I'm More Indian Than You Are!

What Part of You is Indian?

By George W. Clever-----15 February 2016

How are you doing this winter? Does it seem like this is the longest season in the world? Is the cold reaching its gnarly fingers in to zap your knees and toes? In my eightieth year I asked our Creator question while pulling a load of cordwood through the snow to our home. Will I ever dance at the EDN Powwow again? Fortunately, our mail carrier brightened up that dismal, gray day for me with the delivery of the Smithsonian’s current issue of the Indian magazine arriving in all its color and glory.

I was particularly interested in an article titled the Ambiguous Career of Major Moniac, a Creek Indian. Although not the first of our people to enter the military academy, he was the first to graduate West Point class of 1822. He entered the academy only three years after the bloody Red Stick War where the US military in combination with Lower Town Creeks fought Upper Town Creeks led by Moniac’s uncle. As a result of the war during the treaty at Fort Jackson, the Creek Nation was forced to cede more than 22 million acres in what became Alabama and Georgia.

After receiving a commission as a second lieutenant in the 6th United States Infantry he resigned the commission returning to his family plantation in Alabama to rebuild its financial base. Moniac married Mary Powell cousin of the Seminole leader and Creek, Osceola. During the Second Seminole War in 1835 David Moniac returned to the U.S. military leading a regiment of Creeks against the Creek Osceola. Major Moniac was killed in the Wahoo Swamp battle. 

The article led me to wonder how many of our relations struggled with the moral duality of heritage while fighting for the U.S. military against their own people? Major Moniac was a metis, a mix breed, a breed like me. I have been often asked by other NAs why I am a Marine for the U.S. Military? My answer is simple. The Corps was the only warrior society available to me and this land was and is always my country.  Perhaps this was also David Moniac’s answer to the same question for his parentage was from Creek and Scottish ancestors. He also walked in two different worlds. Creek Clan leaders recognized the value of blood connections with the traders and interpreters who came to do business with them. They encouraging racial intermarriage as a successful strategy in dealing with the immigrants. The Comanche have their Quanah Parker with his white mother. The Seneca and Delaware have their Mary Jemison, white elder of the Genesee. Many tribal leaders today have mixed ancestry.  In this day of race baiting we all face the question, how did we achieve our education and employment success as Moniac did at West Point. Was it through our merits or through political correctness? Are the opportunities offered to us now a knee jerk reaction by a contemporary society just beginning to understand how much was given to the wealth of America by the sacrifice of native peoples? 

The cadet Moniac story led me to a second concern. Do our Eastern Delaware Nations people recognize the forces at work still using the old divide and conquer strategy? It was an effective plan throughout history for those who would gain from the pain NAs inflict on each other? Do native peoples today in America recognize when their acts against each other make all of us weaker? We must be on guard as EDN community members to never play the “I’m more Indian than you” game or fall in the trap of being divided one against the other. We are and should be a community of love and respect for all. See you at the next council meeting or at our June powwow. Yes, I think the knees will dance one more time with you. If you ask what part of me is Indn? It must be the dancing feet!          

 

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Latest comments

11.11 | 12:35

The pictures of the chest really do not do the colors and painting justice. Another beautiful piece of artwork by my favorite painter.

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30.10 | 13:14

George: Thanks for sharing this story from your past. I loved it.

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01.08 | 07:42

George: This is excellent. I never heard about your father being killed in a car crash. So sorry to hear that. Your history is amazing. Than You for sharing.

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31.07 | 17:04

I nice things here

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