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#1 Aug-01-2014 06:17:pm

sschkaak
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INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

INVISIBLE INDIANS:  NATIVE AMERICANS IN PENNSYLVANIA, By David J. Minderhout and Andrea T. Frantz, Cambria Press, Amherst, NY (2008) - A Review

"Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"  -Chico Marx ("Duck Soup," 1933)

I have some reluctance about criticizing a book which was never intended to be what I expected it to be.  But, the authors must share some of the blame for my expectations by choosing the title they did.  A more fitting choice would have been something like "People in Pennsylvania Who Claim to be American Indians," because, throughout the book, there is never one shred of evidence produced to show that any of the people claiming to be Indians, or descendants of Indians, actually are.  In addition, except for three or four artists who are public figures, all of the numerous statements quoted, as coming from Native Americans, are given without naming the speakers or writers of those statements; so, the skeptical reader is left with no means, whatsoever, to verify whether or not these folks are what they say they are.  They are identified, simply, as "A Lenape man from York County," or "the Mohawk woman from Snyder County," or "a man claiming Susquehannock heritage," etc., etc.  Nor is there a single photograph of any person in the book.  For all the reader knows, these people may or may not be American Indians.  When the authors write (p.108): "In discussing DNA evidence for Native American ancestry, Shelton and Marks state, 'The most obvious problem is that being Native American is a question of politics and culture, not biology'," it's a pretty clear indication of the stance they took in this work.  I think a better approach would have been to adopt the statement of a "woman from Westmoreland County," who said, "I met this woman at a small powwow.  She was the head dancer, and she said she was a Native American, but I could see she wasn't." (p.121)  Evidently, though, Minderhout and Frantz decided not to "see."  It's not because they couldn't see, but because they wouldn't.  That they could see is clear from the following:

"several of the people we interviewed were phenotypically African American, even though they emphasized their Native American ancestry." (p.78)  Not once, in this work, did I see the phrase, "phenotypically European American" or "phenotypically white," though it's clear that that is exactly what the majority of these "Native Americans" were.  In fact, I don't recall ever seeing the words "white" or "white-looking" or anything like that used to describe these people.  The closest they could bring themselves to telling what they were actually seeing was "they are clearly of mixed backgrounds." (p.32)  Of course, they let the cat out of the bag when they wrote, "the connections to a Lenape ancestor may be generations in the past, and even those connections may be hard to pin down." (p.133)  What the authors saw, but were too timid to write, was "most of these people were not phenotypically American Indian.  They looked like white folks."

The giant problem in this work is the authors' constant lumping together of full-blood Indians and "non-Indians calling themselves Indians" into the same category:  "Native Americans."  So, when they write things that are factual, when they're talking about real Indians, like "Native Americans have the lowest average income of any identifiable American population" (p.83), or "Nagel (1995) notes that 48% of Native Americans nationwide married non-Indians in 1980 and that by 1990 that number had grown to 59%" (p.123); that's fine.  But, these generalities about American Indians have absolutely no pertinence to most of the individuals they are calling "Native Americans" in this book.  These blanket remarks about real Indians take up a good chunk of the ink on these pages; so, the reader looking for information about the Indian ancestry of most of these "phenotypically non-Indian Native Americans," is offered little to satisfy him or her, in this regard. 

In one section, called "The Old People Didn't Want Us to Know We Were Indian," some informants told the authors that they and previous generations hid their Indian identity, because of fear--citing the 1763 Paxton Boys massacre of the Conastoga Indians and the 1782 slaughter of the Moravian Indians in Gnadenhuetten, Ohio, as examples of what might happen to them. (p.127)  These informants had to be claimants to Lenape or Susquehannock descent.  If they, or their parents or grandparents, had been present at either of these two horrible mass murders, there is no doubt that they would have been spared!  In fact, if they had any forbears or relations who actually took part in these events, the odds are, given their racial backgrounds, that they would have been among the ranks of the perpetrators--not the Indians!

