21 June 2007

paying "indians" to play "indian" ...

thanks to Newspaper Rock (Where Native America Meets Pop Culture) for Indian Country Today link to an article entitled "paying to teach and 'play indian.'" folks across the u.s. continue to pay for "indian" spirituality. as D'Shane Barnett (Mandan and Arikara) was quoted in the article, "People cannot claim to understand our ways with one breath and then offer to sell them with their next breath.''

here at the bureau (a free site, incidentally, for all the brady bravers out there, unlike supposed "new age native healing" sites where you, too, can find the inner-"indian" for just $99), we don't want to disrespect those who are trying to find their way in this world. but some folks are profiting from other people who, as Barnett has been told by "a couple of different medicine people," are "filling a void.'' cultural appropriation time and again for hundreds of years here, and it continues time and again. (NBC's Today Show, as the bbb has mentioned before, helps to promote it.) many people are seriously hurting, are in need of healing, and others are cashing in on that.

here at the bureau, we'd add that in many settings, the phrase paying "indians" has interelated ambiguities: 1) paying as a verb, as in non-natives forking over money to "indians," which in quotes here, means those pseudo-"indians" who base their work on non-indigenes' understandings of indigenous approaches. 2) paying as an adjective, as in the new pseudo-"indians" becoming "indians" through payment. continuing today's language lesson, bobby "little bear who loses his way" brady will now demonstrate it in a sentence: the paying "indians" are paying "indians" for playing indian to become paying "indian" players. thanks, bobby.

but pseudo-ers/pretenders don't need to pay to play. in the next bbb post, we'll share with you what to do. stay tuned ...

1 comment:

Matthew M. Barbee said...

I like wordplay along these lines. P(l)ay is a good pun to get at the cultural values that let some get pay (cash money) for play (redface) while keeping others from getting pay (economic stability, good schools, solid healthcare) because of the play the US has always celebrated (redface, cowboys v. 'indians' as a game).

Something else is occuring to me, something regarding notions of 'civilization' as pay (mercantilism, industry, work ethic) and 'savagery' as play (assumptions of the wastefullness of alternative modes of living, family structures, economies, etc).

Make sense?