This past weekend, thousands gathered for the annual Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Wacipi (or Pow Wow). Different than other pow wows I’ve attended, this one brought together multiple tribes–from all over the US and Canada. I hadn’t ever witnessed or experienced the full, unique power and beauty of these cultures.
Then came Saturday night…
Something I’ve learned working with various populations within the US is the importance of maintaining one’s culture–particular for people whose culture is challenged by mainstream America. On Saturday, August 19, the volume of colorful attire, the intensity of the drum circles, and the “zone” in which I observed the dancers, revealed how strongly many Native Americans hold dear to their culture.
The known suffering on Native American reservations has long been credited by a hollowing of their culture–and the resultant lack of meaning and purpose in their lives. This night, however, revealed this whole other world, proudly expressing their meaning, purpose, and ways.
And it isn’t just they who benefit from this.
I was in attendance with a man from India (Asian Indian). At one point during the rhythmic dancing and unified beat of the large drum, I turned to him and said, “What a beautiful culture. It’s precious.” My friend immediately agreed. We were each floored by the unique power and humanity of this cultural expression, magnified by this incredible event.
While precious and moving, I also imagined the challenge it could be to maintain a cultural practice in a country shaped by those who don’t practice it. I hope these communities can and do maintain their cultures. America is enriched by them.
One pronounced showcase was the famous Northern Cree Drum Circle of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.
Whether of a unique culture or more mainstream, I wish you a culture-filled day. It is what colors and shapes our existence.
p.s. I’d love to know the variety of cultural practices represented in The Periphery community. Comment below by sharing an aspect of your culture’s specific holidays, music, food, dance, spiritual practices, clothing, entertainment, etc. Or perhaps you’ve been exposed to another culture about which you could share. Either way, let’s showcase the variety of spices and slices of life.
And don’t sell yourself short. Anyone can offer something regardless of nationality, race, religion, or whether you’re traditional or modern, urban or rural, cold-weather or tropical. That which you do to punctuate your life is an insight into how we all live.