Hi! I tend to be asked a lot of questions by non-native people about my ethnicity. One of which being "What is it like living on a reserve?" Naturally I thought someone on Reddit might be interested, so here we are.

A little background info: Both of my parents are Native American. My mom was also born and raised on the same reserve as I. My dad was a victim of residential schools. I went to an all Native elementary school on reserve, with a curriculum based around traditional native teachings. After elementary school all the children that attend the school on reserve have to attend a public high school with non-native students from other 'feeder' schools.

The particular reserve I live on is in South-Western Ontario, and was the topic of quite a bit of controversy over the years with the "Ipperwash Inquiry". It has a population of approx. 1,020 and most of the families have been here for at least 5 generations. It is also home to a special kind of rock that is only found in one other place in the world.

Feel free to AMA!

EDIT: I can also provide proof if needed.

EDIT 2: here's proof

EDIT 3: I can't believe this made it to the front page! Thanks for taking so much interest in this, and all your questions. Also, Thank you to whoever bought me reddit gold :)

Okay guys, thanks so much for all the questions and interest! There's been some great discussions, and i'm very interested in reading your opinions and thoughts! I'm finished answering questions for tonight, but will get back to replying when I wake up!

Comments: 3906 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

crocodial784 karma

Serious question: Is it true that Native Americans have little or no pubic hair?

benhasakid776 karma

Hahaha, this question deserves an upvote. Anyway, if you're native you're either very hairy, or the complete opposite.

Thedeadmilkman456 karma

I am also a native American, lived on a reservation in California but we left after a falling out with family (i was too young to remember) I can confirm this as I have very little body hair. Being from California, everyone just assumes I'm Mexican. Even though I'm 6'4.

Here's my question, does this fad of rich white kids wearing feathers in their hair and buckskin vests annoy you as Much as it does me? Do people scoff at the idea of you finding charicatures of your heritage offensive?

In the US I get this sense that everyone just kind of thinks of natives as extinct, is this common in Canada too?

Thanks for the ama anyway, every time I've ever mentioned my heritage on reddit ice been downvoted into oblivion, but I suspect more than one occasion was caused by typos.

benhasakid384 karma

It's pretty offensive, especially when I see pictures of all these hipster kids wearing head dresses to be cool and trendy. I don't think Canadians see natives as extinct, since there's such a high native population here.

fashraf92 karma

can you explain why wearing native inspired clothing is offensive/annoying? im pakistani and it doesnt really bother me or anyone else that i know thats south asian if someone wears henna, churian (bangles) or eats butter chicken or tandoori chicken. if anything i feel glad that my culture is being absorbed and people are interested in it.

benhasakid113 karma

It's mostly because people don't know the cultural implications of what they're wearing. It's not so much clothing inspired by natives it's things like headdresses, which are sacred.

cleagles465 karma

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone about "immigrants" when they are an immigrant them-self? if so please post I would enjoy.

benhasakid1684 karma

I, personally haven't gotten in an argument with anyone over this subject but I know my mother has. I was shopping at the grocery store one day with her when there was an older man in line, talking to who I presume was his son. He started very loudly complaining about the Hispanic woman working the till and how she should be "either doing my gardening, learning better English, or moving back to Mexico instead of stealing jobs." My mom, being extremely outspoken looked at the man and said, "If that's the case, I think you should either be giving out smallpox, learning Ojibwe, or hopping on a boat and moving back to England, instead of stealing land."

cleagles807 karma

Did your mother prepare that? That's fucking awesome.

benhasakid304 karma

This is pretty much her stock reply to things of this nature, but I'm pretty positive this was the first time she said it. I think it might be her stock reply because of how hard the man's son and I laughed.

Levangeline307 karma

First of all, proof please! But after that, thank you for doing this! I'm fascinated by native culture and I'm so glad someone finally did this :) So here we go:

I live out in Alberta, on what used to be Blackfoot land. We have a pretty big reserve west of the city, belonging to the T'su T'ina (spelling?), and it's a beautiful stretch of land. Unfortunately, the natives who live off the reserve and in the city tend to get a bad rep, as a fairly large portion of the homeless population is native, and frustratingly, people tend to generalize. How do you find the treatment of First Nations people out East? While they're not necessarily treated poorly where I live, there's definitely a prejudice that has developed, and I hate it.

On a happier note; how well are the past traditions of your culture preserved? Do most tribes have a story teller, pow-wows, and all the "typical" native practices, or is that mostly a generalization of native culture? If so, what are some traditions that have lasted that are specific to your background?

