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Forum Home - Go Back > Pow Wow Arena > Ask PowWows.com A question about a picture A question about a picture

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Old 09-12-2018, 10:02 AM   #1
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A question about a picture

Hello to everyone,
Thank you for letting me join your beautiful forum.
I am writing from Rome,Italy and I am really fascinated by native american culture and symbols.
I study anthropology and religion and I am writing an essay for my university about cultural syncretism, and I would like to know if the lady in this picture I took last summer in San Francisco could be a native american descendant based on her appearence and personal style. I really hope I am not unsensitive by asking this question, I ask it because of a cultural interest and a deep respect of native american culture.
Thank you very much
Maria
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:28 AM   #2
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Welcome to powwows.com

I doubt anyone can give you a definitive answer, unless they recognize and know the woman in the photo. Good luck.
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:50 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for your answer.
Do you think that anything in her personal style could link her to a particular culture or heritage?
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OLChemist View Post
Welcome to powwows.com

I doubt anyone can give you a definitive answer, unless they recognize and know the woman in the photo. Good luck.
Thank you for your answer.
Do you think that anything in her personal style could link her to a particular culture or heritage?
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:39 AM   #5
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American Tourist, LOL. Honestly, she looks like my mom or my aunts taking pictures while traveling.

You mentioned you were an anthropology student. Are you looking for some hair style or clothing item or the like that signals that she is Native?
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:41 AM   #6
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Yes, I am. I am interested in symbology of clothing... and I would like to know if, beyond personal taste, there is something that's a symbol of a particular heritage.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:15 PM   #7
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Speaking generically, not about the woman in the picture.

Sure, there is clothing that signals. T-shirts with the names and logos of powwows, Native conferences, or other events. There is clothing with Native influenced patterns. Certain of these, like Pendleton, have become ubiquious. There is clothing designed by Native artists. There are kinds of jewelry, like quilled or beaded earrings. But commerce dictates the spread of these items, not just ethnicity. They didn't card me (ask to see a tribal id card) last time I bought sweatshirts at Sinte Gleska University any more than my alma mater asked to see my diploma when I bought a t-shirt there, LOL.

Indian people are like anyone else picking clothing. They wear clothing with Native designs or don Native jewelry or choose to wear a particular dominant culture fashion because they like it as well as to signal identity. Half the older men back home dress like cowboys/ranchers, because men in the rural west dress that way.

Sometimes people choose not wear these items to signal the identity that would normally be asserted by the wearing of these items. For example, I'm a mixed blood. When I go to a powwow or other Native event, I don't dress in Native themed clothing, because I don't want to be mistaken for a wannabe (non-Native person who wants to be Indian). I do this because, rightly or wrongly, I perceive these people as putting on a ton of Indian jewelry and a half a dozen Indian themed clothing items to scream "look at me I'm dressed like an Indian." I don't want to accidentally signal membership in that group.
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Last edited by OLChemist; 09-13-2018 at 10:20 AM..
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:23 PM   #8
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Thank you so much for your answers, it was really clarifying. One last question: what about the hairstyle? I didn't see much of it traveling in the U.S. is it personal taste or it could be a kind of a cultural heritage?
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:51 PM   #9
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Oh heavens, I can't believe I'm discussing fashion. I'm one of the most unfashionable, fashion-blind people you'll ever meet, LOL.

Hairstyles come and go. Yes, for some sub-cultures, in some tribes, the wearing of long hair is important. One of my jewelry teachers always put his hair into a tsiiyéél (the Navajo word for the special bun/hairstyle that some Navajo people wear) before working. Long hair is more of a statement for Native men, because males wearing long hair is not usual or especially accepted in some parts of the dominant US culture.

But long hair on women, Native and non- can mean a lot of differently things. Sure, on a Native woman it may mean she is a traditionalist or just a fan of her culture's historical hairstyles. There are various fundamentalist religious groups in which women wear their hair long. There are various secular sub-cultures within the larger US society that wear long hair -- historical reenactors, ren-fair (Renaissance fair) participants, folks who are into cosplay. One of the Native women I know, keeps her hair long because she dresses up as Wonder Woman when she goes to Comic-Con, LOL.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:07 PM   #10
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Well, thanks! you say you are fashion-blind but it seems you know one thing or two about it ;-) joking.
For your own good I should tell you this is not pure fashion talk (believe me!!!). This is a step further (or before) fashion, cause you try to understand why - in every country, culture or historical time.
Thank you for your patience :)
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:23 PM   #11
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What I know, I learned making jewelry and powwow regalia. The things I make are about helping people make a transformation. Regalia is intensely personal. I once saw a documentary where a dancer say his regalia was dressing his spirit.

Jewelry is almost exclusively about making a statement. People buy and wear my pieces because they speak to something inside them, something they're willing to hang around their neck or wrist.

Do be aware these are just my observations. I won't presume to speak for all Native people.
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Last edited by OLChemist; 09-12-2018 at 01:38 PM..
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