July 04, 2009

Tribes celebrate July 4th

A Native American Take on Independence

By Krissy Clark[I]t makes sense that, growing up, the Fourth of July would be a dark day for Hudson, a sad tribute to the country that tried and tried again to exterminate its native people and their culture. But it wasn't--for Hudson, the Fourth meant "summertime, family, fireworks. You can't wait for the fireworks. As a kid you look forward to that celebration."

Hudson was not alone. Across the Fort Berthold Reservation--what was left of it--people partied on the Fourth of July. Sno Cones and barbecues, weaved together with older, indigenous traditions like powwows that would last deep into the night.
And:And not just on the Fort Berthold Reservation. For more than a century, the Fourth of July has been a big day across Indian country. The Quapaw in Oklahoma, the Ojibwe in Minnesota and the Northern Cheyenne in Montana are just a few of the tribes that have established big rodeos and powwows on the Fourth--celebrating the day, but making it their own.

Of course, not all tribes or all Indian people have embraced the holiday in the same way. The Onondaga of upstate New York decided a few years ago to stop observing the Fourth of July altogether. Right after America declared independence in 1776, George Washington ordered Onondaga villages to be destroyed--they were in the way of the new country.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The 4th of You Lie and No Holiday for Indians.

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