One informant said, about Lenape women, that "many of them had married German farmers." (pp.31 & 124)  As usual, no documentation of this statement is either requested or offered.  But, one has to wonder why Lenape women would want to join white society, when the argument is made elsewhere that some white women captured by Indians did not want to return to white society because they had a better life with the Indians!  "In general, women were treated better in native society than in European or colonial society." (p.94) 

There is much more in this book that can be criticized based on this one major flaw in the book--i.e., that zero evidence is ever produced to show that these "Native Americans" are American Indians.  Absent that, I don't see what the point of writing the book was.  The authors say, "People were anxious to show us family genealogies, census records, or family pictures ('Doesn't she look like an Indian?')"; but, the authors weren't interested enough to show their readership any of these things!  (Maybe, there was a good reason for this?)  In short, every claim made in this book is unsubstantiated.

Finally, the book is riddled with major and minor errors.  Here is a list:

p.30 - "William Penn and his descendants made a point of purchasing land from the Lenape with the idea of obtaining clear and undisputed title to it.  American Indians living on that property at the time of purchase were allowed to stay:  However, those were never viewed as land grants to the Lenape..."  Not so.  The Okehocking band of Lenape were granted a 500 acre reservation in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1702, by William Penn.  [Weslager, Red Men on the Brandywine, pp.139-140]

p.31 - They quote "a woman of Lenape descent from Northhampton County," as follows:  "...we've learned from the elders that people would leave their children with the German farmers before they fled to keep from getting killed.  One was the daughter of George Rex [an 18th-century Lenape sachem]; she was left behind to be raised by the Frantz family."  This is apparently a well-known legend in that part of Pennsylvania.  This legend has been completely overturned by the research of Dale Berger:  http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin … mp;id=I330

p.41 - "A community of approximately 1,000 Nanticokes still lives in Delaware, but they have no state-recognized status there."  In fact, The Nanticoke Indians have been state-recognized in Delaware since 1903!  (Weslager, Delaware's Forgotten Folk:  The Story of the Moors and Nanticokes, pp.117-118)

p.53 - "The Lenape called them Minquas, a name that translates as "treacherous..."  This is an English spelling of the Lenape word, Mengwe, which means "glans penis."  (Brinton & Anthony, A Lenape-English Dictionary, p.81)

p.82 - As to why so many "Native Americans" in the East are "light-skinned," the authors quote an explanation of an informant who states that it's because Eastern Indians lived in the forest and didn't get all that sunlight to which the Plains Indians were exposed!  Then the authors attempt to justify this, writing, "This remark echoes the comments of the Moravian missionary David Zeisberger who wrote that the Lenape were light-skinned; some were lighter in complexion than Europeans."  This is such a distortion of what Zeisberger said that it borders on deliberate deception.  Zeisberger actually said, "Their color is brown, but of different shades.  Some are light brown, hardly to be distinguished from a brown European, did not their eyes and hair betray them.  Again, others are so dark that they differ little from mulattoes."  (Hulbert & Schwarze, David Zeisberger's History of the Northern American Indians, p.12)

p.100 - "Native Americans in the Northeast did smudging, but typically used native cedar bark (Juniperus virginiana)."  The Lenape used clippings or trimmings from the red cedar--not the bark.

p.109 - the "state legal system ...refuses to admit the existence of Native Americans in Pennsylvania."  This is preposterous!  No Indian tribes have state recognition in Pennsylvania, but "recognition" does not equal "admission of existence"!

p.157 - "In the 1970s a popular view of Native Americans as conservation minded and environmentally friendly became entrenched in the minds of non-Indians.  A popular television commercial of the period showed a native man dressed in buckskin observing the waste and pollution of a modern industrial society with a tear flowing down his cheek."  What it showed was an Italian man dressed as an Indian with a tear flowing down his cheek.

