Books 1983 Omaha Harvest Celebration Pow-Wow Fieldnotes by Carl Fleischhauer
We went back to the arena to hear Clifford Wolfe Sr. make a speech before the affair started. It is on tape. He talked about his pride in his Omaha heritage, but continued on the theme of how this pow-wow was going to run on “white man's time.” He said that he didn't want to see it start one or two hours late, on “Indian time.” His statements implied that the pow-wow was designed, in part, to do a sort of public relations job with outside visitors. Wolfe is a man who has seen much of the world. After I told him that my ancestry was German, he always greeted me with “Guten Tag,” or somesuch, learned from his military years “among the Frauleins.” As MC, he made an ideal “interface” between cultures. It interested me that he made so much of me being “German.” In a way, it tended to emphasize his Native American ethnicity, and stressed that I was a stranger to this country (“his” land, where Europeans were not native). I must emphasize that he never stated these things; they were implied to me by his emphasis on my Germanness.
A key event of the afternoon was a long dance honoring John Turner, followed by a giveaway on his behalf. At the end of the lengthy giveaway—for which we turned off the tape recorder—young Kenny Blackbird (Turner's grandson, I think) played the Omaha flute. Maria kicked on the recorder, but we still missed the first few notes of the only song he played. I did get some pictures. Dorothy approached Kenny afterwards (Dennis seemed shy about it), but she could not arrange to meet him for a special Monday recording session. I got the impression from Dorothy that Blackbird shrank a bit from the suggestion.
At some point during the affair, there was a recognition given to the fancy dancers. They came forward, one by one (maybe it was during a giveaway, and they were called by name). When one of them—and I THINK it was one who looked very white, as a couple did, returned to his bench, he started to go around the singers counter-clockwise. One of the arena directors waved his cane, and set him right.
Later that afternoon, there was “special” and giveaway for a Marine lance corporal, a young man of about 18, home on furlough. There was a large turnout and much giving on this patriotic occasion. At the end, a man described as the boy's grandfather made a speech about how the Marine should do his best, etc. etc. The themes of his remarks sounded very much like Lester Flatt's famous bluegrass music recitation “Father's Table Grace.”
The speech also thanked folks for the cash donations (made during the dance-around). The man asserted that the boy would think of all of them when he used the money on his way back to camp, and bought some coffee and food with it.
The boy's mother was there, clearly in an emotional state about the event. She asked the man to speak for her. It occurred to me that usually (although not always), the person at the center of the event had someone speak for them. This seemed to be a normal part of the