August 21, 2010

"3 Horses Sly Fox" teaches stereotypes

Aquidneck Island Tribal Council Heals at Home

The nonprofit council offers educational lessons about Native Americans, as well as offers spiritual healing to those who need it. However, many are unaware of the council's local headquarters.

By Sandy McGeeYou may have seen the tee pee in the backyard along Middle Road. Or, you may have seen smoke sometimes wafting into the air and heard the accompanying drum beat, along with songs of an ancient culture. This home on Middle Road is the headquarters of the Aquidneck Island Intertribal Indian Council, a volunteer organization made up of anyone with Native American blood "who doesn't belong," says Donald Sly. Sly, who is also known as 3 Horses Sly Fox, is chief-chairman and spiritual leader of the nonprofit council. "Anyone can be a council member," said 3 Horses, who is a member of the Comanche tribe.And:Wearing a headdress with turkey feathers painted red to appear to belong to the rare eagle, 3 Horses began the blessing of the rifles ceremony in the middle of the Tiverton woods. He called out to the four directions: east, west, north and south, asking the Almighty being to bless the shooters. The chief also wore buckskin and blue Calvary pants with yellow stripes. The pants were symbolic, according to 3 Horses. In times of war, his ancestors would have taken the pants of a soldier as a trophy for winning the battle, he said. The chief, who works on the Newport Navy Base as a production controller, says the purpose of the council is to bring awareness and educate others about Native American culture and traditions.And:According to 3 Horses, members receive three names: the name they are born with that they possess throughout childhood, a name as they enter adulthood and their own chosen name as an adult. The council's spiritual leader presented the boy with a piece of violet wampum. "The color purple is highly precious among the natives," 3 Horses said. The chief said he saw an image of a horse on the decorative shell. "From now on, you will be known as 'Kicking Horse,'" 3 Horses said to Noah McCabe of South Kingstown, who received his new name at the ceremony.Comment:  "Anyone with Native American blood who doesn't belong" must be a euphemism for "wannabe."

Aquidneck Island is part of Rhode Island. With that in mind, let's look at the litany of mistakes and stereotypes:

  • The teepee.
  • Calling oneself a "chief" of a nontribal volunteer organization.
  • The chief's headdress.
  • The generic "Native" beliefs and ceremonies, with no tribe or culture specified.
  • The made-up Indian name: "Donald Sly" becomes "3 Horses Sly Fox."
  • The Cavalry pants, which have no relevance to New England's Indians.
  • The wampum.
  • The horse on the wampum shell. There's no overlap between the Plains horse-based cultures and New England's wampum-based cultures.
  • The phony naming ceremony.

    I don't know if Sly is really a Comanche. My guess is that he told the reporter he's Comanche and she assumed he was a member of the tribe. What he may have meant is that he's a tiny part Comanche but mostly white. He may "feel" Comanche even though he's never been within 100 miles of the Comanche tribe.

    Sly may be teaching "Native American culture and traditions," but they don't seem to be the Comanche traditions of Texas or the Narragansett traditions of Rhode Island. They sound like a generic, partly stereotypical mishmash. I'm guessing Sly got most of his "education" from books, videos, or New Age ceremonies. I doubt it comes from a real understanding of a real Native culture.

    For more on the subject, see Latgawa Indian Wannabes and "Absentee Shawnee of Ohio" Wannabes.

    Below:  "From left to right, South Kingstown resident Kicking Horse and, on right, 3 Horses Sly Fox, chief and chair of the Aquidneck Island Intertribal Council." (Sandy McGee)


    Anonymous said...

    "The chief also wore buckskin and blue Calvary pants with yellow stripes."

    But, Jesus didn't wear pants.

    That makes no sense whatsoever.

    Rob said...

    People--other people, not me--misspell "Cavalry." Deal with it. ;-)

    dmarks said...

    Yes, it does happen.