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Cathy Robbins Thinking Aloud

A holiday blend: Pueblo Indian Christmas

Every year, for more than 30 years, our family entered the world of Pueblo Christmas, unlike any that other Americans celebrated. At San Felipe Pueblo, a short distance north of our home in Albuquerque, we joined our Pueblo friends in their unique celebration. While many Americans blend family traditions in their modern families, the Pueblos have done this for centuries. The Spaniards “converted” the Pueblos in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They forbade any Native religions for several decades, but after a violent Pueblo revolt, they stepped back and the Pueblos were able to bring back their Native practices in the context of Catholicism.

Those Native ways often overpower the Christian ones, beginning on Christmas Eve. In the small mission church of San Felipe, midnight mass ends, the priest leaves. And then the first of the Native dancers enters the church, almost to remind everyone just who is  Read More 
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Blood and American Indians: Part I

Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, is in the hot seat. In a document she filed some years ago with Harvard, her employer, she said that she had some American Indian ancestry. Warren did not provide proof of tribal membership - such as "blood quantum" - but referred to family conversations. Scott Brown, her Republican opponent, said that Warren wasn't American Indian because she did not "look Indian."

Warren is the not the only American with Indian ancestry but without "papers." Brown is not the only white American to fall into the stereotype of Indians as having dark skin, high cheekbones, etc. Half of the four million American Indians come from mixed ancestry, and a number are as fair and light-skinned as Warren.

An overriding definition of membership in one of the 500-plus  Read More 
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