Indian Festival in Ypsilanti


So, does anyone know what the deal is with this?

And, while we’re on the subject, did anyone see that a decision was made to remove the Native American dioramas from U-M’s natural history museum?

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  1. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    We walked past them yesterday around noon. There was a drum, a person working with feathers, and several tables/booths set up with knickknacks. A dog walker asked a guy what was up, and he said it was an Indian festival they were trying to put together. That’s all he said.

  2. egpenet
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    The Pow-Wow is a start an an annual event. Yesterday and today … today starting at 1:00 and going till dusk.

    A couple hundred years ago, the Huron riverbanks north and south of Michigan Avenue were always crowded with native tribespeople from all over the upper midwest who had come to trade at this crossroads.

    Recent research indicates that there was a trading post just behind the Edison building on North Huron Street dating back to the 1760’s-80’s, long before Godfroy came along in the early 1800’s and purchased the post. It was a simple log cabin with a storage room below. Godfroy had other posts along the Raisin and lower Huron. His large family was active in Illinois and Indiana trading and other real estate investments, as well.

    Having native people in the Riverside Park felt yesterday like a cleansing. Hearing the drum and listening to the ojibwa language … well … it sounded so natural in this setting … even the birds and squirrels paid attention.

  3. Posted September 20, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Here’s some info:

  4. Posted September 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Copied from elsewhere: Deepavali, the most important date of the Hindu calendar, occurs on one day during October and the festivities last practically for the whole month of October. (Note: Here in Singapore, they start celebrating this weekend.)

    Deepavali is the Festival of Lights, and marks the defeat of the evil King Narakasura by the Lord Krishna. All round the world, Hindus celebrate this day as the triumph of light over darkness, and of good over evil. It marks the new beginning for Hindu devotees, and is a great time of rejoicing and renewal.

  5. Posted September 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    So I guess it depends on whether it’s American Indians or Hindus who created that sign.

  6. Posted September 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I saw another handwritten sign that said “Native American,” so I suspect that it doesn’t have to do with the Deepavali. That was a good guess, though.

    I walked by yesterday and there were a handful of people standing around a table or two. I had my dog, so I didn’t go down. From where I was standing, I couldn’t tell what was going on, but, whatever it was, it was super small. Then, later that evening, I found the handwritten signs. It’s too bad that there wasn’t more marketing in advance. It would be cool to have a thriving Native American festival by the river.

  7. kjc
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I was just there. The dancing had started. It was cool as hell, small or not.

  8. Posted September 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    The Mayor just wrote to tell me that it was called the “Heritage of Healing Summer Gathering.” Here’s the wording from the PDF that he forwarded:

    Everyone is invited to come and join us for this first gathering of Heritage of Healing, a project dedicated to cancer awareness and education. The purpose of this traditional event is to bring people together to share prayers, to share food, to share their personal stories, and to share comfort in being together. The Gathering will begin with the lighting of a ceremonial fire Saturday morning. Speakers will include health care providers and those experiencing cancer…

    The Mayor spoke at the event yesterday morning.

  9. Mr. X
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    The Indians did not come to Ypsi with peaceful intentions:

  10. the kingpin
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe they are taking down the Indian displays at the museum. Sad…

  11. Posted September 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Are you talking about the dioramas at the Exhibit Museum? If so, that is sad — and having worked there for more than four years as a student, I spent many many happy hours looking at them and learned a lot from those dioramas. I watched Dr. Butsch perfect them and Dr. Lunk worked on them as well. I can still picture a number of them perfectly.

    And yet. They are incredibly paternalistic and, while I’d hate to see them destroyed, I think a natural history museum is not a suitable place for them.

  12. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    As a kid, I never confused those dioramas with a slight toward Native Americans. I always saw it as a cool portrayal of what life was like in America before the Europeans came. I’m sentimental for them, really. They were my favorite displays.

    Still, I’m not sure exactly what natural history is supposed to include. Is it equating Native Americans with animals? If that’s how people see it, then it is bogue to have the dioramas there (however, I equate all humans with animals–that’s just not how many see it). I just never saw it that way–I envied those people.

    Some might equate it with times in the past when captured “savages” were put on public display, like zoo animals. I don’t see that in these displays. I don’t think they are at all about dehumanization or spectacle.

    Are the representations inaccurate? Are they offensive because they represent Whites stereotyping/objectifying Native Americans? Or is it just the inclusion in a natural history museum that is controversial?

    I just searched “natural history,” and I found some sources that state it is the study of plants and animals; some say it is the study of natural living things and their interrelations; and some include human origins as being part of the scope of the term.

    Is it down to the term “civilized”? Does natural history cut off, on the time line, when the “civilized” world emerged? Is it then that the inclusion of the dioramas are offensive–because they imply those depicted in them were uncivilized? If that is the implication, by design, then, again, including the dioramas would be bogue. Still, might the inclusion of cave paintings be offensive to some (I don’t know if they have depictions of them at the museum–just wondering)?

    Sorry to have strayed off topic.

  13. Amanda
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    The Phillips family who organized the festival is one of my favorite families in Ypsi. They often have a booth at the Downtown Ypsi Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays (and if they don’t have a booth they’re often visiting there), selling jewelry and stones, and distributing information about native americans and cancer, and the role nutrition plays. They give their proceeds there to a nonprofit they started to support Native American youth. The two kids are equally as amazing as the parents. I recommend heading to the market and saying hello, and supporting their craftwork.

  14. Amanda
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    It’s worth reading the article from Ypsi Citizen that Dan linked to above…

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