Still sad... still missing something. Professor said she dreamed a dream last night and I want to believe (so very much) but truthfully I'm afraid. I'm at least in a place where I'm not breaking down all the time and I guess it's better for me here right now.
The Pow wow was great. We saw old freinds and talked to new ones. There were too many of us crunched in two rooms (and smaller than we normally get) and it was a little tight. I slept very little. But the rates for the rooms have gone up significantly, and the discount codes that come out are hard to get applied, the way the thing is rigged... so on the whole we did OK. But it was tight.
It's really hard to describe the feeling I get being up at Schemitzun. It's a totally different world, but some things that stick out are
- American history is really skewed to make you believe in the myth of it all being about White people and Black people. And it's so foreign to me, because I've always known about the Native part of me... and the Puerto Rican part and the Spanish and the German. Very few of my mother's traceable family were actually slaves (and if they were they weren't for long) and I have such a hard time relating to those stories sometimes. I don't have relatives "Down South". And my father's family has a 100 year history of inter-cultural families. When I go to the pow wows I see people that look like the pictures I have of my family... and I find that whenever I'm scanning the crowd for my mother or sister or Mima, I have to say "Oh wait, that's not Bigbear" or "Oh, that's not sis" because there are so many more people who look like my family; who walk like my family. Whereas when I'm on 'Two-Five boy I can spot my mom from 100 miles away.
- Native culture is built on a profound respect for the elders. When you're surrounded for three days by folks who constantly defer to the elders--NOT "seniors"--you find yourself becoming amazed at how badly old people are treated in American culture. How they are looked down on as being "dotty" or "stupid" or "past their prime". Whereas at the Pow wow, when the elders dance you watch them knowing they've been doing this for years... they may not kick their legs up like the young ones do, or jump as high or twirl or jingle... but you watch them for knowledge, for poise, and you are filled with awe. It makes you smile. You watch them at the drums, teaching the young drummers and singers, you watch the elder women with their beautiful blankets and shawls pinning something for a younger woman. And you see the admiration they have in turn, for the ones coming up behind them, continuing tradition. There are no "senior citizens" at the pow wows. There are Elders, and you revere them and honor them and care for them because without them, you wouldn't be here.
- no one EVER asks me (or the Professor or Bigbear) at the pow wow "what are you?" or "what nationality is your mother?" They ask "Where are you from?" as in region... and "what's your nation?" And when I reply "Seminole/Cherokee/Nottoway/Blackfoot" they only say "Oh, OK." Not "really? you don't look black" or "no, but what's your heritage?" One woman--a Wampanoag from Martha's Vineyard got into a conversation with Bigbear on the bus up the hill to the grounds. She was telling my mom how her nation never denied who they were, were always there, and were never moved. My mom was telling her how in her family, the Native ancestry was always whispered and never confirmed... and how she was taught to identify as "Black". The woman, Edith, I think her name was, remarked how her nation refused to identify as "Black" because she said "We were who we were. Besides, we don't look 'Black'". Then she looked at Bigbear and said "YOU don't look 'Black'". It was incredulous to her that anyone would ever mistake Bigbear for anything other than Native. It was an interesting moment... and one that made me feel so good for Bigbear because she struggled to place herself for so long...
- bullriders are hot. Although I didn't go to the Buckorama this year. The kids did, though.
- so are the Eastern Woodland dancers. Minimal clothing and lots of buckskin and feathers is a good look.
And without further ado... a few of my favorite pictures:
This dude was hot... his wife thought so too cuz those were all his babies. He also reminded me of someone I know and miss. And he also reminded me of my cousin Tommy on my father's side, who's mom is Mohawk.