Monday, December 27, 2010

Native American Steampunk?

There is an excellent post regarding interest int his concept and all the problems inherent in it in Steampunk Magazine.  I will post the link to their article and assoc. comments along with my own reply to it below:

First off:  It's very hard to do this well other than to do what Native Americans, that dress as steampunks today do themselves:  namely, they dress similar to other Steampunks except that, like most people, they have favorite ways to wear their hair, favorite, jewelry, etc. and often continue wearing it even if it is obviously Native American in style.  Feathered head dress-certainly not!  I can't see that in any time period where it was not a daily wear item regardless although as Stemapunk characters are often time travelers, anything is possible, but it like standard Army Fatigues, it is neither pleasing to the eye, mixed into steampunk, nor practical to use.

Below is my response to the Steampunk Magazine writer's suggestion that people do their homework and use elements of Native clothing in a fusion design, but suggested it should probably be put together without a bunch of mini-skirts, corsets, etc, as that has never been culturally desirable among those people and still is not now. 

Ramon Leon del Mar said...
Thank you! I may look more European due to my Irish blood and some Welsh, German etc, but I was raised with more Cherokee and Choctaw cultural concepts than anything else easily recognizable today. (The old country Tinker Irish culture still exists, but those outside their culture might mistake it for either Native American which is surprisingly similar or Gypsy culture, which they learned about half of it from). As such I agree that cultural sensibilities are much more raw and sensitive in the Northern Native American communties than say among the South or Central American cultures, due to how recently they were still being hunted down and shot or simply killed quietly for acting too Pagan or "uppity". As recently as the 1950s int he US and the 1970s in Canada the government still approved of taking children at gunpoint ond forcing them into religious boarding schools where their culture was quite literally beaten out of them until they were 18. For that reason, it is now difficult for me, a person raised in the culture, to gain acceptance easily simply because I have blue eyes. Understanding this is necessary in order to move forward with this in a good way. We actually studied and practiced Aztec dance and rituals for years because they were much more accepting of blue eyed Indians than my own relatives. When we do native American Steampunk, we plan to do an Aztec version, partly , because we actually have more colorful clothing of that type and partly because they are a little less defensive, especially since we are formally adopted Azteca Indians who know enough to avoid using specifically religious items, generally, and have a right to use them, and use them correctly, if we do. I think that since the Hippie movement, with the best intentions, co-opted an incredible mish mash of Native American style items and mixed them with East Indian styles managed, through the goodness of their hearts, to gain acceptance by many traditional people who saw them as right minded and right hearted, if a little silly, young ones. As such it seems only natural that we try this again, but hopefully with a little more educated and careful approach, now 50 years later. I agree as well that time period should be specific and realistic as the base of the ensemble with "aquired steampunk items" that they claim to have confiscated, traded for, or learned to make from a steampunk adventurer that married into their tribe. We also have a comedy routine about some Aztec Dancers being observed by a time traveling professor, who slows them down almost to frozen, by making his own time move too fast for him to be seen, then inspects them, talks into his holographic recorder, then watches some more, until of course, he has a malfunction and gets chased around with funny results. In the end, another Aztec walks on wearing goggles, a raygun, and a similar temporal distortion field device that freezes the adventurer and they joke and laugh about the silly Englishman who still thinks all non-English are uneducated savages. Just a thought. (Kali's Hourglass-Dallas, Texas)


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