Most people assume that I am White. Yet, at the same time, if I am on the Tuscarora Reservation many people assume that I am Tuscarora. No one questions it because I look similar to them. When I tell people that I am mixed race, people say things like: “Oh, I can see it.” But, can you? I remember one incident in high school: we talked about the census and different categories and someone asked me, “How are you Native American and White? Don’t you just identify by what you are the majority of?” That was difficult since I feel that that person was definitely questioning my identity and, in some ways, it seemed like they doubted the validity of my Native heritage, even though my father is an enrolled member of the Tuscarora Nation.
I don’t blame people for not knowing fully who I am, especially with being Native American since we are a sometimes-forgotten minority. To be fair, I am from an Eastern tribe as well so I am also not stereotypically “Native-looking,” whatever that means.
I think that everyone has different challenges conveying the difference between their outward and inner identity.