Writing With Forked Tongue | Letters | Chicago Reader

Writing With Forked Tongue 

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Never send a paleface that can't handle the Native American experience without dissing it or seeing female "jazz" dancers without thinking "sexist" to review a performance piece that provokes the impulse of conquest by opinion. Laura Molzahn goes a long way to actually demonstrate that reviewers like her need to see Spirit--A Journey in Dance, Drums, and Song repeatedly [October 22]!!! The use of "rock" music she infers is an act of imperialism. She overlooks that African-Americans invented rock music. Remember in pre-Elvis America it was called "race" music or "black jungle devil music." Is she new or something? Many of the early creators of the music were of African and Native American ancestry. The drums and its simple polyrhythms were the metaphorical unifier. The heartbeat of the show. The protagonist, as she calls him, could be representative of the many "white Americans" who are drawn to Native American traditions such as powwows or sweat lodges for spiritual needs. She never addressed the passionate audience response to the profoundly effective multimedia power of this piece. We were not applauding imperialism, sexism, or hatred. Were she and the paying audience on different pages? What about the compelling and bone-chilling Native American drum and vocal quintet that vocalized in their original language to a four-octave range? They were simply boomin'!! The narration that spoke of what was lost beyond physical death in the wars against the Native Americans was sad and piercing. Is referring to the earth as the mother of humanity being sexist?

I am an African-American with some Cherokee ancestry who immediately after the final bows and dancing in the aisles found himself in the lobby having exuberant discussions with Anglo, Jewish, Asian, African, Italian, disabled, gay, and heterosexual Americans about the spiritual experience we had just shared. Names and introductions were not needed!! Our feeding frenzy to buy CDs, videos, or T-shirts wasn't because we are compulsive supporters of weak performances. It was because we wanted to retain and share the enlightenment with students, friends, or family.

Your reviewer's need to keep Indians in their place by complaining about the aspects of hip-hop or jazz infers Native Americans are not to be included or recognized in our contemporary creative consciousness or practices.

She really speaks with a forked tongue when she calls the multiculturalism "simultaneous hatred and celebration of mainstream culture." The show was about aspects of the Native American culture and metaphysical traditions!!!!!!!!

Mr. Turtel Onli, MAAT

S. Ellis

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