p.159 - Writing about the never seen Walam Olum tablets of Rafinesque, they say, "Dr. Daniel Brinton ...obtained the tablets in 1885.  It is Brinton's publication of the tablets that is used by Native Americans today in Pennsylvania."  What Brinton obtained, sometime between 1879 and 1884 were manuscripts written by Rafinesque. There never were any tablets!  The Walam Olum is a hoax of the first magnitude.  (Weslager, The Delaware Indians:  A History, p.85; Oestreicher, The Anatomy of the Walam Olum:  The Dissection of a 19th-century Anthropological Hoax, xxiii + 547 pages, Ph.D. dissertation)

p.179 - "In January of 2004 the Oklahoma Delawares filed a suit in federal court to reclaim 315 acres of land in Northampton and Bucks Counties...  ...the suit was eventually dropped when a Federal Appeals Court removed the Delawares' federal recognition..."  The Oklahoma Delawares who filed this suit were the Delaware Nation, headquartered in Anadarko, Oklahoma.  They lost the suit in 2006.  It was the Delaware Tribe, headquartered in Bartlesville, Oklahoma who lost their federal recognition (subsequently reinstated)--a completely different tribe of "Oklahoma Delawares"!  The Delaware Nation never lost their federal recognition.

p.181 - "Over 60 Native American groups in the United States have state recognition...  ...many of these are found in states like Ohio and Virginia which, like Pennsylvania, do not contain reservations."  The Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes have had reservations in Virginia, continuously, from the 17th-century up to today.

p.184 - "...the Indian Arts and Crafts Act applies only to federally recognized tribes."  No.  The Act allows members of state recognized tribes to label their crafts and artwork as "American Indian made."

p.204 - "The word 'powwow' is derived from the Algonquian pauau, which meant a gathering of people."  No.  It is derived from a Proto-Algonquian word which means "he dreams," and was subsequently used for "Indian priest," among the southern New England Algonquians.  (Bright, Native American Placenames of the United States, p.397)

p.212 - "The chief of the Lenape Nation traced the origin of the Nation to Chief Sam Gray Wolf, a Lenape/Seneca man..."  Sam "Gray Wolf" Hannah claimed to be Cayuga and Lenape, born on the Seneca-Cayuga Reservation near Miami, Oklahoma.  However, unless the evidence deceives, he was actually a white man born in Kentucky, and brought up in Ohio.
 
p.213 - The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania calls the Delaware River, "Lena'pe Sippu."  This is ungrammatical and phonetically incorrect.

The authors write, "The fact of early contact and removal, intermarriage and conversion, misleading and incomplete documentation practices in the past, and the fear of identifying oneself as Native American in the past have made asserting Native American identity in the state extremely problematical."  But, none of this stopped Minderhout and Frantz from calling every single one of their informants "Native American." There's more, but enough is enough.  I have to rate this book "two thumbs down."

Raymond Whritenour
LENAPE TEXTS & STUDIES

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#2 Aug-01-2014 06:33:pm

tree hugger
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

Thank you!!

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#3 Aug-02-2014 10:47:am

NanticokePiney
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From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
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Posts: 4214

Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

sschkaak wrote:

INVISIBLE INDIANS:  NATIVE AMERICANS IN PENNSYLVANIA, By David J. Minderhout and Andrea T. Frantz, Cambria Press, Amherst, NY (2008) � A Reveiw

"several of the people we interviewed were phenotypically African American, even though they emphasized their Native American ancestry." (p.78)  Not once, in this work, did I see the phrase, "phenotypically European American" or "phenotypically white," though it's clear that that is exactly what the majority of these "Native Americans" were.  In fact, I don't recall ever seeing the words "white" or "white-looking" or anything like that used to describe these people.  The closest they could bring themselves to telling what they were actually seeing was "they are clearly of mixed backgrounds." (p.32)  Of course, they let the cat out of the bag when they wrote, "the connections to a Lenape ancestor may be generations in the past, and even those connections may be hard to pin down." (p.133)  What the authors saw, but were too timid to write, was "most of these people were not phenotypically American Indian.  They looked like white folks."

