Red Haircrow
“I am Native American and I know what is proper at pow-wows. This is not a pow-wow anyway.”

A Star Trek Convention for Native Enthusiasts: Inside a German Pow Wow

Red Haircrow
2/24/14

“Winter Pow-wow 2014” took place in Berlin, Germany on February 15th in the Fritz-Reuter Oberschule gymnasium. Sellers of native-inspired items lined the walls, hawking some goods imported from the Americas—hand-tooled leather items, clothing, beadwork and decorations—but most of the items for sale bore a “Made in China” sticker.

Surrounding the central dance circle—unmarked except for towering stage lighting and a few rows of chairs—I saw drums like those from home, but each were “mixed,” men and women drumming together, an unacceptable practice for many tribes of the Americas. Dancers milling in the middle of the area were dressed in a combination of new-age garb or a mishmosh of world cultures, though most sported American Indian style costumes: grass, men’s traditional, fancy shawl and jingle. Such can be found for sale on eBay and similar sites any day of the week, even in Europe.

Many of the participants waiting for the event to begin were wearing as many breastplates, bear claw necklaces, feathers and bone jewelry as they seemed able to physically support. In the crowd of perhaps 200, many visitors wore their “Indian” or western garb, whether it was a single feather, moccasins or face paint, yet save for my son, myself and Robert Packard, a Yankton Sioux who has lived in Europe for over 30 years, there were no other Natives here. In fact, there were no other minorities whatsoever, and glances in my direction varied from curious to challenging.

Alerted to the event by Packard, who had been invited, my son and I arrived shortly before “grand entry,” which was presaged by a very lengthy discourse by the “MC” and “head-women.” Several prayers and new age chants were offered and repeated in different languages and interspersed with a few Lakota words (the Native language of choice in Germany), followed by a very modified rendition of “pow-wow etiquette.”

As an inter-tribal song began (ironic, as there were no tribes here), one of the stewards singled me out to explain that I must remove my hat, as it was the respectful way at pow-wows. I stopped him right there.

“I am Native American and I know what is proper at pow-wows. This is not a pow-wow anyway, and you’re not telling them to remove their hats,” I pointed out the Germans with covered heads. “Why are you talking to me?” He quickly moved away.

“Look, real Indians!” a young man exclaimed, eagerly taking photographs of Germans living their fantasy of being Indians with the single-mindedness and attention to detail for which Germans are known. This could be considered an admirable quality, but at this so-called “pow-wow,” Native misappropriation was rampant on a grand-scale.

Contest dancing, hoop and jingle, fancy shawl and grass were all represented, and audience members were permitted to join in at any time. These were just dances without the symbolism and sacredness, an apparent free-for-all. Plenty of movement but none of it like what I’d grown up with. I could see the excitement and pleasure on faces, the seriousness of the show of pageantry, the elaborateness of the costumes, but it was no more than a show, playacting, and a “hands-on” interactive cultural science display.

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I don't know how to feel about this. They say that imitiation is the most sincere flattery, but most Germans (Hell, most Americans) don't know how sacred many of the things encountered at a Pow-Wow can be. As I'm almost sure that their actions aren't done to dishonor or discredit Native Americans they should still be aware that a pow wow often includes things sacred to Native Americans. It would be as though Native Americans began imitating German religious practices in a frivolous manner. I'm most disturbed by the steward who tried to get Mr. Packard to remove his hat while several other Germans were not asked to remove theirs. Is the opposition to our skin color in European DNA?

redhaircrow's picture
redhaircrow
Submitted by redhaircrow on
Many of them know because they are Indian hobbyists, and they make a point to study as much about certain time periods of American Indians as possible; making a point to be as knowledgeable as they can, and as demonstrated about the hat thing: they try to tell you what you should do. The basic fact is many of them don't care many natives find it offensive what they do. They want to do it, so they do it. It is why many are resentful, uncomfortable or nervous if natives may show up because they've been told or they know. I am the writer of the article and it was me one of the stewards asked to remove the hat, not Rob Packard. Sometimes it just goes back to the fact some Germans always like to tell or instruct others on what they should do and how to do it. They think they're helping you, have the need to control or show their expertise. Same happens in the US for other reasons. Reference one of my previous articles on the topic if you have further interest on the "scene" http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/23/germanys-obsession-american-indians-touching-and-occasionally-surreal-148331 or my website redhaircrow.com.

