July 23, 2012

less I forget....

This is regalia.  Native American regalia that I have hanging on my wall to remind myself to be who I am.  This was given me by my husband who purchased it from a shop that made it.  I wore it and danced in it in powwows.  Lots of errors, made in innocent at the time.  One does not "buy" regalia or one shouldn't. A Native makes their regalia. A great deal of prayers, love and time go into making one's regalia.  Us white folk shouldn't be taking on native regalia or culture.  It does not matter how much we would like to be Native, how much we admire their culture.    

I had decided I wanted to learn native ways and went up to Canada to sit with the wife of an Elder, the traditional chief.  This woman was amazing.    She told me "go home and learn your roots, your culture your way".  I had more than one Native tell me this.  I so did not want to hear this.  It took me awhile to hear it, get the message.  

My awakening came at a powwow.  Grand Entry is the first dance and it is done by tradition in order.  First to dance in are the men by age, followed by the woman eldest first and then children.  There is more to it than this,  but that is the basic.  Well I was hanging out mid-line waiting to dance in in my store bought regalia.  The women started chatting and comparing ages so the oldest women could move to the front of the line.  Well I was the oldest woman there that day.  White, non-native me, so I led the natives in.   I suddenly understood that this girl from Anglo Celtic roots did not belong in regalia, did not belong in front of the line leading in the Native American women.  

I came home hung up my regalia where I can see it.  I never danced in regalia again. I have never danced in Grand Entry again.   

What a huge lesson. I am still embarrassed that I did not get it for way too long. Do not try to put on the clothes and traditions of others. I would not have put on the clothes of a Buddhist nun would I?

Be who you are
 and be proud of who you are,
 honor your family,
 your culture and  roots.