I read a bit of his Vine Deloria, Jr. books and one of the issues in there is how indians, at least their history, got "popular" in the 70s around the time of the environmental movement and suddenly EVERYONE had some great-grandmother who was an indian princess. It was always a maternal figure (we want to think of nice white men rescuing the ladies from savages, not the other way around) and always gave us some deep connection to the Earth.
Add this to the complication that we're near Oklahoma, where millions of Native Americans were forced to live at one time or another... particularly the Cherokee. The Cherokee nation was not only huge but many of them adapted early to European ways. They dressed, spoke, and associated like white Americans. Married white americans. Had children. LOTS of children. So many children, in fact, that being part Cherokee really just means that you were born somewhere in America... but people still act like it's incredibly unique.
The second marc explains that he's not just a really tall mexican, out come the percentages and fractions. Usually, no one can prove anything and no one is registered with a tribe. No one knows about the indian rights movement, AIM, the BIA or reservation laws. In fact most people like to believe that the last indian was killed at wounded knee, and that the best way to be aware of native american issues is to buy CDs of flute music and hang up black and white photos of old guys wearing headdresses.
Sadly that's not the case. You can't get in touch with the earth around you by listening to family rumors about grandmothers. If you want stories you have to find real stories, do real research, and get some up-to-date information on what indigenous people are up to these days. Support a cause. Go to a protest. There are still millions of current issues out there to be familiar with.
I'm not trying to pretend like I know everything or relate to indians on a different level because I'm close to one. But based on my experience, I don't think I'm too far off base if I just ask people to drop the percentages, please? It's not only boring, but it also makes you just like every other American... thinking first of indians who died a long long time ago, and enforcing the idea that indigenous people in this country only get to have a past and not a future.