Fake “Powwow” At Burning Man Has Indian Country Raising It’s Eyebrows

Fake “Powwow” At Burning Man Has Indian Country Raising It’s Eyebrows

Posted By Jazmyn Espinoza-Church September 6th, 2017 Last Updated on: July 23rd, 2018

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:

  1. I was not paid to go to Burning Man
  2. No one sold ceremony.
  3. I don't do drugs or alcohol.
  4. We didn't sing “going to a powwow.” That was a clever edit. Indigenous people came to share in good faith.
  5. 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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About Jazmyn Espinoza-Church

Jazmyn Espinoza-Church is a bestselling Native American Author, advocate for Native youth, and freelance journalist. When she's not writing or mentoring she can be found in her Michigan home, hanging out with her fiance and two sons.

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9 thoughts on “Fake “Powwow” At Burning Man Has Indian Country Raising It’s Eyebrows

  1. Ebeneezer Forrest says:

    I am totally with some of these comments I am not of indigenous people my people are from Scotland but I am daily studying history, the native indigenous people have been taken advantage of since their creation from the yankee government right down the line to todays standards ,they have been beaten, killed and treated worse than the African indentured servants who complain to have been treated the worst which is totally incorrect they were treated just as they protruded themselves even today of robbing , killing and causing every kind of illegal act. I am 100% behind the plight of all indigenous people they are the salt of the mother earth Thanks

  2. I talk about this often how these kind of people dishonor Native Americans with their New Age Native American flavored fare. I hate when people use the term ‘Native American religion’ as if all nations within North America all had different ways of honoring God the Creator as diversified as the christians and their hundreds of denominations. I hate how these type of people capitalize on and rip off people taking advantage of it being a trend of ‘being Native American is cool’. Everyone has some ancient roots somewhere you don’t have to claim to be a Native American just because it is cool.

  3. Gilles Bear Heart says:

    You sound like a babbling fool , I couldn’t stand to listen to you dry snitching on the other brothas. You’re nothing but a weak ass sell out with no heart and no courage. Everybody can tell that you’re trying to weasel your way out of the situation.

  4. Wonder how much money they made from these “transcend” pow wows.. Don’t say it’s not about money when your doing a ceremony around one of the biggest drug filled events and trying to justify doing so. Greed is written all over this. Native Americans don’t need leaders like that. If you wanted to further the ceremonial values of natives, maybe just invite people to a real pow wow. Don’t think yourself as untitled to being able to run a pow wow in the first place. But then again your names all over social media, people probably will continue to come. You name is known and how you falsely call yourself a medicine men while your at it.

  5. Shut The F Up.!!! You Are Not Even Making Sense..You Know You Did Wrong Of Even Going There In The First Place!!! You Shame The Natives With Letting Them Even Make Fun Of The Sacred Drums And Sacred Songs..You Have Lost Your Way.!!!! You Joined The Circus.!!! We,,Natives Are The True Indeginous People And For You To Go Out There And Tell Them The Same Thing.!!Your Are A Disgrace.!!! Keep Trying To Explain Your Self..True Natives Do Not Act Like That.!!! You Lost An Dignity You Ever Had.!!

    • Bigmeet Climbing Bear says:

      First, I must respectfully beg your forgiveness for my name and email, which are pseudonyms taken from elders who were there to encourage my uncle. As a student he was incessantly mocked for his braids and much more. I am also a proud United States citizen. One of the greatest accomplishments of the two Nations that exist in my self and my people has been to not allow forced amnesia of our cultures. Tolerance shown to be veiled hatred is intent on destruction of all the cultures by speaking for the people who built the culture and are built by the culture entrusted to us. I love a pow wow when cultures meet to learn of and to respect each other. Enemies can respect one another and demonstrate that by letting each other know where we stand. We were always taught these are solemn occasions to keep us rooted in what communities we have left. The people who teach tolerance as a virtue instead of understanding and respect, refer to all by their own created politically correct terms. Native American or indigenous or First Nations. My people up home always said We’re Native and Native American. Tribes were natives before there was an America, but they recognize that many generations have been born from this land that are Native American. I mean no disrespect to any Natives that use Native American exclusively for Natives. It seems rare. I’ve never heard anyone in my family do anything but laugh at the term First Nations and you remind me of them because of the way you use the word, “indigenous” properly. It seems like that may be a trend, whereas virtue signals use the term indigenous or First Nations simply because they want the status as one who is respectful and has no interest in the cultures that one pretends to respect. I can hear my uncle now telling this young man That are people cover every inch of the ground we walk on. A place where culture is broken down into near Anarchy is not a pow wow nor should it be the context four sacred things. Secret things in this context are made profane. That’s why I apologize for what I do in this pseudonym is calling myself the chief. My Tribe however in this false world is inspired by the ridiculous Hekawi Tribe from F Troop. Really I wanted to thank you for loving this young man enough to tell him truth. What he needs to hear, and not what he wants to hear. My uncle and really my whole family taught us that our treasure could be found in the value of experience that’s its in the hearts and mines and traditions of the elders. As modernity continues to devalue Elders oh, I believe they are simply highlighting how badly we need people who care about our culture and our people both native and Native American to stop tolerating one another and start respecting one another seeking to understand one another. Even if we feeling me attempts there is much honor in that. I wish I had words as concise and Powerful as your message. I hope this is an encouragement to you. If I have been in some way disrespectful please know it was due to ignorance and not intent. We were also taught to respect others because that’s who we are not because of who they are, what they are or how they act. We are each responsible and it comes along with covering every inch of the ground we walk on.

  6. Alejandro says:

    I grew up on a Chiricahua Apaches reservation you shame the Historic Values of Our Pow Wows are you a red apple? It sure seems as such you need to get back on your painted pony to become Native again.

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