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Old 09-08-2005, 12:32 PM   #1
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Angry United Way to Give Red Feathers

I don't normally preface a news article with my comments. I usually post the news article, let people read it, comment on it, and see if there is any discussion which may rise as a result of the topic, before I put my 2 cents into it.

However, with this article, I am moved to express myself first. In my opinion, I think United Way is way outta line here. Presentation of an eagle feather or plume, dyed red to indicate a soldier/warrior was killed or wounded in battle is a very serious, sacred, and important piece of Lakota culture. For United Way to think that their "red feather" campaign would honor Lakota with their cheap immitations and help to connect with the Lakota community is insulting and wrong, and just further portrays how so many are ignorant to their cultural insensitivity. arrrgghh!

Now that I have that outta my system...here is the article. See if you can develop your own opinion, now that I have tainted you with mine.
Historian

*********************************************

United Way to Give Red Feathers
By Jomay Steen, Staff Writer
Rapid City Journal - 8 Sept. 2005

RAPID CITY, SD - A United Way campaign of rewarding random acts of kindness with red feathers might bring out the best in people, but it also raised some questions in the American Indian community.

Renee Parker, executive director of United Way of the Black Hills, said the organization launches its 60th annual United Way campaign today with 800 volunteers on 90 teams spreading across Rapid City to raise money to benefit 44 local nonprofit agencies.

"This is our 60th anniversary and the biggest day of caring that we've ever had," Parker said.

In an announcement to 1,200 people at the Thursday luncheon, officials set $1.9 million as an overall goal for United Way of the Black Hills' new campaign. United Way's Northern Hills office has set a goal of $125,000; the agency's Sturgis office set a goal of $87,000; and Rapid City's goal is $1.7 million.

For the 60th anniversary, Parker said the United Way had decided to bring back the red feather to promote random acts of kindness. Every school child will receive a red featherwith a card attached, she said.

"Inside the card is a message that reads ‘This feather is a symbol of kindness and giving. Caring is contagious, pass it on,'" Parker said.

The card also instructs the person to do something nice for someone and to pass along the red feather. Not only children but the entire community will see the importance of reaching out and performing an act of kindness, she said.

"What we want is to create a chain reaction of giving like we've never seen in the community," Parker said.

Parker said she found the cultural tie to the Lakota culture appealing. The red feather is used to honor those who have shed blood for their people, community and nation.

"It's important to address that. We know the red feather is also a cultural value that the Lakota practice by their people for their warriors," she said.

But some in Rapid City's Indian community had concerns about the United Way's red feather campaign.

Arthur Zimiga, director of Title VII Indian Education Act, said some members of the community had questions about it.

Zimiga said that some had taken the agency's use of a red feather out of context but that the campaign is intended to be a way of connecting with the Lakota people.

"It's really an honoring of the Lakota people, an honor — no matter in what language you use — it is all about respect," he said.

Zimiga said the Wiyaka Sa (Red Feather) societies commemorated the men and woman with a symbol of respect and honor.

On Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, people agreed with Zimiga.

Gene Blue Arm of Cherry Creek said red feathers or eagle plumes are awarded to those who have earned it in battle by being wounded or killed. He compared it to the military's Purple Heart. In the case of death, the red feather or plume would go to the family, he said.

"There have been a lot of tears shed before someone has been awarded or deserved the red feather. It's probably why people get wound up about it," Blue Arm said.

Geraldine Condon of Red Scaffold said that no one would confuse the Lakota red feather ceremony with what the charitable agency is attempting to do.

"I don't see how it could be confused," she said.

Condon said that Indian veterans, who have been wounded themselves, award red feathers or red eagle plumes. She said the tribe makes a distinction between male and female veterans, with men receiving feathers and women receiving plumes.

"Not just any veteran can do the ceremony. The only ones who can give a red feather is another wounded veteran," she said.

Years ago, Condon said, the late Danny Red Horse of Bridger went through the ceremony with Francis Menard of St. Francis, awarding the feather to the wounded Vietnam veteran.

One of the last feathers awarded on her reservation went to Sheldon Hawk Eagle's family. Hawk Eagle died Nov. 15, 2003, in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division.

"The ceremony is very rare; you hardly see it anymore," Condon said.
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"Be good, be kind, help each other."
"Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

--Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)
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Old 09-09-2005, 04:14 PM   #2
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This article sickens me. Not only the United way put the passive behavior of The People in that area. Also if it is to connect with the lakota people why not choose a different color maybe leave the chicken white to symbolize peace. Or maybe leave the spirituality of The people out of it all together and encourage families and communities to bring back morality into their homes. Just a thought from this Mvskoke Creek Woman from KC.
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Old 09-20-2005, 03:06 PM   #3
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by espoki
This article sickens me. Not only the United way put the passive behavior of The People in that area. Also if it is to connect with the lakota people why not choose a different color maybe leave the chicken white to symbolize peace. Or maybe leave the spirituality of The people out of it all together and encourage families and communities to bring back morality into their homes. Just a thought from this Mvskoke Creek Woman from KC.
i quite agree
nish que! they haven,t heard a word we,ve said in 100 years eh! now they say things like they know us!
megwetch for your say.
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