Usually when you write your introduction paragraph you’re supposed to start with something clever. I have nothing clever this time, I’m sorry, you can stop reading now if you wish. I wouldn’t blame you. In a perfect world for this ePortfolio entry I would have loved to start with an inspirational anecdote about how I chose my research paper topic. Unfortunately, nothing inspirational happened. I was just rollin’ around in bed one night, unable to sleep, and thought if I can’t fall asleep, I might as well do something useful. The useful thing I decided to do was think of my research paper topic. Great story, right? I guess it shows how lame I am, maybe that’s entertaining.
Anyway, as I was tossing-and-turning in bed I began to really think hard about some research topics. Do I want to write about Native Americans and descent patterns? Or maybe Native Americans and their issues with ensuring that their languages don’t end up like Latin, the dead language that some high schoolers learn because they think it’ll help them on the SAT. Maybe it was all my rolling, but these topics didn’t inspire me. They just seemed like dry academic topics. What made me finally focus and help me get settled in my comfy, dorm bed was not treating Native Americans like research subjects, but like people. I feel like learning to understand Native Americans as a people and not as some historical relic is one of the purposes of the class. I think this is why Sioui’s autohistory is important. It helped me understand that Native Americans have their own stories, their own perspective, and their own issues. Thus, for my research project I wanted to hear the Native American story as told by Native Americans. In order to achieve this goal, I plan on visiting the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and listening to what they want to talk about. Optimally, I would be allowed to interview them and record what they have to say on camera so that I don’t misinterpret anything they say. However, I would completely understand if they didn’t want to be recorded because I know I hate being on camera. Specific topics I might address with the Lumbee Tribe include their issues with federal recognition, problems with the Cherokee, and as an accounting major I would also be interested in any concerns they have with their businesses and economy.
This research topic is important to me because I really want to learn about the Lumbee Tribe and attempt to understand their present day life. What problems do they face on a day to day basis? What issues really makes them ticked? What makes them happy? What do they take pride in? How different is their life than my life? Maybe, a privileged white American who can’t fall asleep at night has more similarities with the Lumbee tribe than we would all initially think. One of my favorite psychology quotes (not sure if that’s a thing) is from Dan Gilbert, who states “if you’re like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people”. Perhaps then, the Lumbee tribe isn’t that much different at all. Given their situation of being relinquished to a reservation without federal recognition, how much different would I act, how much different would anyone act? Perhaps, that is the real research question, and it’s the type of inquiry that piques my interest every day. We may all be unique, but how are we all similar? I realize the Lumbee tribe may not want to tell me everything and completely open up their culture up to me. However, that would make sense to me because I don’t completely open up myself to every stranger that I stumble upon, and in that way we might be similar. Who knows what are similarities are? Who knows what are differences are? I don’t and that’s why I’ve picked this topic and hope to learn what I can from the Lumbee Tribe. (In case you were wondering this is about when I fell asleep and it was like 6am, and then I overslept my 8am tax class. Stupid accounting.)