Note: This isn't going to be one of those posts where the clueless white woman gets all indignant on behalf of the Indians. Such politically correct rants are condescending, patronizing, and irritating to the ninth degree.
Instead, this is post is just my observations on a recent compare and contrast moment, okay? So please, keep all indignant condescension to a bare minimum. I have enough irritation in my life right now, thanks to the swarms of mosquitoes circling the house.
So, if you read last week's blog, you know that I went and saw Brule', the Native American show down in Branson. If you've read this Thursday's blog (which, admittedly, might require time travel), you'd know that the next night, the family and I went to one of the most popular shows in Branson, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.
To recap, Brule' is a show that's half rock opera, half Lakota powwow. It is produced by Lakota Indians. It stars Lakota Indians. You can buy things handmade by Lakota Indians in the gift store. It's the real deal (although slightly Bransonized, but still).
Dixie Stampede, on the other hand, is a so-sanitized-it-squeaks edutainment version of select events in America's past, usually centered around the 1860s. We sat on the North side (not the north side of the building, but the side representing the Union--the capital 'N' North) and booed the tourists sitting on the South side (in between bites of chicken, of course).
At one point in the proceedings, after the pork loin but before the hot wipe, and after the performers (dressed as extremely attractive settlers) had a rousingly well-coordinated hoedown but before the bright, happy saloon 'girls' did a tasteful dance number, the Dixie Stampede had an 'Indian' dance number.
A dancer in a craggly face mask and a blacklight-friendly costume came out and released a bird as he danced around. The bird flew up to the ceiling, and then a female dancer dressed as a Thunderbird with blacklight stripes dropped from a wire from the ceiling. A third guy dressed in day-glo fringe rode around on a horse, pulled the Thunderbird dancer around and sending her flying through the air on her wire, all while the first dancer was getting down to a song that sounded a lot like something Tim McGraw would play in a stadium.
Now, aside from the artistry of combining a (figurative) bird on a wire with a guy riding a galloping horse--it was cool--the contrast between the 'real' Indians we had seen the night before with this 'fake' Indian dance number was stunning.
And again, let's not get indignant here, shall we? I'm fully aware that every danged thing in the Dixie Stampede has been sanitized for my protection. The North and South didn't do battle over pig races; saloons were never so friendly, and settlers have never been so clean and shiny. The only real thing about the whole production were the horses.
And I also want to be clear that I enjoyed the Dixie Stampede. It was fun, in that weird dinner-theater kind of way. The trick riders were amazing--a guy jumped through a flaming hoop while standing on the backs of two horses! Awesome!
But even my husband, who, prior to the Brule' show, had never seen traditional dances or really even seen an American Indian in person, was surprised at the difference between the real and the fake. I wasn't going to say anything, but he pointed the difference out to me (along the lines of "Funny that last night we saw real Indians and tonight . . .").
It was like going diamond shopping at Tiffany's and then spending an hour browsing the 'gems' at a Claire's Boutique in the mall. After you've seen the good stuff, the imitation just doesn't cut it. So, in the future, demand the good stuff. It's worth it.