Tucker Carlson, There’s More to Deb Haaland Than Her Norwegian Surname

Deb Haaland. Image Credit: democrats.com

Tucker Carlson, as I wrote in my last post, is attacking Deb Haaland’s appointment as Interior Department Secretary because of the “accident of birth” she has: that is, her Native American ancestry. Carlson says that if she were red-headed, left-handed, or tall, we wouldn’t applaud those things. If we wouldn’t applaud those physical characteristics, why applaud what she looks like?

But we’re not necessarily applauding what she looks like because, well, for an obvious reason, ancestry is more than appearance. Race is more than skin tone, though skin tone is a part of race. And with regard to Deb Haaland’s physical appearance, she appears to be Native American. Having a Native American parent as Haaland does only seals the deal in the minds of Native Americans. There are some people who “appear” to have Native American skin that don’t have one drop of Native American ancestry, so ancestry is more than appearance. Tucker Carlson hasn’t thought much about this because, if he did, he wouldn’t attack her as Native American only on the basis of what Haaland looks like. His attack is, first and foremost, a naive one based on assumptions without evidence. Anyone doing DNA studies, tests, and research understands that one can have Spanish ancestry, for example, but appear to be merely Caucasian.

In this post, though, I’m going to dive into the other part of Carlson’s attack on Deb Haaland: her Norwegian ancestry.

Tucker carlson: “Haaland” is norwegian

“On the other hand, ‘Haaland’ sounds very much like a Scandinavian name…Deb Haaland is every bit as much Scandinavian as she is American Indian. Her father was Norwegian. That means that, in addition to everything else, Deb Haaland is America’s first Norwegian-American Interior Secretary since Thomas Kleppe served in the Ford administration 50 years ago. In their quiet brooding way, the Scandinavian community, we can tell you, is beaming with pride. Finally one of ours has made it. Little girls with names like Larson, Hanson and Dahl will watch Cabinet meetings on C-SPAN and know that they too have a chance to oversee one-fifth of the American land mass someday. When Deb Haaland speaks, she’ll be speaking for millions of Norwegian Americans, people whose ancestors have been here in the Americas for more than 1,000 years. Their voices can now be heard. Deb Haaland, hero to the Nordic people. She’s welcome in our sauna anytime,” Tucker Carlson said facetiously on his Fox News broadcast.

I want to cover a few things Carlson says here, in the order he said them.

native american ancestry is nothing to make fun of

Carlson is being facetious when he speaks about Deb Haaland’s appointment. He forgets that, as a man of heavily European descent, he and his fellow Caucasian/European males have always had it better in this country than women and people of color (POC) because they were born white and male. When he speaks on “accidents of birth,” he acts as though he’s oblivious to the fact that he’s benefited from his own “accidents of birth” as both Caucasian/European and male (gender). He’s been the beneficiary of accidents of birth, so how can he hypocritically look at Deb Haaland and criticize her? It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle white while forgetting that it, too, is white.

But this is all being done to mock Haaland’s appointment because she’s Native American. His issue seems to be with Native Americans, though he doesn’t mock her Native American ancestry directly by attacking Native American customs, traditions, and history. But Native American ancestry is nothing to make fun of. She’s the first Native American appointed to the Interior Department, and she’s a sign of an administration willing to work with Native people to respect their lands and way of life. This is in large contrast to the Trump administration whose Commander-In-Chief, Donald John Trump, mocked a Caucasian Senator, Elizabeth Warren, because she is also Native American. Carlson, you’re giving yourself a bad reputation to follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump and mock a Native American. Racism doesn’t look good on you.

