A sincere thank you to everyone who came out to participate and help with filming great scenes that will be included in upcoming documentary Forget Winnetou! Going Beyond Native Stereotypes and as production extras for the DVD! It was a beautiful and sunny afternoon in Germany beside the picturesque Tegelsee in Berlin. As I am almost exclusively “behind the camera”, it was nice to finally see myself in photos, which were taken by Viveka Frost and Haven Smith, who are part of our team.
Published on 24 February at Indian Country Today Media Network, it’s based on observations from myself and my son when visiting the “native inspired” event called the “Winter Pow-wow 2014” that took place in Berlin, Germany just over a week earlier.
As usual, there are hobbyists who take offense to any critique of their activities, and others, like the activities themselves, who are sincere in their questioning and finger-pointing without seeming to have the ability to truly understand that however well meant, it is still considered misappropriation and disliked by many natives to have their cultures playacted (they aren’t native, so what else is it but pretending?). That’s just a fact.
They, like myself, may not dislike the hobbyists personally. You might even like some of them (I know a number, and do), but it doesn’t take away the fact they are copying another culture for their own reasons, desires, pursuits, etc. Whatever you want to call it, just be honest. I am a long time scholar of German history spanning centuries, do you see me dressing up in lederhosen, traditional regional or period German clothing pretending to German? No, and you never will. I honor my heritage, and I respect their culture and history too by not pretending to be one of them even if it’s just for a day. I don’t know why they can’t get the concept.
As instructed I wrote what I saw around me and how I was treated. I wrote it solely from my perspective, again, as I was required. Until someone “walked a mile in my moccasins”, to coin a phrase, then they have no right to question. Another quote, this time it’s Shakespeare, “Thou doth protest too much!” Culpability. Feeling of guilt with a need to justify themselves. The reactions tell the tale.
Plus articles have editors. Editors who edit. They edit out some information that might be more explanatory. Don’t you just love readers who like to attack you? Grain of salt.
Check out the article: “A Star Trek Convention for Native Enthusiasts: Inside a German Pow Wow.”Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/24/star-trek-convention-native-enthusiasts-inside-german-pow-wow-153712
Other articles at this site on native topics:
- Native Misrepresentation in Film
- “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” in Germany: Confronting and Informing the Ignorant
- An Impromptu Grill Party & Lots of Native Americans
- Visiting Eldorado, A Western Themed Park in Templin, Germany for “Indianertanz”
- Photos of a SE Native American Regalia “Shake’Em Out”
- Understanding Prejudice.org: Test Your Native I.Q.- A Quiz You All Need to Take
- Idle No More In Germany
- F— Assimilation: Keeping It Real As Native Americans
- “You’re All the Same!” American Indians From a European Perspective
- The Lingering Effects of the Spider’s “Kiss”
- What’s a “Real” Native American?
Compared to many private venues in Berlin, Rickenbackers Music Inn is generously spacious enough to accommodate a sizeable crowd in its many nooks and cranies while still maintaining a very intimate atmosphere. Yet when you have a crowd that swelled to the size the legendary Pete Wyoming Bender Band drew on Sunday night, 31 March? It was packed wall to wall. Every table was reserved, standing room only.
From my perspective in one front corner generously suggested to me by Pete, I waited for the gig to begin while observing some typically Teutonic behavior in a modern sense: an older German couple glanced at their recently delivered plus-sized hamburgers with mild dismay before beginning to delicately go at them with a knife and fork. People, you just pick them up and take a big ol’ bite.
Next, there was a ten-minute discussion between several people on how a young woman might deal with a stool with one leg shorter than the other. They finally folded up coasters so it could sit evenly, but I couldn’t help but think, what did it matter? They were not at Berlin’s fabulous symphony orchestra hall, so what did they expect? They were there for the music, or should have been. I was, for that and a couple of beers.
* * * *
I suppose it’s my background in psychology, which can include so many other disciplines and nuances, that I watched the faces of the performers as a clue to how they feel about the music and bandmates, not while they were actively playing of course, but when they were listening to the other members. Also, it’s curious how their instrument of primary choice reflects what seems to somehow reflect them
selves, especially the ones I’ve met before or knew personally.
In this case, there was Paul Schwingenschlögl on trumpet: friendly and upbeat but with a surprising sultriness. Zam Johnson on drums, and Pete “Wyoming” Bender himself, whom I found on short acquaintance suggestive of great depth and passion, with an infinite love for music and people in every word and gesture. There was the lead guitarist Joey Albrecht, as well as the bass guitarist whose persona matched his instrument, and the special guest, saxophonist Detriot “Detroit” Gary Wiggins, who closed his eyes, smiling, patient and enjoying himself while waiting for his solos.
There was no impatience or indifference on the faces of the players whether they were active or not, and several times, if you were paying attention, you could catch the spark of communication between them with no words being spoken: inside humor or a heartfelt nod of “great job, bro, I’m feeling you” evidenced by a sudden smile, a quick glance or a special, personal crescendo because they utterly knew
their mates were backing their rise. This might not seem like something special, but when you consider that a number of these musicians regularly play with other people: different gigs, different places, even different types of music? It is spectacular when they can come back again and achieve this level of harmony and meaning.
In the end, that harmony can be attributed to Pete Wyoming Bender, who can pull these talented men together and direct them in song after song that moved their audience. The Incredible Pete Wyoming Bender Band completely satisfies lovers of the genre, not just delivering songs one might know, but infusing every single one: every word, every cord and key with profound knowledge, appreciation and respect.
Snow is predicted yet again here in Berlin, but at least it’s not supposed to be as cold as the -12 we’ve been hitting recently. Some photos of summer barbeques and seriously looking forward to family, friends & grilled meats and garden patios. All photos by me.
Thirty minutes early for an appointment, and it’s highly impolite to arrival thusly in Germany. The business contact may very well be doing nothing thirty minutes before the scheduled meeting, but you still don’t present yourself even if they are at their desk looking at the ceiling. So I decided to walk-on, and besides which…I needed the “facilities” so stopping to have coffee or tea at a sit-in bistro, café or the like was the best option. I was infinitely glad I did, for more than one reason.
Café Maja. A very nice, stylish yet comfortable atmosphere, intriguing decor, an accommodating host, and what isn’t always easy to find, though there are literally thousands of such places across the city: a drinking spot that had a wonderfully intimate feel even in the afternoon. It’s not often I take a seat, cross my legs in front me and relax with an arm across a seat back, but this place invited it.
There were what I would call more feminine attentiveness to details, but that is too gender binding, for guys might certainly appreciate Café Maja as well, most especially for me in that it was clearly well-run, very clean, and not too “froo” to resist some playing some excellent ambient and trance music. A place I would arrange a day-time meeting, whether personal or informal yet professional, but also someplace to have a nightcap after an evening casual date.
It’s almost all drinks though, so if you looking for a sandwich, snacks or cakes, I didn’t see any on the menu. Hot and cold drinks: expresso, hot chocolate, teas and more, besides a moderate array of cocktails and beer, all around average price (1,5€ – 6€). Free wi-fi and also, something I’d never seen before, a place to play games as well, such as hand-held consoles like Nintendo DS. And besides, any place that has a sign “Pipi Lounge” for the bathrooms? You gotta love it.
A place I would arrange a day-time meeting, whether personal or informal yet professional, but also someplace to have a nightcap after an evening casual date. Café Maja, at Seestraße 39. You can take the U-6 to the Seestraße stop, and its only a 3 or 4 minutes walk down the street, and may not even take that long.