p.82 - As to why so many "Native Americans" in the East are "light-skinned," the authors quote an explanation of an informant who states that it's because Eastern Indians lived in the forest and didn't get all that sunlight to which the Plains Indians were exposed!  Then the authors attempt to justify this, writing, 'This remark echoes the comments of the Moravian missionary David Zeisberger who wrote that the Lenape were light-skinned; some were lighter in complexion than Europeans."  This is such a distortion of what Zeisberger said that it borders on deliberate deception.  Zeisberger actually said, "Their color is brown, but of different shades.  Some are light brown, hardly to be distinguished from a brown European, did not their eyes and hair betray them.  Again, others are so dark that they differ little from mulattoes."  (Hulbert & Schwarze, David Zeisberger's History of the Northern American Indians, p.12)

These statements are racist in so many ways. It's a proven fact that many Indians who stayed in the East joined "Free Color Communities" and visa-versa. Some Black communities actually started as Indian communities. Are they saying that members of the Shinnicock, Mashpee Wamps and Narragansett, who are Federally recognized, who look Black are too Black. Or maybe members of the State recognized tribes in Virginia, the Carolinas and Delaware look too Black.

They never touched on the Pooles in the Northern part of P.A. WHY! or the communities made up of people from the Virginia and Delaware tribes which Frank Speck noted in Philadelphia.
WHY!   TOOO BLACK!  yikes

My side of the Pierce family live in the communities in Centerville (Camden) and East Delair and I am probably about 15 to 20% Black and have many Black family members and find this bullshit offensive. neutral


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
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#4 Aug-04-2014 03:27:pm

brambles
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

p.30 - "William Penn and his descendants made a point of purchasing land from the Lenape with the idea of obtaining clear and undisputed title to it.  American Indians living on that property at the time of purchase were allowed to stay.  However, those were never viewed as land grants to the Lenape."  Not so.  The Okehocking band of Lenape were granted a 500 acre reservation in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1702, by William Penn.  [Weslager, Red Men on the Brandywine, pp.139-140]

Good point; but here is some additional detail about Penn's 1702/03 Indian Land Grant, showing that its benefit to the Okehocking band was limited and short-lived at best:

By the beginning of the 18th century, English settlers had begun to squeeze the small band out of some prime fishing grounds along Ridley Creek (probably in the area now known as Ridley Creek State Park), about an hour's walk downstream from what would become the Okehocking Land Grant site. When the 500-acre tract's original deed holder, Griffith Jones, relinquished his title, their leaders submitted a petition to purchase it outright in 1701, but were instead granted only carefully circumscribed use, starting in 1703.

The opportunistic nature of Penn's grant is underscored by the fact that as early as 1710, Francis Yarnall, whose land bordered three sides of the tract, successfully petitioned for a road--the first to be recorded in the brand-new Willistown Township, and now known as Delchester Road--to bisect the land for his convenience. In less than ten years, the area of the mythical "Okehocking Indian Town" (a 20th century invention, based on romantic stories going back at least a hundred years) was crisscrossed with settlers' roads; and by (no later than) 1737 it was opened for new claims. Francis Yarnall's son Mordecai thereupon bought the whole kit and caboodle.

(See http://articles.philly.com/1996-11-28/n … g-grounds, which reports on some of architectural historian Jane Dorchester's examination of the primary sources. As a bonus, you can find a bit about Marshall Becker's own early research there as well.)

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#5 Aug-04-2014 03:40:pm

sschkaak
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

Yes.  There is full account of this in the book cited:  Weslager, Clinton A., Red Men on the Brandywine, Wilmington, DE (1953).

