July 16, 2007

Beyond beads and feathers

Indians?  What Indians?Native American People are well past the beads and feathers that marked them over one-hundred years ago. The hard truth is that assimilation has taken a toll, more so on the younger generation. You see it when our youth want to be Urban Gangbangers rather than emulating the leaders of our histories. Media manipulation of the younger generation stretches across all races and has led to this mass-market, consumable doxa that is prevalent among today’s youth.

It is not all hopeless. No matter what happens, the Native Experience will go on in our Native children and future Native generations. Because the Native Experience goes beyond the easily identifiable motifs that mark us. It includes our most secret and sacred of ceremonies, our connection to one another as family and tribesmen, our genetic connection to the ancestors, and our experience among the modern American societies.

Yet, in an increasingly homogeneous society, how can Native peoples stand out? This may explain why it is so easy to retreat to the beads and feathers of yesteryear, not because it honors our past, but because society needs an obvious marker to identify Native people as participants in today’s American Society. But constant retreating to the past de-powers our contemporary voice as society will continue to view us as the beads and feathers of yesteryear, as the vanishing race we eagerly portray.

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