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ATLANTA — Through the years, getting thrown into the “other” box when being identified by demographers has caused angst among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Some tribal leaders have given getting past “other” speeches to get more respect for the labels put on Native people.

During CNN’s coverage of the 2020 election Tuesday night, producers unveiled a new term: “Something Else.”

The slide used to breakdown voting percentages of racial/ethic groups read like this:

  • White
  • Latino
  • Black
  • Something Else
  • Asian

“All I can say is, unbelievable,” reacted Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Ogema Larry Romanelli in an email on Wednesday to the “something else” label.

Native Americans began posting memes and “something else” comments on social media.

“Something else? That’s horrible. And yes, Native Americans exist and have a voice. Keep speaking up,” one Facebook post read.

In Chicago, Native artist Santiago X came up with a t-shirt using the novel idea of calling Native people something else.

Native American cartoonist Ricardo Caté found the humor in the new label. 

The new label inspired Rainy Dawn Ortiz to pen “More than something else.” The daughter of Joy Harjo, the United States Poet Laureate, and Simon Oritiz, Rainy Dawn’s talent shines throughout the poetry.

More Than Something Else

Something Else.

Some one else

Some where else

That place is here,

In my home,

We are here.

I am brown,

Brown hair,

Brown eyes,

Like cookies Feather tells me, and I like to think it’s perfectly cooked Pueblo cookies.

My kids are something else,

9 different shades of brown,

All beautiful.

My grandkids are something else,

4 brown eyes, 2 blue eyes,

All Native,

Definitely something else, as I watch them be rowdy, be loving, be here in this world.

We are here

On this earth

In this time and place

In our homes,

On our lands,

In the cities,

With our families, laughing loudly, cooking together, protecting each other.

We are something else

With our songs

Our dances.

We pray with corn meal,

Eagle feathers,

Medicine bundles,

Burn some sage, make sure to acknowledge the four directions, as the sun comes up.

We are the something else,

Who were here,

To greet Christopher Columbus

We were born from

This earth,

Crawled out of the center,

Of our mothers womb, we are important, we are strong.

We are something else,

We are Pueblo people, Plains people, Forest People, Desert people, Nomadic people, Cliff dwellers, Ocean fishers, Lake and river fishers, hunters,, medicine collectors, horse riders, artists, speakers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, we are human beings.

We are something else,

We are Native People,

Indigenous to this land.

We are a proud,

Something else.

Rainy Dawn Ortiz, November 4th, 2020

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