“haaland” is Norwegian, and Haaland’s Norwegian ancestry is worth celebrating

“Haaland” is, to Carlson’s point, a Norwegian name, and it means that Haaland does possess Norwegian ancestry. And since it does, Haaland is part-Norwegian and should celebrate her Norwegian ancestry. I don’t know all the details, but Haaland says on the photo above that she grew up “in my mother’s Pueblo household.” What we can see from this statement is that Haaland grew up with her mother and thus, was raised Native American. It’s likely the case that she may not have been raised by her father. He may never have had a hand in raising her. I can certainly attest to being raised in a divorced home where, after my father left my mother and my mother received sole custody of me and my twin sister, my father was rather nonexistent until the start of my college years.

Perhaps Haaland was raised solely by her mother. Considering her father is now gone, she may never have had a close relationship with him. Maybe she did. But her statement above says to me that she identifies with her mother; most children raised in a two-parent home have a loving perspective toward both parents, and mention them in the same sentence. Haaland doesn’t. If Haaland was only raised by her mother, then she would only celebrate her Native American ancestry and heritage.

This doesn’t mean that Haaland shouldn’t celebrate her Norwegian ancestry. It’s worth celebrating because she bears her father’s people in her veins — just like she bears her mother’s people and ancestry. Deb Haaland should celebrate all that she is. But, to her defense, her Native American mother, if she lacks Norwegian ancestry, doesn’t know much about Norwegian history, culture, and heritage. So Deb Haaland, raised by her Native mother, would only know her mother’s heritage. I am tri-racial, a Native American/African-American/European mix, but my African-American mother raised me in the absence of my Caucasian father. Until I started my own DNA studies, I was raised to believe I was African-American and Native American — and those two categories only. And since I couldn’t gather a paper trail of my Native American ancestry, I was raised exclusively African-American. It’s not hard to see how Deb Haaland might claim only her Native American ancestry because she was raised solely by her Native mother.

Haaland’s native american ancestry is key to her appointment, not her norwegian ancestry

The whole point behind Deb Haaland’s appointment is her Native American ancestry, not her Norwegian ancestry. Plenty of Norwegians (Europeans) have served in cabinet positions over the years, but very few have ever served as Native Americans. Take a look at the Trump administration 4 years ago. While Trump did have an African-American Housing and Urban Development Secretary (Ben Carson) at the helm, he had no Native American cabinet members. There was also an African-American Surgeon General, but again, no Native American cabinet members. Deb Haaland is stepping into a role that few Natives throughout US History have filled, and it’s high time for a Native to step into a major role. After all, Natives have never really received their due for settling what we know as the 50 states first. They got here before Columbus, and they should be credited with discovering America.

There are plenty of Norwegians that have served in cabinet positions over the years. That part about Deb Haaland’s ancestry isn’t what makes her cabinet appointment exciting. The fact that she is Native American is the sole reason why her appointment is so noteworthy. President Joe Biden has clinched over 80 million popular votes in the 2020 presidential election, with African-Americans and Native Americans having voted for him in large numbers. And now, Biden is making good on his promise to represent People of Color (Natives and Blacks) in positions within his cabinet and government.

Haaland is norwegian, but her ancestry is biracial

Carlson points to Haaland as Norwegian in nature. It is, but that doesn’t cancel out the fact that her ancestry is ultimately biracial: she has a Norwegian father, but a Native American mother. Carlson focuses on her Norwegian ancestry and the fact that her father is Norwegian to say that Haaland can’t celebrate being Native because she’s Norwegian.

But what does being Norwegian have to do with being Native American? Nothing.

Haaland has a surname that is Norwegian, but that doesn’t prevent her from celebrating her Native American heritage because, well, she’s biracial. She’s of biracial descent. Both her parents are of different races, and they come together in her person. Genetically, she comes from both backgrounds. Carlson acts as though she can’t celebrate being Native American because she’s Norwegian, but that’s silly. Some cousins I’ve met through DNA testing come from both Jewish and German heritage. It’s not at odds when you consider that each child is a representation of both their parents. When two parents come from two distinct races, their children fit the textbook definition of biracial descent.

why i believe deb haaland

My last name is Richardson. My last name was originally recorded in Scotland, but you’d likely be surprised to learn that I have remote Scottish ancestry. I have more English ancestry (from England in the UK) than I do Scottish or even Irish ancestry. This means that my father has more English ancestry than Scottish as well. We have remote Scottish ancestry but recent English ancestry. At Ancestry.com, I have 33% English and northwestern European ancestry; at 23andme, it’s 37%. It’s also 37% at MyHeritage. My surname, originally Scottish, has more roots in the United Kingdom for me than in Scotland.

