September 05, 2008

Powwow counters stereotypes

Pow-wow counters Hollywood stereotypes of Native AmericansWilkins, who is Mashpee Wampanoag on her mother’s side and Haliwa-Saponi on her father’s side, said there’s a lot that people can learn about Native Americans if they go into the pow-wow with “open eyes, open ears and an open heart.”

“I think it’s a great family-oriented event,” said Wilkins, who hopes the pow-wow will help knock down hurtful stereotypes that people may hold about Native Americans. “A lot of people come and bring their kids, and that’s important. Especially at a young age, to expose them to other cultures so they don’t grow up with all kinds of misconceptions and Hollywood-centric views of Native Americans.

“The Hollywood stereotype is one of our biggest bugaboos because that’s what people see, that’s what they believe and that’s all they think exists,” she added. “And obviously that’s not exactly true. It’s an uphill push sometime, but we’ve got to keep pushing because it’s important.”
Comment:  How obvious it is that Hollywood stereotypes are one of the biggest problems facing Native people. These Natives understand that, even if others don't.

For more on the subject, see The Harm of Native Stereotyping:  Facts and Evidence.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
But even the powwow itself can become a Hollywood stereotype, as has been seen in POWWOW HIGHWAY, DANCES WITH WOLVES, and even THE BUSINESS OF FANCY DANCING, among others, and in the TV dramas LAKOTA WOMAN, DREAMKEEPER, and THE MYSTIC WARRIOR. Powwows occur in various of writerfella's scripts but you would never see them on camera, save for one in RUN BEFORE THE BUFFALO. And that is the Black Leggings ceremonials honoring a Kiowan Viet Nam vet who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Cliches and stereotypes arise almost always from repetition, whether their presentation is correct or incorrect...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

A powwow in Dances with Wolves? Don't think so. Powwows didn't take off until after the Indian Wars ended.

The history of the powwow is somewhat vague. There is no definite record of exactly when the first powwow occurred. However, there are records and accounts of the powwow event going back as far as 100 years or more.

There is evidence that shows an attempt to hold a 4th of July Powwow in 1891. This was in Arlee, Montana on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

There is an early record from a Missoula, Montana newspaper that talks about the 1900 4th of July Powwow and in 1977 a Salish elder, Blind Mose Chouteh, stated that the first Arlee Powwow occurred three years prior to the 1901 smallpox epidemic. Current research shows that Arlee, Montana may possibly be the location of the earliest documented powwow, giving a history of this event of at least a century (Arlee 1998:5).

Rob said...

I thought you hadn't seen The Business of Fancydancing. Have you finally seen it?

If you're guessing there's a powwow in it because of the "fancydancing" title, guess again. It's been a while since I've seen it, but I don't think it shows a powwow.

I believe the fancydancer dances only metaphorically, in his own mind. In other word, he dances to the beat of a different drum, not to the literal beat of a powwow.