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#6 Nov-07-2014 06:58:am

sschkaak
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

New comment on my review at Amazon, with my reply:

andy says:

My grandfather was born in Pa. in the 1920's. His mother was full native american, his father-german. Since the mother was not white and my grandfather had blue eyes he could pass for all white, while she could not. So, the parents of my grandfather never married and left my grandfather to be raised by two of his aunts on the father's side. The census has him as "white", because he could pass as white. He was told to NEVER tell anyone that he was native because all sorts of bad things could happen to him and the family. As a child there were rumors that we were native but my father would tell me NO, we are Pennsylvania Dutch, just like my grandfather told him to say. I was told to say I am white and only white. When I asked if I had any Indian blood I was told no! In my 30's I went back to college and in my history class I found out about the Pennsylvania dutch and native Americans and a whole lot of questions came flooding into my mind. I went to my grandfather and begged him to tell me the truth, after several weeks of conversations he finally told me that his mother, my great-grandmother was full native american, but that I should not tell people because they would not understand. He sent me to one of his relatives homes in Pennsylvania to retrieve a picture of him when he was a very small child; he was with his mom and grandmother. They both were dressed as whites but it was so obvious that they were not white. My dad was raised in the 1950's and the kids on his street would call him names and say he was a dego. (don't know how to spell that,sorry). They also called him a half breed. My father and his siblings stuck to what they were told to say and never told anyone, not even me, his own daughter that he was native american. My mother is full English and very white, so I took after her in color, but my features are hauntingly just like my great-grandmother. I also have a very close friend that I met in my late 30's that is native american, and she too was told not to tell anyone that she was not white. Our stories are very close. The native people felt that because of the slaying of their people that they had to deny there own self!! Many of these 'claims' mentioned in this book sound like so many things that I either went through myself or heard from others. So, yeah you are not going to have written proof that so-in-so went through what they went through, but I believe most of it to be true because I have lived it. Just because you haven't been through it doesn't mean it isn't true. What was done to our people is sickening! ( I just noticed I am logged in under my husband, so I am not Andy, but am his wife)


Raymond Whritenour says:

Andy' wife: I DID go through something akin to what you've been through. Growing up, I was told by everyone in my family that I was 1/8 Indian, through my great-grandmother. I spent many years and lots of money gathering census data, court records, land records, vital statistics, etc., etc. None of them indicated that my great-grandmother was anything other than a white person. Believing this couldn't be true, I turned to autosomal DNA testing, then the proof of the matter appeared: I am 100% white, with no detectable amount of American Indian DNA above the level of "statistical noise." I was, of course, disappointed--but, not surprised, because of all the negative evidence I had accumulated via traditional genealogical research. (I did have an old photograph that "appeared" to show my great-grandmother with Indian features.) If you are 1/8 American Indian--given that your great-grandmother was a full-blood American Indian--then that will definitely show up around 12% or 13% on one of the new autosomal DNA tests, like the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA. This is your last hope of proving that you are an American Indian descendant. Prove it and people will accept it. Neither the federal nor state government (nor anyone else) can be expected to simply accept your claim to that heritage based on nothing but what amounts to hearsay evidence. If that were acceptable, I would be recognized and acknowledged as an Indian--and I'm not! I suggest you take one of these new DNA tests. It will reveal the truth regarding your genetic background. If you decide to do this, please share the results with us. Should it prove that you are who you think you are, that will give us evidence of one legitimate Pennsylvania Indian descendant more than can be found in the pages of this book.

