This has been a crazy week, full of many activities (including a family wedding). But I didn't want to neglect to report back on the Pow-wow that I attended with the kids as part of the WCRC this past Tuesday at a park downtown.
I was super excited to show my kids this part of our national heritage--which is often portrayed in one way that is far from the truth. To show them the pageantry and beauty and faith that is inherent in native culture among native peoples. There is a beautiful understanding of Creator God that has been paired with a knowledge of Jesus' salvific work and the ever present Spirit that is central to life as a Native person. In Utah where I grew up, there were often displays of the cultural heritage of that place. Every summer, our family traveled to a festival of sorts where we would see renderings and depictions of that life. These sorts of things are not as openly a part of the heritage here in the Midwest, although still an integral part of the development and history of the area.
The ceremony was on a hot Tuesday afternoon--all the 1,000 delegates were in attendance, as well as member of the 4Tribes and the community. It was a hot, bright sunshine-y afternoon. First there was a worship service. We sang in Amazing Grace in Cree, we "Got up & Danced" with the Holy Spirit, we listened to praise and worship that was not in my language. The stories that are told with drum and voice are both varied and unique, although it is hard to imagine that it can truly be that way.
We listened to a sermon. And I was bothered by it. Because as I listened, I heard anger--a lot of it. At the church for failing the native peoples of this land (which it did), for people for standing by abuses and stereotypes (which we do), for a lack of desire of the current church to engage or minister to and with the native peoples that are among us, for a lack of compassion (which is evident). I am still bothered by the anger that I heard. Not only as a white woman whose people came and stole land and am guilty of all that I was accused of, but also because the anger was not appropriate to the unity of the situation. But I feel that perhaps that anger was not out of place because she was simply pronouncing truth, and this was a truth that condemned some. And her truth reflected what has been experienced by those she loves and her ancestors. Again, I have been changed, and not in an expected way.
I guess God shows up everywhere, doesn't he.
It was remarkable to see how many of the ceremonies of the Native Americans truly embody our One God: that the Holy Spirit is acknowledged as present and active--in the drumming, in the dancing, in the fellowship.
One cool thing about this whole experience is that unlike other pow-wows, the dance circles were open to everyone. They were "Inter-tribal dances" which allowed any person at any time to join in the circle and dance. So we did. The girls and I--but it was also hot and crowded in the circle. But during that time we met two girls from Indonesia, a woman from the Netherlands, and blessed by smoke (symbolising the presence of the Holy Spirit). (Man, I really did have compassion on those people who were wearing native costumes--they were heavy and hot in that blazing sun.) J really enjoyed watching the drummers (the lead drum had just been award the 1st place prize in "Pow-wow Idol" meaning that they were the best drum team in the nation.)
I am glad that I got to share this with my kids. I am even more glad that it had a natural rhythm--that there wasn't entertainment in every moment, so it gave my kids an opportunity to be kids--lay in the grass, roll down the hill, meet a new friend, observe the people around us from all around the world.
And at the end of the event, as we were getting ready to leave, the kids found the fountain to play in. That makes everything great.