Tag Archives: native american

OWPC: Sun


This week’s ‘One Word Photo Challenge‘ is, Sun.

Yesterday, I attended an Archaeology lecture in Little Rock, held at the Whit Stephens Conservation building by the River Market. A large group of us, mainly college students and professors, meet up before the lecture at one of the restaurants located around the River Market, then walk over to where the lecture is being held. As usual, I arrived earlier than everyone else (an hour early) so, I decided to venture out towards the river. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was actually warm, considering the last few days we’ve had were rainy and cold.

The city had fixed up a couple of the train bridges, making them usable again, but for pedestrians; one of the train bridges was built in 1884, the other one was a few years later. There’s a jogging trail situated along the river, as well as a playground, splash pad, and pavilions. There’s also an amphitheater, which is used for outdoor concerts; I once attended a John Fogerty concert there.

Along the jogging trail you will notice many sculptures here and there. Most of them are donated pieces, but a couple of them are a representation of Arkansas’ history. One pavilion included Arkansas’ entire history, including the early settlers and those who came through Arkansas, such as De Soto and other notable Spaniards, as well as notable Frenchmen.

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What Not To Say To A Native American


American’s have the advantage of free speech, whereas in some countries it’s illegal to speak out against things you’re opposed to, or to rally for things you’re for. That freedom of speech, at times, gives our western culture the idea to feel free to ask whatever is on our mind without having thought the question through, or say anything we wish to express, whether anyone around us agrees with it. American’s have no filter. It’s a birthright, I guess you can say. However, some take their ‘freedom of speech’ a bit too far.

For instance, when stated that I am Native American, it’s typical to hear in response, ‘how much Indian/Native American are you?’. It’s actually an insensitive question. I don’t ask anyone about their culture, race, or ethnic background, or how much of it are they really, it’s just plan rude. You are what you are, so why should I question it. I don’t ask to see your birth certificate or any other paperwork for that matter, to see if you are who you say you are, so why would anyone question a native american for being who they are?

There’s always a general question or comment brought up when native american’s are mentioned. My favorite, for instance, ‘my great-seven times back-grandma was a Cherokee princess’. Actually, there’s no such thing. There may be a chief’s daughter, but no royal titles were given, such as princess. You should see the facial expression I get when I tell people that, or hear the harsh comments I receive.

Certain words in our past history were used by Immigrants out of pretext for reasons that are not excusable. A word most often heard and should take precaution before being said is, ‘squaw’. It’s a derogatory word to mean whore, or to refer to a women’s genitalia. Redskin and brave are also derogatory words.

It’s rude to ask to touch someone’s hair, as well as it is to ask about oil rights and casino money. It’s also rude to ask, ‘do you live in a teepee?’, ‘do you receive any special benefits?’, ‘do you dance at powwows?’, ‘what do you really smoke in your peace pipe?’, ‘what’s your spirit animal?’, ‘why don’t you cut your hair?’, ‘do you celebrate Thanksgiving or Columbus Day?’.

You should always check yourself before asking anyone anything. If it sounds racist, it probably is and should not be said. Step outside your comfort zone and think, ‘if someone asked me this question or made this comment to me, would I be offended?’.

A lil culture here and there


Being a military brat and also a military veteran, I have had the chance to see the majority of the United States and part of the world. My parents made many trips to historical places and museums when I was growing up. I love history. I enjoy reading the stories of where people came from.

Traveling, as well as moving around the country, gave me an insight to other cultures. For example, when I was six, my step dad was stationed in Key West, Florida. We lived across the street from a married couple; she was Japanese and he was Puerto Rican. Now and then we would be invited over for dinner, each time we went it was always something different; he would cook something from his home country or she would cook something from her home country. On occasion she would babysit my sisters and me and she would show us pictures of Japan and make Japanese popcorn for us; their kernels are black.

A few years ago I got the chance to live with a Cheyenne/ Arapaho family in Oklahoma for a summer. I was also given the honor of attending a Sun Dance. Not many “outsiders” are asked to come and join them, so I was more than elated when I was asked. To me it was more than just an honor; it was an experience to learn about another Native American culture than my own Native American heritage as I am Cherokee and Choctaw. It was the first time I had eaten buffalo, as well as fry bread.

Sun Dance is more than just watching warriors dance, there are rules to be followed, mostly for us women. Of course I always have to ask why; it’s more of a curiosity as to why these rules are set. For instances, if a woman is menstruating she cannot get closer than fifty yards from the Sun Dancers, it makes them sick. There is a certain dancer that has a lizard painted on him that is of great importance to the Sun Dance; he is named the lizard man. I was told not to stare at the lizard man; I could glance his way, but only for a quick second. The lizard man holds strong power for the one offering himself in the Sun Dance and staring at him will cause him harm.

In UAE (United Arab Emirates) Dubai, a group of my shipmates and I rode camels through the desert, stopping at an oasis. They had cooked a large meal for us that included sheep, chicken, vegetables, and camel meat; camel is like our cow here in America. They wouldn’t allow us to pass up any food that was offered, so camel meat was put on my plate whether I wanted it or not. However, I did taste it and to me, it was the nastiest meat I’ve ever eaten. There was also a belly dancer, henna hand painting, and a hookah. A hookah is a machine that you can smoke flavored tobacco from. If you have ever seen the cartoon movie Alice in Wonderland, the caterpillar smokes a hookah. I didn’t give the hookah a try because I was afraid it wouldn’t be tobacco in there, but instead there would be something illegal and I would get in trouble.

Drumbeat


I stare out into the pow wow dancing arena
As a plethora of colors go by
Each person decorated in paint
Wearing carefully handmade regalia
Dancing around
Their feet move to the beat of the drums
The drummers hit the drums in unison
Singing out in Native song
I sit still and listen carefully
I close my eyes
The beat begins to stir my soul
My feet begin to slowly move
It pulls me
My body aches to move
Soon I’m in the dancing arena
All around me my ancestors in ghost form
Wearing their regalia
I look down and I too am wearing mine
Feet move and body dance to the drums beat
The drummer’s song moves through me
Like the life force that flows through my veins
I dance as if I’ve danced it a hundred times
Though I’ve never danced before
I dance for a purpose
The creator is watching
My ancestors are with me
The drum beats are Mother Earth’s heartbeat
I can feel her spirit move inside me
I feel the vibrations of her heartbeat
As she guides me around the dancing arena
Dancing, swaying, moving
Dancing, swaying, moving
The drum stops
My eyes open
I am sitting right where I was
Before the song began