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#7 Nov-08-2014 06:24:am

NanticokePiney
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From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

I find it curious that my great grandparents claimed "Indian" on the census along with many other early Cumberland County residents who also claimed it on their enlistment slips, birth certificates and the federal census but everyone in P.A. was "afraid". This nonsense is to the point of ridiculous. You have that exactly right Ray "Get a DNA test and show everyone your not full of crap". hmm


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
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#8 Nov-16-2014 10:57:pm

Chevy
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

NanticokePiney wrote:

I find it curious that my great grandparents claimed "Indian" on the census along with many other early Cumberland County residents who also claimed it on their enlistment slips, birth certificates and the federal census but everyone in P.A. was "afraid". This nonsense is to the point of ridiculous. You have that exactly right Ray "Get a DNA test and show everyone your not full of crap". hmm

Yep, that will do it, one way or another! smile

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#9 Jun-12-2017 03:29:pm

sschkaak
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

New anonymous comments, at Amazon.com, on my review, by "Kindle Customer":

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2017, 11:54:34 AM PDT
Kindle Customer says:

The original review is one of the most racist diatribes that I have come across in a long time. It frames a philosophy that we are who we look like - looks being in the eye of the beholder. The advances in DNA research have now established that NONE of us are "full blood" anything. What defines us is our set of "truths" or beliefs that we learn from our families and friends. The only certain description of cultural identity is the one in which we are raised and the authors have established an excellent working definition using self-identification. Not only have immigrants from European nations stolen lands, they are trying to perpetuate lies that they were "first" settlers on "virgin" land, that the "last Indians" left their inherited territories in the early 18th century and that only "full blood Indians" with a certain "native" look as perceived by "non-natives" can "correctly" call themselves by the name their people have called themselves for centuries. Please remember that the US Census collects ALL "race/ethnic" categories by self-identification.     

Posted on Jun 12, 2017, 11:59:47 AM PDT
Kindle Customer says:

This review has a racist slant that is uninformed and insulting.

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#10 Jun-12-2017 06:38:pm

sschkaak
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Re: INVISIBLE INDIANS - A review

And, my response:

The original review is one of the most racist diatribes that I have come across in a long time.

Please, look up the word "racist," before you throw it around so loosely.

It frames a philosophy that we are who we look like - looks being in the eye of the beholder.

Well...  Do you think you can identify the majority racial component of Aretha Franklin, Steve Martin, Buffy Sainte-Marie or Connie Chung?  Somehow, I think you can.  The further you diverge from those phenotypes, the less likely it is that your racial (or "biogeographical," for those who prefer euphemisms) makeup belongs to one of those groups.  When you look White, it's because the majority of your ancestors were White.

The advances in DNA research have now established that NONE of us are "full blood" anything.

Not at all.  There are millions of full-blood Indians throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Millions of Europeans are 100% White.  Millions of Africans are 100% Black.  Millions of Chinese and Japanese are 100% East Asian.  In fact, most people in the world are NOT mixed, racially. 

What defines us is our set of "truths" or beliefs that we learn from our families and friends.

What makes one an American Indian is having American Indian DNA--nothing else.

The only certain description of cultural identity is the one in which we are raised and the authors have established an excellent working definition using self-identification.

Yes.  Tell them you're a Zulu and then you're a Zulu.  Anyone is capable of learning culture.  Culture does not determine one's race.  DNA does.

Not only have immigrants from European nations stolen lands, they are trying to perpetuate lies that they were "first" settlers on "virgin" land,

Irrelevant.  My review doesn't comment on this issue.

that the "last Indians" left their inherited territories in the early 18th century

Irrelevant.  My review doesn't comment on this issue.

and that only "full blood Indians" with a certain "native" look as perceived by "non-natives" can "correctly" call themselves by the name their people have called themselves for centuries.

As I have written elsewhere, I have no problem calling someone with Indian ancestry, of whatever amount, an "Indian," if that's the aspect of their ancestry they wish to emphasize--HOWEVER, if you can't provide any evidence of that ancestry, through documentation, or proof, through DNA results, then I don't accept your claim.  Sorry.  Family stories are not acceptable evidence. 

Please remember that the US Census collects ALL "race/ethnic" categories by self-identification. 

True... since 1960, that is.  Prior to that, it was the job of the census taker to identify the race or color of those being enumerated.

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