An Eye-Opener

More from our Guest Blogger, Rachel G., from the 2014 Encampment!

Note: Each morning, the Encampment begins with a Morning Inspiration, prepared by youth and/or staff.

07/16/14

During our morning meeting period, the Encampment group received inspiration in a form that was different from the usual. The Through An Indigenous Lens CORE Workshop shared a piece of what they had been learning over the last few weeks with the entire group. We started off greeting each other in Lakota Sioux, sharing a personal greeting with each other that helped ensure a happy beginning to the meeting. A warm aura filled the room after “Tawn Yawn Wachin-Yong Kay ye/yelo,” meaning “I’m glad to see you,” was said from Encamper to Encamper. Then it was time for the movie: Reel Injun.

Reel Injun followed an American Indian man as he traveled from his home to Hollywood, the place that had portrayed American Indians in several different ways over the years, leading to the creation of stereotypes of different tribes. As we watched the film, we looked for The Five -Isms of the American Indians. These included Tribalism, Nationalism, Indigenism, Indianism, and Individualism. We discussed where these “-isms” were seen in the movie, and the roots of each.

What made this session interesting was the intrigue that came from talking about something that we don’t normally talk about. Often in workshops and such, discussion about American Indians or anything involving the Indigenous peoples of the world gets overlooked. But this workshop, and those who are involved in it, have opened the eyes of many of the Encampers to issues around the portrayals and stereotypes that surround a culture very different from a majority of our own. Along with learning about the power of assumption, we also learned about how much power the media can hold over a nation’s thinking. We ended the meeting with a closing phrase of “Tok Shaw Ah-Kay Wachin Yong Keen Ktay Ye/Yelo,” meaning, “I’ll see you again.” There are no good-byes in the language, and the familial sense in the community was high because of this.

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