But most tribes do not put on dances for tourists, they go about their everyday lives but they do remember important dates and persons in their history.
Today was the last of the four day celebrations of the 148th Annual Home Coming of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
It is a celebration in honor of the last war chief of the Winnebago, Hoonk-Hoo-No-Kaw or Little Priest.
The First recorded celebration of the Winnebago Nation was at Doty Island, towards the end of September 1634, when the French commissary Jean Nicolet was present (who dressed himself in Chinese silk, thinking that Indians were actually Chinese! he was disappointed to say thousands of regally dressed Winnebagos!)
Each day, twice, the entire group of dancers, local and from other tribes, enter the arena, in a ceremony called the Grand Entry. Each time I am present at this, I close my eyes and imagine the time when they could do these dances when there were no invaders on their lands!
Most Americans including those living in a city just 25 north of here have never been to these magnificent ceremonies and celebrations. I feel sorry for them. They would rather go and see the put on shows of the Thai Hill tribes, the effect is what Claude Levi Strauss described as making exotic, the search is for exotic and not for meaningful experiences which the western tourists can have much closer to their own homes.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching them, socially mixing with them and wondered why are these innocent people the butt of discrimination and oppression. I could only think of what Laurens van der Post said of the San/Bushman: for the white man, they represent something they have lost hundreds of years ago, that connection to the universe only those closer to the creation can achieve.
American Indians do not have churches or buildings to pray, their universe lay all around them, they do not need preachers, pastors or imams, the knowledge about the superior forces come to them by observation, sacrifice and being good people.
This afternoon, talking to an older Indian, he wondered why all this hullabaloo about Immigration. They didn't ask our permission when they came in, he remarked. In the USA, I don't think you would meet any group of people so open minded, so generous with their time and so giving and tolerant as the American Indian! You stand to become a better person by befriending him. I am grateful for my association with them..