However, I think these complications and struggles were part of the reason why Jena was so informative and interesting for me, especially when thinking about American national identity. I've heard a lot of "go back to where you came from!" comments aimed towards POC immigrants, and also a lot of comments in response-- often along the lines of "the entire non-Native American population are descendants of European immigrants, so go back where you came from." I think these narratives are reflective of a complication of what it means to be American. Thinking about Germany and their former jus sanguinis laws (only recently changed to jus soli), only people with German blood and ancestry could be officially recognized as citizens. If this were the case in the US, only Native Americans would be allowed to be citizens, and the majority of people currently living in the country would no longer be legal residents. In any case or situation, it is extremely difficult and frustrating to be told, legally, socially, or otherwise, that you do not belong-- that you are an "alien" or a "visitor." However, I don't really hear these terms used towards Native Americans-- like I mentioned, I don't really think there is much of a narrative surrounding this population in hegemonic society. Perhaps this is a subversive, unconscious way to ignore faults in American history (much like the Civil War was a "fight for state's rights" and not over slavery...). Either way, this ignorance serves as a way to alienate and invalidate the Native American populations, their wants and their needs.
While over the past 5 weeks, I have learned that pinning down a definition for national identity is extremely difficult, as so many factors play into its formation and reformation. What makes a German a German and what makes an American an American is not entirely clear, and this fact is only clearer as I think more critically about my research project and post-war identity. However, I feel that it is easier to pin down what doesn't make a German a German, and same with Americans. It seems to be less complicated so complete "A German/American is not ____" rather than the same sentence in the affirmative. I don't think that anyone, including myself, would immediately think of a Native American as being "American" when asked to define a typical American national identity, even though, all things considered, Native Americans are more "American" than those with European heritage. And with sports teams and Halloween costumes that capitalize on the appropriation of their culture, it's easy to see how hegemonic structures are upheld