Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 5, 2001 - Issue 35



Speaker Highlights Life as Native American


by Muneera Naseer, Lafayette Journal and Courier


Photo of Bob Moody by Tom Leininger, Journal and Courier

Lafayatte, IN - Bob Moody, who is Native American, put in perspective what it's like to be asked just how much of an Indian he really is.

During a lecture Monday at the YWCA, Moody posed this situation: Imagine if someone said, "I'm Polish," only to get the response, "How much?" But he said that is a question asked many times of Native Americans.

Moody was the guest speaker at the "Celebrate Diversity" luncheon held Monday as part of the YWCA's National Day of Commitment to end racism. The event was established in 1992 after the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, according to Barb Reif, chair of the diversity committee for the local YWCA.

In his talk, Moody highlighted various aspects of Native American culture and tried to dispel some myths and stereotypes. For instance, he said, there is no such thing as an Indian princess or an Indian chief.

"We don't have any chiefs," he said. "We only had spokes-persons who could come forward and eloquently speak for the people."

But he said Europeans designated people as "chiefs" or leaders because they felt they needed to talk to only the person in charge.

That's something Karen Lowry, who attended Moody's talk, said she didn't know.

"I thought it was very interesting," she said. "There were some things about the Native American culture that I was not aware of."

Moody, who lives near Osceola, Ind., is of the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi tribe. The band refers to the smaller factions that came into being after their lands were taken over by the government.

Although his father was Irish and mother was Native American, Moody said he embraces more of his Native American side.

"I've been taught and I believe that no matter how much Indian blood you have, that indeed is what you are," he said, admitting he does embrace the Irish heritage but not to the same extent.

Moody said it's important for people not to assume something. He said he does not take offense if someone asks him what may seem an ignorant question simply because they have not been exposed to his culture.

"It's ignorance in its purest form, and I mean that in a good way," he said.

Moody said there are about 500 federally recognized tribes in the United States. He said each tribe has its own rules on ancestry and membership.

Although tribes admit any person who can trace his or her ancestry to that tribe, he said it is the federal government that requires one-fourth blood heritage for participation in programs and services for Native Americans.



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