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Watertown Students Dress up as Indians for Homecoming

Oh, look—white kids dressed up in mock Indian garb:

Photo of Watertown HS homecoming (known locally as "Ki-Yi") royalty, Watertown Public Opinion, 2014.09.19, screen cap 2014.09.23
Photo of Watertown HS homecoming (known locally as "Ki-Yi") royalty, Watertown Public Opinion, 2014.09.19, screen cap 2014.09.23

Not having had the pleasure of graduating from Watertown, Home of the Arrows, I can't speak to the rich local tradition behind the branding of homecoming week as a celebration of Dakota culture. I invite locals and proud alumni to fill us in.

Homecoming activities evidently do not include having all students dress up as Indians. But to pile irony upon irony, student organizers kicked off the in-school celebrations by designating Monday as 'Merica Day (yes, with the apostrophe), on which students were to wear patriotic garb. Those who chose not to wear red, white, and blue could opt for nerd outfits.

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  1. Ried Holien 2014.09.23

    It dates back to the mid-1920's (1925 I think) when a beloved (and still somewhat famous) librarian and teacher invented a Native American story probably because it would fit in with the Arrow mascot. Homecoming tradition even includes a performance of the "Ki-Yi" legend story. Yes, it's unique. I hope this helps.

  2. Joseph.Voigt 2014.09.23

    Yankton does the same thing.

  3. Nick Nemec 2014.09.23

    You would have thought that at some time in the last 30 years or so the stupidity of this tradition would have been pointed out. It is simply embarrassing for all involved and "honors" no one.

  4. Donald Pay 2014.09.23

    I can't recall having dippy, racially questionable homecoming traditions at SF Lincoln when I attended in the late sixties. We were a new school then, and we were "The Patriots" after all, so tradition wasn't a big concern. I suspect if we dressed up as anything, it wasn't in fake Indian garb. I'd hate to think that teens have to carry on stupid high school traditions just because we oldsters did. It used to be that Rapid City Central and Stevens would egg each others cars on homecoming days. Some traditions deserve to die.

  5. mike from iowa 2014.09.23

    From what little history about Native Americans I've stumbled across,the Natchez Sun Tribes were the onliest? ones with any kind of royalty. And they are extinct.

  6. Bernie 2014.09.23

    Yankton High School dropped the Indian theme long ago. Today the "Bucks" stands for a whitetail deer, and the girls' teams are Gazelles.

  7. Douglas Wiken 2014.09.23

    I really don't think kids are thinking about anything other than dressing up like actors on a stage. They could be pirates or whatever without either endorsing or abasing pirates or Native Americans. But, if Native Americans are upset by towns that usually start with "W" liking alliteration, I'm all for removing any indication that they were ever in the area. It is a dead and defective culture, why honor it in any way?

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.23

    If I wanted to find a way to insult the white culture, I would dress up as Doug Wiken

  9. Chris S. 2014.09.23

    I wasn't wanting to wade into this, but wow, Douglas Wiken, what an inflammatory comment. BTW, you understand that pirates are not an ethnic group, right?

    Also, I don't think anybody here is blaming the kids involved. First, they're kids. They may or may not have thought about issues like this. Regardless, when you're a kid at homecoming time, you just do whatever you're supposed to do. It's not like any school's student body has a huge say in choosing their mascot or homecoming festivities.

  10. lesliengland 2014.09.23

    whether a name-change application has been made, some other west river white guy has just had enough, too, of this political correctness, according to his letter to the editor in rcj.

    it wasn't grudz, yet. ray someone, he thinks we just can't leave the past alone, but he may not realize the significance of Hin Han Gaga, the big granite peak custer climbed while road building thru the hills in 1874. he honored gen. Harney, who indians referred to as "woman-killer" or "child-killer" after the blue water Nebraska attack on a sleeping village. the 1868 treaty entitled the lakota with most of western Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. the peak was in the very center of their land, literally, and figuratively.

    Korean War Vet Brave Heart knows precisely of what he speaks. And like it would be a big deal to change the name. not.

    perhaps wiken could be our mascot.

  11. Bill Fleming 2014.09.23

    A little Lakota history for my friend Mr. Wiken. No doubt the feeling he shares about Lakota culture was mutual. I never understand why Doug makes such disparaging remarks about his fellow human beings.

    "For bringing his demoralized band of exiles back from Canada in July 1881, Sitting Bull had been promised a pardon for his role in the Battle of Little Bighorn five years earlier. Instead he was summarily arrested and locked up at Ft Randall on the Missouri River in South Dakota. From there the Hunkpapa Lakota warrior could only watch as his tribe's lands were nibbled away by the US government.

    The next year, in exchange for 25,000 cows and 1,000 bulls, other Lakota chiefs were asked to sign a paper they could not read it surrendered 14,000 more miles, about half the reservation lands guaranteed in the 1868 Ft Laramie Treaty. Suspecting the worst, a chief named Yellow Hair scooped up a handful of dirt and thrust it at the federal agent. "We have given up nearly all of our land," he said, "you had better take the balance now."

    In August 1883 a commision led by Senator Henry L Dawes of Massachusetts came to Hunkpapa Lakota Agency at Standing Rock to investigate charges of an illegal land seizure. Sitting Bull, only recently released from captivity, attended the conference but was at first ignored by the commisioners. When they finally asked for his opinion, he accused them of acting like "men who have been drinking whiskey" and led the chiefs in a walkout. Although Professing loyalty to Sifting Bull, the other leaders were worried and persueded him to apologise the next day. "The Great Father told me not to step aside from the white man’s path, and I told him I would not, and I am doing my best travel in that path," he told the conunissionars.

    They were not mollified. "The government foods and clothes and educates your children now," one of them said, "and desires to teach you to become farmers, and to civilize you, and make you as white men."

    The Bureau of Indian Affairs agent at Standing Rock, James McLaughlin, tried working with other Hunkpapa and Blackfeet Lakota chiefs. But Sitting Bull remained their favored leader, and ironically, became a celebrity in the white world. At the driving of the last spike to link the Northern Pacific Railroads transcontinental track in the summer of 1883, Sitting Bull was asked to deliver a speech drafted for him by a bilingual army officer. Ignoring the text, the renowned chief rose to announce in Lakota that he hated all white people. "You are thieves and liars," he told his uncomprehending audience. "You have taken away our lands and made us outcasts." The embarrassed officer read a few platitudinous sentences from the prepared speech in English and the listeners sprang to their feet with applause for Sitting Bull.

    The next year he made a government-sponsored tour of 15 cities and was so enthusiastically received that Buffalo Bill Cody asked him to join his Wild West Show in 1885. Sitting Bull agreed, but he declined Cody's subsequent offer of a trip to Europe: "I am needed here. There is more talk of taking our lands."
    For more see:

  12. Donald Pay 2014.09.23

    Here's an interesting thing from my current hometown. Students during homecoming week here traditionally held "opposite sex day," where boys dressed up as girls and girls dressed as boys. I would've thunk that it might have gotten some flak from conservatives, but this year the transgendered community complained that this tradition was demeaning. The upshot: no more cross dressing unless you really are transgendered. It helped that students themselves took it upon themselves to demand the change.

  13. mike from iowa 2014.09.23

    Interesting read,Bill F. Unfortunately it ran out about the time of the Ghost Dance craze and there was no word whether the white man disappeared.

  14. Bill Fleming 2014.09.23

    There's a lesson in there Mike. Do you see it? Deb has run it down for us several times here. When groups of people are oppressed and beaten down, they oftentimes have cultural/religious apocalyptic movements and "saviors" to keep their spirits up and give them hope for better times ahead. Sound familiar?

  15. mike from iowa 2014.09.23

    Yes it does sound all too familiar.

  16. Watertown is obviously acting out what tribal scholars call agnosia...that mistaken belief that Indians no long exist or only as imaginative actors in Peter Pan.

    Quite to the contrary, tribal people are contemporary people, and I resent being made out to be someone who only dresses in buckskin. (Not that I don't love a little leather.)

    Why not dress up as Katniss or something else?

    On agnosia:

  17. JeniW 2014.09.23

    I call what the Watertown students did was an act of "tokenism." But, in this case there does not appear to be any North American Indians in this group, unless they are bi-racial.

    Tokenism: "the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce." (workplace and any other setting, IMO)

    It reminds me of when people pretend to use wheelchairs, or be blindfolded, or ears stuffed with cotton for a short period, to mimic what it is like to have a disability.

    What would be better, if the Watertown school wants to keep doing this, is to invite members from the tribe to visit with the students, including wearing of the traditional clothing, so that the students can have a richer experience and understanding.

  18. Douglas Wiken 2014.09.23

    All team logos or "mascot" names have been made albatross around the necks of teams by PC Correctness and professionals of ethnic specialness. They all should be abandoned and while at it, education institutions should stop football. The brain damage it does is inconsistent with education institutions.

  19. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.23

    Speaking of brain damage, Wiken obviously played too much football without a helmet.

  20. JeniW 2014.09.23

    Doug, IMO there should not be any team names or mascots that involve humans, or groups of humans.

    I dislike the "Vikings" as a name, even though I think football, and most other team sports are as boring as watching paint dry, and do not watch any of them.

    There are oodles of animals and objects that can be used for team names and mascots. Animals do not care what they are called, they care about how they are treated. Objects do not care what they are called, or how they are treated.

