Seabreeze students get a lesson from Muskogee Creek descendant
But first Sawgrass dispelled some myths perpetuated by American culture about American Indians' language and practices.
"There is a tribe that says 'How,'" Sawgrass said during the March 26 program. "It's the TV tribe." That brought laughter from adults in the audience.
As for the woo-woo-woo call often attributed to warriors patting their hands over their mouths, that's done by women, not men. Warriors shout "Whew! Whew!" to show honor and appreciation, he said.
The presentation on the school's baseball field was the highlight of the annual Cultural Arts Day. Through the day, children also participated in a music and arts center, a story time village, archeological digs and food tasting that included bison and fry bread.
It was clear they favored Sawgrass, who wore leather leggings, a beaded sash and headband, a necklace of alligator teeth and a turkey feather headdress. He brought bison, alligator and skunk skins, fishing baskets and children's toys.
He showed how American Indians made arrowheads, first roughing the rock with a hammer stone, then using an antler to flake off pieces to create a sharp edge.
He explained how Indians began to trade with white men, raising each index finger high in the air and crossing his arms across his chest in the hand signal for trade.
He blew into a large conch, inserting his hand into the pink crevice to manipulate the call that pulled the tribe together.
"Do your parents have a cell phone?" Sawgrass asked the children. "Well, thousands of years ago we had a shell phone."
The crowd oohed and aahed as he demonstrated a pump drill, a handmade tool with a spinning weight, string and a sharp point that helped create fires and bored holes into wood.
The children squealed as Sawgrass thrust a spear with an atlatl (pronounced "attle-attle"), a wooden or bone cradle that adds leverage and helped him throw the spear a hundred feet farther than when he threw it on his own.
It's possible Sawgrass clearly stated that his Muskogee Creek people did some of these things but not others. It's possible he matched each cultural practice to a particular time and place. It's possible, but I don't see any evidence of it in the article.
On the plus side:
On the minus side:
Did Sawgrass say anything about the Muskogee Creek serving in Congress, doing CAT scans, surfing the Internet, or making hip-hop records? I'm guessing not. I'm guessing the kids are still ignorant of any Indian happenings more recent than the 19th century.
The worst offense is the students dressing up in fake headdresses. If Sawgrass didn't put his foot down and stop this, I'd say he failed to educate the kids. I suspect what they'll remember is the stereotypical stuff: dressing up as fake Indians and imagining themselves shooting arrows.
For more on the subject, see the Stereotype of the Month contest.
Below: "Creek Indians used to dress like me, kids, not like you. You're a bunch of stereotypical phonies and you should be embarrassed."