And I too have Scandinavian ancestry, as does Haaland. Haaland’s father is Norwegian, but I have broad Scandinavian ancestry. What this means is that I possess ancestry from not only Norway but also Denmark and Sweden — the two additional Scandinavian countries. Genomelink, another DNA service, says that I have a large amount of European ancestry and strong Scandinavian Viking ancestry. MyHeritage later confirmed it when the company told me in a report that I have at least 10.4% Scandinavian ancestry. I have more Scandinavian ancestry and Asian ancestry than I do Irish and Scottish ancestry, combined. In fact, if I had to quantify it, I’d say I’m 2.5 times more Scandinavian and Native American than I am Irish and Scottish.

And so, when Carlson attacks Deb Haaland for her Norwegian ancestry, I take offense at it because I understand Haaland’s background, to some extent. She was raised in her mom’s household, as was I, and she identifies as Native American because of her mother’s ancestry (I identified as solely African-American for 25 years because I too, was raised by my mother). She has a European father, as do I.

And when Carlson mentions that Haaland’s appointment means that little girls “with the names Hanson and Dahl” can “watch C-Span” and be proud of her accomplishment/achievement, I identify with that statement too. Why? Well, both surnames, Hanson and Dahl, run in my family. Dahl is the Norwegian form, but there are two Americanized/Anglicized forms of Dahl that are major surnames in my family: Dale and Deal. My paternal grandma has first cousins with these “Dahl” derivative surnames. And the Dahl/Diell/Deal/Dale surname(s) in my family comes under another major surname in my family tree. Hanson is also a family surname, though not as immediate as Deal/Dale/Diell/Dahl, etc. So yes, by virtue of my own family tree, I can prove that I too, have Norwegian ancestry. Additionally, MyHeritage has also connected me with Dahls, fourth cousins that live in Norway.

But, despite my Norwegian/Scandinavian ancestry, I, like Deb Haaland, am also Native American. I’ve done half a dozen DNA tests, which show that I have as much as 10-12% Native American ancestry. That’s not enough to equal Haaland’s Native ancestry, I’m sure (with a full-blooded Native parent, a child could be 50% Native American), but it’s enough to own up to my Native roots. And in addition to being Scandinavian and Native American, I’m also African-American, a good 50% African-American by way of my mother. Though my surname (Richardson) is Scottish/English, I have Scandinavian, Native American, and African ancestry. See? I’m triracial, so I understand that ancestry is mixed and not as simplistic as Carlson wants to make it.

It’s naive to point to someone’s surname to make a point about ancestry. The truth of the matter is that surnames matter, but family trees matter, and DNA tests matter, too. Just because someone has a Norwegian name doesn’t preclude that person from having Native American, Hispanic, or African-American roots. And just because that person has a Norwegian name, one shouldn’t assume they’re Norwegian to the exclusion of their biracial or triracial makeup. Large numbers of Americans come from mixed ancestry. The idea that most Americans are “pure anything” is a myth. All you need to do to prove this is undergo a series of DNA tests from reputable companies such as Ancestry, 23andme, MyHeritage, Genomelink, Gedmatch, Living DNA, Family Tree DNA, and others.

But something tells me Carlson doesn’t care about all this because, to be frank, Carlson doesn’t really have a stake in the fight regarding Deb Haaland’s ancestry. For Carlson, it’s the appointment of a Democratic congressman (in this case, a Democratic female congressman) that makes it problematic. I’ve written this not for the sake of those who don’t care, but for those who do.

There’s more to Deb Haaland than her Norwegian surname.