Mojo Hand's picture
Mojo Hand
Submitted by Mojo Hand on
The New Yorker mag had an article on the Germans fascination with Native Americans called "Wild West German". This fetishist, or "hobbyists" groups has its roots in author Karl May. The books were popular and thus shaped, incorrectly, the view of some Germans had and have about Native Americans and the American west. It's quite strange that they are beholden to these false images and weird mythologizing when they are presented with actual Natives that they could learn from. This idealization and patronizing is still wrong, no matter their good intentions.

SaaTahnuhpuh's picture
SaaTahnuhpuh
Submitted by SaaTahnuhpuh on
I respect everyone's comments and I understand the point of views presented. With that said, there are two sides to a mirror. When I see people practicing and participating in "the ways," I am happy, it is good to see; it is even better to see people from other places practicing "the ways." Here is why, when I was younger, my grandfather had many friends of different backgrounds. These friends were friendly and treated him very good and treated me good; there was no difference between who we were; we were all just people. Later, I grew up and I found out that not all men are nice, not all men are respecting of others, not all men respect culture. Some men do not like people of a certain persuasion, more so, men of the same ethnic background can even be mean to each other. When I experienced this, I realized that people are people and that race and demographics only mean so much in contrast to who a person is on the inside. When I see people practicing the ways, I am happy, they could be our enemies, but they choose to learn about another culture. They could be taken up arms and fighting against us, but instead they are taking up feathers and trying the best they can to "live the life." When I think about it, they live very far away, they cannot immediately go to a pow-wow in America and see how it is done, even if they do, all pow-wows are different, it's impossible to do it all right because each tribe's version of right, is different. If you were to look at the world as one giant land mass rather than a world broken up into different regions and countries than you see another people, another tribe who saw something they connected with and found answers in, something that helps them, and instead of criticising them, we should be happy for their appreciation of he culture. "The ways, the practices, the beliefs," they are gifts, we don't own them, they are a privilege to have, and if some people connect with that, who are we to deny them that? "These ways" call out to more than just people from America, they call out to people all over, who are we to deny them that? If they find the answers to this thing called life, let them happy, if they are not hurting anybody why are we worried about it? In regards to this dance, if you look for the negative you will find the negative, if you look for positive than you will find the positive, it's all in how we perceive things; perception becomes reality.

SaaTahnuhpuh's picture
SaaTahnuhpuh
Submitted by SaaTahnuhpuh on
There is two ways this can be looked at: the negative and the positive. The old saying is that "it is easier to criticize than to complement." For me, I see the positive, I see a people who find an interest in Native culture. Of all the things in this world for people to have an interest in, they find interest in Native Culture, who are we to deny them that? If they hear the drum beat and it makes them feel good, who are to deny them that? We don't own them, they are gifts, and who are we to say it's only us who can have those gifts? It's not for us to choose. In this day in age, it is hard to find the answers, people are looking everywhere and can't find none, we should be happy they found them in Native Culture, because it means they found something they connect to and that is good. Let's ask this question: what if they did not? What if they found their answers in a culture that despises Native culture? In a culture that wishes it to disappear? Then we would really have something to complain about. But instead of despising our culture, they are appreciating it. They are trying the best they can, they are not going to get it completely right, they live like a thousand miles away. Moreover, we don't even get everything right most of the time. Regarding the dance, anyone can see the dance the way they want to, that is all people's right. But if you want to see the dance for positive than that is what you will see, if want to see it for negative than is what you will see, it's all in how you perceive things, perception is reality. Also, most groups of people are not picture perfect, Indians being one of them; we are not some benevolent race who has the answers to everything, we are just trying to make it like everyone else in this world. If people find the answers to this thing called life in the pow-wow drum, than good, why deny them something that helps them in their life? If they are not hurting anybody, why worry?

