Friday, February 25, 2005

Will the real NDN pls stand up?

Indian Country Today has an article on the phenomena of "out-Indianing" each other.

Is this our own version of political correctness? Whattaya gotta do to be a Real Indian (TM)?


cartoon by: Marty Two Bulls Sr.

From Indian Country Today, Trimble: Figuring out who are the real NDNs

[..] "As ideologies formed around that era's new activist movements, being a ''real'' Indian required adherence to certain traits, demeanor and dress. A real Indian, for example, eschewed suit and tie, but wore equally non-Indian and stereotypical Hollywood attire such as leather vests, headbands and fringes all over. So-called ''Rez cars'' were no longer embarrassments; decorated with ostentatious displays of dream catchers, little war bonnets, and ''Indian Pride'' bumper stickers, they became faddish and an effective means of out-Indianing.

''Out-hipping'' is another form of out-Indianing. That means being hip to the latest buzzwords like NDN and the latest jokes about welfare, commodities and frybread.

In Indian circles, one can also be ''out-reverenced.'' That is having to be corrected, icily, about something that is or should be considered too sacred for jocularity. I learned to stay out of American Indian chat rooms on the Internet when I was informed that I should be ashamed for using the Lakota name Heyoka (he's sacred), and even joking about that little prehistoric Woody Herman, Kokopeli (sacred, too). I was excoriated for saying I am Oglala Sioux instead of Oglala Lakota."

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For the record, let me say that I will never wear fringe or a headband. It is a question of taste and style, not Indian-ness. I fear the gauche. But jokes about commodity foods and frybread are funny, so I might partake in those. Better if you can combine them, like when my aunt demands condensed milk for her frybread recipe because, as my cousin put it, it gives in that certain commodity je ne sais quoi.

And I've seen that out-reverenced phenomena at work. Not always, but on the internet, where no one knows if you're Foolish Dog clan, what's the point?

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