Re: dream catchers

Susan L. Nielsen (snielsen@OREDNET.ORG)
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 23:16:55 -0800

Thomas K. writes (regarding my earlier comments):

>> there is a modern, pan-Native American movement which does look
>> more and more like a unifying cultural thread. Not to say that
>> Native Americans have become one undifferentiated group, but that
>> they are identifying themselves as members of one, larger group.
>I beg to differ. It may superficially look like this, but there are
>still major differences out there. Hopi is not Comanche is not Leech

You make it sound like I tried to say all Native American peoples
are the same, and you know that isn't what I said at all. You also
managed to snip or disregard my several qualifying comments that
should have made that clear.

The fact that there are still Hopi and Comanche does not in any
way conflict with the pan Indianism occurring throughout North
America. We can, and do, have both phenomena active at the
same time.

>Moreover, there are several different kinds of "pan-Indianism" (see Hazel
>Hertzberg, The Search for an American Indian Identity).

Thanks, I have already.

>> Go to any pow-wow,

>That a powwow is a mixture of traditions goes without saying (Culture is a
>mixture of traditions).

No, it does not go without saying. What an absurdity.

>But powwow is not a singularity. To say that there
>is a single "pan-Native ethos" expressed in *the* (singular) powwow
>ignores the tremendous variation that exists in powwows.

This is a silly argument, and one you have constructed all by
yourself. You must note, however, that the existence of powwows,
of any description, across the continent, speaks to some broader
sense of cultural affinity than the local band or tribe.

>Granted, meanings change. But remember that except for the most
>vaguely worded statements, there is no such thingie as "a larger
>group's tradition" (singular).

What? Sorry, but you lose me here. I really don't understand what
you are objecting to.

>[? by "larger group" are you paralleling your above use of "pan-native,"
>or do you mean the non-Indian population which is incorporating Dream
>Catchers as "traditional"? If the latter, I might note that the only way
>Dream Catchers are part of my culture is, as I noted in my post, as the
>God's Eyes of the '90s.]

I was really only suggesting that it is a hasty judgement to say,
categorically, that there are not traits that can be identified with
a Native American Culture, which did not exist in earlier times, but
does now. Dream catchers may seem frivilous to you, but they do not
to all people, and they do come (even into non-Indian culture, and
to craft classes), from Native culture. And much more certainly
from recent pan-Native culture than from any older tradition.


Susan Nielsen              | "O! how horriable is the day..."       |       -- William Clark
                           |       Friday, Nov. 22nd 1805
                           |       Fort Clatsop