    Use the gift of imagination to come up with team names and mascots, it is not that hard to come up with possibilities.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.23

    I have never understand this obsession with political correctness, is that a law on the books that I'm not familiar with? Can anyone that society deems as using politically incorrect be charged and arrested for something? Can their mouths be duct taped for saying naughty things?
    It seems that these days people are choosing to be more politically incorrect than ever before. The 1st Amendment still works, doesn't it?
    Political correctness to me represents respect and understanding, that seems to tossed by the way side with the horrendous racist comments Wiken makes.
    In fact, Wiken is the epitome of political incorrectness, he just like the consequences.

  22. Toni Handboy 2014.09.23

    Maybe we should go marching in their with the real regalia in 400,000 of population like in New York and see how the town feels. It is so ignorant no matter what the tradition is for the school.

  23. Paige Seim 2014.09.23

    As a proud graduate of WHS and participant in ki-yi activities I suggest research is actually done to find out what this homecoming activity is actually about. The students "dress up as indians" to represent the homecoming story of two native tribes who fought each other, then joined together in unity. I would suggest attending the Ki-yi ledgend that happens every Monday night during homecoming week. There you will be able to hear the story and see a dramatization of events. This is a beautiful traditon that I as a person who is discovering traditional native culture, am proud to have gotten to be apart of. It provides insite of native culture that students wouldn't otherwise get, and this tradition should be enjoyed not distroyed because of some flawed perception of reality.

  24. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.23

    Roger, you made me burst out laughing twice!

    I have a similar take on "political correctness." First, it's a phrase made up my right wingers in an attempt to create a negative sense of a positive thing.

    Where this began was folks insisting that themselves and other folks be treated with respect and courtesy. It was and is a good thing.

    JeniW is right about all the options for mascot names. Think of all the teams named in the past 30-40 years. The Nationals, the Fire, the Titans, the Wild, the Red Storm, etc. There aren't any Jews, Italians, Mexicans, Broads, Pimps, Rednecks, White Trash, etc.

  25. JeniW 2014.09.24

    Paige, thank you for sharing your perspective. I appreciate your doing so.

    How about inviting a few of the North American Indians living in northern SD to the event so that they can participate in it. Just think of how much richer it would be for the students and others who participate, and extends a welcoming hand to the the Indians.

    It would cost for transportation, food, and lodging, but it would be an even more wonderful event because the story is about two tribes that come together to form a unity.

    If that is not feasible, how about asking the BIA or another tribal entity to send a letter of blessing that can be read at the opening events, copied in the year book, and saved for the future in the school's library?

  26. John 2014.09.24

    F--- South Dakota. Get your [act] together, Watertown or whatever small backwater community this is. Native identities aren't [...] costumes to play dress up and giggle at yourselves in the mirror with. [edited for languge —CAH]

  27. Brian 2014.09.24

    John has no idea what he's talking about they don't play dress up and giggle in the mirror they wear them one night for the legend and once at the game and if you actually went to Watertown high school and knew what you were talking about you would realize that it's part of the tradition and has been that way for about 100 years now. So why now is it all of a sudden a big deal?

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    Brian: is cultural appropriation acceptable if it has been done for over a hundred years?

    Paige: if the story were about two African tribes, would it be o.k. for white students to appear in blackface?

  29. Ashley Vanheel (benson) 2014.09.24

    I guess no one can be an Indian on Halloween either because it's the same thing ! Just saying arrow changed to no head dresses my year 2010 because someone got mad nd now they rnt doing anything anymore because we r mocking Indians ! We'll if they all read the play nd went to our events they would understand it's about peace nd praising a princess nd chief ! Nothing about that is mocking there culture besides the fact we r doing a play . And for that I say guess Watertown can't do any plays with a Indian plays for theater because that will be next on the chopping block!

  30. Craig 2014.09.24

    When people look at these types of events from the outside, they never see the entire connection, the history, the significance, or the impact.

    Another example is the Sisseton homecoming festivities. They don't have a homecoming king and queen - they have a Chieftain and Princess. They dress in buckskin outfits with a headdress for the Chieftan, and the ceremony itself includes a Medicine Man (a student selected by his classmates). The mascot name for the school is also the "Redmen".

    Many would find this incredibly offensive, and some have voiced concerns in the past. Yet Sisseton continues with the tradition because it is meant as an honor to the Dakota people (the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe) and the Lake Traverse Reservation which Sisseton resides within. They have a very large population of Native Americans in the school and the community (both Native and non-Native) overwhelmingly support the usage of the term "Redmen" and the iconography involved with the name (the logo is generally the profile of an Indian Chief).

    Rest assured if Sisseton ever does change it's mascot or retire the homecoming traditions it won't be because of the Native population in the Sisseton area or within the reservation... it will be due to outside pressure from those who are unfamiliar with the history or the community.

    I have to wonder if Watertown is much the same.

  31. Cathy 2014.09.24

    caheidelberger: Don't play the IF game because that is not the subject. They represent Native Americans because they are in SOUTH DAKOTA. Plus they represent them in their native clothing NOT their skin pigment. Can't Euro American's learn about Native American culture? Since when is it bad to embrace a culture and learn the history?

  32. bearcreekbat 2014.09.24

    Political correctness is defined as "the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against."

    Thus, it seems that political correct behavior consists of treating each other with empathy, compassion and respect. My questions for Mr. Wiken are these -

    Why would anyone object to avoiding words or acts that might tend to make a socially disadvantaged person or minority, or anyone else for that matter, feel excluded, insulted or marginalized?

    What painful or tragic event happened in your lifetime that you believe justifies making statements intended to insult, exclude and marginalize all Native Americans?

    Do you think your outlook on life (i.e happiness) might improve if you forgave whatever past transgressions that have negatively affected your view of Native Americans and focused instead on the good that exists in the Native American community?

  33. John 2014.09.24

    Cathy, I have lived in South Dakota for 18 years, and trust when I say you don't deserve the honor of wearing my people's clothes and invoking their image.

  34. Savannah Gravatt 2014.09.24

    so, I guess Chief Hollow Horn Bear painting on the Washington gym wall is not offensive? Oh "it's a learning tool". #CrowCreek

  35. Cullen M 2014.09.24

    I also graduated from Watertown just a few years ago, and participated in the homecoming festivities. As Paige said earlier, the tradition is entirely about unity and equality and has been since at least the 1920's. "Ki-Yi" was not created to be mocking, but rather, a sign of respect and acknowledgement to our Native American friends' and neighbors rich history in the area; even if it is not an actual story, but "legend". I've never once heard a negative attitude towards the homecoming week from any one of my Native American classmates, whom I was close friends with many. No one is arguing that what happened to Native Americans was good. It's important that we look back at the Fort Laramie Treaties, Certain Concessions, and other atrocities committed by the US government. The real question is, why do we need to attack one high school's homecoming week? It doesn't change the past. It doesn't change the future. It's just offense for the sake of being offended.

  36. Cathy 2014.09.24

    John: Why? Because of what "white" people did back then? That's was NOT me. I have family who are Native American ( not by blood) and they don't look at me like that. They let me enjoy their culture and learn from it. They call me little sister. You do not know me. Don't tell me I have no honor because I respect your culture.

  37. Cathy 2014.09.24

    John: Also I would like to add that my grandmother would go and sub teach at Native schools and guess what... she was white. If anyone here is the racist you are. She went there and loved it, she actually would teach there more than at my school. She was invited to pow wow and would dance with them because they respect her as a person not her skin color.

  38. Jenna V 2014.09.24

    I graduated from WHS a few years ago. How about you do some actual research before throwing stones at something you don't understand. This world is so quick to judge something so innocent.

  39. Paula 2014.09.24

    I didn't know about Watertown's homecoming festivities at all, so when I saw this photo and story, I read it with interest. I honestly didn't see anything offensive. Personally I feel that the only people who have a right to try to change the costumes or the events, are Native Americans, if they are offended by them. Everybody else just likes to stir up

  40. John 2014.09.24

    Sounds like your unci was chill, Cath. But what have you done? What has Watertown High done to earn the right to masquerade in Native dress? Identity is important, since kindergarten native children are taught that their identity is sacred. We don't write our names down for things that we aren't proud of. We don't draw our faces for novelty and triviality. Honestly this homecoming week is ridiculous. Y'all should've been turkeys or something. Turkeys live in South Dakota too.

  41. Jim L 2014.09.24

    I will never understand how some people are so narrow minded. It absolutely boggles my mind how as kids we had Hitler and the Holocaust rammed down our throats so it wouldn't happen agian. Yet our Native American chapters might as well been swept under the rug. We have to face our wrongs just like Germany. America was perfect and yes people are still affected by it by should we not teach about the cultures of the Native American people. I mean this is more of a honoring than a dress up disgrace. I graduated from WHS in 2003 and I never once took us as disrespecting the Native American culture. Maybe this person should attend the homecoming before they wrote this. I am also a fan of what no has become known as The University of North Dakota who were once known as the Fighting Sioux. Heaven for bid anyone pay honor to such a great tribe right. I mean honestly is that where we want the history to be taught to kids now? The history of the US without Native American Cultures? I mean I am white and l enjoy learning about Native American cultures my grand parents took me to a pow wow when I was little had a blast. Is it so wrong? When is it right to brush such a great culture under the rug because it may upset someone?

