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Burnside

Use/Abuse of Native culture in Arrow of Light Ceremony

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So, if the boys dressed in Star Trek uniforms and gave accommodation from the Galactic Federation, would you be less offended?

 

If a native American actor puts on a Bishop's robe to play some part that he finds noble about our culture, should we be offended?

 

I could go over the pros of imitating the good we see in other cultures ..., but let's leave it at this:

 

It's fun. Lighten up.

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>>"I think inviting the OA in to do it is a huge wet blanket. Those are slow and generally offensive and uncomfortable for most 21st century educated americans."

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"So, if the boys dressed in Star Trek uniforms and gave accommodation from the Galactic Federation, would you be less offended? "

 

No ... because the base story line is fiction.

 

OA mimics (usually badly) Native Americans, which is not fiction.

 

With a Star Wars theme ... Scouts would likely have a huge upsurge in enrollment.

 

I remember my Scout's crossover...it was incredibly embarrassing to watch, even my Scout turned away during some parts of it.(This message has been edited by Engineer61)

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It all really depends upon the ceremony team and the script they are using. Have I seen cheesy regalia and cheesy performance, yes. Have I seen cheesey regalia and good performance, yes. have I seen awesome reagalia and cheesy performance yes. Have I seen awesome reagalia and awesome performance.

 

You better beleive I have and it was inspirational.

 

The problem is the concept of the "Hollywood Indian," and it's so prevelent that some folks, when they do authentic, period regalia, they do not beleive it is real and that a lot of research has gone into it.

 

 

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The main idea is to put on a ceremony that has more to it than a ziploc bag and a handshake. There are lots of ceremonies that I do that have nothing at all to do with "facts" or "authentic," but I certainly try to make them memorable and fun. This is Cub Scouts, not the inauguration of a Surpreme Court Justice (I was going to say President, but I was afraid someone would start commenting on the comedy aspects of that!).

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>>All of the Cubs in our Pack really love the OA American Indian ceremonies.

 

Perhaps your OA Ceremony Team simply needs to do a better job.

 

Or maybe our Pack is just full of UN-educated folks. Although I would bet that most of us uneducated yokels at least know enough to capitalize "Americans".

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>>The problem is the concept of the "Hollywood Indian," and it's so prevelent that some folks, when they do authentic, period regalia, they do not beleive it is real and that a lot of research has gone into it.

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My understanding is that the ceromonies have been clreared by rerpresentatives of the Indian tribes. If they have cleared them why do we all have a problem with them. Seems like a bit self rightous to me.

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My understanding is that the ceromonies have been clreared by rerpresentatives of the Indian tribes. If they have cleared them why do we all have a problem with them. Seems like a bit self rightous to me.

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BSA24 - Why were adults (a) dressing up as Indians or (b) dancing? Adults in the OA should be doing nothing of the sort.

 

ponz - Arrow of Light or crossover ceremonies are often developed locally, and not necessarily "screened."

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BSA,

 

There are folks who do the right thing in regards to Native Americans, regalia, and ceremonies. But there are challenges: folks don't want to do the research to do the regalia right, folks don't want to spend the time or money to make or buy the items as authentic as possible ( i.e. a 18' hair roach at Crazy Crow goes for $290 for deer hair on the outside only and $345 for deer hair in and out). And some folks just get frustrated when they do things correctly and people tell them "that ain't an Indian costume." (had that happen one time when I was in my dance regalia).

 

And yes there are Native American who have complaints against the OA, but there are also for who are not only for it, but even help promote Native American Culture within the OA. I won't go into details here, but check a few of my other threads on this topic and you can read about my first hand experiences with Native Americans helping the OA do things right.

 

In regards to Adults and ceremonies and dancing. Correct in that adults do not dress in regalia and do ceremonies. They also cannot compete BUT they can dress out and dance at event powwows. Someof the most fun I had was after a day of judging dance competion, dancing at the powwow that night after the arena show.

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It's heartening to read comments from Scouters who agree, even if for different reasons, that Scouts and Scouters should de-emphasize or drop many "playing Indian" activities and traditions.

 

"Play Indian" at all, and you'll offend someone regardless of what pains you take not to. The eager to be offended will go far out of their way to experience the exquisite frisson of victimhood or preening self righteous indignation on behalf of supposed victims.

 

So don't stop "playing Indian" because it offends. Stop it because it's absurd to mark high points in our lives with ritual and pageantry rooted in beliefs and culture the likes of which most of our ancestors quit millennia ago as they developed the better way of life we enjoy today.

 

It's not some unintentional discourtesy or unkindness that's the problem. It's inappropriate reverence. Pre-Columbian North American cultures include useful examples of crafts and skills useful in survival, camping, and outdoorsmanship. It's interesting stuff and being historically informed is fine. But let's not make it a fetish.

 

If we must "play Indian," make it fun, not serious ceremony. Cheerfully ignore calls to make pseudo-Indian pageantry reverent or authentic. Maybe as a courtesy, refrain from using any real tribe's name. Heck, you could, without even knowing it, be coming close to emulating your own ancestors... even if you are 100% Caucasian.

 

That's because Native Americans aren't unique in having ancestors that... lived like Indians. We ALL have ancestors like that. Our way of life today differs from that of our distant ancestors because at many points throughout history they changed their ways as they discovered and invented better ways, or learned that some beliefs and practices were erroneous, harmful, or irrelevant, or they were conquered and assimilated into more advanced civilization. Native Americans don't own all primitive cultural territory just because their genetic ancestors lived that way more recently than other folks.

 

Imagine a self professed "full-blooded" European Caucasian (or even a 1/10 blooded European Caucasian - claiming to be just white enough to feel he owns some share of the legacy) presuming to take on the role of cultural policeman to regulate the participation of non-Caucasians in Renaissance Fair type activities... imagine him warning Native Americans that they'd better not offend any European Caucasian sensibilities... that they'd better make sure any imitations of "white" custom is done in an authentic and respectful way. Or imagine him telling them on behalf of "his people" that Native American participation in Renaissance Fair activities was offensive to white people. Let's say he's a descendent of Leonardo Da Vinci... do we need his approval to costume ourselves as a Renaissance Italian from Vinci? Humbug.

OK, no BillyBob da Vinci costumes then.

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