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Old 07-26-2009, 04:38 AM   #1
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Need assistance in finding my way

I just recently found this website and think there are a lot of helpful people out there; and I am hoping a few of them can help me out. So here is who I am and my situation. My name is Brandon and I am a career firefighter. I am 25 years old and am a very active guy. I was born into a wonderful family who helped raise me into the man I am today. The only thing that was lacking was a sense of where I came from. See my biological father left me and my mother before I even turned 1. And on top of that my mother was adopted as an infant. Now my adoptive grand parents (the family that adopted my mother) had informed me that while in the adoption process they met my motherís mom and that she was Cherokee. They were not sure how much but were pretty certain it was a high percentage due to how she looked. Now I know not to stereotype and think any person with black hair and brown eyes with a medium dark skin complexion is Native American; but it is all I have to go on. This was a closed adoption and other then a few meetings with my motherís mom (my biological grandmother) they had nothing else they could share. Her name was kept confidential and after my mother was adopted was never heard from again.

Growing up as a young boy I felt a connection with nature and always felt more at home in the wild then I did in any town or city. I started looking into how I could find my motherís mom to try to prove or dispel that I was Native American but kept hitting walls everywhere I looked due to adoption laws. I decided to go another avenue and pursue native culture and see how it resonated with me. To my delight I felt more accepted in the Pow Wow circuit then I did in my own career. This to me said a lot seeing as being a firefighter you are part of a brotherhood.

So now I wish to take my experience in the Pow Wow circuit to the next level but seek guidance as I do not want to offend, encroach, or belittle anyone in the process. What I want to do is start dancing at Pow Wows. But I have many questions and want assistance before I do.

1) Is it wrong of me to want to start dancing even though I have no way to prove native roots?
2) Since I am not recognized by the federal government due to the adoption of my mother I cannot have eagle feathers for regalia. Will I be ridiculed or looked at as an amateur by using imitation feathers?
3) I want to learn how to fancy dance. Where would I go to learn fancy dancing? I live in Seattle and there are few annual Pow Wows up this way.
4) Are there certain colors I should or should not wear on my regalia? I know red and white are both good colors to the Cherokee meaning new beginnings and peace respectively. I also know that each clan of the Cherokee have a color too red being Wolf clan and white being Paint clan.
5) Are there any Cherokee out there that can assist me in any way possible?


Thanks for reading and I look forward to any and all feedback.


- Brandon
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:35 AM   #2
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I just recently found this website and think there are a lot of helpful people out there; and I am hoping a few of them can help me out. So here is who I am and my situation. My name is Brandon and I am a career firefighter. I am 25 years old and am a very active guy. I was born into a wonderful family who helped raise me into the man I am today. The only thing that was lacking was a sense of where I came from. See my biological father left me and my mother before I even turned 1. And on top of that my mother was adopted as an infant. Now my adoptive grand parents (the family that adopted my mother) had informed me that while in the adoption process they met my mother’s mom and that she was Cherokee. They were not sure how much but were pretty certain it was a high percentage due to how she looked. Now I know not to stereotype and think any person with black hair and brown eyes with a medium dark skin complexion is Native American; but it is all I have to go on. This was a closed adoption and other then a few meetings with my mother’s mom (my biological grandmother) they had nothing else they could share. Her name was kept confidential and after my mother was adopted was never heard from again.

Growing up as a young boy I felt a connection with nature and always felt more at home in the wild then I did in any town or city. I started looking into how I could find my mother’s mom to try to prove or dispel that I was Native American but kept hitting walls everywhere I looked due to adoption laws. I decided to go another avenue and pursue native culture and see how it resonated with me. To my delight I felt more accepted in the Pow Wow circuit then I did in my own career. This to me said a lot seeing as being a firefighter you are part of a brotherhood.

So now I wish to take my experience in the Pow Wow circuit to the next level but seek guidance as I do not want to offend, encroach, or belittle anyone in the process. What I want to do is start dancing at Pow Wows. But I have many questions and want assistance before I do.

1) Is it wrong of me to want to start dancing even though I have no way to prove native roots?
2) Since I am not recognized by the federal government due to the adoption of my mother I cannot have eagle feathers for regalia. Will I be ridiculed or looked at as an amateur by using imitation feathers?
3) I want to learn how to fancy dance. Where would I go to learn fancy dancing? I live in Seattle and there are few annual Pow Wows up this way.
4) Are there certain colors I should or should not wear on my regalia? I know red and white are both good colors to the Cherokee meaning new beginnings and peace respectively. I also know that each clan of the Cherokee have a color too red being Wolf clan and white being Paint clan.
5) Are there any Cherokee out there that can assist me in any way possible?


Thanks for reading and I look forward to any and all feedback.