  42. kjr 2014.09.24

    What most dnt realize is we have a very vast Native culture in my home town many Natives do attend and have take n part. Guess you need to see how much pride we take in the culture before you bash what we do.

  43. John 2014.09.24

    Jim, if you wanted to honor native tribes, then stop reducing us in history classes to single paragraphs in text books. Stop celebrating Columbus day. Don't fucking etch the faces of your leaders on our sacred grounds, e.g. Mount Rushmore. My people can do without being "honored" at football games.

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Thanks for the follow up comment on political correctness, this is part of the debate we should be having about Watertown's racist portrayal of Native Americans.
    The other element I see missing here is the white privilege argument, supporters and defenders of the Watertown's clown show are the best of example of that privilege.
    Since this a tradition at their high school, it is acceptable and we all should understand.
    Well, traditions can be changed and broken, it happens all the time in our society.

  45. Cindy 2014.09.24

    I am from Watertown have had 3 children go through Ki-Yi , with nothing but respect and seriousness for the legend. Keep the legend strong Watertown, we know what it is all about and respect it. We have had local Native American support for the legend.

  46. Brenda 2014.09.24

    So please tell me what your intent was. Instead of researching, asking the community or, heaven forbid, doing actual research, you post a picture and slap a statement based on that single picture.
    I think you are exactly what is wrong with our nation. Trying to stir drama and problems wherever you go. Leave our community alone. Had you bothered to ask you would find out our community is rich in Native history and something we are all proud of. No matter our skin color or heritage....we are all Ki-Yi. Many different people and all coming together to celebrate.
    Please take your pot stirring skills and put them to good use instead of being cruel and hurtful.

  47. Tara S. 2014.09.24

    I can understand how this could be totally misconstrued by someone who is not from our town and doesn't understand that the Ki-Yi Legend was based on the Native Americans who once inhabited the shores of Lake Kampeska- the lake on which our town was built upon. What's more- these may appear to be "white kids" but I can guarantee that several who have been on Ki-Yi Royalty now and in years past, have Native American blood running through their veins. This is not a mockery- by today's standards, and with articles like this one, I can see how this could be taken as such- but it is very serious in our community and being CHOSEN to wear these Native American robes, is considered a great honor by those who wear them. It's not a joke- and I wish you'd done your research before writing an article on it. Isn't that what a great journalist is supposed to do? Research properly FIRST and THEN write? I'm tired of this "shoot from the hip" garbage that people like you pull, just to get some readers on board. Nice job.

  48. Bill Fleming 2014.09.24

    Brenda, seems like Cory's intent was pretty clear:

    "Not having had the pleasure of graduating from Watertown, Home of the Arrows, I can't speak to the rich local tradition behind the branding of homecoming week as a celebration of Dakota culture. I invite locals and proud alumni to fill us in."

    In other words, he invited community locals to comment, and many of them did, including yourself. Thank you for that.

    Perhaps you may now wish to read what the others here have written. Because that, in essence, is the (albeit limited) body of research Cory has assembled here, with your and your neighbor's help. The whole ideas to get us talking to one another.

    Beyond that, I would challenge your assertion that "we are all "Ki-Yi." Are you really prepared to say truthfully that you have walked in the same moccasins and your American Indian brothers and sisters? I know for a fact that I personally would never presume to make such an assertion.

  49. Bill Fleming 2014.09.24

    ...walked in the same moccasins AS your American Indian brothers and sisters? (sorry) BF

  50. Jim L 2014.09.24

    That my point than Bear. We have brushed Native American Culture under the table. It's dumb. It's no different than the Holocaust. But my point is you take away some of these names or traditions than what little some kids might learn or understand would be lost too. I have plenty of Fighting Sioux and Blackhawk apparel and I am proud to wear it. I worked with a Native American and I wore a hat of the fightin Sioux at work all the time I asked if he found it offensive. He said no because at least I am representing something in a positive way. You sit here and tell me you wanna be more than a paragraph in a history book! I ask you what have you personally done to teach a white priviliged pile like myself as you say about your culture? Maybe you shouldn't point fingers so quick it's a complete failure by all. I will always be a Fighting Sioux and Blackhawk fan and I hope they never change the Blackhawks name. It's sad how far you want to take what little we learn about you away even more. For myself my interest in your culture was sparked by that silly homecoming that us white privilaged people did.

  51. SDTeacher 2014.09.24

    If the person whose culture you are appropriating feels disrespected by your display, then your argument "we're respecting you" falls a bit flat. Your intention matters, but so do the consequences of your actions and if the consequence is that somebody is hurt or offended, then the mature, respectful and reasonable response is to apologize and make amends. To say "stop being so sensitive" is the response of a person who lacks empathy and concern for the others' feelings/traditions/heritage. It's pretty simple actually.

  52. Craig 2014.09.24

    John: "Y'all should've been turkeys or something. Turkeys live in South Dakota too."

    But that would be offensive to John Thune.

  53. Nikki S 2014.09.24

    I am a proud alum of WHS and the fuss about our hometown tradition has gone too far. Watertown High School has had this tradition for over 100 years. Every year royalty is picked and every year they put on the same outfit to take a picture for our newspaper. It has symbolism and is held to a higher standard. If we were trying to "make fun and giggle like John suggests

    2014.09.24 AT 00:55
    "F--- South Dakota. Get your [act] together, Watertown or whatever small backwater community this is. Native identities aren't [...] costumes to play dress up and giggle at yourselves in the mirror with. [edited for languge —CAH]"

    Then I believe our tradition would have ended when it started. There's more to it then dress-up and a game. We have a legacy of being one of the most spirited and supporting towns in South Dakota because we do believe in the tradition and what it stands for.

    So sorry, if people just now decided to speak up because it only took them 100 years to notice what we firmly stand behind. I suggest learning more about what you're trying to disgrace. This is turning into something way more then hurt feelings. There's a reason for there only being Caucasian teenagers in the picture, it's Watertown, very little diversity in South Dakota. Don't blame us for people not wanting to live in a cold state!

    Minor request as well, if you have an opinion about my home town and our traditions, yet you've never even been to the school, please keep it to yourself. Personally nobody wants to read you rant about something you clearly have no knowledge of. Thanks.

  54. Brenda 2014.09.24

    Mr. Bill Flemming...

    In the response we are all Ki-Yi, you do realize that the two tribes that are being referred to in the legend are fictitious. No actual names are used, therefore, the Ki-Yi refers to the blending of the culture and students into one. Having graduated from this school I can assure you - we are all Ki-Yi and, quite frankly, damn proud of it.

    And, for your information, I am also very proud to say that I do have Native blood in my family. So yes, I do feel I have a place to stand and speak from in this topic.

    This isn't an informative conversation, this is the ignorance of this country and the constant need to find flaw, whether real or imagined, against others. Leave these kids alone. They are so incredibly proud of this tradition and the importance that has been placed on their shoulders to respect, uphold and pass on these honors. They aren't playing dress up. These kids were chosen because of their qualities, not a popularity contest. These are the best of the best and they stand proud to show the unity, dignity and respect we have all been taught for our community, the past, the present and the future.
    I'm quite sure that there are very few schools who show this type of respect for those that came before and the lessons we have learned from their struggles and the injustices they endured.

  55. Craig 2014.09.24

    It is probably worth noting here that no individual speaks for all 'whites' or "Native Americans". There will always be a few who are offended by anything and we cannot always please everyone. What is more important is that we recognize culture and create an environment where such culture is respected. If a local tribe had an issue with Watertown's festivities and voiced their concerns it would carry a lot more weight than a few individuals. I'm just not sure the Native American community as a whole finds this type of scenario as offensive vs treating it as an honor - that remains the unanswered question.

  56. Bill Fleming 2014.09.24

    So Brenda, as an American Indian, do you think it's a good idea to try to "blend your culture into one?"

    Just curious.

    I know that's what the US Government had in mind when they had all the little Indian kids go to boarding school, cut their hair, and get punished for speaking their native tongue. And when they tried to convince all their parents to stop hunting and grow potatoes instead. Are you saying that was the right idea?

    Seriously, I'd like to hear your perspective on this.

    Thanks. :-) BF

  57. SDTeacher 2014.09.24

    I recommend those who wish to honor American Indian culture through their mascots etc. watch the documentary "In Whose Honor." It's really important to recognize that however innocent our intent, others can be hurt; particularly when your intent is based on insufficient information/understanding.

    WHS students who are posting- do you feel the sting of not being understood? Do you feel offended that people assume things about your town's culture and your high school's traditions that aren't true? Can you stop for a second change your perspective and seriously consider how it might feel for an American Indian who sees your display? Regardless of whether your school "made up" these tribes or appropriated something from an actual tribe, you are making assumptions and displays about other peoples' traditions and culture, some of which could carry the same sting for others that you are feeling right now. I am assuming that none of the Christians at your school would appreciate a team that called themselves the Fighting Christs and had a guy running around on a cross for a mascot. Do you know which of your traditions touch on religious beliefs of different tribes? Do you you care?

    Nobody thinks that the students are being intentionally hurtful. But if you have been alerted to the fact that your actions could be hurtful and you persist...well then your intentions start to look pretty crappy.

