Check my e-mail
(for mail)



Dear Friends and Relatives,

    I would like to acknowledge each of you who were "well wishers" before my trip to London. It really means a lot that you cared enough to render your confidence in me as I traveled to England to represent Indian people and the Oklahoma Historical Society.


    The purpose of my visit was to participate in a 3-day international forum to address the popular cultural movement across Indian country - now known as "Powwow." The British Museum invited approximately 20 ethnological scholars, historians, anthropologists and museums representatives to present papers relating to their research in this area. My topic was THE MEN'S FANCY DANCE:  Contemporary Dance for Contemporary Times. I presented my paper on the origin of this dance through the present, highlighting names, dates and locations for support.


    Respected speakers from across Indian country such as Wallace Coffey, George Horse Capture, Bea Medicine, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Terry Snowball, Jim Anquoe, et al., shared first hand knowledge in many different areas. Their participation offered substantial credibility. Each of these presenters could attest to, "this is the way it is, because I was there when it happened!" One discovery that I consider important is that Madonna is one of the women who originated the Women's Fancy Dance in the early 1960's. This documented information discounts the "romanticized, urban myth" that the fancy shawl dance is part of a legend that came from a butterfly. Madonna's account is only one example of 1st hand knowledge that was shared at this conference.


    At this conference, I learned that powwows have a direct impact on changing Indian ceremonies, tribalism, lifestyles, socialism, economics, assimilation and most importantly - the future of Indian people. Our youngest generation of Indian children and tribes with little or no culture of their own, are using the "powwow culture" to define their own modern "Indian traditions." The powwow movement has now spread throughout most of Europe. Powwows are even held in Russia!


    There were a few non-Indian scholars, notably Dr. Clyde Ellis from North Carolina, who were very accurate - in my opinion. However, through my observations, I learned that there are a lot of scholars who are teaching "institutionalized Indian culture" that is demeaning, inaccurate, biased and in some cases pure opinion. It is these very same professors that are fostering harmful knowledge and stereotypes to a new generation of knowledge seekers.


    The North American Curatorial Staff of the British Museum admitted knowing little of powwows and sponsored this conference to learn about this subject. In the audience were scholars, non-American cultural enthusiasts (sometimes referred to as hobbyists) and a few American Indians who lived in Europe or traveled from the United States. Everybody in attendance will have learned something both positive and negative.


    Now that I have returned, I wanted you to know the responsibility "we" have as Indian people. It is of critical importance that our generation make an all out effort to seek knowledge and preserve the culture we have left as well as hold individuals accountable for the injustices of false information that they disseminate about our people. This includes both non-Indians and even some of our own.


    We live in an age of vast information technologies. So let's use them to our benefit. Tape recorders and video cameras are assessable to all of us. Please. Make an effort to record someone who you feel has information that need to be heard and preserved.


"It is time for Indian people to rise up and tell our own stories about who we are."


Take care,