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#1 Aug-18-2014 09:48:pm

Suckachsinheet
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Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

I suppose it is time to give these folks their own thread. The first Gathering is history, and it went as well as should be expected. It was the first year under new management, in a new location, and it was alright, considering.

Most of these folks are alumni of the Thunder Mountain Lenape Nation, and the festival is a continuation of the Thunder Mountain powwow. It was held in Stahlstown this year, but it will be somewhere else next year (they will not be able to use the same location again; they knew that long before the Gathering).

To their credit, this group is not trying to be another nation or village. They are not about doing ceremony or identifying with any particular tribal tradition. They are an inter-tribal association of people with Native heritage who want to host one Gathering each year to celebrate their Native heritage (though they do smaller exhibitions year-round).

There were three drums, including the host drum, Young Thunder. They are young and they are pretty good. The other two drums were Clearwater, a husband-wife duo who have received a NAMMY nomination, and Thunder With The Hands, who were also very good (and a lot of fun). There were supposed to be two other drums, but they didn't make it.

I like these folk and I will probably work with them toward the Gathering next year, so I am not going to nitpick about much. It was good to be back in a circle after five or more years, and good to tell stories in a public forum for the first time in quite a few years. I had fun.

The only thing that I have to really pan is the Medicine Wheel Teachings. That was so wrong on so many levels. First, even though the teacher acknowledged that the medicine wheel is a western tradition, it seemed very out of place at an otherwise Eastern woodlands powwow. The leadership of the festival emphasized that they are not a nation or village, so I'm sure they will defend the presence of the medicine wheel as permissible, regardless. So let's talk about content...

The teacher is likely also a Reiki master and Zen master. A lot of catch phrases from those disciplines found their way into the teaching. There were also Yoga type breathing exercises included in the proceedings. Need I say more? One of the helpers was an old acquaintance of mine who is the penultimate New Age practitioner, so I know he was right at home there.

A small point, I suppose, but it matters to me: The information offered about the four directions was most likely an amalgam of teachings from various medicine wheel traditions. There was no mention of the differences from nation to nation about colors, spirit helpers, and such that are associated with the directions of the wheel. I suspect that the identities of the various rocks in the circle could be pan-cultural, as opposed to pan-Indian. Can anyone tell me of a medicine tradition that embraced the four elemental principals of air, water, earth and fire?

The teacher encouraged the listeners to go home and study the medicine wheel teachings further themselves, and I thought she probably should too. I certainly intend to, even though it is not pertinent to the traditions I am primarily concerned with studying. Unfortunately, I know most of the listeners wouldn't even know where to start so they are going to go away thinking they have heard the summation of Native American medicine wheel traditions.

Which, of course, is the main danger of these type of gatherings and the thing I want to emphasize to these folk, if they will hear me, in preparation for future Gatherings and exhibitions. We are all, to my knowledge, white folk with Native heritage that we are proud of. We will never be regarded as "real" Natives by the real Natives, like it or not, but every time we put on our regalia and invite the public to come and see us do whatever we do, we become living museum pieces, like it or not. We may be the only live "Indians" some of the public will ever meet and whatever we say will be accepted as absolute truth. It has to be absolutely correct, and it needs to be able to be documented. Where did you learn that? Who told you that? Which is why, for quite some time, I have encouraged people of this persuasion to determine what nation their heritage is from (if they can) and then concentrate on learning the culture and traditions of that nation only.

One anecdote to illustrate. I went to this Gathering with the knowledge and intent that I was going to be a teacher. As a storyteller, I am a teacher and a history keeper. As a dancer, I am available to the public to help shape their perception of what Native America is really about, dispelling many of the misconceptions that they arrive with. I take that pretty seriously, and I hope I get it right. So, at one point I was talking to one person when we were joined by another who asked the first one if they had been to the Cherokee reservation [Qualla Boundary] in North Carolina. The first person said they had not and the second person gushed on about how great it was. So I cautioned her that it depended on where she had been as to whether she had really been exposed to authentic Cherokee cultural tradition.

I've been to the Qualla Boundary several times. If you want to see the authentic cultural stuff, you have to pay some admission. The Occonoluftee Village is wonderful. The theatric presentation, Unto These Hills, is breathtaking. But the main street of Cherokee is filled with the schlocky stuff that the general public expects to find on Indian reservations, including war bonnets made with neon feathers. And, of course, there is the Harrah's casino. I wondered if this lady knew the difference; I can't say I am certain yet...

Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Aug-19-2014 02:27:pm)


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#2 Aug-19-2014 02:47:am

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

I suggest you become a re-enactor.  Re-enactors, to the best of their abilities, generally play their roles with meticulous attention to historically accurate detail.  They are genuinely interested in the cultures they study.  And, most importantly, neither they nor their audiences cherish any illusions that they are, themselves, American Indians.

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#3 Aug-19-2014 09:42:am

NanticokePiney
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From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

sschkaak wrote:

I suggest you become a re-enactor.  Re-enactors, to the best of their abilities, generally play their roles with meticulous attention to historically accurate detail.  They are genuinely interested in the cultures they study.  And, most importantly, neither they nor their audiences cherish any illusions that they are, themselves, American Indians.

I was thinking the same thing. The ones I worked with are sticklers for authenticity and they STAY AWAY FROM SPIRITUALITY!!!! yikes


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
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#4 Aug-19-2014 02:34:pm

Suckachsinheet
Member
Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Well, of course, when I go to events like this I am a re-enactor. I acknowledged my lack of documentable Indian blood to every person I spoke to (who asked). As to spirituality, I assume you mean not attempting to discuss it publicly, except in the most general terms. That is certainly something I am continuing to learn, so I am in no position to speak authoritatively about it...

ETA: On further consideration though, it is difficult to stay away from spirituality altogether. The circle is sacred, it is blessed and smudged. We call on Creator to see us dance and let us dance in a good way. Spirituality is supposed to be tied up in all of life...

Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Aug-19-2014 04:43:pm)


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#5 Aug-19-2014 03:22:pm

tree hugger
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Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

*Title edited per Suckachsinheet's request*

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#6 Aug-20-2014 12:09:pm

Suckachsinheet
Member
Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

To be fair, after some study of Lakota medicine wheel teachings I can say that the information presented was not Lakota, per se, but apparently was not incorrect either. As I noted elsewhere, I suspect the general concept and maybe some of the teachings were drawn from a book by E Barrie Kavasch (The Medicine Wheel Garden). I would like to think that efforts were made to research specific medicine wheel traditions as well.

Nevertheless, it is confusing and/or misleading to present an amalgamated overlay of medicine wheel teachings from multiple nations unless the sources of each bit of teaching are noted, e.g. "the Lakota believe that the cross in the circle represents two roads each person can travel, the good red road that runs from north to south or the unbalanced blue road that runs west to east". When the teacher placed birth at the east direction and death at the north direction, she clearly departed from Lakota teachings.


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#7 Aug-24-2014 01:11:pm

NeoPaleo
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Registered: Oct-07-2013
Posts: 143

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Ahh, the white spite. It is a fact that American Indians had "white" bloodlines in the tribes.
Blonde, redhair, blue eyes facial hair, and balding, all the Eurocentric only traits is bullshit.
To really get this, you go to check out the morphology of albinism.
In its pure form you get pink eyes, but that is rare. What is more common is patches of it in a person.


What color corn do you grow?

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#8 Aug-24-2014 01:18:pm

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

NeoPaleo wrote:

Ahh, the white spite. It is a fact that American Indians had "white" bloodlines in the tribes.

Of course they did:  Post-contact.

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#9 Aug-27-2014 12:06:pm

tree hugger
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Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

To their credit, this group is not trying to be another nation or village. They are not about doing ceremony or identifying with any particular tribal tradition. They are an inter-tribal association of people with Native heritage who want to host one Gathering each year to celebrate their Native heritage (though they do smaller exhibitions year-round).

The statements they make online (to me) sound like they are considering themselves more.

The Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering is a special and unique Native American Event. It is not a festival, or a pow wow. While those events are similar, we're trying to do something just a bit different. We wanted to create an event that would bring people from all backgrounds together. We wanted a place that the people could Gather, and share in our Native culture.Our committee is made of people that cross culture and generational gaps. We hope that you will join our new Native American Family as well!

http://lhnag.org/

A big hmm here, wanishi? I thought they weren't picking a culture?

Wanishi – Thank You!
To each and every dancer, drummer, vendor, and attendee – we have to say THANKS! for joining us this past weekend. With nearly 1,200 people joining us for the event, we enjoyed a weekend of friendship and family, and celebrating and sharing our culture.
Thank you to everyone who played a role in helping us put the Gathering together this year. We had a great Gathering Committee and hardworking volunteers. A huge thanks to our sponsors, advertisers, dancers, and drums, as well as anyone who donated items for the weekend!
Each of you has played an important role in helping foster Native American heritage in the region! We hope you had as much fun as we did. The inaugural Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering has come to a close, but the memories made will continue to live on in our hearts until next year.
See you next year!
Young Thunder Drum & The Laurel Highlands Intertribal Foundation

And we have press! There is so much wrong in this video. "Our main purpose is to educate the children" Ummm huh, educate them in what?
http://link.brightcove.com/services/pla … 4666340001

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#10 Aug-27-2014 12:34:pm

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

I thought I saw an Indian in that crowd, for a split-second!