  58. JeniW 2014.09.24

    Many years ago, I would hear people who did not have disabilities give presentations about people who have disabilities.

    They were not being disrespectful, patronizing, or any of that. They were trying to share what information they had about people who have disabilities. But sometimes, they were not as informative as could or should have been.

    Oftentimes, I was the only person present with an obvious physical and sensory disabilities. So when the questions from the audience was asked of the presenter, the presenter would answer, and me being me, I added my 25 cents worth.

    From that point on I have advocated for whenever there is anything about individuals with disabilities, individuals with disabilities should be a part of the presentation and/or participate in the group discussion. After all, who better to explain the living and coping with disabilities 24/7, for years, and for some, a life time.

    As I mentioned before, invite the North American Indians who live in northern SD to attend and participate in some way if the Indians want to do so.

    Just think of how much richer and more educational the event would be if there were North American Indians participating. It could possibly help to reduce the discussion as to whether this event is disrespectful for anyone, regardless of ethnic background.

  59. Mine 2014.09.24

    Just a bunch of idiots overlooking what's going on in the world and finding minuscule s*** to write about. ISIS, yeah that's happening and you're all worried how a freakin HIGH SCHOOL celebrates their homecoming?

  60. SDTeacher 2014.09.24

    I don't think noticing what's going on in your own community is = overlooking what's going on in the world. But in any event, while you're focusing on ISIS, you might also want to consider whether making personal attacks and marginalizing the concerns of a minority population are really effective methods of resolving disagreement. I suspect your research on conflicts in the middle east will help you figure out the answer to those questions pretty quickly.

  61. mike from iowa 2014.09.24

    Mine-invite ISIS to Watertown for Homecoming and then we can kill 'em all. No problem. Unless some innocent terrorists happen to show up and become collateral damage. To effectively deal with other groups of people,you need to know and understand them,their culture,etc. It would be easier to just kill them,but you'd make more enemies than you could ever kill,short of nukular holocaust.

  62. Holly 2014.09.24

    Oh, look—white kids dressed up in mock Indian garb:

    This statement is NOT an informational seeking statement, this statement says, let’s stir up some drama and try to continue to pit races against each other. I personally have had enough!

    Let me tell you what I see when I look at this picture. I see a picture of 11 High School Seniors, who are on track to graduate.

    I wonder, will any of these faces be the faces of a doctor who saves a life of somebody’s loved one? Will any of these faces be a face that a child will look to, to teach them how to read or write? Will someone from this picture be the person you go to when your car quits working, the same car that gets you to your job, where you earn funds to support yourself or your family?

    There are many challenges, our youth of any race or sex face each day. These 11 students have overcome many obstacles, and while doing so, they have participated in their school, through sports and/ or service clubs and many have volunteered through their church and provided a helping hand to the young and old, without regard to race, sex, or race.

    These youth were nominated by their peers to represent their school during homecoming and it is an honor few people have the privilege to have. The youth who have an opportunity to select these privileged few are from all walk of life, and many different races.

    No matter how hard you try, you will not create a wedge between me and my friends of many races! I value diversity and will continue to do so!

  63. JeniW 2014.09.24

    Mine, we cannot expect other countries to be at peace, and/or not be involved in war/killings when we do not even have peace in our own communities.

    Plus, there is not anything most of us can do about ISIS, but we can each try to do something constructive with the issue involving the WHS.

  64. mike from iowa 2014.09.24

    I'm a 1971 graduate of WHS,the one in Cherokee,iowa.(W stands for Washington) Our sports teams were/are the Cherokee Braves and Bravettes. I don't recall any major push to change the names,but then there are no Indian reservations anywhere close by, especially not Cherokee Indians,although I have some Cherokee blood from Mother of recent memory who was from Oklahoma. If a name is legitimately offensive then it should be open to inspection and debate.

  65. Dr. Fred Deutsch 2014.09.24

    My knowledge as a Watertown School Board Member the last 8 years:

    1. Story is about two "tribes" who lived on Kampeska and come together and create one nation. It is fictitious. It began 75 years ago and was written by Florence Bruhn who took part of the story from General Sheafe who had made up the story years prior.

    2. 2001 - Betty Gross, a Native American, challenged the Ki-Yi publicly through the Argus Leader. She said that it was degrading to the Indians. It became a media event.

    3. In 2001 – Superintendent Rick Melmer developed a committee to examine the traditions and make recommendations to the School Board. Their recommendations were:
    A. Eliminate the headdresses with eagle feathers
    B. Eliminate the eagle feathers
    C. Modify the script to reflect an "Arrow" theme rather than a Ki-Yi theme. References to "tribes" should be eliminated and more culturally appropriate terms used in its place.
    D. The term "Ki-Yi" will remain a part of the Homecoming tradition but references to fictitious NA tribes will be eliminated.
    E. Eliminate the Native American costumes beginning in the fall of 2002.

    4. Mr. Melmer Rick also met with Native Americans regarding their concerns of the Ki-Yi ceremony. Their concerns were about the clothing, eagle feathers, headdress, and the Native American gestures (folding of hands), etc.

    4. The 2002 School Board voted to keep the Ki-Yi Legend intact but to remove some of the Native American aspects such as the wearing of feathers, headdress, and the folding of the arms.

    5. In 2006, the school board again reviewed this. The Assistant Superintendent visited with the Tribal Chairman, Scott German. He read through the script and said that he didn't have any problem with the tradition as it was not the "Indian" tradition but a tradition that was fictitious and belonged to our school. He said it was now the school’s tradition.

    6. No new issues until the current social media outbreak.

  66. Paula 2014.09.24

    Thank you, Dr. Deutsch. That's great information. As I thought about this a lot this afternoon, it really made me sad that society has become so ultra-sensitive that Homecoming activities have to be condemned, before someone bothers to get the whole story. Kudos to the Watertown School District for the way they handled the complaint back in 2001, and came to a resolution which everyone is happy with. As I said early, when I saw the photo, nothing disrespectful struck me; maybe if their faces had war paint or they wore head dresses it would have been a different story. Some people just look to cause trouble where there is none!

  67. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    Dr. Deutsch provides some valuable historical context. Thank you very much, Fred.

    Now, why is it an important part of the tradition to have the students dress up in what looks very much like co-opted American Indian costumes? Why not have the students wear Pilgrim outfits, or Catholic robes, or business suits?

  68. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    Much of the commentary above comes from folks professing to be locals enraged by the fact that "outsiders" have co-opted their local cultural practices. Does this cultural protectiveness reflect how Native people may feel about a white town's tradition that co-opts Native cultural items?

    If one small town holds an event that co-opts another culture, does shouting, "You're not from here!" negate the critique of cultural co-optation?

  69. SDTeacher 2014.09.24

    I am glad for the clarification by the school board member. I do find it interesting, however, that neither the initial complaint and concerns nor this happy(?) resolution was known to any of the students or alums who posted their responses to this story. Rather than displaying the sensitivity implied through the school board actions, students and alums responded with anger, defensiveness and in some instances, personal attacks. Most of them still seem to think that they are honoring their American Indian neighbors with their traditions.

    I guess, Dr. Deutsch what I'm saying is that although your school board responded to the complaint, your community doesn't seem to have gotten the memo or the point of the complaint.

  70. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Dr Deutsch,

    If you scroll up on this blog, you will see that Chamberlain High School has a Civil Rights lawsuit pending against them for their refusal to play for it Native American graduates.
    I suspect that in the near future these "traditions" distorting and stereotyping by schools will be the next targets of Civil Rights litigation.

  71. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Dr. Deutsch has aptly pointed out how "traditions" have changed over the years to the point where they are no longer what they started out to be.
    If "traditions" can be drastically altered, they can also bed eliminated.

  72. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    As a Native American I am not "ultra-sensitive", I am outraged that a public institution for education is allow to perpetuate stereotypes of Native Americans.
    In this year of 2014 it seems that adults that teach these children would find better and more meaningful ways to honor Native Americans.

  73. Paula 2014.09.24

    Great, Roger! That sounds like a terrific idea to me too. Do you have some suggestions of how schools could do this? A great start would be Chamberlain allowing the honor song to be played at the graduation ceremony. I was very much in favor of that.

  74. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Thanks Paula,

    The honor would be a great start.

    The greatest and most meaningful way for schools to honor Native Americans is to teach a true history of how tribes played a major role in American history.

  75. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Sorry, that should be "the honor song would be a great start".

  76. WHS Grad 2014.09.24

    Being a WHS grad and watching our homecoming for many years i find it sad that this had to be brought up the week that these seniors get to celebrate their last homecoming. my biggest question is why? photos like this one get posted EVERY year to the news paper. i am not Native American but i also don't speak ill of them either. i would say please go watch it next year and see that we are not out to hurt anyone or their feelings or traditions. we have made changes in the past. i think Native Americas are a huge part of our countries history and culture but some of things you guys are saying is not only rude but is it really necessary? Everyone could sit on here all day reading and defending their own side but honestly where is it going to get everyone ...i know a lot of our community is very hurt by what was said especially the tag line for this article and also by this comment by : John
    2014.09.24 AT 00:55
    F--- South Dakota. Get your [act] together, Watertown or whatever small backwater community this is. Native identities aren't [...] costumes to play dress up and giggle at yourselves in the mirror with. [edited for languge —CAH]

    I understand that everyone has their right to opinions but was all this worth it in the end? I could keep going on about other things about how i feel and what i think is right and not right that pertains to Americans and to Native Americans but again it wont change anything so i hope you all read what you are saying and realize that this whole article stirred up a whole bunch of stuff that in my eyes should have been left alone!

