harvested and we harvested. The system of honouring elders, the way elders blessed the kids were incredibly similar. More importantly we shared the same values. I found a kindred spirit from the other side the world. It totally blew me away. People of village life connect. Our best friends are from Mexico. Again, from village life. It’s the same.

  6. Khelsilem says:

    Thank you for your words!

  7. Ruth says:

    I know exactly how you feel! I’m part of the Osage tribe, but wasn’t raised with the traditions like all of my cousins were. I always felt like I was losing out, and decided that when I married it would have to be to a Native man, preferably Osage. I know this might sound awful, but I didn’t want to dilute the bloodline of my children even further. However, despite these intentions, I’ve married an Irishman and emigrated to Europe. I love him so so much, but I do get this deep yearning in my heart sometimes for the Osage, and I’m afraid that I’m now forever isolated from them.

  8. dawnski says:

    Wow I am aboriginal and have never had this issue- I have dated all races and found that “love” is love no matter what the background. I realized later on that love is a rare and special thing and to cherish it when I found it. I hope you find that true love you seek!

  9. Kiki says:

    I appreciate your honest words. I would be lying if I didn’t say they hurt, and that’s my own shit. I am a woman of mixed heritage, Greek, Russian, Dutch and Saulteaux. I look “whiter” than my full white relatives, and up until 15 years of age only spoke and practised my Greek culture. Once on my own, I slowly and steadily emersed myself into my Anishnaabe side. Although I sweat, fast, am learning the language, and fully follow this way of life, I don’t identify myself as an Anishaabe woman. I feel as though my looks and mixed blood line don’t earn me that beautiful title.
    I did not set out to marry any one particular ethnicity, however being in the Toronto community I was exposed to Native men. I married one. He is a “full blooded” Anishnaabe man, with an extensive knowledge of his culture. He is estranged from his abusive family, who for the most part do not practice the culture. This has not stopped them and many others from questioning and/or verbally attacking his choice to be with me. I get it. I doesn’t hurt me specifically anymore. It is a result of oppression and healing. I own my skin colour and what affect that has on society.

    Now that I have my son, it hurts. I fear he will be ashamed of his mother, or that people from the culture he so deeply loves and has such a connection with will judge him, make him feel lesser than, or even…. Not marry him.

    I feel that carrying on the culture is not a question of blood quantum but lifestyle. Keep the traditions strong!

  10. Jermaine says:

    Yup, I have had the same thoughts for many years. I really wanted to keep the bloodline. I also have a child who is half filipino. I am 60% Native, and the rest is white; however, I never grew up with any white family members, and have only known the Native way. I am currently in a relationship with a woman who is half Jamaican and half Guyanese. I tried to be with a Native woman for many years. I have learned to take life differently.

  11. cocolicot says:

    I can understand this feeling. My family has always been very adamant about keeping our language and for that reason they obviously wanted me to date only those who spoke it so that our future kids could have access to it. Being trilingual, I do see language as important, but I have been dating a unilingual man for 5 years now. He loves me and I love him. I have decided that if and when we have kids, I will speak to them in my language and bring them to community events so that they will have it. In the end, love is love. My bloodline is not diluted and, if anything, any kids I have will be richer because they will be part of two great cultures.

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