- Brandon
Morning
Welcome to the website
You have asked many questions
I will attempt to wade in...

As for your adoption issue, not sure any of us can help with that unless you have the financial means to sit down with a genealogists to discuss your specific case they would be qualified to give you advice on what you could do
I know here in Oklahoma that our tribe can recommend several and if there is a way they can find it.

As for dancing...
Why did you pick Fancy Dancing? It is the most difficult to learn and the really good ones started when they were very young like 5!
As for colors did you google that on the Internet?

We have not had a clan system in over 100 years and although there is still a few that still know what clan they belong to it is more of a curiosity than anything

Fancy Dancing has evolved from the old war dances of several different plains tribes.
Of the powwow dances it has embraced modern materials the most!
There are other kind of feathers that are legal for anyone to use I would highly recommend not using fake or painted ones they look like crap
And a good fancy feather dancer is about the look! They are the most athletic of all the male powwow dancers
I suggest you head down to a few of those powwows that Seattle area has and go watch them dance
Make friends with them and dont be surprised if a few dont talk to you nor answer the questions that you may barrage them with
Patience
If its meant to be it will happen

Another thing being in a tribe is not a badge that we wear on our chest so just because you dont belong to one dont mean that you have to go around making sure everybody and there mother knows that...

In my experience, you will find that most people dont give a damn one bit what tribe you belong to when they first meet you.
You will find that as they get to know you and how serious you are about dancing then they may give you some advice. Not because you are Ndn but because you are a friend. That is where you should start looking for advice then start look for a way to build your rig
Read the Fancy dance Forum here on Powwows.com
Go ask questions in person
I wish you luck
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Last edited by Josiah; 07-26-2009 at 07:38 AM..
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:04 PM   #3
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I work with young and not so young people that come from your exact situation. It always makes me happy when someone wants to learn about their native heritage.Adoption was and is something that has saved many children from sad and unhealthy situations but sometimes causes them to lose a very important part of themselves. Then as a new generation comes and they want to know, a situation like yours arises.
I believe that the need can be supressed, but then it will always come back.The young people on here are a proof of that.
I often thought that each tribal community should have someone that could help mentor the lost children and that it should be someone that will gently guide you and help you feel good with the part of yourself that you want to know.
There is no right way or wrong way to be a Indian.You will get lots of opinions and in any tribal community (amongst older peoples) you will find that no one should tell you how. But they can share how they were raised and how they were taught and then you will find that the family next door will say that isn't how its done.
If you cannot petition to have records opened and you and your grandparents and mother have exhausted all avenues, then remember that you are here for a pupose and that you still have the knowledge that you carry a great pride.
Have you tried some of the adoption websites? I do know they have been very helpful to some.
And yes you can or should find a dancer that will help you, longtime dancers are great sources, while you build your outfit and learn, dance with joy (and respect).
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:11 PM   #4
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I can't advise you on much here.

But I have a friend who was also put up for adoption and he found his birth parents and a whole family that he knew nothing about.

The first thing would be to open the adoption records and go from there. You said that it was a "closed" adoption, but that doesn't necessarily mean a "sealed" one. A closed adoption usually refers to the fact that it was really a one on on and that it wasn't open for public viewing, but many times if the birth mother didn't want the child to find her, then she had to sign a paper stating that and you can find that out through the court where the adoption actually happened. And if your adoptive grandparents are still alive they can very much help you there. That's the first thing that I would do to find out who your biological grandmother was. Contact the court where the adoption was filed and see what it would take to get those records opened. Sometimes it just takes petitioning the court to do that.
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:57 PM   #5
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First of all I wish you luck in finding your birth parents. This will be a long journey for you....

Do not be shocked if you are not welcomed with open arms into the Native American society, we hear this same story and others at least 100 times every powwow season. It makes us a bit jaded. I'd keep that "I feel a connection to nature" thing to myself if I were you, I know a lot of people that will just smile at you and go that's nice because we hear it all the time....Just keep being patient you will find someone that will take you under their wing, beware of anyone that just jumps up and volunteers to do "the job" or wants to charge you. It takes time, patience, respect and being humble to find an elder that will become your mentor.

Secondly why fancy dance? I think that we are loosing a lot of young people to the flash and they are not going into the traditional dances. I personally think that the Men's traditional dance is one that the men should be guiding more young men to....I would hope that an older gentleman would be very honored to mentor a young man interested in traditional dancing....
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Life should not be measured by the number of things that we aquire on our journey but by the number of lives that we touch along that road.

