Dear Northzone 5,
I think that perhaps you misunderstand. It would seem to me that Nerd was telling that story
1. just to tell a story and
2. to point out how people use all these romanticized ideals-of all kinds of groups, not just native peoples.
I feel that I am a bit informed in this particular area because I have lived in Navajoland and have had a number of native friends. Some want to be called Native Americans, some just want to be called Indians. Truth be told, I have found racism (which can go both ways) involving native peoples in this country to be quite a bit stronger as you move east rather than west. But that has been my personal experience. In the end, you must simply treat every person and every encounter as unique. In general I find that there is not a whole lot of appreciation for people constantly saying “what tribe are you” which is responded to with a great deal of eye rolling, but I have always found that if you are genuine and show the proper respect that eventually they will invite you to partake in a number of jokes that involve race and culture.