What else do kids dress up as at Halloween? I don’t mean animals or superheroes, but people-costumes. They can be policemen, firefighters, cowboys, doctors, nurses, pilots, astronauts, baseball players, cheerleaders, soldiers, football players, princesses, belly dancers. ... All these are occupations or positions one can, in fact, be at some point, with the proper training.
Now--what about an Indian? You can’t train to be an Indian. You can’t become one. It is something you are born into.
"Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief
Doctor, lawyers, Indian chief"
Is that the theme song for the Village People? Never mind.
There was a popular series of books and miniseries in the 1970s based on this. They stopped before they got to "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief".
Yes, I know. The mini-series was Rich Man, Poor Man and I watched it. I was just kidding.
I wasn't sure. It seems to be entirely forgotten, not rerun anywhere as far as I know. All that remains is Jordache Jeans.
I don't think "Beggarman, Thief" did very well. If it had, Shaw would have indeed been contrived to write something called "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief".
Can't say I've seen many trick-or-treaters as Indians recently. Of course, if I put on a smoking jacket (or even ribbon shirt), turban and leggings, I'm betting most people in the neighborhood would guess "fortune teller" or "Arab" before they got to "Cherokee," since we don't dress like the "cool Indians" (i.e.,no warbonnets or breech clouts).
You don't even see many trick-or-treaters these days. They're all attending neighborhood parties so they won't get razor blades in their apples.
Writerfella here --
The children's fortune-telling rhyme goes, "Butcher, baker, candle-stick maker
Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief...
Beyond that, though, I'm not up on the exact origin. BUT --
All Hallow's Eve is a strictly European import that came with other cultural baggage such as elves, dragons, sea serpents, witches and warlocks, werewolves, vampires, leprechauns, and the like. Christianity suppressed most of the spiritual beliefs of 1st Millennium Europe but allowed the lesser representations alone because they seemed harmless. Yet, Europeans laughed at the Native representations of the Piasa Bird, the Thunderbird, the Underwater Tiger, the Water Horse, the Little Red Men, the Sky Horses, Thunder Beasts, Skinwalkers, and so on. But then they began to see such representations themselves and then it wasn't so funny...
Is the underwater tiger sort of a southwest version of the Ojibwa "Underwater Panther" ?
Writerfella here --
More like the 'midwestern' underwater tiger of the Arikara and the Pawnee.
And the original post is wrong: you can train to be a Native, IF YOU ALREADY ARE A NATIVE, that is. In a given tribe, a young man or woman was training all of their lives to be a member of the tribe. writerfella is a fairly good example of that, not knowing he was Native until he was 7 years old and then being mass-trained by grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins to become a Kiowa.
I had a debate once with someone about "training" to be an Indian. He was part-white, part-Indian and had learned his history and culture at a late date. But when we discussed something, he told me I could never comprehend the Indian viewpoint. He used a variation of "It's an Indian thing...you wouldn't understand."
I found this ironic considering his mixed background. My response was something like, "If you can learn about being an Indian, so can I. Even though I'm not Native, maybe I'm a better learner than you are. Maybe I get it and you don't."
Writerfella here --
It is difficult to explain, but he was right. People have asked what writerfella thinks of the Hillerman Navajo Detective novels. And I answer that they are good stories, they're told well, but the mysteries sometimes end rather conveniently, both for the characters and for the author. Then they ask what they meant to say, what do I think of his Native characters? And I answer that in actual point of fact, they could be just anybody else rather than Navajos or Hopis because, even though they use tribal knowledge to advantage in solving crimes, Hillerman's characters DO NOT THINK LIKE NATIVES AT ALL. And the reason is, Hillerman isn't Native. He does write his more recent works using tribal 'technical advisors' but they cannot tell him anything technical that would allow HIM to think like a Native, and thus enable his characters to think like Natives.
The closest I ever have come to making my readers think like Natives is in "Rite Of Encounter" where you see the world through Singing-Owl's eyes and through his mind and thus know why he does what he does when he does it.
With the short story "Fifth And Last Horseman" as yet to see print, and with "Time Of The Sixth Horseman" still in works, the next closest efforts to such effect are "The Owls Sang At Day's End", "Two Worlds Unseen", and "Run Before The Buffalo".
