The Indigenous Experience
You may be surprised to learn that Civil War reenactments are patriotic. There are flag ceremonies, memorials, and history lessons. Now I’ve learned that Native American Festivals are also very patriotic. Their reverence and honoring is in the form of dance or song. The Grand Entrance into the dance and fire ring involves a big flag ceremony that requires all spectators to stand and remove their hats, while the U.S. Flag, a POW flag, flags from all the military branches, and tribal flags are paraded in to the sound of the drums. I don’t recall ever seeing a POW flag honored in this way. There was a special dance to honor all veterans, and a dance to honor ancestors. First responders were honored with a song, followed by reverent silence for the victims of 9-11.
During the dancing and festivities on Saturday, word was received that the standoff in North Dakota was over, Federal Agents and their dogs were leaving, and the pipeline would not be laid. It was a huge victory, with much cheering and another dance for thanksgiving.
Probably there were spectators who had no idea what this was all about since the mainstream media hadn’t been allowed in to cover it. And if they had, some wouldn’t have wanted to cover it. I subscribe to 4 Native American Newsletters online, so I’d been watching this brew since the spring and how it got out of hand the last three weeks. The Indians were proud that over 3,000 indigenous people from everywhere stood with them in solidarity at great personal expense, because it was the right thing to do because the world and the water belongs to everyone. For the Indians, it has always been that way. For the White men, some are taking a long time to learn this simple concept.
I don’t have indigenous ancestry, but researching and writing McIntosh Summer have given me a familial-insider point of view and compassion. I’ve often spent weekends on museum porches with books, but this museum was originally the hotel belonging to Chief William McIntosh. He sat on this very porch. Beside the porch is a large boulder. Legend says it was on this rock that Yahola shouted the death curse on McIntosh (page 91 in the book.)
A beautiful flute song wafted over the grounds. It was Song to honor Elders. A man was silently reading my poster while we listened. Then he said, “He was our elder, you know.”
“Yes,” I said. “I know. He was our elder.”