Tag Archives: powwow

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?’.

Native American Ghost Dance


For my Cultural Anthropology class we are to write an essay on a topic that has to do with a culture; be it religion, food, an actual culture of people. I had picked Traditional Native Americans. Being Cherokee/Choctaw I know a little bit about Native American history.

In my essay I’m adding powwows and some of the dances. One of the dances is the Ghost Dance.

The Ghost Dance began in the 1860’s; created by a Northern Paiute Indian named Wodziwab.  He and his son Wovoka were the first Ghost Dance prophets. They both foresaw that all Indian ancestors will return and that all the whites would die, the Native American’s will be saved and the Great Spirit will return to Earth and live among them. The prophets began having a group of followers and taught them that this arrival would come more quickly if they began doing certain rituals such as, a series of dances, songs and wearing special painted clothing; these special painted shirts were to protect them from bullets.

Ghost Dancing soon spread to other tribes, including the Sioux. The Government was scared of the Sioux Ghost Dancing because they knew the meaning behind it and ordered them to stop. Only a small group listened, but the ones that didn’t met a tragic end. On 28 and 29 of Dec, 1890 the Seventh Cavalry arrived at Wounded Knee, killing 350 Sioux Ghost Dancers. Most of them were women and children.

With the Native American population declining heavily and the white population increasing rapidly, Ghost Dancing came to a stop.