Raccoon Gaze  


Identity Politics

I’m a raccoon.

What you need to know, first, is that being a raccoon is not the same as being a member of an American Indian family, band or clan.

For example, woven into the Sioux thread of my ancestry are the Kiyuskas, who considered themselves Bear People.

The story is told that Mahto Tatonka (Bull Bear), who was mean-spirited and spiteful, led the Kiyuskas.

One of his daughters, Bear Robe, married my ancestor Henri Chatillon, Francis Parkman’s guide on the Oregon trail.

Their daughter, Emilie, married a mixed-blood Osage.

And the rest is, well, my history.

Bear People.

But no raccoons.

Until now.

The psyche of raccoons is best articulated by actor and comedian Maria Bamford.

Bamford explains raccoons are critters that break into your kitchen, unscrew caps from bottles, and tear into food cartons leaving debris in their wake.

A raccoon tribe is called a “gaze,” which repairs to the river at night to share the loot.

As much as I would love to embrace the courage and ferocity of my ancestor bear, I’m stuck with the raccoon people.

The gaze.

Watch Maria Bamford’s take on raccoons:


Today’s blog is for Maria Bamford

Raccoon image used with permission from http://www.kisscc0.com

Day 16: Native American Heritage Month

16 November 2018






















About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in nativescience. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Raccoon Gaze  

  1. Russ L says:

    We can’t all be bears. Me, I’m a Martin. Way to own your Raccoonness! 🙂


  2. Someday tell me the quantities of the Martin!


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