The best I can do in expository terms is to say it is an almost-instinctive ability, sort of a genetic racial memory. In POWWOW HIGHWAY, we watch the two young protagonists, Phil and Buddy, on their journey of self-rediscovery. On the morning Phil leaves their car to greet the dawn, Buddy insists that nothing is going to get him out of the car. Phil wades out into an icy cold stream and watches the sun come up. Moments later, Buddy joins him in the water, puzzled but no less compelled to do the same as Phil, obeying something within him that responds to the proper chord. But if the chord were not there, no amount of training would put it there. It is not logical, but it is most often true...
Didn't I say this person was raised as a white? He didn't get his Indian knowledge from some "genetic racial memory," which may or may not exist. He learned it.
Hillerman also was raised as a white, obviously. The difference is, he didn't live in a Native culture for a decade or two when he was younger. If he had, he would've gained the same inside knowledge as my correspondent.
That's my theory, anyway, and I'm sticking with it. You don't know my correspondent and neither do I, so we don't know how well he learned to be an Indian. For all we know, I know more about Indians than he does.
If you're saying that a "genetic racial memory" trumps learning, I refer you to your earlier postings about John Herrington. He's in roughly the same position as my correspondent. So is Herrington a bonafide Indian or isn't he? If your theory is right, he is and your previous comments about him were mistaken.
Wasn't there some question about whether David Seals, the author of Powwow Highway, was a real Indian? Maybe I'm thinking of something else.
Anyway, a non-Indian directed the movie, I believe, and undoubtedly shaped the material. And A Martinez, a Latino, performed the scene you described. If a non-Indian director can direct a non-Indian actor to produce an authentic Indian scene, it's more evidence for my position.
Is there really any question that culture is learned, not inherited? What about a white child raised from infancy by an Indian tribe? Are you saying you could pick him out by his faux behavior even if he spent his entire life with the tribe?
Most tribes would accept this adopted baby as a full member of the tribe--a genuine Indian. And recall the Supreme Court's ruling that tribal membership is political, not racial, which most tribes have embraced. Is it your position that you have to have some amount of genetic material--some quantum of blood--before you can be a real Indian?
Writerfella here --
Not at all. Consider this. There are any number of stories and even historical occurrences where a person not of the race or culture of a group becomes either a captive or an adoptee of a separate race and/or culture. With enough inculcation, that person for all intents and purposes becomes what he is being trained to be, a functioning member of that society. But this comparison breaks down when you consider that Natives were taken from their various tribal groups and raised 'white' in the government schools. Did they become white instead of their own original culture, or did they become more or less lost because they had neither culture to fall back upon?
Everyone knows of instinct, everyone has witnessed racial memory, and everyone at least has heard of 'the collective unconscious'. Canines and felines still turn in circles before they lay down, even though there no longer are the stretches of tall grasses in which they make their beds. Humans are no less bound to the factors of racial memory than are the animals from which they were sprung. But, I ask, what if that racial memory was not there? As with anything, racial memory and instinct are subject to dilution -- the knowledge is there, but it has been distanced by loss of identity that associates with the memory. It has become 'recessive' and may or may not be obtainable, therefore. Do you actually think that being American means that you have lost contact with the racial memory of your own forebears? It could, if that contact was diluted by racial intermixing, after which such cognition very much would become to what can be called 'racial harmonics.' But that remains a topic for another time...
Then I presume John Herrington has this racial memory also and is therefore a full-fledged Indian. And that the scene in Powwow Highway wasn't authentic after all because a non-Indian performed it.
Assuming each person is raised in the opposite culture, the answers to your categorization questions are:
Adopted white babies are white racially but Indian culturally. Abducted Indian children are Indian racially but white culturally.
I know several acculturated urban Indians who have the same values and beliefs as mine. If you had no visual cues and went only by our writing, I doubt you could distinguish us.
Let's note that you think writer John Fusco can channel the Native mind accurately while I presumably can't. Even though we're both 100% non-Native. Do you have any explanation for this discrepancy, or is it just some silly belief with no basis in fact?
we are all natives. we are all of the same blood. we are all brothers of the fox the crow and the mighty bison. we still live in villages under the stars. walk out side at night. the stars have not changed since the time of yaweh or jesus or manitou. expository is just something to prove we are educated beyond our own needs. we seek the things that we only need to find in our hearts. to often we make the journey last a life time. sit under a tree. life will show itself in abundance.
I'm not sure what your point is, Isa. Or what it has to do with playing Indian on Halloween. Try again?
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