Dancers at a Haliwa-Saponi powwow in North Carolina. Photo: Allison Fender

Dana Hedgpeth: Yes I'm a 'real live Indian' and this is my country too

Many of us have heard that question -- What are you? Dana Hedgpeth, a reporter for The Washington Post, shares her experiences as a citizen of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe:
Just as I do every year, I took my daughters out of school and day care for a few days last month to take part in my tribe’s powwow in Hollister, N.C., home of the Haliwa-Saponi.

The powwow is a homecoming for my tribe’s members to honor our culture and heritage and, as my mom says, to remember “where you came from and who you are.” Traditional singing and dancing is a big part of the celebration.

We’ve taken our girls — Charlotte, 5, whom we call C.C., and Jessie, who is 3 years old, since they were babies. But this year there was a difference — barely noticeable to others but significant to me and my family.

Instead of having to coax them into the outdoor, grassy arena when it was their turn to perform, they eagerly joined in, dancing alongside other girls. I could tell that they truly felt the deep beat of the drum as they performed the steps they’d been taught.

For the first time, I thought, our daughters were beginning to understand and appreciate their culture and where our people came from. This is important because American Indians are so often simply forgotten. My husband is white, and my girls have lighter skin than mine. I’ve had people ask me if I was their nanny. When I say I’m their mom and I’m American Indian, they sometimes look bewildered.

Read More on the Story:
Dana Hedgpeth: I am not their nanny, I am their mom. And I’m American Indian. (The Wasington Post May 11, 2018)