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This past year, I was presented with the opportunity to become a member of the Shawnee Nation, Southeastern Alliance. Something I've been looking forward to for a long time. The opportunity only came when I found a definite blood link to my native past through my great, great, great grandmother Sh'Na who lived in the 1820's in Ohio and was half Shawnee and half Kickapoo. I've filled out the application and provided photos and written documentation. The last part of the process is writing a personal letter on why I am seeking membership. So here is what I wrote to Dorothy Whitehawk, Principal Chief:

Bezon Okema Whitehawk,

I’m writing this letter to let you know why I am making application to become a member of the Nation. I never grew up with any knowledge of Native heritage. Yet my parents instilled in me a deep respect for people from all cultures and also a curiosity to find out more about my own past. My Grandmother, Elizabeth Kinsey Stivers was very interested in Native culture and instilled that interest in me as well. Her home was filled with stone tools and pottery her and her husband had picked up on local farms. From an early age, she had me hold these objects and think about what they were used for and how they were made. She asked me all sorts of questions that got me thinking about the people who made them. I suppose it was no surprise that later in life I chose to follow a shamanic path rather than one of the European religions.

I was in my early 30’s when I started to suspect I might have a native ancestor. I was doing genealogy work for my father’s side of the family and ended up with only one ancestor whose background remained cloudy. As I did more research on her, I began to discard possibilities of her origin when they didn’t pan out. Finally I was left with just one possibility and that was that she was Native. It was a joy to find out she was also half Shawnee. This was great, great, great Grandmother Sh’Na.

The more I found out about her, the more I began to compare her life to my own. She chose to live with a white man and in the white culture. But she was always lonely for her own people and felt she really didn’t fit in with her husband’s people.

Likewise, I have always felt somewhat outside the culture that I grew up in, never understanding their values. So I never really sought to be part of their communities. It was like I was always looking for the community I would fit in with. I’ve always naturally gravitated toward learning all I could about the various Native peoples of North America and have felt more of a kinship with them than even my closest friends whom I grew up with. When Becky Starhawk asked me if she could adopt me as a brother, I began to feel like I was finally fitting in somewhere.

Now I’m presented with the opportunity to become part of a community of people I feel I have a heritage in common with. And I would like to work to help that community grow. We share a past and hopefully a future. In finding out about Grandmother Sh’Na, it was if I could hear her voice speaking to me. I believe she’s been with me all my life as one of my guides and I think this is something she would want for me. It sort of brings her life full circle through me. The woman that left her people for a time is seeking to return through her great, great, great grandson. And I would finally be finding a home among my own people.


Mark Allen StoneBear Dierker


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
Wow, neat!
Oct. 25th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks. She gave me the app in May and I've spent the summer thinking about it. Seems like the right time now to proceed. If it goes through the ceremony to admit me would be up in Lenoir, NC.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
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