November 21, 2010

"Little Yummy Banana" in beads and feathers

Annual powwow used to raise money for research

By Jessica GoffLittle Indians were scattered along the bayou in City Park on Friday to dance, sing and most importantly walk during Dodson Elementary’s annual Pow Wow.

Each year the school coordinates the event just before Thanksgiving allowing them to throw a creative American Indian twist to the tradition, which included a walk-a-thon to benefit the American Heart Association.

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students wore beads, feathers and war paint donning head dresses with hand-written names like “Little Flower,” Running Wolf,” “Flying Bird” and “Little Yummy Banana.”

For the past seven years the walk-a-thon has benefited the American Diabetes Association and has collectively raised more than $30,000 school coach Edward Dore said.
Comment:  For the umpteenth time, dressing up as fake Indians with fake names is arguably racist. If you wouldn't dress up as 19th-century Africans with grass skirts and bones through their noses, don't do this either. Because it's the same thing.

Really, you don't think names like "Chief Running with Dragons" and "Little Yummy Banana" are disrespectful if not insulting? How about dressing up as blacks with the names Chocolate Thunder and Sir Dance-a-lot? Or as Jews with the names Goldgrubber and Nosenstein? Just harmless riffs on people's ethnic traits, right?

At least the activities in Kindergarten "Indians" Celebrate Pow Wow Day and Elementary Students Join "Makeshift Tribe" have a smidgen of educational value. This activity has no value whatsoever. It's 100% stereotypical.

And reader Liriel thinks Americans are indulging in blackface as much as redface?! This racist playacting isn't just happening on Halloween, Liriel. It's happening almost every day of the year in schools across America.

I'd give the wannabes credit for charitable fundraising...but the walk-a-thon raised the money, not the "powwow." If anyone thinks phony "Indians" are necessary to raise money, prove it. Try holding the event next year with real Indians, or with children dressed as bunnies, or with some other stunt to draw attention. I bet the fundraising will go just as well.

For more on the subject, see Washington Curriculum Tackles Ignorance and The Right Way to Teach About Indians.

Below:  "Dodson Elementary School principal Tim Rosamond plays Chief Running with Dragons as he greets his tribe at the school’s annual powwow in New Iberia City Park." (Lee Ball/The Daily Iberian)

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