Native American or Hispanic?

Native American or Hispanic?

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time at a quaint resort facility which, it seemed obvious to me, was owned and run by an extended family. I was somewht jealous because there were several times when I attempted to get something like that going, where my whole family worked together in a single business in a single location. That never worked, but c’est la vie — it was certainly working for this family. The grand-parents, the kids (at least five), and the grandkids were all happily working side-by-side to make this wonderful resort work. When people love working together and love what they do, it is blatantly obvious. Such was the case at this resort. It is spotless; they are gracious and responsive to your needs — all in all, it is a wonderful place.

I recently spoke with a woman who worked there, who, I assumed, was part of the family. She wasn’t. She said it should have been obvious that they were “all Hispanics,” and that she was “a true Native American.” My first impression was that she was being funny, but the look on her face told me in no uncertain terms that she was deadly serious.

She went on. She didn’t “speak their language,” and she didn’t “get involved in their doings,” whatever that meant. She just came in every day to make sure the bookkeeping was done properly.

As she was talking, the thought struck me that Hispanics are also Native Americans. I was going to mention this, but something in the look on her face told me she would not find my comment acceptable.


Then it struck me that this woman was so absorbed in her political and ethnic identity that she totally missed the obvious point that before the USA was formed, that everyone on the contenant were “Native Americans.”

It is not my goal to be racially or culturally insensitive here, but to point out the danger of identity politics with this simple example. Here was a woman who looked down her nose at a family that was doing a wonderful job of maintaining a vacation resort, simply because their “Native American-ness” came from a different side of a border that did not exist when their ancestors both roamed this contenent with impunity.

This paradigm shifting moment put yet another nail in the coffin of identity politics, and how people in this country view others, not by their work, or work ethic, or the quality of their person or dreams, but by what group they can be said they belong to. It truly is “politically correct racism.”

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