I have a lot of questions but I'll keep it at that for now :)

benhasakid437 karma

The way Native people are treated where you live, is really no different than here. It is very frustrating because people tend to generalize Native's as drunk, uneducated welfare leeches. Along with that, I live in a rather rich farming area, so there's a bit of a superior attitude towards natives. People are also scared of natives and the reserve. Growing up I had a lot of non-native friends who weren't allowed to come to my house because I lived on reserve. The funny thing is, I have a nice house and live a five minute walk from the beach.

Sadly, I predict a lot of traditions fading out in the next few years. It seems to me that the younger generations of First Nation's are too preoccupied with technology to continue practicing ancient traditions. Every community has an annual pow-wow, where people can do competitive dancing, eat traditional food, see arts and crafts, among loads of other things. These are sacred, and usually involve a lot of ceremonies, and practices.

I'm a Fancy Shawl Dancer, as are all the women in my family. My brother and every other man in my family are Grassdancers. So, I suppose there are a few traditions specific to my family. My aunt is an Ojibwe language teacher at primary schools as well, so most of my family can speak our language.

schwiiz92 karma

Which language do you speak best, English or Ojibwe? What language do you speak to your family members?

benhasakid138 karma


shockzone208 karma

Any major difference in US vs Canadian Reserves?

benhasakid473 karma

I haven't been to very many reserves in the US, but from what i've seen there is a difference. It seems to me that the poverty level of Native Americans in the US is higher than here. I've also noticed the Canadian government has a lot more support for First Nations communities.

tbayaway186 karma

Throwaway for obvious reasons

I go to university in thunder bay, and with it location in the north there is a native population in the city that is notorious for not making it to university in the same numbers, causing violence, doing drugs etc

Not saying that white people aren't guilty of the same, but it just seems much more prevalent among the native population.....

How would you recommend to close the gap in the effort to raise equality?

-this is a very serious question and a very big issue in the north so I am very interested in where you see the solution....


benhasakid374 karma

This is a problem that really upsets me as a Native American. Our people fought for years to receive the rights and opportunities we have today, yet so many young people are taking it for granted. I think a major factor in this is the poverty levels of reserves. It's a bit of a cycle in my opinion, and my theory is that the cycle began with residential schools. I think the implementation of these schools and they way they were run gave education a negative connotation to Native people. Due to this, many people didn't go to school, and raised a generation of children believing education wasn't fundamental, and they 'didn't need it'. Then the cycle continues. Obviously, this would lead to poverty on reserves, which would then lead to the other problems you mentioned. This is just my theory on things though.

So, I really think the problem could be solved by the importance of education being stressed on reserves by their Chief and Councilors, the school system, the community and most importantly family. These problems are ones that are going to take a lot of initiative to solve.

DReynholm138 karma

I would like your thoughts regarding an article I read yesterday, it references the United States, but I assume its relevant to Canada as well:

Did you already know all of this or is any of this news to you?

benhasakid106 karma

I learnt all this in school :) The school on reserve focuses a lot of Native American history.

[deleted]97 karma


benhasakid248 karma

Imagine if an all non-white sports team decided to call themselves The Honkies, put someone in a costume dressed as a white person, and paraded them around at games. It's pretty insensitive and disrespectful in my opinion.

codernaut8593 karma

Can you post a picture of yourself? Would be curious to see what you look like!

tylertgbh99 karma

WOW! you're a girl!

pornsophisticate19 karma

I thought the same thing on a thread further up where she mentioned it. Then I realized her username contains the name "Ben", and figured that's what threw me.

benhasakid13 karma

it's a song by a band I like :)

SkitchInTheAM91 karma


benhasakid133 karma

They're called "Kettles" locally. I believe they can also be found in New Zealand.

Rolten87 karma

How is sex seen in your culture? Only after marriage? If not, do people start having sex earlier or later than in Western culture?

Edit: does marriage even exist in traditional culture?

[deleted]253 karma


benhasakid78 karma

I couldn't have answered this better, have an upvote.

cheeselizard81 karma

Before the down votes flood in , I'm native as well but I do not live on the reserve due to them being poorly run.

Do you think its right that in a country where we are all equal that certain people are treated better? (Less tax, free universities)

Also, do you agree that instead of reserves we should give the land to Natives to own privately?

Finally, being from the east coast I know that the reserves are poorly run due to chiefs taking money and no allocating it properly, is it the same there?

benhasakid90 karma

I fully agree with you idea on privately owning land. No, I don't think it is fair, but I also think the way native people have been treated over the years is far. I'm not validating the way the Canadian government chose to deal with the situation. I think there should be a lot less benefits, or at least a decrease in the amount of government handouts. I also think that over time, it'd be a wise decision to slowly wean off the handouts.