  77. Bill Fleming 2014.09.24

    "...teach a true history of how tribes played a major role in American history..."

    Agreed, Roger. And it's not a story anyone has to make up. We just have to remember it. Which is very difficult because there has been so much time, money, and effort spent trying to make us forget.

    For example, how about the Sioux Indian man who graduated from Boston University as a doctor, was also a good friend of Teddy Roosevelt and one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America and dozens of YMCA chapters?

    I wonder how many of the Watertown KiYi Royalty Alumni (or any South Dakotan, for that matter) can give us his name without looking it up.

  78. Tim Lawrence 2014.09.24

    As a current student of WHS I

  79. Pete 2014.09.24

    its all too much drama for me

  80. Lisa Burghardt 2014.09.24

    The KiYi Legend is the story of two tribes who were at serious odds with one another and fighting over the same piece of land. Rather than continue to fight, they joined forces and became a stronger united group. It's the story of acceptance and cooperation for the betterment of all involved. South Dakota has a rich Native American past and present. The KiYi Legend is not disparaging to Native Americans in any way. It is a POSITIVE story in a day and age where there is much negativity in the world. Don't be a hater. This yearly dramatization has been a part of homecoming week in Watertown for decades and it serves to bring the student body and the community together. Every town votes for homecoming royalty. The Legend just weaves together the royalty selection with a moral story...strength in numbers. There is such a thing as making something out of nothing (aka drama queen behavior in the middle school age group) and that is what is going on with the complaining here and in the media. Let Watertown's Arrow Pride shine!

  81. give me a break 2014.09.24

    They can rewrite the story about the day the government decided to quit writing checks to indians, because it was degrading to them as it closely resembles buying them much like was done to African Americans in slavery times.

  82. WHS Grad 2014.09.24

    give me a break--- are you saying that they dont give the native americans checks anymore or that they still do???

  83. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    Canwapegi Wi - Moon When the Leaves Turn Brown

  84. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    give me a break and WHS Grad are demonstrating precisely what is wrong with South Dakota and the insulting stereotypes they perpetuates.
    I have never gotten a check from the government for being Indian, I have gotten checks, like most tribal members, for various land use or land purchases.
    Idiots on here are a dime a dozen.

  85. WHS Grad 2014.09.24

    hold on im not stereotyping i was asking what he was saying as i was a little confused did you not read my whole first comment... please dont judge me i was just trying to have him clarify his statement is all!

  86. give me a break 2014.09.24

    Ok Roger, educate me. The checks you receive for land purchase. When did you the land get sold, how much land and when willthe land be paid for.

  87. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    [Quick comment policy reminder: the conversation goes better when we use real names. Fake names like "give me a break" tend toward less civil conversation. We disagree, but we are all neighbors. If you have something to see, I encourage you to do so using your real name.]

  88. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    Lisa, if it is an important story, then why is it dramatized by people wearing Native American clothing? Is that an essential part of the story? If so, why?

    And do the merits of federal policy toward the tribes have anything to do with the merits of white appropriation of Indian culture?

  89. John 2014.09.24

    Shout out to Niki who said:
    "So sorry, if people just now decided to speak up because it only took them 100 years to notice what we firmly stand behind. I suggest learning more about what you're trying to disgrace. This is turning into something way more then hurt feelings. There's a reason for there only being Caucasian teenagers in the picture, it's Watertown, very little diversity in South Dakota. Don't blame us for people not wanting to live in a cold state!"
    Clearly as a Watertown alum, she has no knowledge of the large Native, Asian, and African American populations living in her own state.

  90. Pete 2014.09.24

    maybe everyone just spend the evening with there families quit stewing about this get a good nights sleep and have a productive day at work tomorrow

  91. Bill Fleming 2014.09.24

    "Give", there is a cowboy rule that goes like this: "Never ask a man the size of his spread. Or how many cattle he has."
    It would be like me asking you how much money you have. Roger has already told you more than you need to know. So, back off.

  92. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Cory, sorry for momentary deviation from the topic, but I need to respond to the coward give me a break.

    My business dealings with the tribe and government and not a public issue and I refuse to discuss my private business with you.

  93. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    Yeah, let's bury cultural appropriation like it was Bendagate.

  94. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    WHS Grad, my apologies for including you in my response to give me a break, surely you don't accept the racist opinions of give me a break

  95. your real name 2014.09.24

    Come on Roger, are the checks you receive from "land purchase" that was well before you were born? Your unwillingness to answer only proves my point. I never asked about amounts, just timing. You call it land purchase, I call it indian welfare.

  96. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    South Dakota is a welfare state and Watertown lives on welfare.

  97. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    Kristi Noem lived on welfare outside of Watertown for a decade.

  98. Bill Fleming 2014.09.24

    "real name" I can virtually guarantee you that if you asked that same question to a rancher whose grandfather had sold or leased land to the government to be paid out over time you would not only be denied an answer, you would be lucky to walk away without having your lights punched out.

    You are exhibiting here the very essence of racial prejudice and bigotry. No wonder you are too chickensh*t to use your real name.

  99. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    chickenshit, bill: say it like it is.

  100. Kirby 2014.09.24

    Being a student at Watertown high school, I can tell you that homecoming week is the only week that I see the school coming together and having fun. Everyone is nice to each other, we all enjoy the tradition. Also being from Watertown I know quite a few Native American people, ones that actually know the way of life and live it out to the fullest. They do not think our tradition is derogatory or disrespectful in any way. Our school was actually gifted a headdress from a Native American man who found our tradition flattering and considered it a compliment. We do not mimick any sacred traditions that Natives carry out. We do, however, tell a story about two tribes coming together as one. Our story is about unity and coming together as a school. I don't care for the articles coming out slandering our school and the tradition that people have never actually experienced in real life. But, if you must, carry on because you are truly bringing us together, furthering the meaning of our story to us.

  101. mike from iowa 2014.09.24

    I'm getting the impression that students really mean well,but they are going to give tribute to Indians whether they want it or not because it is their tradition at their school to do so. In the interest of full disclosure about names,my last name is McClaren and I really am a mike from iowa. You want a middle initial you can have it when you pry it from my cold,dead fingers.

  102. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    name guy has andrew shiers smeared all over it.

  103. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.24

    Around a century ago, our US government made several treaties with various American Indian tribes. They weren't very fair deals. Chiefly it was white Americans setting up arrangements that gave them huge financial advantages without regard to the damage done to families.

    Many, if not most of those treaties included language about the duration of the deal for "as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow."

    Even though the US reneged on lots of those deals, the ones they didn't cheat on must still be in effect. I mean, I see growing grass and flowing rivers.

    Part of these deals was certain payments. On the occasion that government checks are received, that's the US paying it's bills. I know there are still US citizens who'd like to renege on even more deals. Too bad. No respectable nation gets to be a welsher. At least, not without destroying its credit rating.

    If US negotiators made lousy deals in their hurry to cheat the Indians - too bad. And small consolation for people who've suffered from efforts at genocide and cultural obliteration.

  104. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.24

    I appreciate the comments of WHS alumni. Thanks. I hear that you don't find your homecoming rituals offensive. Well that's good. If you were deliberately being offensive, that would be shameful.

    I know what would clinch your good intentions for me, is if a group of Native dancers from the Sisseton/Wahpeton tribe played a central role. They could teach the candidates aspects of their culture, perhaps how to indicate honor and respect for others. That would be awesomely cool.

    (Those outfits they're wearing look really dorky, like Tonto and the Lone Ranger on 60s tv. The real Indians could help them dress better.)

    BTW, have you commenters read the one by Dr. Fred Deutsch? It's helpful background information for you. Plus, he tells you that the legend of the two tribes is not true.

  105. larry kurtz 2014.09.24

    grud's mom sucks cocks in hell.

  106. Lina 2014.09.24

    Whatever happened to be accepting? I am a Watertown Graduate, and I just see all homecomings as being elitist. KiYi in fact is Watertown's way of celebrating another culture. It isn't to make fun of. If they were to make fun of it they could do a spoof of "Smoke Signals". Anyway I am a student at Dakota State University, and what I can see it is the same kind of kids every year, and morally I cannot accept it. Another thing with Trojan Days is what is the real tradition that we are celebrating? We are a tech school we suck at sports. I often think that Homecoming is another way to exclude people and remind them that they are not the so called "Cool kid"

  107. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    Wait, I'm getting confused: is it really a representation of Native American culture, or is it just a fictional story? Are the kids dressing up as Indians or not?

  108. mike from iowa 2014.09.24

    Ms Deb-the Lone Ranger ran from 1949 to 1957 before it went into syndication. I watch two episodes every weekday on Angel 2 tv(channel 266 on Dish). They used some parts of some shows in multiple episodes,especially scenery. There were two different Lone Rangers(the original sat out one or two years with contract dispute) and the same Tonto. Lot of familiar looking actors with unusual names.

