What happens when six non-Native girls show up at the largest powwow in North America — dressed as, um, Indians? At Racialicious Adrienne K. writes that non-native participation in powwows is common:
However, this openness and encouragement of non-Native participation creates a fine line–we want you to come, to learn, to watch, to engage; but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to mock our cultures in your attempts at participation.
She continues that while these young high school students didn’t know better than to don feathers, braids and warpaint, they should have.
The post reminds me of an experience I had last summer in central Pennsylvania. A friend took me to a university to see a Native American dance performance. Three quarters of the way through the event, a man in a white-ruffled frontier shirt got up with great pride and strode across the floor to place a dollar bill at the feet of the dancer. My friend and I were flabbergasted as other members of the audience followed suit. The man in the frontier shirt beamed with satisfaction in his own generosity and how it had inspired such in the other attendees. The dancer’s continued, perhaps accustomed that type of the patronization.