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  • Nazi design in Lakota beadwork late 1800s

    I just received a large photo from my niece who recovered a pic of two of my great great unchis in their regalia.
    One was in a cloth dress with shells around the top and the other was a buckskin with fully beaded top. Throughout the beading as part of the design I found a swastika and found it fascinating to see this on her dress as part of the design.
    I was told by my mom this was our families original design and she too had always questioned why or how this came about.
    Has anyone else every seen this Nazi cross on beadwork? I will scan a pic of it and post it for all to see....if I get a promise that my families design will not be 'borrowed'...J/K.
    I wonder what the reaction would be if I were to revive this design...I am going to regardless....and display it in public at a powwow this summer.
    Thoughts on how this came to be a part of a personal family design?
    Last edited by Elo Janis; 02-13-2013, 02:25 PM. Reason: found the correct word for the name of an object
    "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

  • #2
    Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
    I just received a large photo from my niece who recovered a pic of two of my great great unchis in their regalia.
    One was in a cloth dress with shells around the top and the other was a buckskin with fully beaded top. Throughout the beading as part of the design I found the Nazi cross symbol (the official name escapes me at this late hour) and found it fascinating to see this on her dress as part of the design.
    I was told by my mom this was our families original design and she too had always questioned why or how this came about.
    Has anyone else every seen this Nazi cross on beadwork? I will scan a pic of it and post it for all to see....if I get a promise that my families design will not be 'borrowed'...J/K.
    I wonder what the reaction would be if I were to revive this design...I am going to regardless....and display it in public at a powwow this summer.
    Thoughts on how this came to be a part of a personal family design?
    It's not a nazi design - it's a Lakota design - I do not know why the nazis abuse it - I think it's calle Swatsika in Germany - I noticed - germans seem to like to copy a lot of things

    Comment


    • #3
      ForgottenGerman is right. While I am Lakota, I have also seen the design amongst various other tribes and nations throughout the world. Depending on the culture, there are different variants on it's meanings. Some believe it is a symbol for the four directions, while some believe it is more directed towards the Sun's movement in the sky. In India, the symbol is the reverse (as in the spokes change direction) of the German's Swastika and is a symbol of the wheel of life. Prior to India, it is said to be an ancient rune, which was then found by a German writer and placed in his book, listing it as an 'Aryan religious symbol'... which is how the Germans got hold of it during that whole war fiasco. In Native work, it can often be seen on the Plains as well as in the Southwest... or should I say, a variation. In each culture (not counting the German use) the 'feet' point deosil, or clockwise.

      Anyway, if you look on beadwork and pottery prior to the 1930's you'll probably find the symbol fairly often. Depending on who you ask, it is a symbo of prosperity, good health/wellbeing, healing the Sun, the four directions, wheel of life, abundance, etc. I have heard some Navajos refer to it as a whirling log. I don't know much about our tribe's view on it though, so I can't even tell you the design's name in Lakota. But the symbol doesn't belong solely to us, so I have doubts that the symbol itself is your family's design in particular (unless it was beaded a certain way or has a particular patterns or something surrounding the symbol itself).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
        I just received a large photo from my niece who recovered a pic of two of my great great unchis in their regalia.
        One was in a cloth dress with shells around the top and the other was a buckskin with fully beaded top. Throughout the beading as part of the design I found the Nazi cross symbol (the official name escapes me at this late hour) and found it fascinating to see this on her dress as part of the design.
        I was told by my mom this was our families original design and she too had always questioned why or how this came about.
        Has anyone else every seen this Nazi cross on beadwork? I will scan a pic of it and post it for all to see....if I get a promise that my families design will not be 'borrowed'...J/K.
        I wonder what the reaction would be if I were to revive this design...I am going to regardless....and display it in public at a powwow this summer.
        Thoughts on how this came to be a part of a personal family design?
        Wow. Your family was rewriting history in the 1800's? I didn't know there were nazis in the 1800's. I thought nazism didn't originate until the 1930's.


        Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


        "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

        Mr. Rossie Freeman

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Joe's Dad View Post
          Wow. Your family was rewriting history in the 1800's? I didn't know there were nazis in the 1800's. I thought nazism didn't originate until the 1930's.
          I fail to realize any humor or sarcasm in your comment. I asked a simple question and you make an out of line reply. If I were you I would review history as to the 'Nazism' origin instead of trying to slam me for asking a simple question.
          "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

          Comment


          • #6
            I think it's called humor, because I would say the same thing...that "nazi" symbol you are referring to was used by many people, for many years, but when the nazi's got a hold of it, is when it was turned from a good symbol to a symbol which symbolized hate and represented hate. That symbol was used by the retired veterans groups, even back before "nazism", natives, the boyscouts, I think, and has been disassociated because of what the symbol now symbolizes...

            stop being offended....
            sigpic This is how I dance when your standing next to me...