  109. Jimmy 2014.09.24

    When you find an actual tribe member of the kione or yiwawa it will stop. Because they are two fictitious tribes. Not real tribes. The legend has never been there to offend anyone. It is called a legend for a reason. Frankly as a student of WHS I would love to have real tribe members come to Watertown and teach us more about their culture. I think it would benefit us as students to learn more about the Indian culture. And it would put this issue to bed. I will talk with our principal and other school members about doing so. As for this year, the legend is done and over with, and we can't go back and change it. sorry for any offense that has been caused.

  110. Janelle 2014.09.24

    I attended this high school. Unfortunately, I am pictured in redface taking part in this ignorant, and hurtful "tradition". It is my goal to get this out to everyone online and everywhere in the world, so they can know how awful and illiterate Watertown High School of Watertown, SD is. They teach nothing about the North American genocide, nor do they acknowledge any of the rich history South Dakota contains about Native Americans.

    The story of the Ki-Yi Legend was written by an English and Theater teacher--not librarian--named Frances Bruhn. There is an avenue in Watertown named for her, as well as a scholarship.

    It seriously makes me puke every year when this is plastered all over town. It's disgusting and it needs to stop. I posted this link a few days ago, and I am so proud to see others are finding out what I have known is wrong for years. Thanks for writing this!

  111. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Sorry that was Florence Bruhn, not Frances.

  112. Jimmy 2014.09.24

    Janelle you never had to take part in kiyi. As for as I know, WHS has never forced anyone to participate in ki-yi. You have the choice of participating or not. some kids don't participate. You are not forced to go to the legend, or the burning of the W or the game. It is all a choice.

  113. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Yes, but the focus here Jimmy, is that at the time of 17 or 18, I had NO IDEA that it was actually offensive to American Indians. I made a choice, but it wasn't a choice of wrong or right, and I was never given the opportunity to make an educated decision based on the knowedge it was hurtful to other cultural groups. This is a matter of hiding history, and producing students all over the state and country who think this isn't a problem. It perpetuates racism. I ended up graduating, going to the University of Minnesota, and getting a Minor in American Indian Studies, and I posted this story on Facebook a few days ago. It not only got shared, but it is the reason this article even exists. I make it my goal every day to educate and bring attention to issues regarding Native Americans. I am so pleased that people have opened a dialogue and are talking about this. It is so important that I use my voice to advocate for cultural understanding.

  114. Jimmy 2014.09.24

    Janelle, would it please you if I went in and asked our principal about brining in actual tribe members to educate us about the culture? I will be willing to ask around the school to try and get tribe members involved if that will put this whole thing to rest. That way we can learn more about the culture and still have the legend.

  115. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.24

    So are you alums going to get in touch with WHS and ask them to extend an invitation to Agency Village to organize next year's homecoming celebration?

    BTW, not that it matters, but I was a Miller Rustler. Racism exists in Miller, but at least it wasn't an intentional part of school celebrations.

  116. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Jimmy, I think that is a GREAT idea! However, it's not about putting anything to rest. The first thing a Dakota/Lakota person is going to say is how are you going to stop the Legend? Gaining perspective on Dakota culture is awesome, but once you open Pandora's Box, it's open--as it should be. The plain fact is that the Legend is an old tradition that is rooted in denying students the truth about the mass genocide in this area, and the fact that white privilege enables you to completely zone out what the Legend is actually doing to Dakota people in the area. Misrepresentation and stereotyping DOES hurt Native Americans, and you wouldn't know unless you walked in their shoes. Again, I think it's a great idea to get this in the open, and work on better education for WHS students.

    Deb--what is Agency Village? Tell me more!

  117. Janelle 2014.09.24

    And by that expression, I would just like to say I do NOT speak for any indigenous persons. I just meant that any Dakota or Lakota people would most likely bring to light the wrongs of the Legend, and how to be progressive and move past that era.

  118. Jimmy 2014.09.24

    Deb. Who ever said that this is intentional. And I am not an alum. I am a senior at WHS. and I participated in the legend, it is all taken seriously and has NEVER INTENTIONALLY promoted racism.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, some people find the legend offensive, and some people are fine with the legend being performed. Most peoples opinions are not going to be changed by this article and the comments. As I said before, the legend is fictitious and not real tribes. However, I still understand that there is dislike because we are representing the Native American culture and we are not true native Americans. You suggested having real tribe members educate us. And now that I want to try and make that happen you do not want me to do so. There truly is no winning with this debate.

  119. Donald Pay 2014.09.24

    It seems to me that the 2001 committee had it right, but that the school board didn't go along with all the suggested changes. Why? It seems if they had just enacted the 2001 recommendations the problem would have been solved. I appreciate that the board made many changes to address concerns, but maybe they ought to just enact the recommendations.

  120. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.24

    It's been a few years since I was there, but Agency Village is directly south of Sisseton on a gravel road. The powwow grounds are there. I attended one. I think tribal offices are on that site.

    Search for Agency Village, SD, on Google maps and you'll find it.

    I know, for part of homecoming festivities, students could go there or sponsor a powwow in Watertown! Yeah!

  121. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Jimmy, I said I thought it would be a great idea. I think you should ask the administration. If anything, that is one thing that you should definitely do.

  122. Janelle 2014.09.24

    If you need any help, let me know.

  123. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.24

    Jimmy, you said, "And now that I want to try and make that happen you do not want me to do so."

    When and where did I say that? I'm all in favor. I think our comments may have overlapped.

  124. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Deb that would actually be awesome! When do they usually have powwows? I love powwows to watch all the talented dancers. I just moved back to the area after six years in the Twin Cities and I haven't been to any around here.

  125. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Deb do you have any contact information you could give me privately? I'm not really sure how to do that, but I have an idea you may be able to help me with.

  126. Ali 2014.09.24

    Clearly you were born yesterday! Who is thinking about the racism here? It's a damn costume! This bull@@@@ has been played over and over again throughout the years and being a WHS Arrow alumni I find this disgusting and asinine that you have nothing better to do than smear a schools tradition!! If you have a problem with this it should be taken higher up!

  127. Jen C 2014.09.24

    All I have to say is that unless you live in the area you have no right to even comment on this especially when you do not have all of the facts. How do any of you know that these kids do not have any Native American blood in them? If they grew up in South Dakota there is a very good chance that they might. Please check this website for more insight and information on the origination of their homecoming theme.

  128. Janelle 2014.09.24

    I'm not "smearing" a school tradition. I have nothing against the actual high school, and I believe there are a lot of great teachers and faculty, but this is about bringing cultural awareness. I'm not some person sitting in my basement, coming up with ways to start drama. This is a bigger issue, or a simple issue, depending on how you look at it. If the mission statement is "enabling all students to succeed in an ever-changing world", it should be about the fact that the Washington Redskins are going to change in this ever-changing world, and unless they want these kids to go out to a job interview someday and have to answer why they are pictured in racist or "culturally insensitive" garb, the administration is failing their students. This is about way more than trying to deface a school district or something like that. It's about adapting to the world, because in the past 70 years that this has been going on, the world is very, very, very different. Part of that difference is understanding that not everyone is of your cultural background. If redface is appropriate, then blackface is appropriate. There is no difference. If there were blackface, this would make national news.

  129. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    There is a real irony here by some of the posters like give me a break and your real name, anybody see it?

    On one hand they support this ridiculous tradition by saying it honors Native Americans and then two chicken shits come along and start in with the racist stereotypes. That are not called out by other supporters of the tradition and by their silence, give them tacit approval to insult Native Americans

  130. Paula 2014.09.24

    Can someone explain what is actually "culturally insensitive" or "racist" about the attire in the photo? I still don't see it! It looks like they attempted to replicate deerskin and fringe. I have been to museums in several states and seen REAL Native American clothing made of such material (deerskin, leather, fringe) Are people upset that beads and designs are missing, to be more authentic (I am being sarcastic here) I REALLY fail to see what is "so insensitive. Should they have used real deer/buck skin, to be more authentic? This is being blown WAY out of proportion, in my opinion.

  131. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    your real name

    How much rent do you pay? Do you own your home? How much of your food stamps did you spend last week? Do still beat your wife, when did you quit?

    What part of "none of your business" do you not understand?

  132. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    As Dr. Dentsch has pointed out, this "new" tradition has only been going on since 2001, that is only 13 years, is it not.

  133. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.24

    Janelle has made the best point thus far, they don't teach American Indian history at Watertown High, yet they feel the need to mock Native Americans under the semblance of honoring them.

  134. Cullen M 2014.09.24

    Saying that we didn't learn Native American History at Watertown high school is quite frankly a lie. Four years I ago, I remember Mr. Iverson explaining to me the importance of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and the absolutely terrible crimes committed against the great number of Sioux Tribes.

  135. Janelle 2014.09.24

    This is the same sort of senseless, uneducated information that people spew out when they get defensive of traditions, and stolen land, etc.

    Go to, go read Indian Country Today, go talk to a Dakota or Lakota person. Go find out for yourself. I'm not going to sit here and babysit people who have no motivation to educate themselves, or dig deeper for the truth. Weirdly, going to Watertown High School taught me to be an excellent researcher, so when I met with my college professors from Native Nations all over the country, and talked about Native Stereotypes, and the horrible things that the U.S. government did to all tribal nations in North America, it was really pretty easy to find the information that my former high school's homecoming tradition was racist. It's called redface. It's just like blackface. . . and putting shoe polish on your face is wrong because. . . fill in the blank. Putting on something that incorrectly resembles Native regalia and playing Indian is wrong because. . . fill in the blank. Native people are not just "lazy" either. If you understood how a long history of cultural genocide, physical genocide, abuse, and imprisonment for being who you are, you might not be so quick to judge and make fun of this argument. The only thing that you are proving here is your resistance to understand the truth. You can't argue with stupid, as they say.

