Monday, June 04, 2007

Moccasins don't have padded soles

Representatives from 100 American Indian nations entering the floor of the Cox Convention center in full tribal dance regalia for the opening of The Red Earth Festival completely and totally blew us away.

And that was only the beginning, but the Grand Entrance was worth the trip downtown all on it's own.

Coined the largest gathering of it's kind in the world, the Red Earth Festival is a unique event celebrating the diversity and culture of both Northern and Southern Native American nations.

A few impressions from the big-city-moved-to-small-Okie-town peanut gallery...
  • There was an impossibly long line at the single food vendor selling "Indian Tacos," a dish that is common at fairs and festivals around the state, but is questionably (at least in my mind) of Native American Indian origin -- okay, the fry bread I'll give to you).

    Why then, did only 1 vendor show up serving this "authentically themed dish" yet I had my choice of hot dogs, bratwurst, sub sandwich, and Dippin' Dots vendors to spend my money at?

  • True to form, even for a culture as in tune with nature as the Native American's are, just as in nature, the boys get the best, brightest, most colorful regalia to adorn themselves in. The girls get brown with a few muted token colors tossed into the mix.

  • Even though my wife claims to have inklings of Choctaw and Chickasaw blood in her, during the competition, we found ourselves cheering on our local Cheyenne/Arapaho "family members" from our small town instead. Blood may be thicker than water, but small town neighbors rate pretty high when they're dancing and chanting ancient tribal tomes.

  • One of the more interesting vendor booths we stumbled on was a company that offered a DNA ancestry search service to find your tribal roots. The two bespectacled Caucasian geeks running the booth were an attempt to instill confidence in the technology behind the process, but they unfortunately stood out like Custer's troopers amidst the other Native vendors.

  • Walking around the convention center, the ever present rhythmic drumming emanating from the arena floor, echoed off and around the concrete catacombs of the corporate center. At times I couldn't help thinking how that very sound heard by a Union Trooper or stagecoach driving settler more than 100-years ago in this very state, elicited a very different reaction than the head-bobbing, feet shuffling joy I was experiencing.
  • Finally, the dancing and walking for long periods of time on the hardened cement floors of the arena must have been taking it's toll on the plantar and extensor muscles of some of the Red Earth participants as we overheard a young man tell his stroller pushing wife that he wished his moccasins had padded soles.

    My Sketchers were a little sore from walking as well.

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