indian princesses

ramon’s officemate allegra was talking about The Great Vowel Shift, and i told her she should do her orals with sweeping arm gestures. when i was in indian princesses, we did this incantation at the end of every meeting about the great spirit watching over us and it all kinds of gestures like shooting a bow and arrow at the sky. turns out neither of them had heard of the indian princesses before. so here are some of my thoughts on it.

it was like the girl scouts but not, and it was a father-daughter thing specifically, and i did it for at least a year in third grade. i can’t remember how on earth i got involved… maybe my dad’s coworkers set it up or something. i was “little fox” and my dad was “silver fox,” even though to this day he has a full head of black, black hair. each girl had a headband that you secured with a safety pin, and you put a brightly dyed feather into the safety pin. we also had badges to iron-sticky onto a leather vest.

ramon is slightly interested because lately he has been consumed by hupa. here’s a followup email i jotted down to him the next day, because i’m too lazy to type it out again for the different format of my livejournal:

i’m doing a little bit of poking around on the internet and
apparently in 2003, YMCA phased out the word “indian” and all native
american references and the parent-child program is now called
“adventure guides.”

the next time i’m at home and have a nice chunk of time, i can look
around for the guide book and we can have a good… laugh? not sure
what it is exactly. here’s some dude’s writeup of suggested guidelines
for parents and kids learning about indians:

i’m trying to remember if we did things like paint our faces and say
“how.” i think as kids we might have said things like “how” to each
other (because of peter pan, with the arm raised) and probably did the
thing where you go “ooohhhh” and pat your hand over your mouth, but we
didn’t paint our faces and we certainly never said things like
“indians are dirty.” actually, this is all making me nostalgic. i
wonder how the other girls in my tribe are doing. the only one whose
name i remember was shoko bogen, who i went to school with from
kindergarten to like… gee, i don’t have any memories of her from
high school, but i don’t remember her moving away either, really. her
parents were divorced; her dad was white and her mom was japanese. she
always fascinated me and i wanted to be like her because she was
impetuous, strong-willed, irreverent, creative, blustering, and

i remember our tribe went to camp campbell with a large bunch of
tribes from all over the bay area and it was summer camp and we did
crafts and ziplining and swimming and archery and told stories by a big campfire and
skits and hiking and learned about animals and plants and did beading
and stuff. there was a big campfire at the end and i remember how they lit
the giant bonfire on the stage: they lit an arrow in fire, and the arrow flew
down a zipline and set the bonfire ablaze.
that is like one of the happiest moments of my childhood or something.

also, you’re going to think that i’ve developed some kind of fetish for this woman because she’s hot and asian, but it’s just that her blog came up on the first page of google when i searched “code pink” and when i searched “indian princesses” … well, here we go: For example:

This classic example of P.C. bowdlerism is not the end of the world, to be sure. But the death of the Indian Princesses illustrates the fraudulent nature of zealous multiculturalism, which preaches unequivocal inclusiveness while enforcing insularity.

I mean, I think she’s wrong. I think there’s something wrong with the way that she approaches looking at everything about “multiculturalism” but I feel there is nothing i could ever say that’s at all intelligent to convince her otherwise.

reminds me of one of the the American Girls books about Kristen. there’s a part where she befriends an indian girl and on their first meeting, the Other Girl stares at Kristen with mouth agape and reaches up slowly to caress her blond, blond braids. and how disturbed it made me feel reading this in 3rd grade because i had black hair, just like the indian girl, and i had never felt the need to fetishize whatever blonde friends i might have had, and i wondered if there was something wrong with me because i didn’t inherently realize that blond hair was more beautiful than my own. i told this story to ramon, who said that there was a part in little house on the prarie that was the other way around: the girl sees some indians pass by, and she’s captivated by this indian baby because he had the blackest, blackest eyes, and she wanted her dad to go fetch it so she could keep it because she had never seen eyes so black or skin so dark.

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