October 14, 2011

British couple married as "Indians"

'It's not dressing up for us, this is who we are':  Native American-obsessed British couple have tribal marriage (and spend their wedding night in a tepee)

By Lauren PaxmanWhen Chrissie Holmes got married, she didn't need to spend ages looking for the perfect white dress for she was planning to wear an outfit true to her love of Native American culture.

The 51-year-old hairdresser from Blackfield, Hampshire, wed fellow enthusiast Fred Sharman, 69, wearing a bright blue traditional tribal outfit.

Chrissie and Fred--whose Native American names are Little Bear and Walks Slow--also wore boots, feathers and beaded jewellery for the wedding.

The couple bypassed the wedding march and instead opted for the traditional sounds of tribal flutes. They even spent their wedding night in a tepee.
I'm pretty sure no Indian ever wore traditional clothing in that shade of sky blue.Fred said: 'It's been a long-term hobby and interest for both of us, so it just felt right to wear this on our wedding day.

'This is what we do. It's not really dressing up for us because this is who we are.'
It's dressing up because you're "disgusting Indian wannabes," as one commenter put it.Fred added: 'It is endless what you can make and what you can learn. I need another lifetime to learn just about the one tribe.

'You are only scratching the surface of what these people knew, they were so clever, they were called savages, but their life was very involved and very spiritual.'
As another commenter put it:My only hassle is, they use a lot of past tense wording. We are still so clever, we are still called savages and our lives are still very involved. As for the spiritual, that's a different subject all together. That depends on region, contact period, race relations, and the individual. If they liked their wedding, then so be it. There are a lot of hobbyists in the world. We can't stop them all, only educate to stop the wrong information from getting out.From the costumes and the "tepee" reference, I guess they're aping the Lakota or another Plains culture. Which is what everyone apes when they're pretending to be Indians, of course.

Naturally, they don't name a particular culture, if they even know one. To them, it's all part of a generic "Native American culture."

At least they're not wearing headdresses or lots of feathers. But with all the beadwork and jewelry, their costumes look more like, well, costumes than anything traditional.

And of course they've given themselves phony Indian names, although Sharman managed to avoid calling himself Grey Eagle or Owl. Yay.

Indians "were"...

As the commenter noted, Sharman's final comment is the key one. "They were so clever" and so forth. No acknowledgment whatsoever that Indians still exist, living in modern society, sans the stereotypes he's perpetuating.

That's how he views Indians: as relics of the past. And that's the message he's sending to his community and the world: "Indians are gone so we can appropriate their identities."

It's as stupid as if I dressed up as a knight in armor and said I represented British culture. Indeed, most Indians are as far removed from tipis as Sharman is from castles.

For more on Indian wannabes, see Tribalism Is Trendy and British Couple Lives Like Indians.

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