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#11 Aug-27-2014 12:35:pm

tree hugger
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Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Did you blink?

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#12 Aug-27-2014 12:42:pm

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

If I blinked, I would have missed her.  wink

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#13 Aug-27-2014 05:02:pm

NanticokePiney
Member
From: Hopewell Twp., New Jersey
Registered: Jul-10-2007
Posts: 4214

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

sschkaak wrote:

I thought I saw an Indian in that crowd, for a split-second!

All I saw was a train wreck! yikes


I don't have anger issues...just violent reactions to B.S.
---------------------------------------------------
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This might cause you to experience reason

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#14 Aug-27-2014 09:56:pm

Suckachsinheet
Member
Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

tree hugger wrote:

The statements they make online (to me) sound like they are considering themselves more.

The Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering is a special and unique Native American Event. It is not a festival, or a pow wow. While those events are similar, we're trying to do something just a bit different. We wanted to create an event that would bring people from all backgrounds together. We wanted a place that the people could Gather, and share in our Native culture.Our committee is made of people that cross culture and generational gaps. We hope that you will join our new Native American Family as well!

http://lhnag.org/

A big hmm here, wanishi? I thought they weren't picking a culture?

Wanishi – Thank You!

Young Thunder Drum & The Laurel Highlands Intertribal Foundation

And we have press! There is so much wrong in this video. "Our main purpose is to educate the children" Ummm huh, educate them in what?

Yes, they are white people who celebrate their Native heritage. No, they haven't learned that they can't just assimilate themselves into whatever culture they wish. So they still see themselves as Native.

They are mostly Thunder Mountain alumni. They are going to have learned whatever "culture" they were taught in that venue. This is one of the things I hope to discuss with them. But really, you kind of have to pick a language to express thanks in--English, Cherokee, Lenape, Ojibwe, etc. It becomes a little tedious to have to use them all: Thank you, Wado, Anischi, Megwich...

I hope to hammer home that if they are going to be educators, they need to educate themselves thoroughly. That is a long-standing short-coming of the Wannabe Nation.
And I was in that video; though not by overt intention. I'm not sure which woman you thought was Native, sschkaak. I can't say I noticed her...

So, really, y'all aren't going to give these folk a chance to break out of their TMLN upbringing, but if you don't work with them they won't even know what they are doing wrong. Harsh criticism from the sidelines is hardly any help at all.

Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Aug-27-2014 09:57:pm)


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#15 Aug-28-2014 05:02:am

tree hugger
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Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Harsh criticism from the sidelines is hardly any help at all.

I wouldn't call stating the obvious about a wannabe group harsh criticism. That video was in the TribLive, a very popular local news source. I think we've seen time and again what news stories do for these groups- validate them as Native American. Sorry but when this hits news and you have people thinking they are actually going to a real Native gathering, I'm not going to sit back and be quiet about it. Just watching that video and the things said, don't show me they are open or want to learn any different. It's absolutely your choice and right to be involved and try to help them.


p.s. I didn't even notice you in the video

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#16 Aug-28-2014 06:11:am

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

"I'm not sure which woman you thought was Native, sschkaak."

The one in the dance line, on the right-hand side of the screen, at 3:01-3:02.  Like I said, "I thought I saw an Indian ..."  Very difficult to tell with just a profile, but she looks as though she could be part Indian, to me.  Maybe, you can set me straight about her ethnicity?

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#17 Aug-28-2014 07:33:am

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

"Harsh criticism from the sidelines is hardly any help at all."

I disagree.  Such criticism might provide a wake-up call to at least some of them that they're not seen as American Indians by other people; and that there are good reasons why this is so; and those reasons are not going to change simply because they gain a better understanding of various Indian cultures.  Anyone can learn cultural practices.  That doesn't make one an American Indian.  That comes from one's genetic ancestry.  We certainly can't accept them just on their word that they have Indian ancestry, while demanding evidence from every other group making that claim.

Also, there are thousands of non-Indian descendants of both Chief Wyandanch of the Montaukett and Pocahontas; but, almost none of them consider themselves American Indians (Wayne Newton, notwithstanding).  And, their ancestry is well-documented.  There comes a point when you have to accept who and what you really are.

