Dennis Zotigh in Native Challenges. Discussion »
There is a Reason Why There are a Large Number of Powwows Happening During the 4th of July
Washington In 1883 the Indian Religious Crimes Code (Prucha, 'Documents' p. 160-161) was developed by Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller as a means to prohibit Native American ceremonial activity under pain of imprisonment. Teller's general guidelines to all Indian agents ordered them to discontinue dances and feasts. Enforced in reservations as Department of Interior, Office of Indian Affairs policy, Indian ceremonies were banned, religious practices disrupted, and sacred objects destroyed or confiscated.
Dennis Zotigh, Kiowa, Santee Dakota, and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo
Indian ceremonial activities were prohibited under threats of imprisonment and/or withholding of rations. The Secretary of the Interior issued this Code of Regulations in 1884, 1894 and 1904 through Indian Affairs Commissioner's circulars and Indian agent directives. In turn, Indian superintendents and agents implemented the code until 1936. In this 50 year period, Indian spiritual ceremonies such as the Sun Dance and Ghost Dance were held in secret or ceased to exist.
Some tribes continued their ceremonials during the 4th of July under the disguise of telling their agents they were celebrating American Independence Day. Usually the American flag was displayed in a prominent position to support this claim. Otherwise many of these tribal ceremonies would have also ceased to exist.
Dennis Zotigh, Kiowa, Santee Dakota, and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, is an American Indian Research Historian and currently serves as a Cultural Specialist with the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. He first shared "There is a reason why there are a large number of powwows happening during the 4th of July" while commenting on the Native News Network site last July and we wanted to share his thoughts again with you this Independence day.
photo credit Travis Helms, Aleut, NMAI;
posted July 4, 2012 8:00 am edt