Already in the mere four years I’ve been a homeschool mom, with my child not even “school age,” homeschooling in general has proven to be as much an education for me as it is for her. When you homeschool, field trips feel imperative. Not only do you want your kid to interact in the world, but even the most extreme homebody, if not an agoraphobe, gets a touch of cabin fever now and again.
In 2012, we discovered that Houston has an annual Pow Wow and attended. I documented that trip here. The kiddo loved it. We studied everything a two year old could “study” about Native Americans at that time and watched a lot of Pocahontas after the event. The culture, the dancing, the drums, the music, the food, I tried to dip my very pasty child in the whole experience. She came away desperately wanting an out fit just like the girl’s she took a picture with in my previous blog post (see left).
Life happened and we missed the 2013 gathering, though we do intend to attend every year.
This year, though kiddo didn’t do much in the way of pre- Pow Wow “research,” I felt the need to grab a book. On my lunch breaks I’ve been perusing The Five Civilized Tribes. I was most interested in the segment on the Choctaw since that is the tribe our rumored ancestor was supposed to have been. (I’m convinced everyone claims a tie to the Native Americans, I’m not convinced everyone has one… I’m not convinced I even have one. But from a geographical standpoint, Choctaw makes good sense.)
I’m not done reading, so a full review cannot commence. Currently, I’ve read through the Choctaw segment and now am knee deep in the Creeks. The book, however, is thorough and enjoyable though – as the Christian Science Monitor reported – “pure history, sober, and fully documented.” One would assume that it would read dry, but it’s not. Sober and dry should not be used interchangeably when speaking of history, but often it is. Especially when dealing with the history of the Native American Indian tribes. Their cultures are too colorful and their history too rich to ever be considered dry.
My favorite bit about the Choctaw is how thoroughly devoted to educating their children they were. Building school houses and hiring teachers was a huge deal for them. They built educational requests into their treaties. Although I don’t agree with institutionalizing, I do find it interesting how much they wanted to learn about those infiltrating their land. Some would say that it was an effort to assimilate, but I don’t think so. I think it was more of an effort to understand. Understanding and knowledge is important to me, though, so perhaps that is always how I will interpret those sorts of actions.
We don’t speak with the competitors at the Pow Wows much. I’d like to know what tribes they are affiliated with, who their ancestors are, whether they live next door or on a reservation. I’d like to talk to them all, interview them all, watch them all more closely. But they are there for a competition and seem to be far more in the public eye than what could possibly be comfortable. Instead we politely nod, smile, purchase raffle tickets for Indian Blankets, donate money to musicians, and try not to take too many invasive pictures of the dancers. Instead, my child makes friends with their children for the day and blows bubbles, and desperately contains herself from touching their bead work and feathers, lest a fiercely intense father of a playmate scowl at all his hard work being undone.
The event is beautiful. It’s all so beautiful.
Today, however, it was rainy and cold. The Pow Wow had to be moved from the arena to a pavilion. The show must go on, though, rain or shine, and despite the cold and the wet, they danced, and they were brilliant and kind. Kind – even when my daughter said quite boldly during their prayer time, “But Indians DON’T PRAY!” I promise I didn’t teach her that. I popped her little butt and said, “Everyone prays, now bow your head.”