Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mission Folk Festival

I’m eating
an elephant ear
(fry bread
covered in cinnamon and sugar)
at a folk music festival
in the ruins of an old
reservation school.

These folk festivals, for all their celebration of diversity,
are remarkably similar. The same dred-locks,
smells, crystals, and arrhythmic dancing.
It’s easy to mock. But

with the full moon
sitting above a pink Mt. Baker
and the sun setting on the opposite horizon,
it’s hard to hold these hippies’
new-age sentiments against them.

The band on stage
is from somewhere in the South Pacific.
They’re familiar with things like reservation schools.

The patchouli stink is like incense
as the band sings about the regrettable results
of a great commission that lost it’s way.

It’s a strange setting for a festival like this.
A place where native culture
was systematically destroyed
not more than a generation ago.
And now it’s crowded with white people
wearing dream-catcher ear rings.

As I eat sweetened fry-bread
I wonder if all this is cultural misappropriation
or an awkward form of redemption.

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