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In the past, the knowledgeable ones would get up and chastise participants and say," that is not the way it is supposed to be." Many of these knowledgeable ones are gone now or the remaining ones are too scared or frustrated to make corrections.
We used to have back-up and support systems for making corrections. There has been a lament for many years about this fear of correcting because there's no safety. The whole system that was set up to validate and reinforce that voice of authority has broken down. That's what is really missing.
Many of the Elders, even the strongest ones, are letting the misconceptions go. They are scared because of the aggression of the young people. (When the Elders talk about young people, they talk about the past generation or two who are unskilled in spiritual and cultural work.)
Indian culture is such a commodity today and worth big bucks as one knowledgeable one stated. Many of our "Elders" are not in it for the right reasons. They are in it for the money and are not "pure of heart."
Many have learned about who they are using the academic world and books as their primary source, thinking that they are accurate. We have academics in our communities documenting ceremonies and sometimes what these academics write is wrong and these misconceptions become law. We have made these academics authorities over and above the cultural and spiritual leaders.
Now the knowledgeable people are understanding what is written about our history and want to correct it. I had earlier asked the Creator, the grandfathers and grandmothers, if I was doing the right thing with Buffalo Spirit. There was much confusion out in Indian Country regarding Indian spirituality and culture. The answer I received was Buffalo Spirit was necessary to inform, educate and create discussion regarding our cultural and spiritual way of life.
I had always refused to record ceremonies and the only one Windspeaker ever published was one of the late Joe Crowshoe, a spiritual leader from the Peigans, performing a pipe ceremony. He allowed the ceremony to be photographed because he felt that it was important that the ceremony be preserved.
Ed McGaa, an Indian author, spoke of a documentary on Indigenous people of South America. These people were very isolated and did not have contact with mainstream society. Their ceremonies were pure. A television crew came out and recorded their ceremonies.
When they saw these ceremonies on television they said that it was good. The ceremonies could be preserved and seen by future generations. Ed McGaa stated that the Creator would not have given us modern technology if he did not want us to use it to preserve culture.
The Siksika people were concerned about the future of their sundance and asked the Glenbow Museum to film and record the 1960 sundance. The film was to be used for educational purposes and not for public consumption. I had an opportunity to view the film and I cannot describe the feeling I had when I saw many friends and spiritual leaders in the various ceremonies. Many of these individuals have passed on and the knowledge has gone with them, but because of this film, the ceremonies and images of those who have gone beyond this world are preserved for future generations.
As a Siksika person who is interested in the culture, I would have been six years old when the sundance was filmed and it was only recently that I began to explore my spiritual roots. I am thankful that this film was done so I can actually see those individuals that I have only heard stories about going to the sundance.
When I speak of recording, I don't mean like a media scrum or in public. The person recording the ceremony must be smudged and purified. The purpose of the recording is to preserve the ceremonies so they don't get changed in the future. These recordings must be kept safe and used for educational purposes only.
I also stressed the importance that all nations should have their Elders recorded to preserve their knowledge. I stressed that the highest quality of recording should be attempted using digital cameras that are at least broadcast quality.
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