My reserve in particular is well run, but it is one of very, very few in this area.

nilinds52 karma


benhasakid78 karma

I've noticed only ignorant, or older people use this term. I don't get offended by it, but a know of people who do. I usually just politely correct the person and explain to them that i'm Native American. I've heard people get called Indian and burst into a long-winded rant about how Indians are from India and we are from Canada.

[deleted]49 karma


benhasakid48 karma

I honestly think it's fear of being judged. I am very proud of my culture, but not the stigma that comes with it. As much as people will say they don't judge people, everyone does it. I've been looked down on for being Native American before as i'm sure the people in your class have, because of this reason I tend to not be so open about my race.

StavTheImpaler38 karma

I live in Arizona and there are natives all over the place. I have just one question, how much do you love metal?

benhasakid59 karma

Haha, I enjoy metal quite a bit.

drNOMboss9 karma

Does your name benhasakid have anything to do with the devil wears prada song "Ben has a kid"?

benhasakid10 karma

But of course :)

Brianwilsonsbeard126 karma

How much of "traditional" Native American Culture is still present. By this I mean how different from typical American culture is the culture of the reservation. Thanks

benhasakid41 karma

A lot of tradition native culture is still present, but is obviously fading out with younger generations. Typical American culture is a lot different than culture on reserve.

7ypo24 karma

This is a question about Residential Schools. In case anyone doesn't know about the cultural genocide that was Residential Schools.

  1. a) What was your dad's recount of his experience in a residential school?

    b) Did he catch anything while there? TB?

  2. Was there a religious affiliation to the residential school he attended?

  3. Have you ever been to one in person, either as a student or a visitor?

P.S. Proof, please.

benhasakid8 karma

It's not something my father openly talks about. What I do know is from things he's told me over my entire life. I haven't asked him to go into detail about things, but I will do my best to answer your questions.

  • He didn't catch anything while there that i'm aware of.
  • The residential school he attended was Catholic
  • No, I haven't.

CaptainPeppers23 karma

I don't mean this as derogatory, but is alcoholism common in the reserves? And about attawapaskat (spelling?), do you believe that corruption in the reserve exists? They've been given something like $100 million, yet everyone is living in shitty shacks

benhasakid34 karma

Yes, alcoholism is common on reserves, but it's somewhat seen as the norm so nothing is really done about it. The most initiative people take regarding the issue to to get defensive when it's brought up.

Corruption definitely exists on reserves. I'm going to step out on a limb here and say it might be a little more prevalent.

[deleted]10 karma

My little brother in college was an Indian. New Mexico is Indian country so it isn't too unusual. The thing that struck me as very strange about Jude, is that all he wanted to do was go back to the rez and live there for the rest of his life.

I am from California, so New Mexico is already 1000 miles away. I want to see Rome, and London and Vienna. I want to see the Orient and South America. All my Little Brother wanted to do was go back to the reservation and live there among his people...

My question is this: do you see a lot of this among the people of your tribe and of the greater First Nations community in Canada? It strikes me as backwards and I think it prevents greater integration into society.

For example, when my family came to the Americas from the Old World, we were stuck in a Catholic-Italian neighborhood in New York. If the family had stayed there, I would probably be an unemployed factory worker in Buffalo. Instead, we integrated. I am not an Italian-American... I am an American. I am a decently well to do Accountant.

Do you see greater integration into Canadian society the best way to alleviate the poverty faced by first nations people?

benhasakid15 karma

Definitely not. The small amount of people I see going to college are doing what they can to leave reserve life. I may get downvoted for saying this, but I think it may help put things into perspective; reserves are essentially ghettos.

I do think integration will help the poverty issue, but only to a certain extent, and it definitely is not the best way.

LesterAmod8 karma

A Native I went to school with told me that its a huge stigma for natives to date whites. The reason I asked is that his sister was cute so maybe he just said that so I would not ask her out. Also, Im sure its different for every tribe, community.

benhasakid10 karma

As far as my community is concerned, it's seen as better to date another native but if you end up with a non-native it's not a big deal. Jokes will be made, and some people may not approve but most native families I know are very accepting :)

uRabbit6 karma

As a partial-blooded Native American, I'm happy to see this hit the front page. Unfortunately, I have my own story as well. To make it short, my grandmother burnt her papers intentionally, to "become a white woman," and to her deathbed, denied any Native American lineage (despite being 50%, her mother being full, her father being Norwegian).

benhasakid6 karma

I'm very sorry to hear that :(