SaaTahnuhpuh's picture
SaaTahnuhpuh
Submitted by SaaTahnuhpuh on
There is two ways this can be looked at: the negative and the positive. The old saying is that "it is easier to criticize than to complement." For me, I see the positive, I see a people who find an interest in Native culture. Of all the things in this world for people to have an interest in, they find interest in Native Culture, who are we to deny them that? If they hear the drum beat and it makes them feel good, who are to deny them that? We don't own them, they are gifts, and who are we to say it's only us who can have those gifts? It's not for us to choose. In this day in age, it is hard to find the answers, people are looking everywhere and can't find none, we should be happy they found them in Native Culture, because it means they found something they connect to and that is good. Let's ask this question: what if they did not? What if they found their answers in a culture that despises Native culture? In a culture that wishes it to disappear? Then we would really have something to complain about. But instead of despising our culture, they are appreciating it. They are trying the best they can, they are not going to get it completely right, they live like a thousand miles away. Moreover, we don't even get everything right most of the time. Regarding the dance, anyone can see the dance the way they want to, that is all people's right. But if you want to see the dance for positive than that is what you will see, if want to see it for negative than is what you will see, it's all in how you perceive things, perception is reality. Also, most groups of people are not picture perfect, Indians being one of them; we are not some benevolent race who has the answers to everything, we are just trying to make it like everyone else in this world. If people find the answers to this thing called life in the pow-wow drum, than good, why deny them something that helps them in their life? If they are not hurting anybody, why worry?

Flower's picture
Flower
Submitted by Flower on
This is not only happening overseas in other countries, but it is happening right here in America. Google the "Kwahadi Dancers". They are a group of white people who have copied our sacred songs, dances, pueblo kivas, eagle dances, sacred clowns, and traditional Plains tribe and Pueblo clothing who charge a fee to perform for others in the US and overseas. They run a museum in Amarillo, Texas under the guise of educating young scouts at the expense of OUR native culture! They travel overseas taking it with them. They need to be brought to light because it's NOT RIGHT for anyone to take what isn't theirs and they have no shame in doing stealing our culture or to claim they have a clanship. Visit their website and you'll see many pictures and mixed/wrong representations of traditional dress (shoes, rattles, drums, full regalia) between our sacred Plains and Southwestern Pueblo tribal clothing. Something needs to be done to stop this deceitful group of thieves in our own country. I've made my comments known on their website, but of course were deleted. Please share this information to speak to your tribal leaders and pray that people will stop the theft of everything we hold sacred.

Greg Ortega's picture
Greg Ortega
Submitted by Greg Ortega on
I've been living in Germany for almost 35 yrs. I've ended friendships because some " Indian Groupies " just don't want to except the fact that just because they're infaturated with Karl May that their attitudes can be very offensive. I am an Apache from New Mexico and I never even let my German wife know I'm native until I brought her to where I'm from. And I grew up in Albuquerque so it wasn't a culture shock to her. She loves all people including natives, but she knows she could never be one nor does she want to be. I know some artists that are from Germany and they spend a great deal of their time in New Mexico among the natives from the pueblos. They are nothing like these Germans.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Thanks for your response Mr. Redhaircrow. Perhaps we should consider the silver lining to this cloud; maybe we can send some "emissaries" from the various nations to open NDN study centers to instruct Europeans in the proper manner to observe "Indianess." I would think they (the Germans) would support having real, honest Native Americans to teach them our ways. They've already invested time and trouble in studying about us, maybe they'd be willing to pay for some actual first-hand knowledge. I see a way for some of our elders to make a few bucks, see the world and foster a better understanding between our worlds. Why shouldn't we capitalize on the love of our culture by actually helping Germans love our culture. I'd like to believe that some Germans have an intellectual curiousity about us and they're not interested in dishonoring us. They have to be taught that they inadvertently dishonor us with their assumptions about us. The only way to cure ignorance is with knowledge, and something tells me the Germans would welcome our NDN ambassadors.

