Re-braiding our neglected kin : Urban Indigenous young adults fumbling to belong in the Twin Cities




Gaskill, Joseph James

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In this report, I illuminate the stories of nine Urban Native and Indigenous young adults navigating the complexities of claiming their Indigeneity. My goal is to showcase how young adults in the Twin Cities cannot belong as their full genuine selves, because of a normalized reality of neglect they embody from their community. Neglect that is fueled by forms of purity-centered authenticity that are internalized and carefully maintained to establish a specific foundation of how one must be, look, and perform their Indigeneity to belong. Emerging across generations of dehumanized Indigenous identity and the preservation of our lifeways in the west, this has created the particularistic forms of relation for what it means to be a “real” and “authentic” Native and Indigenous person that our Urban kin are propelled to strive towards as subjects to formulate our identities, but can never become. Yet, our many diverse mixed and multiethnic, queer, urban and suburban, and reconnecting young people navigate and continually resist this embodied neglect by following their joys and dreams of expanding belonging. I have come to understand this neglect and methods of navigating its limits through ethnographic interviews, observations, and community organizing work with young adults and older community members during the summer of 2023. I collected the narratives of diverse Indigenous young adults that illuminate the fumbling journeys of identity development and belonging that they face as neglected kin in their communities. This allowed me to understand more intimately the limits of belonging and relation in the Twin Cities Indigenous communities that have left young adults with various feelings of neglect as afterthoughts to their community’s relational capacities, and internalized doubt in living up to limiting expectations of Indigeneity to find belonging. Yet despite these struggles to belong, we young adults also show how following diverse avenues of self-expression and dreams push ourselves and our future kin to expand the possibilities and definitions of Indigeneity to build better, more fluidly accepting worlds of belonging today to resist these forms of subjecting Indigenous bodies, minds, and spirits to care only for an identity defined by purity-centered authenticity.



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