Saturday, August 05, 2006

"Indian Festival"

Leaving Pennsylvania today, after spending a few days in beautiful country in the NW corner, where a small town called Tionesta is located. Next week, Tionesta will hold its annual "Indian Festival." Activities include a "Princess and Brave Pageant" an "Indian Costume Parade" and dancing by the "Allegany River Indian Dancers."

The community and businesses of Tionesta sponsor the festival. Top sponsors are the "Tribal Council" followed by the "Chief Sponsors" who donate $100 or more in cash or merchandise, and last, the "Brave Sponsors." Icon for the "Tribal Council" is a shield with "TIF" on it; the icon for the "Chief Sponsors" is a headdress, and for the "Brave Sponsors, it is a single feather.

I don't know if any of the people participating in these events are Native, or part Native. My hunch is that is not the case. It is one example of the many ways and places that Americans play Indian. Everyone we talk to here (hotel/restaurant staff, etc.) is very friendly. I don't disclose my identity, nor have I queried anyone about the festival. I know they don't mean any harm by engaging in the festival activities. I haven't seen any "honoring" sort of rhetoric, so don't think that is what they're up to, but if their festival were challenged by American Indians, what would they do? How do we, as people (Native or not), help others see the flaws in their activities in such a way that they become our allies?

Back on the road!

(Note for jcrit: My email address is

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