Guest Editorial . . .
I am dumbfounded over these Southeast "Indians" and their continual denial of their misuse of Plains Indian culture. Over the last 15 years of living in the Southeast, it seems to me this problem just keeps growing and growing. Every year we see a new "tribe," a new group calling themselves Indian-this, community-that, Indian association wannabes. Like Frankenstein's monster they will do their damnedest to bring it to life.
Lets take it a step at a time, to make it understandable for those for whom the shoe may fit.
NCNativeNews is correct in its report on how "pow-wows" are a borrowed convention from the Plains Tribes/Nations. But in a society that has consistently borrowed and stolen cultural traditions from other people, does that justify the misuse, the bastardization of other people’s traditional ways? You need only attend a Southeastern pow-wow to come to the conclusion that there are those who want to justify their New Age Manifest Destiny as their inherent right.
What is considered cultural appropriation to them is nothing short of cultural genocide to the vast majority of Native American people. To these "culturally lacking injuns," everyone else's tribal traditions are up for grabs and to hell with what we Native Americans have to say about it.
When are we as Native people going to take back control on how we allow our cultural values to be used? We seem to have some fear of being "The One" who is willing to say something, to let wannabe's, hobbyists, and other Indians too for that matter, know that their disregard for established protocol won't fly any more. If there is one thing that turns my craw it's got to be a Pow-wow Indian, the "Weekend Warrior mentality," those who turn a blind eye to the dishonorable behavior that seems to be the norm at pow-wows in the Southeast.
But even through this Boy Scout Jamboree atmosphere there yet is a few who are willing to make the effort to guide those ignorant in our ways with their mistakes. Put aside your attitude, open your ears and quit getting your feelings hurt.
Stroking each other’s egos on places like PowWows.com is for the wannabes and hobbyists. Just look who tries to pass themselves as being Indian. Big difference when you meet them in person. It is these very same wannabes who demand THEY set the criteria on who Native people accept as Indian. Brings to my mind the very webmaster of that site. I had the feeling I was actually dealing with a skin until I met him in person.
Now as for the AICA dog and pony show at Union Grove, NC, I have to agree that after 23 years it seems someone would have taught these hobbyists some proper respect. It should embarrass every skin out there to read some of the back patting posts blabbed about this pow-wow on PowWows.com. Yet another attempt for the non-Indians to shove their will and agenda down our throats.
Where do I start? Oh, intertribal dancing started at 3:00 p.m.!
No grand entry. Yes you read right, NO GRAND ENTRY. Dancers just picked any old spot to start from while the small Native American contingent of dancers stood there waiting, dumbfounded.
Let’s see if you can find the head man and woman dancers. On but a VERY FEW songs did they even bother to lead the dancing. During the first of many blanket dances Saturday afternoon, the head woman dancer showed up half way through the song, and that was the norm for her all the rest of the day. She was either late to dance or not there at all. I did notice her full-grown son trailing along like a good little boy. So, Tied To Her Apron, please make sure your mother is on time should she ever be asked to dance in that role again.
Chocked full o'nuts and hobbyists? You bet! Maybe 12-14 Indians from about 130 dancers and believe me, being a skin at that place was like carrying the EBOLA VIRUS.
Finally, some of the Lakota contingent which consisted of two veterans confronted two powwow committee members I could round up to voice their concerns about the continued tardiness if the head dancers. I was literally told to go f#@$ myself. YEAH, these folks have the audacity to talk to veterans in such a manner at a so-called “pow-wow.”
Maybe now would be a good time to let them and others know that when a Native American veteran, a Sundancer, or an Native American who is the combination of both, voices their concerns about inappropriate behavior at a pow-wow you had better listen and remedy the situation immediately. Pow-wow protocol allows veterans the right, no, lets say they HAVE the right to actually stop all dancing and singing if they see the need to do so.
The Lakota dancers decided on occasion to dance counter-clockwise (tradition) and the some of the hobbyists actually passed the rumor they were doing so as a form of protest.
A "kinda" Grand Entry was held during the evening "show". No color guard, just the U.S. flag. Being a veteran myself, I inquired as to why the POW flag was not being danced out. I was then told that it was OK where it was, hanging from a post. The remark was taken into consideration as to this was the very same committee member who insulted the Native veterans earlier that day. SMALL WONDER!!!!!!!!!!!
The breeze kept the bullshit to a bearable level.
Dinner was great. Thanks.
No drums were brushed. (will wonders ever cease to amaze). On this subject, only certain individuals have the right to brush or fan a drum or blow an eagle bone whistle at the drum, and when they do this they better be prepared with a give away afterward. As to the multiple brushings that seem to be the new IMPRESS THE TOURIST trick of the day, well any drum group, any lead singer that would allow their drum to be brushed two or more times at the same event should be ashamed of themselves. Once again, veterans, where are you? It is your responsibility to curtail this behavior.
And, perhaps someone can clue me as to why the Lumbee traditional women dancers feel the need to raise their feet clear up to the knee when they dance? It's actually quite hilarious to see, reminds me of goose-stepping ducks, just bob the head back and forth and flap arms to complete the image.
I would like to commend Drowning Creek for their singing at Union Grove. As for the southern drum, stay on beat, have your songs ready and please stop attempting to use two drums at the same time.
As for the rest of the Southeast, there are still some old diehards who aren't the least bit shy to tell you when to get your act together. Should they bring something to your attention, give yourself the opportunity to listen.
R. Roach is a Native American veteran and Sundancer. He calls himself a defender of Lakota tradition and the Traditional Elders Circle.