07 March 2010

I'm disappointed in the Lakota Sioux

I received this "dreamcatcher" in the mail as part of a fundraising project by St. Joseph's Indian School in South Dakota.  I have a longstanding interest in dreamcatchers and have two in my office as a result of some previous academic studies I undertook on the phenomenon of sleep paralysis.

Our family includes some Native American blood, so we have previously donated to similar related charities (which is probably why we got on the mailing list for this one).  We won't be responding to the Lakota, however, because as I looked at this symbol of their culture I noticed there was something in the lower left corner written in such a small font (approximately 3 point in my estimation) that I had to get a magnifying glass to see this:
Maybe I'm being unrealistic, but when people start subcontracting out their heritage, I lose interest.

13 comments:

  1. Isn't that sad? I guess that each and every Lakota Sioux is fully employed.

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  2. How sad indeed... Here in Quebec we also find this type of dreamcatchers, but at least, they're manufactured in Canada, hopefully by natives...

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  3. Although I have no native blood in me, I was raised on Fort Peck Indian Reservation (Sioux - some people were Lakota) in Montana. Natives were my friends, neighbors, and classmates. I attended powwows every year. I didn't see a dreamcatcher until I moved to Colorado in the early 80s. What I did see was beautiful handmade beadwork, moccasins, and quilts. I think dreamcatchers were first designed in the 1970s and not by Lakotas specifically.

    On another note, if by outsourcing the dreamcatchers to China, the non-profit can spend more on the kids, isn't that being fiscally responsible?

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  4. C'mon. It's 2012. America has been majorly outsourcing from abroad since the 80s. Or if we broaden the scope, since American consumption of foreign oil exceeded that of domestic oil. Wanna really follow the concept, since we decided immigrants work cheaper than, um, natives. (Whatever native meant once displacement had begun.) Besides, genetic and archeological evidence suggests Amerindians or First Americans came from Asia.

    Now, if we were talking Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags made in Beijing, we might have a real irony overload to contend with.

    Anyway, what Onymous said: until you've seen the bottom line, any quibble on this is either made in ignorance or from sentimentality. I suspect the bean-counter at this school prefers solvency to sentiment.

    I'm 1/16th Cherokee, whatever that means.

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  5. Give to the Total Immersion School, this one sounds like another catholic school meant to civilise the little heathen indians. Sending out dreamcatchers from China, give me a break. There's no justification for it, "solvency" or sentiment, only in 'Merca have those qualities somehow become mutually exclusive, and those who would question this are being ignorant or sentimental.
    Welcome to America! It's the thought that counts, have a nice day!

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  6. Solvency or sentiment? False dichotomy, seems to me. And yes, the actual merits of the school itself would be more important than from where they obtain their appreciation tokens.

    Why next thing you know they'll be buying their glass trinket beads from some Manhattan sweatshop?!

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  7. Worse is the use of an object in support of a Native American superstition to support a Catholic school. I think those work against each other.

    The philosophers in the audience might point out that both the dreamcatcher and Catholicism might be considered superstitions, it is just that Catholicism is a religion that allows no others, especially superstitious (in their opinion) charms.

    There are a lot more inconsistencies going on than a first glance would suggest.

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  8. A few years ago, I was visiting the town I grew up in for the 4th of July. Went to the morning parade and some state representative was in the parade. The people associated with the state rep were handing out little American flags. I got one and when I looked at it, stamped across the top of the flag in large print was the words: MADE IN CHINA.

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  9. I live in Spokane, a city named after the Indian tribe from which came an exceptional modern author, Sherman Alexie, a man not particularly awed by the merits of 'traditional' vs. 'contemporary/White Man/etc.' I suspect that, if he saw Avatar, he snickered a lot from both sides of that polarity, and I doubt very much that his willingness to contribute to a school for Indians would weigh whence came its thank you talisman.

    IF... superstitious sensibilities are important to decisions regarding the support of a school, then I for one think one's reasons for supporting a school deserve reexamination.

    I don't believe in funding magical thinking, and a dreamcatcher is hardly an instrument of science or any rational pedagogy except what might, perhaps, be applied to it by a clever teacher.

    I certainly hope the Lakota school doesn't teach Dreamcatching 101.

    Next: why one should be doubly careful in sending money to support schools named Hogwarts, especially if their balsa wood wizard wands are stamped by a muggles manufactory.

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  10. In the '40's my very Catholic great aunt Margaret, who raised my mother after my grandmother died, regularly contributed to the St. Joseph's Indian School and used to receive marvelous little dolls that appeared to have been lovingly made. I always liked those items and remember them as being well-made and exquisite. What a world! What a world!

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  11. "Sending out dreamcatchers from China, give me a break. There's no justification for it..."

    Hmmm, we'd rather the Lakota support their families by doing piecework instead of being farmers, accountants, professors, and doctors?

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  12. Kenmeer livermaile said:
    *C'mon. It's 2012*
    while He blogged from the future.
    Please, tell us all about it!

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  13. In 2012, people w/out glasses will make many typos, effortlessly.

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