Opinion: Indian people are losing their identity
"I am a Crow tribal member of Eastern Montana. I was raised on the reservation up until fifth grade by my grandparents, which is very typical in my culture. Grandparents can actually ask for the oldest grandchild, and I am the oldest grandchild on both sides. However, my parents divorced, so my grandmother stepped in and said, "I'm taking her and her sister, too."

Because my grandparents were of the boarding-school generation, they felt it would be to my benefit to learn English. However, 80 percent of the tribe at the time spoke Crow, so of course I picked it up.

Who else could I be but native? Who else could I be but Crow? That's where I lived. I didn't understand anything different. So I identified myself as Crow, I identified myself as Native American, and when I moved off the reservation, I continued to identify myself in that way.

In fifth grade, I moved with my father to Dickinson, N.D., which does not have a native population. Largely, it was a German community at the time. I went to high school there up until my senior year, when I went back home [to] Crow Agency, Mont.

Within my tribe, education was always huge--and our last chief's quote was "Education is an equality." So I knew I would leave the reservation; however, I knew that I had a passion for improving the quality of life for those that I was leaving behind. So I pursued organizations that worked toward Native American initiatives and have found that here in the Portland area."

Get the Story:
Cleora Hill-Scott: In Some Ways, American Indians Are Losing Their Identity (Diversity Inc 11/11)