Few people are aware that there is so much going on during Black Friday. Native Americans and their history tends to be absent from history lessons and children’s upbringing. According to Susan Rohwer, Native Americans tend to be relegated to a secondary position in literature and history, even when the inclusion of Native American characters is well intentioned.
To reverse the situation, events such as the Social and Indian Craft Market were held in the Sheraton Tucson Hotel Courtyard. The market gathered 3,000 Native American artists from 400 different tribes who were invited to share their art and cultural background. According to Fred Synder, one of the organisers, outstanding artists are then encouraged to go on painting, singing or dancing, Other arts include basket weaving from the Tohono O’odham tribe and Hopi Kachina doll making. The importance of the event lies on the fact that it is held from the Native Americans point of view, added Synder.
Background and Comments
Before colonization, there was a variety of 300 languages which were spoken in North America. Today, that number has been reduced to 200, and many of the languages can barely survive with a handful of speakers left. According to the U.S. Census, over 20 per cent of Native Americans do not speak their aboriginal language at home. Such was the case with Donald Pepion, a professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at New Mexico State University. Originally from the Blackfeet tribe of Montana and a speaker of Pikuni, Pepion grew up during a time when aboriginal languages were shunned. He had to learn Pikuni as an adult and is happy to see that, today, there is a greater struggle to help tribes retain their language and identity.
According to Gavin Clarkson, member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, languages are important to retain and strengthen culture, especially because of their relation to history. He added that, for many tribes, language is a way to retain their identity.