            "Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the Dogs of War..."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
              I fail to realize any humor or sarcasm in your comment. I asked a simple question and you make an out of line reply. If I were you I would review history as to the 'Nazism' origin instead of trying to slam me for asking a simple question.
              Would like to see that photo you were talking about - thanks

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fang View Post
                ForgottenGerman is right. While I am Lakota, I have also seen the design amongst various other tribes and nations throughout the world. Depending on the culture, there are different variants on it's meanings. Some believe it is a symbol for the four directions, while some believe it is more directed towards the Sun's movement in the sky. In India, the symbol is the reverse (as in the spokes change direction) of the German's Swastika and is a symbol of the wheel of life. Prior to India, it is said to be an ancient rune, which was then found by a German writer and placed in his book, listing it as an 'Aryan religious symbol'... which is how the Germans got hold of it during that whole war fiasco. In Native work, it can often be seen on the Plains as well as in the Southwest... or should I say, a variation. In each culture (not counting the German use) the 'feet' point deosil, or clockwise.

                Anyway, if you look on beadwork and pottery prior to the 1930's you'll probably find the symbol fairly often. Depending on who you ask, it is a symbo of prosperity, good health/wellbeing, healing the Sun, the four directions, wheel of life, abundance, etc. I have heard some Navajos refer to it as a whirling log. I don't know much about our tribe's view on it though, so I can't even tell you the design's name in Lakota. But the symbol doesn't belong solely to us, so I have doubts that the symbol itself is your family's design in particular (unless it was beaded a certain way or has a particular patterns or something surrounding the symbol itself).
                Thank you Fang for your thoughtful and educational explanation of the many meanings of this symbol. The use of this symbol is only a small part of my families original design...it is actually placed a good deal away from the main part of my ancestor's design. To me it appears as though it was an after thought and not a vital or integral part of the design.
                I am not claiming that the swastika itself originated exclusively from my ancestors, but rather was wondering how and why it was used as it was.
                But again, thank you for the history of the swastika.
                "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Chevy_truckin_NDN View Post
                  I think it's called humor...

                  stop being offended....
                  I understand and appreciate humor, even juvenile and sarcastic humor, but that reply was neither humorous nor of any help in understanding the meaning of the design or why it was used. There is a time and place for humor and I would be the first one to laugh at myself if I were asking an asinine question, but in this instance, such was not the case.
                  When a member of the our community is seeking serious discussion and information about something so personal, imho, that is not the time for such a pointedly sarcastic response to a question asked in all seriousness and good faith.

                  Sorry if I am reading more into it than need be. And no, I am not at all offended.
                  I will not mention that particular response again, I have addressed it enough. Apologies for being a bit defensive about this topic, but to me something as serious as my ancestors and our family design does not warrant humor or sarcasm. I only request, in this one instance, that the response be as serious as the question being asked.

                  Now if we can get this back on track as I find it fascinating how and why this symbol is used and the many meanings behind it.
                  "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I researched a bit and this is what I came up with:

                    "The swastika is an ancient religious symbol of luck and prosperity with a remarkably diverse history. Its name comes from the Sanskrit "svasti," meaning well-being. It dates back over 3,000 years, and has adorned Indian textiles, Buddhist temples, Native American clothing, and coins from the ancient Greek city of Troy.
                    The ubiquity of the swastika before its appropriation by the Nazis seems jarring today. At the turn of the century, it was used by Coca Cola and the Boy Scouts. During World War I, it could be found on the patches of the American 45th Air Division.
                    By the time Hitler chose the swastika as the symbol of the Nazi Party in 1935, it was a common symbol that had been already seen in various Germanic and nationalistic contexts. In terms of propaganda, it was a textbook example of appropriating a well-known brand. Many Native American tribes renounced the symbol after it became associated with Hitler.

                    The swastika's exact origins are difficult to determine. It has been described as a Greek cross with its arms bent at right angles. Others note its symbolism of the four cardinal directions. It's a universal geometric form that symbolizes celestial and terrestrial elements".

                    I think in going forward due to it's mixed message it would be best to eliminate that portion of the design as I do not agree with the way it was 'stolen' by the Nazi party and used as a symbol of hatred and oppression...to say the least.
                    Now off to see if I am able to post the picture.
                    "Sometimes the character of the opposition defines why something ought to be the most politically viable thing in the world that needs to be changed"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
                      something as serious as my ancestors and our family design does not warrant humor or sarcasm.

                      Now if we can get this back on track as I find it fascinating how and why this symbol is used and the many meanings behind it.


                      Lighten up ! Nothing is so serious. your ancestors have gone on and your "family design" is quite common. A lot of different tribes/families used it. At least until it became a symbol of the Nazi regime.

                      And don't slam Joe's Dad for his sarcasm , He just brought points to ponder about your stupid statement !
                      I believe blood quantums are the governments way to breed us out of existance !


                      They say blood is thicker than water ! Now maple syrup is thicker than blood , so are pancakes more important than family ?

                      There are "Elders" and there are "Olders". Being the second one doesn't make the first one true !

                      Somebody is out there somewhere, thinking of you and the impact you made in their life.
                      It's not me....I think you're an idiot !


                      sigpic


                      There's a chance you might not like me ,

                      but there's a bigger

                      chance I won't care

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "The swastika's exact origins are difficult to determine. It has been described as a Greek cross with its arms bent at right angles. Others note its symbolism of the four cardinal directions. It's a universal geometric form that symbolizes celestial and terrestrial elements".