I am a bridge on the red path between my ancestors and the future. I am a bridge between my white heritage and my native heritage. A bridge joins two sides together and provides a way to move on..... A.K. O'Pry-Reynolds
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:27 PM   #6
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easiest way to get where yer goin.. meet and date a pretty cherokee gurl and preferably who dated a male fancy dancer before u. lol, but dont limit yerself cause theres so alot of pretty navajo gurls out there. example check out their myspace at woman of the navajo calender.

good luck!

and one last thing. im glad u feel a connection to natives and all but save it for down the road. its alittle kooky until we get to know u.
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:32 PM   #7
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easiest way to get where yer goin.. meet and date a pretty cherokee gurl and preferably who dated a male fancy dancer before u. lol, but dont limit yerself cause theres so alot of pretty navajo gurls out there. example check out their myspace at woman of the navajo calender.

good luck!

and one last thing. im glad u feel a connection to natives and all but save it for down the road. its alittle kooky until we get to know u.
injunboy, sometimes I feel a connection to pretty NDN girls...but it ain't 'spirchul'!!!
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Old 07-27-2009, 06:10 AM   #8
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injunboy, sometimes I feel a connection to pretty NDN girls...but it ain't 'spirchul'!!!
gawwwwww...roflmao
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:26 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=steelemagnolia63;1327774
Secondly why fancy dance? I think that we are loosing a lot of young people to the flash and they are not going into the traditional dances. ..[/QUOTE]

With all due respect....

You gotta be kidding me right????
There are no shortages of Tradish.,Grass, or Chicken dancers of a young age. The numbers of fancy dancers have drastically declined over the last 30 years.
Go to any powwow FF are usually the least crowded. It is expensive, it is hard athletically, and it is the hardest craft wise to complete.
I, of course, am biased.
just sayiun'
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Old 07-27-2009, 12:48 PM   #10
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LOL....I see more fancy dancers at the bigger powwows....
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Life should not be measured by the number of things that we aquire on our journey but by the number of lives that we touch along that road.

I am a bridge on the red path between my ancestors and the future. I am a bridge between my white heritage and my native heritage. A bridge joins two sides together and provides a way to move on..... A.K. O'Pry-Reynolds
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Old 07-27-2009, 01:09 PM   #11
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LOL....I see more fancy dancers at the bigger powwows....
Can you define 'bigger powwows?

Here at the California casino powwows in the fall, there a lot more Tradish and Grass dancers than Fancy dancers.

On a trip through the Northwest once, there were more Tradish, Grass, Chicken and Roundbustle dancers than Fancies.
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Old 07-27-2009, 02:33 PM   #12
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ok maybe the ones that I have been to have more fancy than tradish... I have not been to a powwow out west since I was a teenager.... so if my oberservation is incorrect then I am wrong.. it happens once and a while....
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Life should not be measured by the number of things that we aquire on our journey but by the number of lives that we touch along that road.

I am a bridge on the red path between my ancestors and the future. I am a bridge between my white heritage and my native heritage. A bridge joins two sides together and provides a way to move on..... A.K. O'Pry-Reynolds
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Old 07-27-2009, 03:00 PM   #13
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Reminds me of a story
We were at Otoe encampment 2 weeks ago, which I suppose is the west if you live in the east and is the east if you live on the west coast

Anyway now that we have that straightened out
The Powwow committee decided they wanted to have a "old school" Fancy dance contest on top of the normal one
They asked the dancers to dress old school also
Well 4 showed up
It was great dancing highlighted by the footwork that use to mark the really great ones!

But it highlites the fact that young guys and boys are no longer flocking to the style I see waaaaaaay more grass and chicken dancers here in Oklahoma when there was time when they were so rare people stopped and stared when they showed up to a dance here abouts...

Fancy Dancing is hard and the rig is very hard to make and it makes sense to gravitate toward grass dancing when faced with the economics of it

I just hope that we are not seeing the begining of the end to a great style!
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Old 07-27-2009, 03:07 PM   #14
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
Reminds me of a story
We were at Otoe encampment 2 weeks ago, which I suppose is the west if you live in the east and is the east if you live on the west coast

Anyway now that we have that straightened out
The Powwow committee decided they wanted to have a "old school" Fancy dance contest on top of the normal one
They asked the dancers to dress old school also
Well 4 showed up
It was great dancing highlighted by the footwork that use to mark the really great ones!

But it highlites the fact that young guys and boys are no longer flocking to the style I see waaaaaaay more grass and chicken dancers here in Oklahoma when there was time when they were so rare people stopped and stared when they showed up to a dance here abouts...