RayHarjo's picture
RayHarjo
Submitted by RayHarjo on
Maybe we should go there and show them how it is done... after all, arent we "all related" Maybe it is their custom to remove the hat. I spent plenty of time in Germany, they love the Native culture, a lot. They are doing this on their own with no guidance, I say we go over there and give them the real deal, and Im not talking about the contest pow-wows, I think turning our pow-wow into a contest is a tragedy, you go back a few decades I highly doubt we had contested pow-wows, in fact, competition used to be at the bottom of our belief system.... ask yourself.. were they happy? if they were happy leave them be, you werent happy because it was not what you thought it should be, thats not very native in my opinion

C.B.'s picture
C.B.
Submitted by C.B. on
Bull Shit!!! Red Haircrow and Robert wasn't NOT the only NDNs on this Powwow!;/ Many things what ''Red Haircrow'' had wrote is total wrong about the German/Europe Powwows and the other stuff ,too;( There are in Europe and Germany good and less good Powwows... Like in Canada and USA too! I think It is not a good way from ''Red Haircrow''to write such frustrated articles. It shows a negative picture from Germany what not true is. I dance worldwide at Powwows, and I am glad to be able to live my culture in Germany, and to have the chance to dance there;)

editors's picture
editors
Submitted by editors on
@RayHarjo: All comments are moderated, and we monitor them all the time. Thank you for your support!

Elikal's picture
Elikal
Submitted by Elikal on
Ok, I have to bluntly ask you: what do you want? Just to be left alone, or only have Native Indian culture shown if it is 100% accurate? Oh, we Germans of course are never misrepresented at all. Lederhosen. Bavarian Beer and Nazis? Hello. So I know full well how being misrepresented is. But such is the way of things. You can't seriously expect people who are interested in foreign cultures to always make it 100% accurate or otherwise be angry. And to me the article sounded very angry. To a degree, I understand that. Truly. As I said, being German I know how it is. Nazis and Lederhosen. However, being Pagan myself, I see all humans as family of Mother Earth. We Europeans lost our Pagan heritage, so escaping the confines of the modern city life, for many of us, we are seekers. Some spiritual, some merely cultural. We are seeking in other cultures, because in our own we lost those ways, the connection to Earth, to heritage. ESPECIALLY if you are German, you are raised to hate German history, as if all before 1945 was evil, so as German you HAVE no history, you HAVE no tradition, because it is all stained by our 12 years of Nazi history. If you grow up here, that dominates all our self image. So I understand very well why Germans want to be something else, anything else. Yes, they do not pratice it by the rules. Yes, they probably do no treat it sacred as you do. But damn, they are enthusiatic in seeking to understand your culture, do to their best abilities, and that is more than most other White people do! Is that nothing? Maybe they do it childish, maybe they do it wrong. But they try to understand it, they try to learn something; they try to learn something from you, as best as they are capable, because they feel our western city life is not... complete. Not good, not healthy for the soul. They tread in unknown terretory. Some may just see it as fancy. But some may learn something about you, about themselves, about us as human beings. They do not know sacredness, because they do not know sacredness at all. It is how the Western culture has become. Unspiritual. Bemoan that, and I join and applaud you. I know some people who try to walk Native Indian spiritual ways. As serious as city life in Germany allows. I am sure, it is not original, I am sure it is half made up like Sun Bear's Medicine Wheel. But is that such a sin? Why don't you see the love, the path to seek understanding, the curiosity in different cultures in it? Cultures move. They fertilize each other. Our own Christian culture came from Israel, from the Arabian desert! And mixed in were a lot of Greek philosophy and some Norse traditions, too. (Christmas!) So what? Culture moves, it fertilizes each other. It never is isolated. I know a lot of people became Bhuddists, which is coming from the other side of the planet! Is that bad? Yes they adapt it. But such are things. People see what others do and try to learn from it, try things out, try to learn about others and about themselves from "playing with it". All progress of the mind and the soul is made from playing. The sacred and the play are brothers. I understand, maybe you are so used to being offended you see offensive things everywhere. I am a minority being gay, so I can relate how being offended is. But you guys would have much to teach the world with your view and your ways, if you chose to do, even if the learners do it in childish and simplistic ways. I find it a bit saddening, like you tell us White people just to leave you alone. Maybe that is what you wish. But I believe sharing culture is the future, not isolating it. And that is why today I am more European than German, because I believe in sharing the world rather than seperating oneself. /peace

wovokanarchy's picture
wovokanarchy
Submitted by wovokanarchy on
My grandmother used to say, ''had Hitler won the war, we'd would have been next in the gas chambers''. This is insulting from a people who refuse to acknowledge their past crimes in the second world war. Imagine a group of people ''honouring'' the Jews by reenacting Passover or a bar mitzvah? It's insulting, especially since so many thousands of Indigenous soldiers fought and died in the first and second world wars.

