Pow Wow Essays

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His attitudes do nonetheless offer one some means of grappling with questions of an American Indian land ethic in other contexts.

Specifically important in the contexts of the Makah whale hunts and a specific moment in the film by Huron writer David Seals who also wrote the screenplay—two Cheyenne men leave Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana and, via Pine Ridge, South Dakota, drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We must realize that the earth is a vital and spiritual entity. For Momaday it comes down to a simple necessity: we must “formulate an ethical idea of the land—a notion of what it is and must be in our daily lives—and I believe moreover that it is absolutely necessary to do so” ( 48).

In yet another essay, “Navajo Place-Names,” Momaday contends that story itself has the power to imbue place with sacredness.

Afin de tenter d’évaluer l’importance de la conscience environnementale/ écologique amérindienne, cet article se propose de comparer deux chasses à la baleine, impliquant toutes deux des membres de la tribu Makah, avec l’approche très différente proposée par le film amérindien Powwow Highway.

Dans ce film, l’un des personnages est persuadé que le ‘trickster’, ou ‘Décepteur’, protégera les Cheyennes, et plus généralement le peuple Indien, de la détérioration de l’environnement.Several different Native American writers come together speculatively to suggest an American Indian land ethic, an ethic that can be seen to operate in relation to many different forms of environmental exploitation, including whale hunting by tribal members themselves and mining on Indian land by non-Indians.Let me start not with the hunt or with the film, however, but with a few references to how Kiowa writer N.The questions I want to ask in this essay are not so much about the differences between legal and illegal whaling, but rather whether or not the two hunts differ in the context of an American Indian or Indigenous land ethic, and if so how.In an effort to make an assessment of and a statement about the place of an American Indian environmental consciousness as reflected and represented in American Indian art and life, I compare these two related Makah whale hunts with a seemingly completely different text, the text of an American Indian film, (as well as the novel on which it is based) and the actual Makah whaling hunts offer very different but related “texts” through which one can theorize an American Indian environmental consciousness.The film, the Makah whaling controversy, and other Indigenous writings offer texts through which one can theorize an American Indian environmental consciousness.An earlier, much different and shorter version of the argument set forth here was originally presented as “‘The Truth Hangs over Your Head’: Sanctioned and Unsanctioned Crimes against the Environment”.The illegal hunt does differ, however, in that because of the hunters’ poor preparation and lack of expertise, the whale suffered an especially brutal killing.Legally, of course, the differences between the two hunts are immense: one had the approval and sanction of appropriate governing entities, the other did not.We may be perfectly sure where we are in relation to the supermarket and the next coffee break, but I doubt that any of us knows where he is in relation to the stars and to the solstices.Our sense of the natural order has become dull and unreliable.” ( 47-48).


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