Saturday, July 4, 2015

Some things I learned on the 4th of July 2015

This morning when I got together with a group of friends, there was some talk about celebrating the 4th of July and freedom. A man who is a member of the Lummi Nation quietly said that he had been giving considerable thought this year as to what the 4th of July means to him as a Native American, and his conclusion was "nothing," except that it is an occasion to honor tribal veterans. He said this in a matter of fact way that startled all of us awake. He is a kind man with a keen sense of humor, and his life is devoted to helping others. I'm grateful for his honesty. His words gave me much to think about.

It's been a long long time since I read the Declaration of Independence. He inspired me to find a reading of it on YouTube by a diverse group of readers. Watch for Graham Greene, a First Nations actor who was chosen to read, with some irony, about "merciless Indian savages" at 6:25:

"... He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions..."

Here's Morgan Freeman's introduction to the above reading of the Declaration of Independence.  It was featured on the Doonesbury website today and was part of the inspiration for my blog post today:

From the article from "Indian Country":

As Americans everywhere celebrate the 4th of July, I think about how many American Indians are taking their yearly vacations back to their reservations and home communities. All across Indian country, tribes hold modern celebrations -- including powwows, rodeos, and homecomings -- that coincide with the United States' Independence Day celebrations.

As for me, I'll be with my two daughters, and we'll watch a huge fireworks display!

-- Dennis Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I said to Roger last night, "I wonder how the native Americans feel about the 4th of July." So much noise and light into the night.

bev said...

Thinking much the same as Robin. Things are definitely more low key up here in the north. However, even with that, there is some uneasiness about all this post-colonial celebration. I don't celebrate much of anything, so much of it goes right over me.

Tara said...

we went to our local fireworks show this year (first time in many years) and it was a lot of fun. Mostly, I appreciated the folks who came out and the festive and happy atmosphere. I noticed a lot of people in costume and I asked Steve, "isn't it amazing that people have costumes for every holiday?"

we have so few rituals, and sometimes I loathe them and sometimes I throw caution to the wind and experience them.

I've been to a few Pow Wows as well, and I highly recommend them.