SaaTahnuhpuh's picture
SaaTahnuhpuh
Submitted by SaaTahnuhpuh on
I apologize for the multiple postings, I am new to site and this was my first comment. I pressed the post button and my comment didn't show up so I thought there was a glitch and pressed it a few more times and wrote a brand new comment, then did I realize you have to wait for the approval. So sorry everybody didn't mean to post multiple times. Uhduh! I really liked Elikal's comment, that shed some light on a lot of things. I feel the same way. I also feel that the way we approach this is representation of us as a whole. If we are not nice about this and quick to jump on the negative aspects than how does that makes us look? To me, it makes us look too critical. If we genuinely want to help, than we need to do it "in a good way," like we've been taught. I have to cut this comment short because my show is on, True Detective lol. But basically I'm saying there is a polite way to go about this and an impolite way, the choice is not very hard. But also, look at the positive points, I look at that picture and the gentlemen in that picture, and everything looks really nice, the gentleman in front has really nice bead work and regalia, as well as the gentlemen in the back. I've only recently began to get into powwow and dancing, the first time I tried to put regalia together, I realized how difficult it was and how much work goes into it. It makes me think if anybody is willing to put in that kind of effort than they really care about it. As far as Native Religion goes, is it copywrited? Is it owned? Do we own Creator, and the songs the Creator has given? That makes me ask, does Creator designate certain groups of people as more holy than the next? Those are questions too big for my pay grade, but they are the kind of questions we need to ask ourselves before we decide who can do what and who can't do what; it's too big for us to decide. I also think if people are on our side why fight them? If they are on our side why try to get them off of it? Don't we have enough enemies as it is? When I think about it, I am happy with who I am, but being Native has nothing to do with it, if I was any other race, I wouldn't care; you are who you are and race shouldn't dictate who you choose to be. For that reason, that is why I am happy to see these people practicing their individuality. We always pray for people to see things our way, and when they finally do, we complain. If I was a non-native, and I became interested in Native culture and I got this kind of response, I would be like "the heck with them, let their culture fade away, world's better off without it if it breeds these kinds of attitudes." lol

thobo67's picture
thobo67
Submitted by thobo67 on
Hello everyone and please be so kind and allow another german guy a request to speak. Red Haircrow, for sure you are right with your opinion that a lot of german people consider native culture as a hobby according to a lot of western movies, to the famous german writer Karl May and his stories about Apache "Winnetou" and so on. For example they do wear different special closes and sacred eagles feather or cheap feather copies. I would never do so and I know why. May be they only want to have fun and are not aware of or interested in native problems. But please be aware there are further a lot of other Germans who stay and think deep enrouted in native culture and history with deep respect to all your native nations. If I take part at a pow wow in Germany, it is a very spiritual and sacred event for me and I’m sure also for different friends. And I thank to Wakan Tanka that it is possible for me to drum in a drum group and feel the spirit of mother earth, father sky and all my relations. My skin may be white but my heart beats native and in harmony with nature. And yes I know I'm a student and native culture is my teacher. But nobody is perfect. Further please be aware, a lot of german (better to say european) people donate money to support many native activities like rides or for gas to heat cold home of native families. This is a good and truthful movement . Please differentiate in judgement of people. Its really useful. And listen to the whisper of the ancestors and elders what is the right way to go. Feel free to answer. Toksha ake. Mitakuye Oyasin!

Britta's picture
Britta
Submitted by Britta on
Thank you so much for your article. I am German, moved to the US 20 years ago. I had no clue that now they have Pow Wows in Germany, how ridiculous is that? It reminds me of my first Pow Wows I attended in Florida! Seeing mostly white people dancing, I was very disappointed. I do not go to a Pow Wow to see white people pretending they are Natives. Finally when I moved to ABQ NM I got to experience a real Pow Wow: The Gathering of Nations. I was so happy to see thousands of natives and not 1 white idiot dancing in the area. I have many native friends and some of them spend time in Germany. They told me how impressed they were with the interest and knowledge about Native Americans from Germans. Most “white” or other Americans here in the US have no interest or knowledge about their native people. I find that really sad. Most don’t even know what a Pow Wow is and have never heard of it. Growing up in Germany we learn the Indians are always the good people and the whites are the bad. That’s why a lot of Germans have such a strong interest in Native American people. I do think it is wrong to dress like a native if you are not and to have a Pow Wow in a foreign country, with no real native people-hmmm so wrong. I did write to the school in Berlin and send them your article. I want them to know, what the “real Native American people” think of their fake Pow Wow. I also like to say I love NM for their strong Native American influence. Wish all others states would be like that. It is the only state where I feel like this is how America should be.

