Frequently Ask Question
Q. You don’t look Indian to me. Are you some kind of wannabe, like Ward Churchill?
If you mean I don’t look like a full-blood, you’re right. I’m not a full-blood. Few Indians are full-blooded these days. Most are mixed, to some degree. Our tribal constitution used to stipulate that, if you’re at least one-quarter Comanche, you’re Comanche. I’m a lot more than one quarter. (In recent years, the constitution was amended to stipulate 1/8 blood quantum.) My father was white, but my mother was Comanche (and also part Chickasaw). Mom was a lifelong enrolled member of the Comanche nation. As her son, I am Comanche too. I have been an enrolled member of the tribe since I was born.
Q. I read on a Web site that you were adopted, and that you’re not really Comanche.
That adoption story is the latest effort to discredit me as a spokesman for American Indian causes. Some people believe there’s no room in America for a conservative Indian. They can’t stop me from being conservative, so they’re doing the next best thing; they’re trying to deny that I’m an Indian. Recently, a number of individuals and media institutions began spreading the rumor that I was adopted. They are lying. My Certificate of Live Birth can be viewed at this link. It clearly indicates that I am who I am, and that my parents are really my parents. I have retained an attorney to sue every person and institution involved in spreading this lie. My Legal Defense Fund is raising money to pursue this litigation.
Q. Okay, so you’re Comanche. Why then do you promote American patriotism? America slaughtered your people. You should hate America!
Actually, there’s nothing remarkable about a patriotic Indian. Most American Indians are extremely patriotic. We have the highest rate of military service, proportionately, of any racial or ethnic group in America. Nearly one out of every ten Indians serves in the armed forces. But, yes, there are a few Indians who hate America. There aren’t many, but they seem to get all the press. These are the professional radicals who make their living by picking fights with white people over stupid issues like banning Columbus Day. In return for their hateful outpourings, they receive grants, professorships, major book deals, Hollywood acting gigs and non-stop media attention. Bashing America is a lucrative business. But I’m not interested in making money that way. Like most Indians, I love my country, and I have no interest in picking fights with white people.
Q. If you’re so patriotic, why have you never served in the armed forces?
I come from a family of veterans, on both sides. Since childhood, I always wanted to join the military. But my health did not permit it. One summer, I tried to enlist in the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines, the Army and even the Coast Guard. But the moment I took off my shirt, they saw the biopsy and surgical scars, and that was that. You see, I’ve been been struggling with cancer, on and off, since I was eleven years told. I nearly died from that first bout; a fast-growing thoracic tumor. Cobalt treatments left me burned and scarred. I wasn’t supposed to live to be sixteen. But I did. Cancer struck again when I was a graduate student at Yale Divinity School. A slice of my lung was removed and I underwent chemotherapy. The third time I got cancer, I almost lost hope. But I lived. The cancer is gone, at least for now. But I’m afraid I’ll never be of much use to the armed forces. So I try to serve my country in other ways.
Q. Why are you so solicitous of Jews?
A special reverence for Jewish people is natural and proper for any Christian who believes and understands the message of Scripture. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, I was raised on Bible stories. The first time I met a Jew, I was awestruck at finding myself in the presence of a living person who shared kinship with the prophet Moses. I don’t think I ever outgrew that childhood wonder. To live in the presence of actual descendants of the prophets and patriarchs is a privilege for which I thank God every day.
Q. You say you’re a Christian. Isn’t Christianity the white man’s religion?
Christianity came from the Holy Land, and spread to Egypt and Ethiopia before it ever reached Europe. It belongs to no particular race of people. It is God’s gift to us all.
Q. I read somewhere that you hate black people. Is that true? Are you a racist?
Actually, I love black people. Always have. I daresay none of my liberal detractors loves black people as I do. Certainly none have demonstrated that love through action, as I have done. For six years, from 1981 to 1987, I worked fulltime counciling emotionally-disturbed, inner-city black kids, first at the St. Francis Home for Children in New Haven, CT, then at the ACES Academy in Hamden, CT. Most people in that line of work burn out after two years. I stayed in it for six. I don’t believe any of my liberal critics have labored in those particular vineyards for any length of time whatsoever. They are too busy talking about how much they love black people. But words are cheap. Love is action.
Q. As an Indian, why do you compose classical music? Isn’t that white man’s music?
White Europeans invented classical music. There is no doubt about that. As a Comanche, I have no hesitation in recognizing the glory of this European art form and taking part in it. Remember, the white man also brought us the horse. That was a fine thing too!