Fancy Dancing is hard and the rig is very hard to make and it makes sense to gravitate toward grass dancing when faced with the economics of it

I just hope that we are not seeing the begining of the end to a great style!
Dude, this decline started in the 80s, we're actually on the upswing. Here's some of the factors, plus and minus:

1) fancy dancers from the 80s now have kids that are following in their footsteps (plus)

2) outfit got so expensive, full-beaded everything, big roaches, etc. (minus)

3) hard to get little ones in a set of bustles, easier to put them in grass when they are 3 years old (minus)

4) injuries took a big toll on a generation of guys in their 20s, so that they weren't/aren't around to dance fancy in their 30s/40s. (minus)

5) the hardcore group of 35+ guys are helping to bring it back with their "flash, style, bling" (plus)

6) the group of 18-35 fancy guys are good

7) the jr/teen crop seems big and good as well
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Old 07-27-2009, 03:45 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by NWFirefighter360 View Post

1) Is it wrong of me to want to start dancing even though I have no way to prove native roots?
2) Since I am not recognized by the federal government due to the adoption of my mother I cannot have eagle feathers for regalia. Will I be ridiculed or looked at as an amateur by using imitation feathers?
3) I want to learn how to fancy dance. Where would I go to learn fancy dancing? I live in Seattle and there are few annual Pow Wows up this way.
4) Are there certain colors I should or should not wear on my regalia? I know red and white are both good colors to the Cherokee meaning new beginnings and peace respectively. I also know that each clan of the Cherokee have a color too red being Wolf clan and white being Paint clan.
5) Are there any Cherokee out there that can assist me in any way possible?


Thanks for reading and I look forward to any and all feedback.


- Brandon
OK! wow that's alot of questions!
Well, Like Josiah, I am also Cherokee and grew up and still live in my home community. Different communities do things a bit differently. The only thing I could possibly disagree with as far as what Josiah said would be that clan membership is just a curiosity. Where I come from you need to know it because the medicine folks will ask you your clan and the way they treat you will be determined by what clan you are. Among Nighthawk folks clan membership is still important. But he's right in that most folks don't even know their clan or don't have a clan due to the fact it comes from your mom's side.

It's great that you're wanting to learn about your ways. I encourage you to not only participate in Pow-wow (not traditionally our way), but also to learn more about REAL Cherokee ways. And the only way to do that is to visit Oklahoma or North Carolina and get to know your tribal "kin". You'll find that for the most part the ceremonial grounds are very open and welcoming of guests and will treat you well as long as you go in the proper way.

Pow-wow is a great thing and allows all Natives to come together and enjoy each other, but you should also have a strong grounding in who you are as a CHEROKEE person.

Now, to answer your specific questions.

1)No one has a right to tell you that you're wrong for wanting to dance. Your reasons are your own and honestly no one has the right to say, "YOU CAN'T" just because you don't have a card. Now, you might find that not everyone out there will just welcome you with open arms, but I'd say that the majority can be won over with patience and a proper attitude of respect and humility. If you want to dance, dance.

2) Don't use imitation feathers. More and more there are some great options for what you can wear. Eagle feathers are getting harder to come by so more and more people are exploring alternatives. But don't use the painted feathers. Hornbill feathers are KEEN and look great on any regalia as do othe types of feathers.

3) Go to your local dances around and get to know the folks. Ask around and become friends. Get involved in a Native organization. I find that the best place to really get to know people is at the small local dances where there aren't that many people. More relaxed atmosphere. Volunteer to help out doing things.

4) As to colors, wear what makes you feel good. Look at what others are wearing. Look at the member galleries on here. Fancy Dance is a modern dance and so the sky's the limit on what colors you can use and go with.

5) There are alot of Cherokee out there who would be willing to help. Just be careful about whose advice you listen to. To really get accurate information, I'd suggest you talk to people from either Oklahoma or North Carolina or at least have strong ties to those areas. These are the places where our tribes are currently located in dense numbers and have strong ongoing communities who maintain alot of our ways.

Good Luck
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Old 07-27-2009, 10:30 PM   #16
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I would advise that you hold off on presenting yourself as a Cherokee, or even being native. You don't know that you are native, much less Cherokee for sure. If you are interested in powwows, that's fine. Keep going to them, meeting people, all that jazz. If anyone asks go ahead and tell your story, but keep in mind you don't know that you are Indian. Do all the research you can on trying to find anything at all about your familys adoptions. There is some good advice here, and I'm sure tons of good advice to be found on the net.
Of course focus on the state that the adoption happened in and the laws specific to that state.


As for your second question,

2. Use other feathers. Don't worry about being ridiculed for not using eagle feathers, I'm sure there will be other things to worry about. Also I personally feel there are too many people using eagle feathers simply because. Because they are eagle and thats what everyone uses, because they look good, because fear of beaing"ridiculed or looked at as an amateur by using imitation feathers", etc. If you don't have a reason for the feathers, respect for the feathers, know how to take care of them, or even any tribal significance with them let alone rights to them, then you should'nt use them.

Good luck with your search for your family, and if you like powwows just have fun. Make your friends (because you like them not for any other reason) and enjoy yourself.
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