Author Topic: Lelooska Foundation - "Chief" Lelooska - Ariel, WA  (Read 618 times)

Offline Shredbones

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Lelooska Foundation - "Chief" Lelooska - Ariel, WA
« on: July 23, 2019, 10:05:34 am »
When I first moved to Washington, I joined my schools multicultural club which took various trips around the area in hopes of broadening horizons and such. The one Native-centered event that the club participated in was the Lelooska Fire-lit "Ceremony", presented by The Lelooska Foundation.

I am originally from Colorado and the tribes that I belong to are from Northern Montana, so I love to learn about other tribes cultures and customs, especially here in the Northwest, where my knowledge of the regional tribes is minimal at best. When we arrived at the Lelooska museum/long house, my sensors started to go off and I brushed it off as being overtly curious. I had noticed that in the museum, Northwestern tribes were large underrepresented as far as spaces and items go. The majority of pieces in the museum appeared to be purchased Lakota, Crow, Cheyenne beadwork, pipes, war bonnets; stuff belonging to Northern Plains Tribes.

When the performance (I am being especially careful and adamant not to call this a "ceremony") started I was so confused. There didn't appear to be a single Native involved but knowing the history of the nearby Cowlitz tribe, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I don't want to go into too much detail about the performance but after it was finished, I was left scratching my head.

Everything seemed so gimmicky and corny. I was reminded of the goofy outfits I have seen on hobbyists at powwows. The Lelooska dancers' masks weren't what struck me as inauthentic, it was the whole way they carried themselves and way of dancing, if you want to call that "dancing". It was all just so...white.

I knew this wasn't right so I started doing research and was able to track down journals written by a couple nice ladies that work in the American Studies/History/Native Studies Departments at Yale and the University of Rochester. It confirmed my suspicions and provided me with so much more information. They seem to be celebrated here in the Northwest which is kinda mind boggling. (Masking Identities: Anya Montiel) (Slideshow) (The Vexed Identity of Don “Lelooska” Smith: Janet Catherine Berlo)