  136. Paula 2014.09.24

    Just out of curiosity...what is/was your opinion of the Song of Hiawatha Pageant in Pipestone, MN? I haven't seen it myself because they ceased the production before I could go. But from what I read, it was based on "Indian legend" and was controversial. Here is some info on it:

    I guess I am curious how some of you who are offended by the WHS homecoming issue, look at the Song of the Hiawatha Pageant. Was it racist? Insensitive? Educating people about Native American culture? Purely entertainment at the expense of Native Americans? Just curious...

  137. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Cullen--I meant nothing against Mr. Iverson. He was one of my favorite teachers! I just think that the agenda for APUSH is messed up too. The fact is, yes, he taught us about those things--but remember when we learned about the Civil Rights Act? We watched video upon video upon video. For the Plains Wars, we didn't, or at least nothing stuck with me. When Ft. Laramie was taught, I don't remember understanding Wounded Knee, or forced assimilation. It wasn't as expanded as the Holocaust or the Civil Rights Act. Maybe it was a time crunch, but as he always says, we ARE living on Dakota Territory.

  138. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.24

    Hmm... if a school misappropriates minority culture, is it immune to criticism by simply shouting, "Tradition!"?

  139. Janelle 2014.09.24

    Paula, I had no knowledge of the Song of Hiawatha pageant, but that story, as was KiYi, was written by a white person removed from the perspective of American Indian Culture. This is a great example to use in terms of stereotyping Native figures. Two things: 1. "The Song of Hiawatha" is a negative influence on Native perspective because the fictional Hiawatha and the real Hiawatha of the Iroquois Confederacy are NOT the same person. Therefore you have a Euro-American author putting forth something that is not only confusing but assimilates the two figures and reinforces incorrect historical information. 2. Longfellow took the "Song of Hiawatha" from a mix of Native Cultures, and blended them together. This reinforces a single American Indian, which keeps us from understanding there are well over 500 individually recognized Tribal Nations in the United States, and an overgeneralization reinforces the notion that all Nations are the same. They are not.

  140. Paula 2014.09.25

    Would you have a different opinion if it was a Native American author or poet creating the story/poem?

  141. Cullen M 2014.09.25

    Janelle, I know this is an important issue for you. While achieving my history degree I've learned and understood much more about Native American history, specifically plains tribes. I've dug deep into broken treaties, kept treaties (they do exist), miscommunications, and countless primary sources all of which have absolutely nothing to do the homecoming of Watertown High School. There's simply no correlation to actual Native American History or heritage still present in Ki-Yi. The "Legend" story is wholesome. Royalty is voted upon. If I decided to start wearing a buckskin jacket and leather pants everyday, you would think I'm weird but no one would say that I'm trying to be disrespectful of Native Americans. No one during Ki-Yi is painting their face red, running around with bows and arrows and saying "How" to everyone they see. They put on a buckskin and are considered "royalty" for a week. That's it. There's no disrespect to anyone. This is making mountains out of molehills. I've said it once, and I will say it again; why take offense for the sake of being offended.

  142. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Paula, is there a difference between writing a story or poem and co-opting Native American clothing for a white ceremony that fictionalizes Native Americans?

  143. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    [Roger, "give me a break" and "your real name" is the same person, a sockpuppet who does not respect the rules of our culture on this blog.]

  144. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    I'm still seeing an inconsistency here. The evidence provided by Lena and Dr. Deutsch above shows that Ki-Yi has its origins in a fictional account written by whites about Native Americans. Cullen, Cathy, Jim L, Brenda, Craig, and others here indicate that Ki-Yi continues to be a way for Watertown students to learn about, respect, and honor Native Americans. Yet Cullen returns and says the ceremony has no correlation with actual Native American history or heritage. Which is it?

  145. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    To Jen C and others, I repeat my question: is saying that folks who are not part of the culture have no right to talk about Watertown culture akin to saying that folks who are not part of Native American culture have no right to co-opt Native American dress and other cultural practices for their own cultural activities?

  146. Bill Fleming 2014.09.25

    Seems to me after reading the most passionate and heartfelt defenders of the tradition, Cory, that the ceremony is allegorical, having to do with people transcending their everyday experience of one another and the conflict and negativity that comes with.

    Students who are perceived to have these attributes are recognized as being "special" and wear the costumes for a certain period of time to remind others that such a state is available to everyone.

    Curious that the symbolic attire is a vague echo of a culture that not long ago would have been considered hostile and unapproachable.

    And yet, there is a certain ambivalence in our culture about being an Indian. On the one hand we non-tribal folks see a romanticized nobility of humanity in its natural state, in tune with the land, the animals and with one another, living in harmony. And on the other, when the spell breaks, realizing that being an actual Indian person (an indigenous American) is something we can only be "in spirit."

    In short, it's not unlike many other social and religious rituals that even people who practice them can't really explain very well when pressed, because they point to a quality in ourselves that is essentially ineffable.

    Bottom line, it's kind of like art. We either get it or we don't. And if we have to have it explained, it's a pretty good sign that we don't.

  147. mike from iowa 2014.09.25

    If nothing else,it is good to see younguns involved in debate in a mostly civil manner and that leaves the uncivility to us older grouches.

  148. Jo Sutton 2014.09.25

    This is about a 70 year story of two people who fall in love. Similar to Romeo and Juliet, but using honoring the native persons of South Dakota. It is and never has been negative and is done to help all of us remember the great people that lived here before the white. Just because someone sees a picture without investigating the all the facts proves how racist and careless that person really is. This is not about the entire population or anybody else. Sometimes, it is frustrating since I have dear friends of many different races and in reality instead of stirring up negativity in the media, maybe the author of this article should spend his/her time helping the homeless, feeding the hungry or doing something else positive

  149. larry kurtz 2014.09.25

    Hey Jo: which part of 156 comments escapes you?

  150. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Jo, if this is a story "honoring the native persons of South Dakota," why does it focus on the fictionalized caricatures of Native persons created by white people rather than real Native persons? Are there no real Native persons worth memorializing in this important educational ceremony?

  151. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    White people telling Indians what honors Indian culture is like me, an atheist, walking into my wife's church and telling her what honors Lutheran. Thin cultural ice.

  152. Craig 2014.09.25

    It is probably worth noting that the "mock Indian garb" that the students are wearing is very similar to what some non-Native people wore in the 1800s. If you have ever seen illustrations of Daniel Boone or Lewis and Clark you see similar outfits and with the absense of beading and detail they bear resemblence to a time in history moreso than a people. I'm curious if it is the concept of the celebration which is seen as more offensive, the fictitious 'legend', or the outfits.

    I'm guessing people are offended in their own unique ways and this is heavily dependent upon their individual backgrounds and the history they themselves have experienced. However, do we consider every depiction of a minority as racist? Thus every play, every film, every television show which depicts African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics or Asians is somehow insensitive or racist? Even if the depiction is a postive one? Even if the depiction is based upon real events?

    I dare say there is a deeper issue at play here. Many Native Americans in South Dakota have experienced racism for so long that they may see this for more than what it was intended to be or they may see things that the creator(s) overlooked. We can't minimize that. Many whites in South Dakota have ignored racism for so long that they may see this for less than what it is. It is all a matter of perspective - so who is "right"? Should Watertown abandon the idea because one person is offended? How about 100 people being offended? 1,000? Even if nobody was offended does that mean it would still be ok?

    Should we calibrate our cultural awareness and sensitivity meters to the level of outrage, or is there an opportunity to learn from one another before we reach the point of calling each other racists?

  153. larry kurtz 2014.09.25

    Floyd Red Crow Westerman was a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate:

    "And I told them not to dig for uranium, for if they did, the children would die. They didn't listen, they didn't listen, they didn't listen to me.

    And I told them if the children die, there would be no keepers of the land. They didn't listen.

    And I told them if they destroy the sky, machines would come and soon destroy the land. They didn't listen...

    And I told them if they destroy the land, man would have to move into the sea. They didn't listen...

    And I told them if they destroy the sea -- they didn't listen..."

  154. BHB 2014.09.25

    Bennett County High School in Martin, SD had the same type of Homecoming Coronation. It has now been abolished since 1997. Bennett County High School has over 50% enrolled members of the Oglala Lakota Tribe... Their ceremony was deemed culturally demeaning and sexist toward women. They no longer dress up as "Big Chief," "Medicine Man" or as "Warrior Princesses." Watertown, it is time to change your ways, change your "tradition." Learn a little about the culture you say you are "honoring" before you dress up and look ridiculous! Believe me, you do look ridiculous!!

  155. Mary 2014.09.25

    The power of social media in today's world sickens me. I challenge all that are writing comments to first educate yourself. Attend the legend, it is open to everyone and all students can participate. Then you have every right to offer an opinion positive or negative. I truly believe you will find it honors Native Americans. I also believe having present tribal leaders involved would only add to the performance. Stop online ignorance, educate yourself and don't just see a picture and assume things!

