Well here we have Elizabeth Warren proving, for the umpteenth time, just how ridiculous is this entire issue of identity politics and this or that special program or set-aside for some particular ethnic group. If she was simply proud of the fact that she contains some almost undetectable fraction of Indian blood there would be no discussion today. But she, like virtually every other group pushing the agenda of identity politics, has used her Indianness to further her career, her status in the education establishment, her “electability, and her pay and wealth. Only then does it become an issue of importance for everyone because if Elizabeth Warren was awarded a professorship and tenure partly due to her womanness and her Indianness, then someone else, some deserving someone else, was eliminated from that particular competition. And that, right there, is the rub.
When I was a young boy I was convinced that I carried in my genes some significant element of Mescalero Apache. And was I proud of it? And did I announce it to my world? You bet I did. Not that it made any difference at all in my ability to spell a word, add a column of numbers in my head, write a readable paragraph, pitch a baseball, hit a golfball, or anything else in my life. But, as a young boy, my imagination would run wild as my father, mother, sister and I drove to Ruidoso past Round Mountain or I perused my collection of arrowheads passed down to me by my mother or as I read Savage Sam or Old Yeller for the umpteenth time. Although I’m not certain which family member was responsible for my belief that I carried the Apache gene, it was evident that I was not the only one.
My mother’s family was raised in the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico. The Buckners had settled there as early as 1870 and have remained there continuously ever since. My grandfather, mother’s father, was a carpenter and had worked building houses on the Mescalero reservation when my mother was a very young girl. So the young Buckner children were raised with Mescalero adults and children all around and became convinced that they were “part Indian”. I know this to be true because in later years, in a conversation with my first cousin Lynell, he related almost the exact same story to me. He grew up bragging that he was “part Apache” and it wasn’t until he reached adulthood that he became aware that his supposed “part Apache” was nothing more than his imagination, much like my own. The facts were further cemented when my brother-in-law became interested in genealogy and traced each and every ancestor back to the “old country”. And alas, there wasn’t a hint of Apache, at least legitimate births, anywhere to be found. But it was fun while it lasted and the presence or absence of Apache blood hasn’t changed my life in the slightest, as it shouldn’t.
Now comes Elizabeth Warren demanding that the world accept her Indianness. And were it not for the fact that she identified herself as a “person of color” at Harvard University which gleefully announced the same as though somehow she was now an exceptional professor, no one would care one whit. Her “person of color” status has blessed her with unearned riches, simply because she is “part Cherokee”, a claim denied by none less than the Cherokee Nation. So she has now produced a video in which someone, supposedly an expert, informs her that sure enough, she has some “Native American” ancestor in her pedigree, somewhere between 1/64th and 1/1024th. My, that’s a broad spread, very similar to my own 23 and Me results which show that I am 0.1% East Asian and Native American but more importantly that I possess more Neanderthal variants than 94% of 23 and Me members. Is that important? No, it’s not. In the contest for survival the Neanderthal was bested by the Human and apparently, as is true of almost all conquering armies throughout the ages, a Human and a Neanderthal had a one night stand and voila, here I am. Kind of the same with Ms. Warren. Her ancestor could have been someone who either successfully made the trek from Asia and shared a warm bed with someone else of different ancestry or perhaps it even happened before the trek. Who knows? Who cares? Furthermore, if Ms. Warren wants to claim her Cherokee ancestry, then she should do those things required by the tribe to prove membership. In at least one “tribe” of which I’m aware, the blood quantum requirement was removed because the “tribe” was breeding itself out of existence. In order to continue their monopoly on casino gambling in the El Paso area, something had to be done, quickly, before the “tribe” ceased to exist. So the “tribe” petitioned the federal government to remove the blood quantum requirement and now, all one has to do is say he’s an Indian and be accepted by the “tribe” to share in the spoils. Easier said than done because the “tribe” is none too anxious to share those spoils.
And why does any of this matter during an election or during any interview process for any job anywhere in the United States in 2018? It shouldn’t. Just like it shouldn’t matter whether your ancestors were slaves or slave holders, black or white. Just like it shouldn’t matter whether your ancestors were in Santa Ana’s army or were Alamo defenders. It shouldn’t matter whether your ancestors were Nazis or Jews or Italians or Ethiopians. The question for a politician should be, 1) are you ethical and, 2) do your views agree with mine re., what is best for The United States, Texas, and my family (in my case). In a job interview, including an interview for a professorship, the questions should revolve around one’s work ethic, one’s knowledge, one’s willingness to learn, one’s ability to play well with others, but most importantly, one’s ethics. That’s it!
© Robert L. Ramey 2018