Dan Roberts-Standing Rock Sioux's picture
Dan Roberts-Sta...
Submitted by Dan Roberts-Sta... on
I remember growing up on the pow-wow trail all over North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. My opinion, is the real spirit of what a pow-wow is really an individual experience. For some its Gathering of relatives, friends, for others its about the spirit of the song, some its the contest of the dance, some its to celebrate milestones such as Births, Deaths, Graduations, a child becoming an adult. The Spirit of a pow-wow is to give thanks of what we have and who is in our lives and doing it way that honors and exemplify the ways of our ancestors. This is not a sun dance, or ghost dance, or sweat lodge. What I see is a culture that honors and respect our ancestors being celebrated. Ourselves have lost the spiritual aspect of a pow-wow long ago the day we dance and sing for money and sell trinkets and food, what they are doing is actually identical to modern day pow-wows and that is a good things, Sitting Bull himself was for education and learning the new ways. Instead we should be humble and don't judge them for what bead work they wear or if they don't know our ways down to the detail. Be happy that there is a nation in this huge world that thinks of us as people rich in culture and not how many of us get treated here in our own land by non-natives today.

Britta's picture
Britta
Submitted by Britta on
Ray Harjo, they would love you in Germany and welcome you with open arms. Most Germans don't have the money to experience the real culture and travel here. But their heart for the native people is sincere, although I am not for a white people pow wow. It is not a hobby, that is a stupid way of putting someones interest in native culture.

Britta's picture
Britta
Submitted by Britta on
Dan Roberts, I love what you said, I criticized them myself for having a pow wow and I am German. I see it now a little different and agree with what you said. It gives it a whole new meaning.

ungava's picture
ungava
Submitted by ungava on
Many very profound questions are here within this topic. I am a NAS student on the undergraduate level and I was born to euroamerican culture. Should non-natives study like that at all? Most would say absolutely yes. Is "play" an early stage of: study that comes later on? Some have suggested this to be yes. Is any study of Native culture in English a paradox? Interesting thought. Should Native culture, with its mystical and very sacred elements, have any place in pop culture? Think of music, so yes… Or is this like asking if anything sacred should ever be recorded, for example. What is best for Native Individuals seems best here but what does one do with sacred parts of life. Maybe none of pop culture is point since spirituality is the point and anything else is not that important. But of course, we live inside of pop culture. What about hybrid expressions of culture? Would that be like mixing two religions, which could be looked at as very undesirable. Yet, I get the impression that the German hobbyists mean no harm. Is it an odd kind of racism to suppose that the two cultures would not ever intersect at all? There must be an argument going both ways and I feel the risk at even thinking about the edges in life. If the two sides do intersect, what does that look like? Natives do cross over and become very patriotic by becoming honored soldiers for, well, the US Army. Ok there you go. There is an irony there, but we overlook that and recognize that they mean well and help the world, as the thinking would go. Everyone honors those soldiers, (and any war being right is another debate for another day), and so what an amazing topic this is. Back to the other way around, what does a non-native look like standing on the Native side of this line? Taking classes and having Native teachers is surely one way that it looks. It's a honor to post questions. Does any college in Germany teach Native American Studies, I wonder.

