Ancestors…

I need to post this.

But you probably don’t have any reason to read this. It’s too personal. It’s too close to home.

How about checking out Let’s Play a Game! or SS: Successful Night (Monster Prompt) or maybe Poem: I Did Not Write Today. Or something, anything in Archives.


I’m warning you. Go. Check out something better than this.


You’d press the button that someone told you not to, wouldn’t you?
Fine. Whatever. It’s not like anyone listens to me anyway.


I have Lenape ancestry, but I am not Indigenous.
(Also, fuck you Firefox for claiming Lenape isn’t a word.)

Cat Hartliebe' profile picture

For all intents and purposes, I am white.

To the general population, I am white.

To all POCs, I am white.

I am not looked upon as white by the purists within the white community. I am “white”.

That’s because they look at me and can see I carry blood that isn’t white. And that means I can’t be white.

So when I deal with purists, I am casted out as off or wrong or not quite right. They can’t say exactly what I am, what my ancestry is, so the common insults and racist remarks aren’t there. But I am excluded.

I won’t have to deal with the normal threats to the Indigenous population. I don’t have to speak for my tribe. I am not their face. I shouldn’t be. No one should be. The culture is so much more complicated than that. I am fucking glad I know some of it. I have some stories that passed down through the generations, although I have trouble being certain if they match with the original or if they were manipulated by the various other cultures my family contains.

But it’s not like I can go visit my ancestor’s tribe. I am on the correct land. I can listen to the same birds and trees and water as they did. But most of my cousins through that line were pushed out.

My ancestor decided instead of being kicked out by white settlers they’d join them. What they had to go through was… I couldn’t imagine.

But the fact I had Natalie’s Mother chose slavery here versus in a world she doesn’t know is based exactly on this. Her connection to a full blooded Usora takes centuries worth of generations to reach; it’s my way of showing my connection to my Lenape ancestor.

Because I have nearly two centuries worth of ancestors before reaching someone from the tribe. That’s give or take eight generations back.

More than anything, I would love to give the Lenape what they lost. But what can be given is not what is desired. All that can be offered is the land back to nature.

How often have I cried because whites do the exact opposite?

Unlike most Americans, I don’t have a claim as some country-American. Because I nearly have to go as far back as my Lenape ancestor to find someone who came from another country.

So many whites will come at you and ask where’s your family from? What’s your heritage? And I shrug. Which ancestor did they want? None of my ancestors came over and saw the Statue of Liberty in the water. They all came over to New Jersey before the statue existed. My entire family has been here for untold generations. With a few migrations into and out of New York; that’s it.

I can’t claim Indigenous. I can’t claim myself Lenape. So why is it I can claim any of the other countries my ancestors are attached to? Because I can find their history easier?

It is pretty much a common occurrence for students in school to have a culture project. Where is your family from? “No, you can’t pick America.”

How long does a family need to stay in a country to claim that is their sole culture and heritage?

What am I mostly? Because you’re white and need to know.

About half of my ancestry came from the area now called Germany. We assume. It’s probably wrong. When they came over, it was the Germanic States (or even before that) and the size was different. Knowing my family, many of them were probably lies so that they weren’t mistreated for claiming a country disliked.

As much as I wish I knew my ancestors… I also don’t. The decisions they ended up making… Many sounded like the option was death or torture.

I can’t even say if I had family walking the Trail of Tears. My tribal ancestors were still alive then. If they… If they picked the tribe… If they fought…

I will never know.

There’s so much I’ll never know.

Lenape wiki article  ;  Historic States of Germany wiki article


Why are you reading this? Didn’t I say to check out something else?

…. This part of my history hurts. I may have eluded to this before, but really… It’s a hidden part of me. It probably wouldn’t’ve been a big deal growing up except I grew up in a Sundown Town surrounded by original owners. They called the cops on my family far more than others. We were shunned just by existing.

But we were “white”, and the laws had lifted denying non whites anyway. They couldn’t be racist to us, but they wouldn’t be welcoming either.

I never felt welcome in my hometown. I couldn’t even imagine how much worse it was for those in my town who were clearly POC. Things have changed, but I look white to POC. So they think I’m just like those who excluded me my entire life. I don’t blame them. It’s better to assume the worst until proven otherwise.

Especially given my lack of awareness at times. I still get the privileges of being white. And that’s what I mark on a form. I just agree when someone claims I am. It doesn’t feel completely true. But that’s how I’m seen. That’s the life I know.

I may carry Lenape blood, but I still white. My ancestors are a piece of me I cannot give up, but they are not me.

Perhaps knowing this connection, you will notice my differences. I don’t know. Normally when I am open about it, I get treated as a white pretending or a white who’s in it to claim special marks. So it just became better to hide it even if the culture is still passed down in ways whites wouldn’t understand.


[About Cat Hartliebe]

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