Amid a maelstrom of "fake news reports" of indictments, sullied security clearances, resignations, forced resignations, removals and other such sundry vitriol among the many faces of the presidential administration, one name has gone unnoticed under society's radar. His Highness, or as he is called by many in Native American country "The Great Orange Father," has appointed Kaya Jones, aka Chyrstal Neria, to the National Diversity Coalition as the Native American Ambassador.
Out of the wide range of known Native American leaders to choose from, who is Kaya Jones, you may ask. Let us discover the wolf in mutton's clothing.
Ms. Jones/Neria purports herself to be either 40 percent or half Apache (not from any particular Nation or recognized tribe, just the generic Apache) through her father Christopher Neria. Apache is a term used for broad range of peoples who speak a similar language. There are several autonomous Apache nations who are politically sovereign and have their own distinct requirements for membership. In and of itself, 40 percent is an odd figure in calculating one's ancestry, but I digress. She claims her father is from the Apache reservation in Dallas, Texas. There never has been any land held in trust for any Apache tribe in the state of Texas.
Ms. Jones also asserts that she was a member of the pop group The Pussy Cat Dolls. They have denied any formal affiliation with Ms. Jones. She has sung on some of their songs but was never officially listed as a member and has used her time associated with the "band" to create more scandal. She has intimated that the Dolls were nothing more than prostitutes and that managers and handlers told them with whom to sleep.
After the grand proclamation that Ms. Jones was now the emissary 'tween the sovereign nations of Indigenous Native America and the U.S. Government, people in Indian Country (actual Native Americans, no less) quickly came to peek at the illusion that was being perpetrated on us.
Preliminary investigative information regarding her genealogy found nothing to substantiate her personal declaration of Native ancestry. It was easy to find online, where she was looking for any connection to any aboriginal lineage as she sought confirmation on his Trumpness' favorite medium of communication, Twitter.
Copies of her grandparents' birth certificates indicate no Native blood. But in all honesty, in the era that her grandparents were from, it was best to be as close to white as possible. According to my paternal family's legends, my own Creek great-grandmother passed herself as white on the Alabama census of 1880 so she would not incur the wrath of the Klu Klux Klan, which had been engaged to conduct that decade's enumeration. It could be that Ms. Jones' grandparents similarly hid their heritage.
Suffice it to say, from a cursory glance, it appears that Kaya Jones does not have any American Indian bloodline, lineage, relatives, ties or accurate claim to any American Indian tribe.
The ancestry trace did show she had family from Sicily and Mexican ancestry. The Spanish conquistadores who subjugated, Christianized, brutalized and dominated Mesoamerica, in a theocratical oligarchy-fueled frenzy of manifest destiny, indeed planted their Iberian seed among Native women. So 'tis true that Ms. Jones may have some Native roots, albeit very tenuous and, at best, unsubstantiated to this point. Clearly this alone does not give her the provenance to represent American Indians in any official capacity.
The Donald has a long history of negative relations with American Indians. In his days as a mere billionaire playboy (when he boasted brazenly on tape about groping women), he butted heads with Native nations on issues of gaming. In 1988, he filed a federal lawsuit in which he declared the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act "unconstitutional and discriminatory." So much for his understanding of tribal sovereignty.
In his 1993 testimony in front of the U.S. House Committee on Native American Affairs, he declared that Native leaders did not look like Indians to him. While this litmus test is beyond ridiculous, he went on to assert even more absurdly that it was unfair that "Indians don't pay tax but I do." He has since disavowed the notion that he needs to pay taxes as, by dodging them, he is merely showing his business acumen.
What is the point of all this litany? According to the current unKluxed Census, there are nearly 6.6 million American Indians in the United States. You ought to be able to find one with a tribal roll card (hint: it doesn't even have to be from a federally recognized tribe, just find a real Native American who has been to a reservation or their native land, perhaps.)
Just my two dentailia's worth.
André Cramblit is a Karuk tribal member from the Klamath and Salmon rivers in northwest California, and the Health Promotions and Education Manager for United Indian Health Services, Inc. He lives with his wife Wendy and son Kyle, and still warily travels the trails of Northwestern California.