because of my web pages or conversation, people assume I am a regular attendee
or participant at pow wows, but this is not the case. As I have mentioned
elsewhere in my website, although I heavily incorporate indigenous philosophies
and perspectives into my life, and try to show respect for my ancestry, I
am not a practitioner of traditional Native American ceremony. The very
first Grand Entry I experienced did touch my spirit in a very special way.
However, I actually rarely attend pow wows. There are several reasons
for this. Like everywhere else in our culture, there is the politics
of a thing one becomes exposed to sooner or later. Also . . .
couple of negative experiences without clear photographic protocols early
in my visits to pow wows made a big impact. You only need to be unfairly
reprimanded once to have it create a tension when it is your desire to be
respectful of the cultural situation. Contrary to the claims, in my
personal experience, announcers have not always been on top of stating when
photographs are prohibited. I never had an individual object to a picture.
Sometimes I have specifically asked, but if you were to ask every time, you
would never get a candid shot. People change their demeanor and expressions
when they know they are being photographed. Very few people have the
ability to "knowingly" act naturally. Anyone acquainted with me understands
that (besides simply serving God) what I "do" is photography. The tension of
always wondering if I am within the boundaries is not particularly enjoyable.
of the things I embrace about traditional indigenous ways, and believe Christians
could learn and benefit from, is the integration of the spiritual within daily
activities. There is not one day where you are religious and six where
you are secular. Your daily walk and spiritual walk are not separate
entities. They are one walk . . . one life. Though I respect that
each person has the (God given) freedom to choose their own path in life,
and what their heart calls them to is between them and their Creator, the
not so subtle way that I was shown Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center
was not truly welcome to share (display) Cherokee history at the Lansing Pow
Wow because of my obvious Christian walk, also became a strong deterrent for
any positive connection to pow wows.