I Am a Half-Breed

Both sides were against me since the day I was born *


OK, I’m not exactly a half-breed, but then neither is Cher, and she sang a song titled “Half-Breed” that made everyone think she was. A half-breed, that is. Apparently, “Half-Breed” (about a woman born to a Cherokee mother and a white father) was written by lyricist Mary Dean especially for Cher. Now, Cher is half-Armenian and half a bunch of other stuff, BUT! she supposedly had a great-great grandparent who was Cherokee.

And . . . so do I!

So if Cher gets to call herself a half-breed, then I do, too. Seriously, my great-great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee who lived in Oklahoma. Maybe I’d know more about her and the rest of my Cherokee People if the white man hadn’t taken the whole Cherokee nation and put them on this reservation.

I wish I could say I’m proud of my heritage and I honor the memory of my people and stuff, but pretty much all this means to me and my brother (who, tho he wears a shirt and tie, is still part red man deep inside) is that we bust out “Half-Breed” and crack ourselves up.

My father married a pure Cherokee
My mother’s people were ashamed of me
The Indians said I was white by law
The White Man always called me “Indian Squaw”

Half-breed, that’s all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, she’s no good, they warned
Both sides were against me since the day I was born

We never settled, went from town to town
When you’re not welcome you don’t hang around
The other children always laughed at me
“Give her a feather, she’s a Cherokee”

Repeat Chorus

We weren’t accepted and I felt ashamed
Nineteen I left them, tell me who’s to blame
My life since then has been from man to man
But I can’t run away from what I am

I’m not sure what nationality Cher is now—the Botox makes it hard to tell. Maybe she should just come clean and refer to herself as a “part-breed,” a term I’ve coined to designate my own status as part-Cherokee/part a bunch of other stuff. In fact, I’m working on an updated version of “Half-Breed.” Tell me what you think:

My grandpa’s grandma was a Cherokee
I don’t know what the hell that makes me
My mom is German and my dad’s a Scot
But I can’t run away from what I’m NOT!!!

That’s what they’re gonna say
It describes how I was made
I’m a breed of many parts

There are two more verses, but at least it’s a START!

OK, so Mary Dean doesn’t have anything to worry about.

Did You Know?
  • In 1973, “Half-Breed” topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks
  • Shania “Ojibwa Indian” Twain covered the song in 1999
  • The term “half-breed” is considered pejorative, as is the term “mutt” (also used to describe people of mixed ethnicities). Wait for it: Shania Twain married . . . Mutt Lange!
If you want to be a half-breed:

And just you all wait: some day when they’ve learned, Cherokee nation will return.

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of Mary Dean, via Cher, with a little extra lyrical help from Paul Revere and the Raiders