You’re drunk in a bathtub
with a red cup full of Birthday Cake flavored vodka
wearing a headdress
made of neon Dollar Store chicken feathers.
You’re half naked in a grassy field
with drugstore lipstick smeared under your eyes
and wearing moccasins from Urban Outfitters.
You can’t wait for Coachella
so you can finally smoke a peace pipe in a tepee
and find your Spirit Animal.
You think Native American culture is so beautiful
and clumsily show it with your
hashtags on tumblr and Instagram.
But when actual Indigenous people tell you that
Gypsy, Squaw and Red Injun are all racist slurs
Headdresses are sacred
and war paint on your white face is insulting
“I’m just appreciating your beautiful culture!
I’m 1/16th Cherokee.”
Ignoring the fact that running around
naked in the woods on shrooms
will not connect you with any tribe
and that your great great great great grandmother
along with the rest of the Cherokee people
never wore headdresses.
A study of the white man’s ceremony from an indigenous perspective
Ever since these people came into our lands and set up their colonies, we have been curious about their cultural and religious activities. I was granted permission to enter one of their bighouses on the eve of one of their ceremonies. The man at the door wanted me to provide a “ticket” which could be received at the cost of some of their shiny silver or paper “money”. I’m not sure I completely understand their economic system but I was willing to comply because this research is so fundamentally important in order to understand the basis of the White man’s culture.
Inside the entrance the walls were decorated with pictographs decorated with the white man’s art that seemed to name their singers and where their singers have been and where they are going to be. They also provided numbers that allowed one to call out for a “taxi” to bring them home after their ceremony is finished.
The white man calls his bighouse a “club”, which makes little sense as it resembles no club I have ever seen. There are no houseposts holding up the structure and there is no fire in the middle, yet there must be a fire somewhere because the room is filled with a smoke that smells nothing like our fires. Across from the entrance must been their equivalent to a kitchen or eating area, yet it only serves crazy water, which must be where these people get their “powers” for their dances. I have nothing to say about their washrooms because I do not want to sound disrespectful.
It is funny to have to pay to go to one of these potlatches. There are no drummers present. One man stands on a platform in the corner wearing a bizarre head piece that cover both of his ears and sometimes he only holds one on one of his ears. He must be a speaker of sorts but he must only be in training because he must use a microphone. His music is queer and incoherent and the singers do not sound like he talks in his microphone yet the people cheer and dance to these odd noises.
These dances must be some sort of mating ritual. The females gyrate their bodies in a sexually provocative manner while the men flail around in hopes of getting the female’s attention. While this may seem humorous to outsiders like myself, this ritual must be very important and must lead to a lifelong companionship between the couples.
Although everyone drinks the crazy water, only a select few really gain the powers. The crazy water is rather expensive, yet these people don’t seem like they can survive without it. A young caucasian man drinks a very small portion in a very small glass and sticks a plastic card into a machine every time he grabs a drink. Following this he moves towards the crowd and the people make a circle around him as he does his power dance. On the floor he flails his appendages to and fro and does numerous “tricks” to show how “fly” he is. People cheer at his movement and the speaker on the platform says something into his microphone but again his inexperience shows as he is unable to speak clearly enough for me to understand. People raise their hands and cheer some more and the young white man gets up and attempts to woo a woman, but what must be one of her older family members says no to the young man and says he has to leave. The young man is persistent and there is a battle between the two for the young woman’s affection. She must be of high rank in order for this to occur.
The young woman cries, she must have been interested in the young dancer as she is hitting the other man with her purse. Her facepaint is running down her face through her tears and she turns and leaves. The doorman intervenes and separates the sparring males. The instigator of the violence is thrown out and the dancer returns to the kitchen for some more crazy water. I decide to approach the dancer and in this place it is difficult to understand their language because of the speaker’s “music” but the dancer assumed that I must have been ill or something as I think I heard him say “what the fuck is your problem?” and he proceeded to give me a weird look and shoved me off. I sensed much hostility and felt I was no longer welcome despite the offering I gave to enter their ceremony.
I still do not understand the white man’s mating rituals. The people are very disrespectful of others, even their own kind. Their artwork is obscure and makes little sense. They do not have access to a lot of nutritious food but are willing to spend great amounts of money on crazy water so they can do their dances. Only the women wear facepaint. These people are very emotionally insecure and are quick to judge others. They are very greedy because they charge other people to take part in their ceremonies. I still do not understand them.