May 13, 2024
#988 The Pretendian Crisis
What happens if pretendians start to outnumber actual Indigenous people?
Jesse Brown
Host & Publisher
Bruce Thorson
Senior Producer
Tristan Capacchione
Audio Editor & Technical Producer
Karyn Pugliese

The pretendian phenomenon has been known and discussed in indigenous circles for years, but it’s become mainstream Canadian news lately thanks to three big name exposés: Buffy sainte Marie, Joseph Boyden, and Michelle Latimer. These people were arguably the most famous indigenous songwriter in Canada, the most famous indigenous novelist in Canada and the most famous indigenous filmmaker in Canada. And all three were revealed to not actually be indigenous or at a minimum, all three misrepresented their ancestries and their community connections.

But they are just the tip of the iceberg. The real issue with pretendians, according to a growing chorus of Indigenous leaders, is that Indigenous identity theft is vast and it poses an existential threat to First Nations. 

In the United States, the number of people who identified themselves as native has grown from 552,000 back in 1960 to 9.7 million in 2020. That is a growth rate almost ten times as high as overall population growth in America. And most of it did not happen because new native people were born. It happened because millions of people shifted their identities. Here in Canada, we have 1.8 million people identifying as Indigenous today, up from just under half a million in 1980. That is almost a 400% increase. And again, most of it is not because indigenous people are having so many kids. Most of it is happening because so many Canadians are deciding that they’re Indigenous. So what happens when people with newly claimed and highly contested Indigenous identities outnumber the Indigenous people that precede them? 


Host: Jesse Brown 

Credits: Tristan Capacchione (Audio Editor and Technical Producer), Bruce Thorson (Senior Producer), Karyn Pugliese (Editor-in-Chief)

Featured guests: Robert Jago, Angel Ellis

Additional music by Audio Network


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