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RE: Gathern of Nations,Darwin Whitehorse
Greetings to all my Native brothers and sisters:
Tansi. My name is Darwin Whitstone and I’m from the Cree Tribe. I am not affiliated with any organizations, groups, or societies, but I do wonder what happened to our advocates on Native issues.
As you all know, Pow Wow season is here again, and I wish all of you, my relations, all Tribal Nations on Turtle Island, safe travel to and from the various Pow Wows you will visit this season.
As Native People, we have endured various assaults on our culture and traditions. We have been through the fires of atrocity and have made it through, but not unscathed. The massacres, long walks, genocide, and forced assimilation through the boarding school system have wreaked havoc on American Indian Tribes in the United States and Canada. Today, we still see and feel the effects of the efforts of those bent on destroying our culture and way of life. As Native People we still experience racism and exploitation of Native Culture, i.e. Native mascots for sports’ teams, traders/merchants buying authentic crafts from Native artists at a fraction of the cost only to resale to the public at a thousand percent markup. Another major concern I would like to address is the recent attack on our Pow Wow culture – The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.
As you are all aware, The Gathering of Nations is supported by various Tribes from the United States and Canada. My intentions are not to offend or demean anyone associated with this Pow Wow, but there are some concerns that need to be addressed.
1) Traders are housed in the main arena while the majority of Native vendors are located in a tent away from the Pow Wow.
2) Natives traveling from distant locations to participate in and hold on to their Native culture must pay ridiculous doorway fees as well as parking fees.
3) Any Brothers wanting to record must register their recorders and pay a fee to record.
4) Outdoor drinks and meals are not allowed – forcing participants and spectators to purchase expensive food and drinks indoors.
5) This one Powwow generates enough money to hold ten more powwows of that magnitude, and yet, Mr. Powwow Coordinator in an interview with the Navajo Times, states, “The remainder of the money is used to fund next year’s powwow.”
6) The Pow Wow coordinator (NON-INDIAN) demonstrates ignorance and/or blatant disrespect for Native culture – (i.e. I have seen the coordinator rush through a crowd of dancers with no worry or concern for the Eagle feather used in their regalia; I have seen him roughly grab a fancy dancer on the arm, swinging him around and cussed him out for blowing a whistle; I have seen him stop a drum group in the middle of their drumming when a whistle was blown.)
How can you explain for a Non-Native have the power to stop a whistle at a Powwow and then proceed to stop the drum that responded to that whistle!? And yet we continue to support this individual every year, considering the taboos he violated. This individual was asked to MC a powwow in a New Mexico community a couple years ago. The powwow committee asked him for a donation, which he gladly donated $600 but asked for $800 at the end for MCing the powwow.
Pow Wows are an important part of our culture that gives us strength, rejuvenates the heart, and heals us. Although money is needed to fund pow wows, they should not be exploited for the benefit of one person. Each year, The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow raises hundreds of thousands of dollars of INDIAN MONEY in entrance fees, parking fees, vendor fees, recording fees, and countless other fees. Where does this money go???There are many Tribal Nations across the U.S. and Canada who do not have enough resources to fund scholarships for their Tribal members to further their education and improve their communities. This Pow Wow has found a way to exploit our cultural traditions to make money….money that should be distributed back to less fortunate Tribal Nations to assist their children with scholarships.
Please do not take this as some sort of jealous attack, it is merely concern for maintaining our traditions and knowing that the day when NON-INDIANS dictate the terms of our culture and exploit us for their financial benefit WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. If you are planning or already have planned a trip this year, please consider the larger issue at stake – our CULTURE, our FUTURE.[/b[/i]]I THANK YOU - MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ON TURTLE ISLAND FOR THIS TIME.
MAY THE CREATOR TAKE CARE OF YOUR HOME FIRES AND GUIDE YOU ON YOUR JOURNEYS.
PLEASE FORWARD TO OTHER BROTHERS & SISTERS IF YOU FEEL OUR CULTURE AND VALUES ARE AT STAKE…
Hiy-hiy! (thank you!)