June 20, 2007

Yeagley, the 'green horn' powwow enthusiast

from the Bad Eagle blog

We’ve all read his misogynist and racially charged anti-black pontifications, and we now see the racially insensitive anti-Aztec ”ranting” of the accredited piano player David Yeagley as well, probably more times than is palatable (i.e., once is enough for life). Any non-Indians happening across his blog will turn away just as fast as all the shocked American Indians dismayed by Yeagley’s bigotry, not to mention his anti-intellectual assiduity — perhaps “assiduity” isn’t the right word, make that “imagination” instead.

Yes, Yeagley’s imagination is lily white and not grounded in any sense of common purpose with Indian people. Yeagley prefers insignificant word games, poorly constructed ranting, and ever-struggling to prop himself atop a tower of power when neither his “lineage” nor “intellect” warrant such a razzmatazzical leap of fate.

His misinterpreting a simple Native powwow is one recent illustration of Yeagley’s anserine thick-headedness, glaringly free from ambiguity. Are we seriously supposed to believe his particular brand of imbecility comes from a so-called “gourd dancer”?

David Yeagley — “I participated in the formal gourd dancing, the evenings of June 1 and 2... There were not an enormous number of gourd dancers this year, probably because Red Earth actually excluded the gourd dance last year. That was a very un-Indian thing to do” (6-15-07)
Some powwows have gourd dancing prior to grand entry, and some do not. Both are considered “Indian” despite what Yeagley thinks. In fact, Yeagley seems blissfully unaware of the racial bigotry he exudes that even his supposed “Comanche friends” find disturbing.
David Yeagley — “It was also an un-Indian thing to see as “Aztec” figure in the Grand Entry... He had on a huge feather crown that was taller than any other. I turned to a couple of Comanche friends and said, “Who’s the Mexican chicken?” They looked at me oddly” (6-15-07).
And no sooner does he disparage a fellow indigenous dancer, that he blames the whole supposed everyone-looks-the-same “problem” on the Sundance Institute — the same Institute which rejected his application into their film scoring program. After successfully completing my own participation in the Sundance Institute's Film Composers Lab, I recommended Yeagley (and Yeagley's 'racial apprentice' Jerod Tate) for the program, though neither of them were subsequently admitted; it is a highly competitive program admittedly. As for Yeagley's apparent unhappiness with Sundance, can you say “sour grapes” ten times really fast?


Composers must submit work samples to be accepted into
the highly competitive Sundance Institute Composers Lab.

David Yeagley — “I suppose next we’ll see the Negroes from New Orleans in their Mardi Gras ostrich feathers. That’s the George Soros plan through Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. All non-white peoples of the world belong together. The Polynesian, the Asian, and the African are all the same. And homosexuals are included in the Soros/Redford Sundance!” (6-15-07).
Just because Yeagley is too dense to respect the differences inherent in distinctive people as equivalent, does not mean whites are ad-hoc superior. It simply means that the world has moved on, progressed, and Yeagley has not. All the whining in Yeagley’s lungs won’t change that fact; he is out-of-touch with America and stuck in some imagined past of racial purity which never, in reality, existed.
David Yeagley — “Sure enough, there was some strange ‘cross dressing’ at this year’s Red Earth. The most famous of men’s dances, the Fancy Dance, was performed by a group of young woman!... I was speechless. I inquired of an elderly Comanche woman, and dear friend, “Is it true that women did this dance in the past?” “Yes,” she admitted... There was one girl amongst the Fancy Dancers who also is well-known as a jingle dancer. I have requested an interview with her about all this. Will we see 'prairie fairy' men doing the jingle dress dance next year?” (6-15-07).
“Cross-dressing?” Fancy dancing is a newer dance for both men AND women, as is Jingle Dress and Hoop dancing. And yes, it is called Jingle DRESS dancing and Women's Fancy SHAWL dancing, to correct Yeagley's error. The Jingle Dress dance was created when an Anishinabe man dreamed of a specific healing ceremony, and saw the dance in his dream (along with the creation of the jingle dress from tobacco lids). Jingle Dress dances are still performed as healing ceremonies here in Minnesota, in fact.

If Yeagley knew any of the actual history of ceremonies, powwows and Native dances, he'd know this already. But of course, Yeagley knows very little, being a book-learned wannabe. Only a distorted mind so imbedded in non-Indian society would mistakenly see powwow dances as “cross-dressing” or inappropriate.

In truth, Yeagley mistakenly identifies powwows as a “Plains Indian phenomenon” when actually the modern powwow has always been pan-Indian and tribally mixed from its outset.
David Yeagley — “Powwows are a Plains Indian phenomenon, and Indians that participate, even if they are Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, or Seminole, generally dress in the basic plains mode... So it looks like the old Plains Indian powwow is become the center of the tribal universe. I can accept other American Indian tribes becoming part of it, certainly—though I think the Eastern Indians ought to establish their own nationally recognized gatherings, rather than crowd their way into the Plains scene” (6-15-07).
Contrary to Yeagley’s infantile pontification, powwows are named from an old Algonkian (and Mohican) word designating a healer (the person) and the healing ceremony (the event), both. It has many different phonetic spellings, including ‘pauwau’ and others. The modern day powwow is borrowed from this early Northeastern ceremony, but is more a social event rather than specifically a healing one today. Again, anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of powwow history would know this fact, of which it seems Yeagley is blatantly ignorant.


Comanche Fancy Dancer Rudy Youngblood

Probably the first modern powwow was hosted by the Ponca, their “intertribal” gathering, in 1879. Another important event in powwow history was the Anadarko Fair of 1916, specifically an “intertribal” gathering.

The “Fancy Dance” is a modern dance started after W.W.I, when many of our Native soldiers came back and began participating in powwows with the creation of this new dance. Some of the earliest powwows were school-related, such as the Haskell powwow in 1926, where the first National Fancy Dance Competition was held and the “greatest fancy dancer” was chosen from that period’s field of competitors, the honor going to Gus MacDonald (Ponca). Haskell garnered students from all over the country, and many tribes from many cultures participated in those popwwows.

From the very beginning of modern powwows, there was a racially mixed and tribally mixed participation. There has never been an important history of racially or tribally “pure” powwows, and anyone who thinks so is imagining a past that never existed.

So you see, Yeagley is the greenest of 'green horns' when it comes to powwows, and not being a veteran himself cannot dance the gourd dance as a "warrior" but participates (if he does) in a supportive position. Gourd dances are specifically held for veterans (or their family or friends in a supportive capacity), making the nonmilitary Yeagley's own participation exclusively a "supportive" one.
David Yeagley — “Chairman of the Comanche Nation Wallace Coffee [sic!] was there ... standing among Comanches doesn't make you Comanche. Hanging out with Indians doens't [sic!] make you Indian” (6-22-07).
As for the above whining, I have two pieces of advice for Yeagley. First, try spelling the name of your Tribal Nation’s Chairman "COFFEY" correctly, as if you actually knew and respected him (pretend to do so, at least).

Second, if you’re in a glass house, perhaps throwing stones is not the wisest move? I mean really, your last two statements are mirrors of your own condition, “standing among Comanches doesn't make you Comanche. Hanging out with Indians doesn't make you Indian.” Perhaps a quick look in the psychological mirror and tossing away that adoption court-issued birth certificate, might yield a healthier and happier existence.