Joseph Boyden, where are you from? – The Globe and Mail – Ethnic fraud, in general, takes up time, space and resources. In a Canada finally aiming to include indigenous peoples and offer limited restitution, there are grants and awards targeting those in the arts marginalized by colonialism. The list of brilliant and deserving but barely surviving indigenous writers and artists is very long. So when (already privileged) writers claim prizes for their performance instead of real indigenous peoples, the result is material harm as well as insult.
Ethnic fraud sabotages the necessary work of rebuilding indigenous nations. In his statements, Mr. Boyden has invoked Anishinaabe, Nipmuc, Métis, Two-Spirit and Bear Clan affiliations (this week he squarely identified as Anishinaabe). These terms are not hollow or symbolic. They situate individuals in a framework that requires obligations and accountability to communities. Misleading claims, void of embodiment, break tenuous indigenous social systems down even further.
Ethnic fraud alienates those struggling to find their identities. Indigenous identity has been fragmented by maze-like colonial categories. So this discussion is not easy. For those adopted or taken away from their communities, or those dealing with assimilation’s toll; there are the light-skinned and light-eyed, the tens of thousands raised in cities, and of course the utterly devastating insistence on blood quantum by the federal government. Many of the individuals trying to make their way back are all the more confused by the inconsistent and shifting parameters set by prominent ethnic frauds.