Posts Tagged ‘Miami Valley Council for Native Americans’

Indian Country Today, here, takes a look at something that happened during a Memorial Day weekend powwow in Ohio. Let’s let Stephanie Woodard tell it:

    A Custer re-enactor participated in the color guard for a Memorial Day powwow on the campus of the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center. Accompanying the Custer figure were General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant lookalikes. (Indian Country Today courtesy photo/Miami Valley Council for Native Americans)

    A Custer re-enactor participated in the color guard for a Memorial Day powwow on the campus of the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center. Accompanying the Custer figure were General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant lookalikes. (Indian Country Today courtesy photo/Miami Valley Council for Native Americans)

    DAYTON, Ohio – On May 30, Guy Jones, Hunkpapa Lakota, was emceeing the Selma Walker Memorial Day Powwow in Columbus, Ohio, when he received a text message. “You’ll never guess who just entered the arena here in Dayton,” was its gist, recalled Jones.

    He quickly learned that an actor costumed as George Armstrong Custer was participating in the color guard for a powwow occurring simultaneously on the Dayton Veterans Administration Medical Center campus. “Send photos,” replied Jones, who is a lecturer, author, and co-founder of The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans.

A photo was sent, and it’s a doozy. It shows the Patriot Freedom Festival, hosted each Memorial Day weekend by the Dayton Veterans Administration along with the American Veterans Heritage Center. This year, the festivities – for the first time – included a powwow and a service at the Dayton National Cemetery to highlight military contributions of Native Americans.

Problem is, the color guard featured re-enactors playing General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant lookalikes – and also a Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer re-enactor, something Jones called a hate crime.

“Custer and his men killed the wife and children of my grandfather, Gall. This so-called man – this baby killer, this woman killer – should never have been allowed within our circle or honored by inclusion in the color guard. Would you take a Hitler impersonator to a synagogue? Would you take a KKK member to an African-American church?”

Things got worse:

    Dayton vendor Leon “Sam” Briggs, Tonawanda Band of Senecas, a blacksmith and artist, protested to a group of event organizers, calling Custer’s appearance “a desecration of our sacred circle.” A heated discussion followed, during which an organizer hit Briggs twice in the abdomen and twisted his arm, causing it to bleed, according to accounts from Haithcock, Saponi vendor Keith Freeman, and a non-Native veteran who observed the encounter.

A complaint has been filed with the Dayton VA, whose medical center director, Guy B. Richardson, apologized.

Gwen Florio

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