SaaTahnuhpuh's picture
SaaTahnuhpuh
Submitted by SaaTahnuhpuh on
I almost want to say this article was strictly created just to start a dialogue, because it got people talking. Anyways, I was thinking all people have indigenous native roots from somewhere. Prior to the industrialization of so many countries, many people had a age old cultures, but after the establishment of industry, many have struggle to hold onto their native roots. People everywhere know there is something different to what we know, something deeper about living that many facets of modern life cannot answer. One thing that I know is that people hear the call of the Earth, the call of something that connects to a greater circle, they know they are a part of it, but not sure how to express it, or live in it. For many people, they find the connection in Native American Culture, because it connects with the Earth and natural powers; one could say that Native American Culture is Earth Culture. Many Native American ideals relate and originate from the Earth, Sky, Spirit World, if those aspect are truly real, than it won't be just Native Americans who hear it.. feel it. Native Americans should not deny people a calling that they feel so strongly about. If Native Americans beliefs are real, legit, and strong, I think it won't be just Native Americans who run across, it will be all people, all creatures. Things of deeper meaning, things with deeper power, you cannot fake, and creatures of walks of life will feel it. We should be happy people feel that power too, it means our beliefs are transcending. If our beliefs are truly real, than they will not only be transcending, they will be universal. If something is real, if something is legit, it will be felt by more than just one group of people, it will be felt by all people.

Flower's picture
Flower
Submitted by Flower on
We are not a Wild West Buffalo Bill Show or a mascot to be maligned. The world is has fallen out of balance and its natural order because of the great lack in respect to all things sacred and I can only speak as a Pueblo native and cannot object to the ways or beliefs of natives from Plains tribes. I do know there currently is no respect for the ceremonies our Pueblos tribes have allowed visitors to attend in the US Southwest when I see non-natives replicating our sacred ceremonies and stealing sacred artifacts and Katsina overseas to be sold by those who see them also as a part of a hobby. That is offensive, disrespectful, and sacrilegious. I now feel a deep sense of betrayal from guests and visitors we have welcomed from all corners of the US and World to our homelands. Much educational information is made available and posted in NM on the prohibited practices when visiting Pueblo homelands and our guests to the US Southwest who have stolen from us cannot claim ignorance. The return of sacred Gaan and Katsina last year to the Apache and Hopi tribes was uplifting because they are a part of our being. When someone takes the sacred without asking permission, they have taken a part of us with them and is obscene and very hurtful. A shared prayer and appreciation for native beliefs is good and we try to educate non-natives on proper protocol, but never to replicate sacred ceremonies performed by native priests or spiritual leaders who are the protectors and keepers of our faith and have full understanding in the natural orders to maintain and continue our sacred and religious practices for future generations. That is the protection we must uphold to have our cultures remain uncompromised. We all value our individual cultures very much and many of our traditional dances are meant for religious purposes, not for show so that others come in and copy what they see. The only way non-natives can learn is not from a book or the internet from another non-native. They must listen to the advice of Native people. There is no other way as not everything can be found in a book or on the internet. Befriend a native and listen to the do's and don'ts is what I say if you truly respect us..

ungava's picture
ungava
Submitted by ungava on
Thanks and forgive me it I listened any words before this. What I would wish Flower to at least consider is that on one hand some people are shallow and that is no surprise. And there is so much to feel outraged about, yes. On the other hand, some people will sense something precious within Indigenous thinking and for those people not born into this, they will not know where to begin or stand so to speak. I teach music. All the same happens and for beginners, well, honestly, they sound terrible. But wouldn't I be too harsh if I told them the truth? There are other permutations, but some people don't know how exactly to express their feelings. I guess that is my point. It is not easy to put into words.

thobo67's picture
thobo67
Submitted by thobo67 on
Hi Flower, sorry for my late reply. I don't see natives as a "Wild West Show" but as friends and my relatives. And I'm absolutely sure you could or can teach me (as a fay)) a lot of sacred and really important knowledge how to understand and defend mother earth against corrosion. My most important rules ever learned are native rules: Never take more you need! Always give something back! Honor the creation! And we have to find a way back to earth to live in harmony with nature. Further what I don't understand: Many people change there religion during lifetime, also natives have changed to christianity. Why it shouldn't be allowed to me to believe in Wakan Tanka and Tunkashila, if I feel deep inside that's my way of live? First nations culture is a holy culture for me and if I live it, it's not a hobby for fun. That's the really simple reason for my interest and curiosity regarding your traditions. And I'm often ashamed because of behaviour of "white race". But one thing is clear, you will always find bad and good people everywhere and everytime on your way. Thanks for permission to write these sentences here and reading my opinion. Mitakuye Oyasin.

