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© 2001 Indian Country Tomorrow
Britney Spears Proclaims Indian Heritage

Britney Spears: Indian Country's latest addition. Photo © Reuters.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL -- Move over Arigon Starr, there's another Indian diva in town. Its Britney Spears.

At a concert in Fort Lauderdale last night, the pop singer told an audience of 14,000 screaming 12-year-old girls that "Y'all should be nice to Indians 'cause I'm one too."

"I'm proud to be a Native American," she said before performing her chart-topping hit "Oops, I Did It Again."

Spears' publicist, Mandy Jamison, told Indian Country Tomorrow the teen idol has "always known she is Indian. But it wasn't until the Census 2000, in which one could identify ones' self as belonging to more than one race, that Spears has been able to proclaim her Indian heritage."

The phenomenon is just being explored, thanks to new data collected last year. According to Census Bureau figures released last month, some 2.2 million Americans claim some form of American Indian or Alaska Native heritage.

But Spears' admission of Indian ancestry is the first such announcement made by a celebrity. Anthropologists and sociologists say more will follow.

"Much like Cher 'came out' as Indian in the 70s, we will see a renaissance in Indianness as more and more people claim Native heritage," said Jean Davis, a University of California at Berkeley professor of anthropology.

Expect actor Johnny Depp, actress Winona Ryder, musician Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and former President Bill Clinton to be touting their Indian forefathers, said Davis. "I would even bet Chuck Norris, who has claimed Cherokee heritage for quite some time, adds one or two tribes to his resume," she added.

As for Spears, Jamison wouldn't say of what tribal heritage she descended, citing privacy issues. But almost immediately upon hearing the news, fans flocked to ILoveBritney.Com to discuss her potential lineage.

"Those high cheek bones, I always knew," said LUVB. "I think she's Cherokee."

"No, she's Lumbee," responded NsyncNBritneyFan. "My cousin lives in North Carolina and he has pictures of Britney participating in the annual Lumbee parade."

"Obviously, she's Choctaw," said SillyCone. "She's from Louisiana and I know there's Choctaws there."

© 2001 Indian Country Tomorrow