"Real" Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native Peoples and Indigenous Nationhood

By Bonita Lawrence | Go to book overview

12
Mixed-Blood Urban Native People
and the Rebuilding of Indigenous Nations

This work has focused on the broad range of issues that have shaped the identities of urban mixed-blood Native people. One emphasis has been descriptive, focusing on the family histories of the participants, their struggle to recoup knowledge of culture and history despite profound silencing, and their efforts to create a community for themselves in an urban environment. Another focus, however, has been analytical, attempting to understand how a legacy of legal restrictions and racial apartheid has positioned the participants—in a sense creating them as urban mixed-race Native people. Over and over, these analytical efforts to understand the intricate web of historical and contemporary forces shaping urban mixed-blood Native identity keep returning to two central issues—urbanity and Indian status—which in one way or another continuously impact on the participants’ lives. These issues reinforce and, in a sense, are mutually constitutive of one another.

Government regulation of Native identity has created a complex array of categories of Nativeness that have been reflected in the very distinct sets of experiences recounted to me by participants who are status Indians (with full or partial status), Bill C-31 Indians (with or without band membership), nonstatus Indians, or Métis. On another level, however, are the differences in perspectives between those who grew up on-reserve, and came to the city as adults, and those who grew

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