Thursday, February 03, 2011

Oh No He Didn't!

I had today's post mostly written in my head by this morning. I had used the drive in the polish it up in my brain.

But of course, I don't write my posts at work. So I was waiting until I got home.

And then I went to area studies.

I was already a bit dubious, since today's topic was the Russian Federation and its neighbors. Which is sort of what he talked about last week when our scheduled speaker was unable to make it past the guards (bureaucratic oops).

Now bear in mind that we are not going to the Russian Federation, but okay, we are going to neighboring countries.

AND bear in mind that this is the same guy who criticized State for lumping all the former Soviet countries under the Russian bureau (never mind that this isn't actually true, or that some of the countries of the former Soviet Union aren't even in the European bureau anymore...you just gotta pick your straw man and stick with it) but is for the second week in a row, talking about all of us in the context of Russia....

His area of expertise is the ethnicities of the former Soviet Union.

Which means that he should stay the hell away from discussions about other ethnicities...like say, American Indians.

Particularly southeastern US American Indians...and if I am in your class, stay FAR away from the Indians of North and South Carolina unless you know what the hell you are talking about.

So as a throw away joke about ethnicities, he said ethnicities were still being created. And that if you didn't believe they could even be created overnight overnight, you need to read about the Lumbee.

Really, you're going there?

I am the historian for my tribe. We have two main bands, one of which originates from just across the border from the Lumbee. There is a ton of intermarriage and shared history between the Lumbee and my people. So as the historian for my tribe, I know more about Lumbee history than your average non-Lumbee bear.

And they are NOT, as he said, a "group of people who have nothing in common except their New York lawyer." They are NOT seeking recognition as an Indian tribe so they can get a casino. And the reason they lawsuit is ongoing has much more to do with Jesse Helms than Lumbee origins. There is NO DOUBT, at least by anyone who actually bothers to do the research, that the Lumbee are Indians (and even Lumbee who are mixed with other races are still Indian, much like I am Indian even though my father was white...it is both my race and my culture). And even if they are, as some argue, a remnant tribe, that does not make them any less a tribe than other tribes that are remnant tribes but enjoy federal recognition. (Though again, if you do the research, you can scarcely miss coming to the conclusion that the Lumbee descend primarily from one dominant group).

It is a testament to the degree to which I have become a diplomat that I did not go with any of my first three impulses. My first was to rip him a new one. Closely related is my second, which was to throw something at him. My third was to just walk out.

Because I am a diplomat, I went for door number four, and sat and stewed.

And because I am a diplomat, I plan in the very near future to have a private "frank and open" discussion with him about it.

2 comments:

annesblog said...

As a diplomat you would have been well-justified in calling bullshit on this in class. If he's going to make a reference to something as an expert he damn well better get it right AND make it relevant. I'm willing to bet that most of the class weren't previously familiar with the Lumbees and now, thanks to an "expert" they have a distorted view of reality.

Anonymous said...

As a diplomat you would have been well-justified in calling bullshit on this in class. If he's going to make a reference to something as an expert he damn well better get it right AND make it relevant. I'm willing to bet that most of the class weren't previously familiar with the Lumbees and now, thanks to an "expert" they have a distorted view of reality.

Anne