July 31, 2013

Scooby-Doo meets Navajo "shaman"

Someone alerted me to this comic-book story featuring a Native character:

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?The Case of Carlsbad's Creepy Caverns finds the Mystery Gang on vacation in New Mexico when a spooky scare at one of America's greatest natural wonders drags them into yet another caper. Before it's over they summon the Pueblo clown spirits with desert shaman Navajo Windfeather, run from a giant trilobite, and find themselves neck-deep in the most devilish force of all--show business!You can see the art for the ten-page story here:

The Case of Carlsbad's Creepy Caverns

My contact added:The story and artwork showcase themes, historic facts, and artistic motifs from the Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni nations. I know the writer personally and he took great pride in putting as much native culture into the story as possible without being didactic. Here's a preview and a link to all of the artwork. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy the posts on this site. --SComment:  Judging by the wordless art, the story goes like this: Scary things happen in cavern, gang consults Native "shaman" about who might be playing pranks, incidents are revealed to have a non-supernatural origin...as usual.

Based on what we know, the story already has a few problems:

  • "Shaman" doesn't mean any Native who performs magic. It's a particular kind of priest or medicine man. Shamans are mostly found in Siberian tribes, although there are some in Pacific Northwest and Alaska tribes.

  • I don't know if the character is a shaman Navajo named Windfeather or a shaman named Navajo Windfeather. Either way, the Windfeather part sounds like a name for a New Ager, not a Navajo.

  • Assuming a "shaman" can summon spirits, why would a Navajo summon Pueblo "clown spirits"? The Navajo and Pueblo tribes have different religions and cultures. A Navajo would have no more power over Pueblo spirits than he would over the Greek gods.

    Even if the shaman is just describing Pueblo clown spirits, not summoning them, it doesn't quite make sense. His attitude seems to be: "I'm here and the Pueblo tribes are way over there. Let's blame their spirits even though my tribe's spirits are presumably here with me."

  • I'm not sure the koshares (clowns) and mudheads qualify as tricksters who play pranks in general. They may do so during Pueblo ceremonies, or in the Pueblo villages. But I don't think they roam all over the Southwest causing mischief. Coyote or Kokopelli might be more appropriate for that role.

  • For more on Scooby-Doo, see Scooby-Doo vs. the Ogopogo.

    Below:  A Navajo "shaman" explains Pueblo "clown spirits" even though the Carlsbad Caverns aren't claimed by either tribal group. Nice artwork, at least.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Easy fix: He's not a Navajo shaman. That's just a mask. He's actually...old man MacDonough! He was pretending to be a Navajo shaman to scare people away from the old mine because, while the mine had played out, there was uranium just beneath it, according to this US Geological Survey report.

    "And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

    Eh, when I watch Scooby-Doo, I assume every character is a dude in a mask.