Notes on requesting information...

What is a Wannabe?

From NatChat Mailing List ( on 6/8/1996
by Carey James
Reprinted here with permission

A wannabe is a non-native who demands to know and be involved in and participate in "native religion" (which there is not ONE), and then when they are refused, they get angry and resentful and say things like "it's my right" and "the Earth is MY mother,too" and "if you don't teach me your religion, how am I supposed to learn the 'native spirit'" and "I feel that I have a native spirit" and other stuff like that. A wannabe thinks only of him or herself, and doesn't consider why a native person wouldn't want to share their most sacred ceremonies and meetings and prayers and traditions with a total stranger. A wannabe doesn't care to realize that each tribe's traditions are verbal and handed down from generation to generation and take a lifetime to learn as well as earn.

A wannabe looks at an elder whos face is full of peace and thinks, 'hey, they look happy, if I do what they're doing I'll be happy, too.' A wannabe does not take the time to get to know the person and hear about their young life, their struggles, be it with "fitting in" with the white society (as if that's ever 100% possible), or abuse, or alcoholism, or deaths in the family, or being adopted out to non-native parents, or losing their language, or being told by the Federal Government that their tribe doesn't exist, or losing their right to fish and hunt, or having to get a permit to worship in their sacred places, or the countless other things that Natives walk hand-in-hand with every day.

A wannabe wants a quick fix, or, if not a quick fix then a slightly slower conversion. Like converting from one religion to some books, take some tests, and then you're a full-fledged spirchul indian. Well it does't work that way. Adult natives are still learning every day. Wisdom and peace come through learning and listening and trying to understand, and there are some lessons that just cannot be handed over to someone else on a platter (not that they would be). Wannabes don't realize that peace and self-esteem come from within. And they are usually horrified, upset, disturbed, amazed, and/or disbelieving when someone tells them so, or thinks that they are being abused and mistreated when given the facts. Hope this helps.

Thank you for making us think Carey!

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© 1996 Tara Prindle.