They can become educators, re-enactors, etc., if they put in the work it takes to do so.  But, they can't become Indians, and they have to stop telling us that that's what they are, if they're to be taken seriously.

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#18 Aug-29-2014 12:03:am

Suckachsinheet
Member
Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

sschkaak wrote:

"I'm not sure which woman you thought was Native, sschkaak."

The one in the dance line, on the right-hand side of the screen, at 3:01-3:02.  Like I said, "I thought I saw an Indian ..."  Very difficult to tell with just a profile, but she looks as though she could be part Indian, to me.  Maybe, you can set me straight about her ethnicity?

There were several people there that could have been part Indian. There was a little girl there who looked completely Indian, but her Daddy didn't look especially Native at all. I guess I misunderstood what you meant.


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#19 Aug-29-2014 12:15:am

Suckachsinheet
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Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

I was trying to say that criticism alone isn't going to effect a change in these people. Telling them they are wrong but not telling them where their error lies is not very helpful, just as telling someone you know something they don't but declining to enlighten them is not helpful.

The single ray of hope I am clinging to is that when I criticized the medicine wheel teachings to the lady who arranged for me to come and tell stories, she seemed open to my thoughts and expressed the desire to get things right. I believe she is also the one who commented: "Well, you know--when we were with Thunder Mountain, we only had two teachers..."

There are two other TMLN alumni who are interested in giving these folk a chance to get it right as well.

Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Sep-18-2014 11:04:pm)


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#20 Aug-29-2014 10:10:am

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Suckachsinheet wrote:

I was trying to say that criticism alone isn't going to effect a change in these people.

Does it ever change these types?  Besides which, they don't read here, so they won't benefit by the criticism, in any case.

Telling them they are wrong but not telling them where their error lies is not very helpful, just as telling someone you know something they don't but declining to enlighten them is not helpful.

THEY have to be proactive, in this regard.  It isn't up to others to enlighten them.  If they wanted to learn, they'd frequent this and other forums, read scholarly works on the subjects in which they're interested, and meet for instruction the American Indians whose particular heritage they claim as part of their own.  (No one can say that knowledge has been held back from anyone, at this forum, certainly!)  BUT, if they just want to have "fun" playing Indian, I think we can safely say that they've already reached that goal.

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#21 Aug-30-2014 01:01:am

Suckachsinheet
Member
Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

sschkaak wrote:

THEY have to be proactive, in this regard.  It isn't up to others to enlighten them.  If they wanted to learn, they'd frequent this and other forums, read scholarly works on the subjects in which they're interested, and meet for instruction the American Indians whose particular heritage they claim as part of their own.  (No one can say that knowledge has been held back from anyone, at this forum, certainly!)  BUT, if they just want to have "fun" playing Indian, I think we can safely say that they've already reached that goal.

Absolutely true (although it is not always easy to get members of the tribe your heritage is from to meet with you or tell you anything useful). So, if I point them to resources, such as this forum, and they decline to use them then I will know they are really only interested in playing Indian and "educating" the unsuspecting public with their peculiar version of Native history and culture. And then I will have to assent to the ridicule and sarcasm toward them.

Last edited by Suckachsinheet (Sep-18-2014 11:01:pm)


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#22 Aug-30-2014 09:38:am

Suckachsinheet
Member
Registered: Sep-11-2007
Posts: 975

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

I forgot to mention that a re-enactor was in Punxsy on Thursday. I actually met this guy at Fort Ligonier a few years ago.

http://www.punxsutawneyspirit.com/conte … -back-life


It's in the blood; I can't let go. - Robbie Robertson

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#23 Aug-30-2014 10:04:am

sschkaak
Moderator
Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Yes.  Not Lenape, of course.  He portrays a Huron (i.e., Wyandot) of the French and Indian War period.

No Lenape would ever have a name like "Ghost in the Head"!

Last edited by sschkaak (Aug-30-2014 10:07:am)

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#24 Sep-02-2014 05:38:pm

tree hugger
Site Admin
Registered: May-12-2006
Posts: 11110

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

Kaleidoscope The Series can be seen Sundays at 11:30 AM and 6:00 PM on WATM ABC 23. On the episode tab above you can view other past episodes. Below is this current week's episode.

Segment begins at the 17:00 minute mark.

http://www.kaleidoscopetheseries.com/

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#25 Sep-02-2014 05:53:pm

sschkaak
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Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 4365

Re: Laurel Highlands Native American Gathering

neutral

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