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larrymoniz
Submitted by larrymoniz on
I applaud Saa for his comments but feel obligated to correct Flower. She says: " under the guise of educating young scouts at the expense of OUR native culture! They travel overseas taking it with them. They need to be brought to light because it's NOT RIGHT for anyone to take what isn't theirs and they have no shame in doing stealing our culture or to claim they have a clanship. Visit their website and you'll see many pictures and mixed/wrong representations of traditional dress (shoes, rattles, drums, full regalia) between our sacred Plains and Southwestern Pueblo tribal clothing. Something needs to be done to stop this deceitful group of thieves in our own country. I'm now an old man, but have studied American Indian cultures for more than 60 years as I began as a boy. I've always yearned to emulate the lifestyle of the pre-Columbian Indians as I felt that, despite hardships, they had a pure way of life that lived in harmony with life on Turtle Island. A few years ago, I attended a Pow-Wow with my wife and our toddler grandson in Northeastern Pennsylvania. As my grandson and I wandered about, we saw a young boy and his father coming past us in full dance dress, headed for the arena. I commented to the father that the boy had "a beautiful costume. He did, but based on my knowledge, it was FAR from authentic. (It's authenticity was about as accurate as the clothes worn onstage at a Broadway show.) Rather than thanking me and moving on to the dance circle, the father began shouting that it wasn't a costume, that it was "regalia" and rather than being ignorant I should use the correct word. I found his behavior offensive for several reasons. First, I'm a professional journalist and writer and have been so for all my adult life. Thus, I know the real meaning of "Regalia" refers to garments worn by someone of regal or royal blood. It was unlikely this boy was a member of any recognized European Royal House. Nonetheless, the father (also dressed in colorful, but non-authentic dance costume) continued to put me down in front of my grandson as he walked away with his boy. Such rudeness certainly does little to encourage non-Indians to attend Pow-wows and spend the money that later enters such dancers pockets as pay for participating or as dance contest winnings. Yes, I know that's the reality of Pow-wows as I happened to be a doyen at the very museum hosting that Pow-wow. Even though I admire the early culture of Indigenous Americans, this man was an embarrassment to his heritage. If I had less understanding of the various tribes, I could easily have been permanently put off by his behavior and then retold the story to others in such a way they would never think to attend a Pow-wow and enjoy that pageantry and excitement that is Indian dance. Racism is such an easy thing to generate. This man could certainly have sparked it in anyone overhearing his tirade. In the long term, his resentment of whites (and I admit there is much to resent) could have created more long-term bad attitudes among those he appears to hate. All of us living in the Americas have had more than enough hate and resentment. We should try living in peace. After all, there's not much different in any of us. While there are die-hard Clovis-First believers who assert the Indigenous Americans all came across the Beringia Land Bridge 10,000 years ago (or 12, 13, 16, 20 or more thousand years ago, modifying their myth to fit the latest "politically correct version of the falsehood first created by the Jesuits, allegedly in 1590, I believe, and have some some proof, that the East Coast populations likely emigrated from Europe during the Last Glacial Maximum (Ice Age) more than 20,000 years ago and populated the Eastern Woodlands. It is also my believe, as I wrote in a paper presented last weekend before the Pennsylvania Society for Archeology, (Chasing the Beringia Land Bridge Myth and Finding Solutrean Boats) that other areas of the Americas were populated from Across the Pacific in boats. Thor Heyerdahl, the explorer, proved some 65 years ago it was possible. Whether from Asia or Europe, those early humans showed a high level of intelligence, ingenuity, determination and mastery of their stone age cultures that few peoples have ever been able to approach. As Native Americans you should be proud of your ancestors and they amazing accomplishments they achieved before there were even such things as written languages and histories. Larry Moniz, award-winning journalist and author LarryMonizBooks@Yahoo.com

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Sugey
Submitted by Sugey on
I find this a little irritating, a little obnoxious and at the same time, I'd like it if German people interested in this kind of thing could be able to see what a real powwow is like, from different tribes. I like the comment about stealing tribal customs and traditions and it is no better than a comicon for German folk. I applaud their eagerness with this but it would be loads better if they learned about different tribes and the meanings behind powwows and native crafts before just shoving it all together in one gathering. It looks stupid and pathetic in that respect. But I have always heard that native American culture and tradition is really big overseas. I find that weird.
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