                        I doubt if our peoples got it from the Greeks !
                        I believe blood quantums are the governments way to breed us out of existance !


                        They say blood is thicker than water ! Now maple syrup is thicker than blood , so are pancakes more important than family ?

                        There are "Elders" and there are "Olders". Being the second one doesn't make the first one true !

                        Somebody is out there somewhere, thinking of you and the impact you made in their life.
                        It's not me....I think you're an idiot !


                        sigpic


                        There's a chance you might not like me ,

                        but there's a bigger

                        chance I won't care

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've seen swastika like designs in beadwork, textiles, pottery, shell carving, and silver. Heck find yourself a good collection of pre-WWII southwest kitsch and you'll find it. Rather famously there is a beaded Native saddle in the collection of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum with the design.

                          Here is an article from ICTM that shows several examples, mostly from the southwest:

                          Swastika rehabilitation day

                          There's also a picture in there taken during the drive to get Navajo artists to quit using the design and the picture of Ms Kennedy in her Camp Fire girls outfit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
                            I just received a large photo from my niece who recovered a pic of two of my great great unchis in their regalia.
                            One was in a cloth dress with shells around the top and the other was a buckskin with fully beaded top. Throughout the beading as part of the design I found a swastika and found it fascinating to see this on her dress as part of the design.
                            I was told by my mom this was our families original design and she too had always questioned why or how this came about.
                            Has anyone else every seen this Nazi cross on beadwork? I will scan a pic of it and post it for all to see....if I get a promise that my families design will not be 'borrowed'...J/K.
                            I wonder what the reaction would be if I were to revive this design...I am going to regardless....and display it in public at a powwow this summer.
                            Thoughts on how this came to be a part of a personal family design?
                            Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
                            I fail to realize any humor or sarcasm in your comment. I asked a simple question and you make an out of line reply. If I were you I would review history as to the 'Nazism' origin instead of trying to slam me for asking a simple question.
                            Originally posted by Elo Janis View Post
                            I researched a bit and this is what I came up with:

                            "The swastika is an ancient religious symbol of luck and prosperity with a remarkably diverse history. Its name comes from the Sanskrit "svasti," meaning well-being. It dates back over 3,000 years, and has adorned Indian textiles, Buddhist temples, Native American clothing, and coins from the ancient Greek city of Troy.
                            The ubiquity of the swastika before its appropriation by the Nazis seems jarring today. At the turn of the century, it was used by Coca Cola and the Boy Scouts. During World War I, it could be found on the patches of the American 45th Air Division.
                            By the time Hitler chose the swastika as the symbol of the Nazi Party in 1935, it was a common symbol that had been already seen in various Germanic and nationalistic contexts. In terms of propaganda, it was a textbook example of appropriating a well-known brand. Many Native American tribes renounced the symbol after it became associated with Hitler.

                            The swastika's exact origins are difficult to determine. It has been described as a Greek cross with its arms bent at right angles. Others note its symbolism of the four cardinal directions. It's a universal geometric form that symbolizes celestial and terrestrial elements".

                            I think in going forward due to it's mixed message it would be best to eliminate that portion of the design as I do not agree with the way it was 'stolen' by the Nazi party and used as a symbol of hatred and oppression...to say the least.
                            Now off to see if I am able to post the picture.
                            I wasn't implying humor. I was pointing out your ignorance to native culture....your own culture. You only strengthened my observation when you had to go 'research' the 'swastika'.

                            I would suppose non-Indian people's reaction to you wearing a 'swastika' at a powwow this summer would be same as yours. They would wonder why you would be wearing a swastika. But then, I would expect that ignorance. They are non-native.

                            BTW I thought the Lakota Oyate spelled grandmother... unci.


                            Why must I feel like that..why must I chase the cat?


                            "When I was young man I did some dumb things and the elders would talk to me. Sometimes I listened. Time went by and as I looked around...I was the elder".

                            Mr. Rossie Freeman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Joe's Dad View Post
                              I wasn't implying humor. I was pointing out your ignorance to native culture....your own culture. You only strengthened my observation when you had to go 'research' the 'swastika'.

                              I would suppose non-Indian people's reaction to you wearing a 'swastika' at a powwow this summer would be same as yours. They would wonder why you would be wearing a swastika. But then, I would expect that ignorance. They are non-native.

                              BTW I thought the Lakota Oyate spelled grandmother... unci
                              .
                              I agree with all points said. Especially how the symbol would be viewed to those who knew only the German form of the symbol. To those who are in the native community (and who know much more than myself), they would have a firmer grasp on the usage of the symbol without necessarily associating it with Aryan supremacy.

                              As a side note, Unci is correct. Though maybe they spelled it phonically or isn't used to the Lakota alphabet?

                              A question for Elo: If you don't know what the symbol truly means (to both the Oyate and your immediate family), why use it? It's sometimes good to want to revive parts of one's culture, but only if you have a deep understanding and connection to its meaning. Or else it loses all purpose.

                              Comment

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