I'm an Oglala Lakota Woman and I Won't Be Labeled as "White-Passing"

COURTESY OF DIET COKE [UNLABELED]

"Accepting a 'white-passing' identity would deny who I am and be an act of self-genocide."

In this op-ed, Justina Bruns explains why she, a Native woman, rejects the label "white-passing."

Hān Mítakuyāpi! Čhaŋté waštéya napé čhiyúzapi Justina wašíču emacíyāpí kštō! Oglala Oyanye na North Carolina ematanhan. Brush Breaker, Randall, Gallegos, na Bruns tiospaye etan waun. Oglála Lakȟóta Wíŋ hemáčha Kštó, Čanté wašté napé čiyuzāpé!

Hello relatives, my English name is Justina. I am from both the Oglala Lakota Nation and North Carolina. I am from the Brush Breaker, Randall, Gallego, and Bruns family. I stand before you as an Oglala Lakȟóta Woman; I shake your hand with a good heart!

I want to start by saying the following words are my own. My story is not the story I would have wished for myself. However, in order to heal, I must acknowledge my reality and my truth. I do not speak for every American Indian. I do not speak for all Lakota. This is my perspective as a Lakota Woman and I share this from my heart. To elders reading this, I am sorry for speaking in front of you all.*

I am labeled by society as a white-passing, Native American woman. For me, labels act as a colonial tool that have created a sense of othering within communities.

Read more by JUSTINA BRUNS