Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Victory In The Struggle Against Cultural Imperialism

After a thorough search of both the main Teaching Drum web page and Tamarack Song's own personal page, we have noticed the disappearance of the wretchedly fake sweat lodge article Tamarack wrote called "Gifting Path," which was lambasted in our post "Masturbating In The Sauna: Tamarack's Non-Indian Sweat Lodge."

Apparently, Tamarack has buried the beast, as its rotten, racist smell (and our criticism) had become too much for even him to bear. We have no idea if it remains a part of the Wilderness Guide Program materials, but if so, the article is not advertised in the contents list.

Maybe, too, the fact that Dan Konen has at last discovered and acknowledged his ancestors has left him less inclined to co-opt (steal) from Indigenous cultures (a process we recommend for all non-Natives). Oh, he's still pimping some hokey version of "native" on the Teaching Drum's website, but hopefully with a few more years of our relentless, withering critiques, he finally will dump even that culturally imperialist abomination.

Thanks to Dan Konen's own words, we have learned that his father's lies about his family's true origins encouraged Tamarack to become a self-hating Jew. This, we believe, is the personal root of Tamarack's racist pathology in relation to American Indians - he was ashamed of his own heritage so he created a New Age Indian-wannabe persona with which to bury it. This is likely also a key motivation in his choice to change his name to Tamarack Song.

"When as a child I asked my father what he knew, he would proudly--and defensively--state that we were German. I sensed that he was hiding something that he himself may not have completely understood. 'Why was most of his side of the family dark-skinned?' I would ask myself. 'And why did kids at school ask if I was Jewish?'

My mother’s ancestry was shrouded by another veil: the shame of illegitimacy. No one seemed to know--or at least was willing to tell--where her mother came from. Her birth certificate was fabricated to look as though she was the product of a normal Christian marriage.

The ancient tribes of North Africa's Nile Delta are my father's people. Originally pastoralists, they migrated to the fertile lands of the eastern Mediterranean, where they gave up their nomadic ways to become the first agriculturalists. Perhaps my father would have been proud of his ancestry had he known he was a member of the kohan, the Hebrew hereditary priestly caste. If genealogical and Biblical records are correct, my father is a direct male descendant of Aaron, elder brother of Moses and the first Kohan Gadol, or High Priest."
Sadly, Daniel still cannot seem to get history right. The ancient Hebrews were hardly the first agriculturalists, as agriculture has been practiced around the world for over ten thousand years, and possibly much longer.

And why would a hunter-gatherer wannabe be proud his father's people were "the first agriculturalists"? Desperate still for some relevance, however far-fetched? You betcha.

Still, we celebrate a victory today. That horrible, fakelore sweat lodge article is no longer available for purchase.

Dan Konen's struggle to speak his own truth reveals even more deeply the genocidal nature of a racist America that wants non-Natives to deny their ancestors and become white, all the while stealing and perverting real Native American culture so that this land's Indigenous peoples will be less Indian.

Don't buy it, Folks. Find your own ancestors. It's a key step in destroying whiteness.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Jewish and I don't want him either. Direct descendent of Aaron, my ass. Aaron lived in 1200 BC, something tells me that doesn't go back that far. Hah.

I think that because white culture is seen as being empty (having no race of ethnicity), white people get hungry for personal cultural significance - especially when "ethnic minorities" seem to have it - and develop a sort of desperation to find some "ancient, tribal roots". (This can happen before, after, or in conjunction with attempts to ingratiate ourselves into, or appropriate, Native cultures.)

In other words, we're jealous. Which can be a legitimate feeling, if a bit misconceived, but it often gets expressed in totally illegitimate ways.

You can tell us to just come up with our own rituals or use the shit of our own identities, but either it's too authentic (i.e., mainstream, like Christianity or Judaism or generic European, and therefore less special) or not authentic enough (i.e., doesn't already exist in another culture).

If you tell us appropriation is wrong, we don't care - we're sure that Native ceremony is just about "what feels right" and isn't grounded in any actual procedures or history. That anyone could do it. Which is funny because it betrays a basic disrespect for the practice; that we don't have to worry about fucking up or ruining the ceremony because it wasn't anything seriously spiritual anyway, it's just "what you make of it".

There's this attitude that as long as we say "please", Native peoples should share. And if they won't, it's just because they're paranoid or "reverse racists" or misunderstood us or thought we were like those "other white people" who are assholes (not us!) and so it's probably cool to go ahead and do that sweat lodge ceremony anyway.

I really don't know what to do about attitudes like this. When someone feels entitled to something, how do you make them understand that they're not?


11/15/2008 1:19 PM  
Blogger Nemeses said...

We missed this post in our waiting-to-be-approved box. The comment was dated November 12, 2008. This blog's inbox should be cleaned more often!

I was just curious as to what it is you're doing yourself to stop the atrocities committed against indigenous people's of the world? I haven't seen anything like Survival International mentioned on your blog anywhere, or anything like that (correct me if I'm wrong and show me the site) to show that you support groups working to represent them. And then, if you don't want people to try and do things to understand the way people in the past once lived (regardless of whether you agree with Tamarack or Teaching Drum, this is what people are trying to do by going there) and gain more of a connection with the Earth and thus abandon the values of white culture, what do you want them to do?
I was also curious if your coming at accusing him of being racist from a perspective of being Native American yourself?
I was also curious if you would reveal your own identity, and make it open as to who are you.
And I'd appreciate a response without assuming that I'm racist and thus an assumption on what race I am and what races I am not.
-Man who wonders.

5/07/2009 5:56 PM  

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