People across Indian country found themselves raising their eyebrows and scratching their heads as a viral Facebook video began making its way through pow wow circles everywhere.
Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably heard that there was a “powwow” held at the Burning Man festival hosted by none other than Standing Rock’s own attorney Chase Iron Eyes and his drum group.
In the video, Chase begins to explain his intentions with a comment that didn’t sit well with some Natives.
“We are all Indigenous, we need to transcend, and one way to do that is through the drum.”
The video later cuts to a frame showing a large group of people gathered around a drum, many taking it upon themselves to join in on banging the drum and swaying with the beat.
As a joke, a satire version of the viral video even goes as far as to remove the original (still very cringe-worthy audio) of the group signing and replace it with the audio from a fake powwow held by non-natives singing “We’re going to a powwow. Gonna’ have a good good time.”
People of the Indigenous community had a lot to say about it all. Many feeling that Chase was supporting the appropriation of our culture, which is already a huge issue.
Chase clapped back in a facebook post, debunking the myth that the satire video version was the original, and setting things straight about why he was there.
“Couple few things about Burning Man:
- I was not paid to go to Burning Man
- No one sold ceremony.
- I don't do drugs or alcohol.
- We didn't sing “going to a powwow.” That was a clever edit. Indigenous people came to share in good faith.
- I, along with others, went there to share the message of Water Protectors, to elevate this struggle, their current criminalization, into other platforms, and to share our truths.
Some facts and now some thoughts I hope you share with your network about my statements that “all are Indigenous.”
Everyone is Indigenous. All descend from the sacred waters, the land, the cosmos. Everyone has been subjected to the same forces of separation, abstraction, division. Spirit separated from mind, heart from intellect, being separated from relationships with food source, from relations with the waters, the star nations, from covenants with the sacred sites. All anyone has to do is go back far enough and there is a time when you were connected to the sacred.
Colonial forces asserted “dominion” over Mother Earth, over the older beings, the animals, the winged, and so forth. These forces declared themselves “superior”, instituted currency, the logic & institutions of capital, private property, the nation state, extraction. They are the purveyors of patriarchy, pop culture, of cool, of fashion, of beauty, of advertising and so forth. They are now the sources of this separation, fear, hate & division, from which we seek a liberation.
To liberate the spirit, to transcend the limits of body, language & perceived differences of race, religion is to take part in a great awakening, one which is evolving, which will compel us to civilize ourselves with divine order, to unite ourselves with the universe. Then our institutions of law, economy, energy, media, education and so for can reflect humanity's pursuit of liberation and that of Mother Earth's, more importantly because we will be morally and spiritually authorized to create that reality. We won't let vampires destroy our planet.
Cultural appropriation is wrong, yes. Original Nations have survived genocide, slavery, holocaust, and an ongoing genocide, an ongoing deliberate attempt to undermine our dignity, liberation & self determination. For foreigners to prance around in a headdress is wrong. I have lived my life confronting objectification when I first learned of it at 19 years old from the Association of American Indian Psychology. I will continue to confront it and I thank those who fight that fight. Natives confronted people at Burning Man in teachable moments.
Antonie Edwards Jr was also invited to be a part of Burning Man. He expressed his feelings on Facebook also.
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