  156. BHB 2014.09.25

    To Mary...
    No, it does not honor Native Americans.... I am Lakota, seeing them dressed up like that in NO way honors me, or my people. What do you know of the Lakota/Dakota culture?? FIRST educate yourselves on the culture you claim to "honor!!"
    Read the stories on these two links I have posted... You will see how a high school homecoming ceremony does not honor Native Americans!!

  157. Bill Fleming 2014.09.25

    Mary, this is where I get confused. Is the intention of the ceremony to honor American Indians, or to honor exemplary students, regardless of their ethnic background and culture? Can you please clarify?

  158. Steve Sibson 2014.09.25

    BHB, do you expect white conservative capitalists to be insulted if we see you dressed up in a suit and tie?

  159. mike from iowa 2014.09.25

    This is how you honor Native tradition brought to you by tacky iowans for cultural improvement. It helps to have the town named after this famous Indian Princess.

  160. lesliengland 2014.09.25

    my california daughter told me yesterday she had yet to hear the indian side of why the name "Harney Peak" might be an insult to tribes. this is the same issue as WHS's inability to fathom "hey, why all the grief". Janelle, welcome, you bring great knowledge to us here. Roger, as always, you will not allow us to side step the real issues. thank you.

    to wiken and grudz (sorry to hear about yer mom ;), "white privilege" may not have fully matured yet as a social science, but it is maturing before our very eyes here, now.

    folks in california, and the world are watching; whether or not those in chamberlain, watertown, deadwood and winner wanna keep denying something they can't or won't understand.

  161. larry kurtz 2014.09.25

    leslie, if you want to read the worst of South Dakota white supremacism and racism read the comments under the RCJournal's stories on renaming Harney Peak and on Vern Traversie's lawsuit.

  162. BHB 2014.09.25

    Steve, I wouldn't expect anything from a white conservative capitalist. That is your choice to be a white conservative capitalist. We don't have a choice, we are born into our culture, our way of life. We are the first people of this nation, we are the Originals. If we are forced to learn your way of life, your peoples history, why can't you take the time and learn about ours?

  163. BHB 2014.09.25

    Also, Steve, being a white conservative capitalist is NOT a culture, therefore there is no validity to that argument. I know nothing about being a white conservative capitalist, so you will never see me dressing as one...

  164. Cullen M 2014.09.25

    "To Mary...
    No, it does not honor Native Americans.... I am Lakota, seeing them dressed up like that in NO way honors me, or my people. What do you know of the Lakota/Dakota culture?? FIRST educate yourselves on the culture you claim to "honor!!"
    Read the stories on these two links I have posted... You will see how a high school homecoming ceremony does not honor Native Americans!!"

    BHB, according to your argument, then Johnny Depp, and Kevin Costner are going to cultural awareness hell. Just because they wore clothing that was similar to that of Native Americans. So if you're a Native American, and wear a button up shirt, are you going to cultural awareness hell for wearing clothing that supposedly represents all Caucasian people? No, that is a seriously invalid argument.

  165. lesliengland 2014.09.25

    hi larry. thanks. sad but revealing. for everyone of the south dakotans there that speak with arrogance or hate or whatever misplaced notion they cherish, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, "white privilege" and other such concepts will over time educate their children. these are important discussions that need to see the light of day so others can see fallacy of superiority.

    if you are wondering how your worldview could be labelled "racist," you are likely a racist. old confusion saying

  166. Steve Sibson 2014.09.25

    "Steve, being a white conservative capitalist is NOT a culture"

    BHB, being indoctrinated by the cultural Neo-Marxist's worldview is created a culture of hate directed toward white conservative Christian capitalist males. It creates hatred based on the color of ones skin. But the real problem is not the color of ones skin, it is how thin that skin becomes.

  167. Bill Fleming 2014.09.25

    If Cory will indulge me some space here, this is a little "magic" thing we used to do around the campfire back in my summer camp counseling days.

    Any of you who know it, please hold your posting and give those who haven't done it a chance to have the experience of figuring it out.

    In many ways, it reminds me of what's going on in this thread, and ends up with us all coming together for a moment joy in kind of a peculiar way.

    It's a lot more fun when you can be right there with the people doing it and watch them one by one as they figure it out.

    But anyway, here goes.

    Imagine doing this together with me on a warm, moonlit summer night around a campfire.

    "I'm going to let you in on a very ancient secret, that was given to me by a wise old Sufi Muslim when I was very young like you are now. He told me to sit cross legged, breathe in and out 10 times very deeply, and then repeat after him. It was very amazing what happened, and I simply can't tell you about it, I have to show you, like he showed me. So let's do it together.

    Cross your legs.

    Close your eyes.

    Breath in deeply.

    Now let it out.





    (...stay with me...) okay, good.

    Now, repeat after me: "Owah"
    Say it: "Owah"
    Then say: "Tagu"
    Your turn: "Tagu"
    Now say: "Siam"
    Your turn: "Siam"
    Now say all three words over and over.
    Eyes closed, keep rocking back and forth:

    "Owah..." "...Tagu..." "...Siam..."


    "Owah..." "...Tagu..." "...Siam..."

    (good, now faster)

    (over and over)

    "Owah Tagu Siam"
    "Owah Tagu Siam"
    "Owah Tagu Siam"


    The story ends when the last person to "get it" starts laughing.

  168. lesliengland 2014.09.25

    hey, check out the 1000 high schoolers in denver that are pissed and protesting because history is being censored by the Koch Brothers, ALEC and other white school boards that don't wanna know about Gen. Harney's "pinscher" methods at the blue water, nebraska. "lalalalala"-hands over ears. "Capitalism is good, blah, blah, blah". huffpost yesterday

    our younger generation, god luv'um, is not gonna stand for this "sheit" the repubs have been shoveling to protect the 1%.


  169. BHB 2014.09.25

    Cullen M... get real, this is the 21st Century, I'm not going to go around wearing a buckskin dress and moccasins, and I don't believe non natives should do it either! And who deemed button up shirts, suits and ties as White only wardrobe?? Your arguments are pointless... We are discussing an out of date high school homecoming ceremony. One that needs to be changed. How in the hell is mocking a culture honoring them?? And that is what this is, mocking a culture. Prove to me how this honors Natives... Do you know Native culture?

  170. Craig 2014.09.25

    BHB, to your point in what way is wearing an outfit which might have some resemblance to what Native Americans wore in the 1800s presume to mock them?

    Is this to suggest those who dress up in periodic Civil War or Revolutionary War uniforms are mocking those who fought those battles? Are those who dress up like Pilgrims on Thanksgiving mocking the Pilgrims or those who dress up for Oktoberfest are mocking German heritage?

    I'd propose that the actions are more well suited to determine someone is mocking a culture, the clothing or costume is less of a guarantee. As I said previously, films and plays use period costumes often and much if not most of the time the story presented is pure fiction. Does this mean they are guilty of mockery of a culture?

  171. lesliengland 2014.09.25

    "Give the right teachers the right curriculum [and] we can influence 'thinking teenagers'"-Koch Brothers. huffpost, 7.21.14, "koch bros buying into minds of public school students"

  172. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25

    What nationality are those that dress up in Civil War, Revolutionary, or Pilgrim garb?

  173. Steve Sibson 2014.09.25

    I would be willing the bet that the Indians don't like people in Civil War, Revolutionary, or Pilgrim garb too.

  174. Karin Eagle 2014.09.25

    Wow, what a platform for some seriously hateful comments...way to go, Madville Times....

  175. JeniW 2014.09.25

    For once I agree with Steve S.

    The clothing style of the pilgrims, and the Whites during the Civil War, were pure out UGLY - UGLY!


  176. Bill Fleming 2014.09.25

    From memory, I seem to recall that the American Indians appropriated all sorts of design and clothing ideas from their newly arrived "guests" into their daily lives.

    To be sure, JeniW, they frequently spiffed them up quite a bit, because for the most part, they were — and still are — very creatively expressive and pragmatically resourceful folks.

    Take a look at all the old photos and you'll see them wearing the same clothing their white contemporaries wore, albeit oftentimes with an extra, added, Indian flair.

  177. Andrew J. 2014.09.25

    Watertown grad and proud, there were many Native American students and community members who have been part of this tradition with no complaints. I'm proud of the tradition and will encourage my children to take part in this tradition, if your not from Watertown its none of your business, if your Native American from the area then come to us with your concerns and we can address them otherwise get a life. Shout out to Cullen M. BTW

  178. amber 2014.09.25

    I am a Native American and most things do not bother me to much but this is just down right disrespectful. There is absolutely no excuse for these kids they are ignorant to the point of stupidity. How awful that the school would allow this it's offensive and so racist. FYI if they are going to do something like this in the future at least do it with dignity like true Natives. Ugh some people's kids.

  179. WHS alum 2014.09.25

    I can honestly say that I am disgusted with how this issue has progressed in the past week.

    1. LOL at how many adults are childishly bickering rudely on the internet.
    2. The real travesty is the plastering of these kids' faces all over the internet by adults ie. Stu with the Argus Leader and now this article as if it is THEIR fault that some people are upset. Whether you believe that the legend is right or wrong, putting all the blame and only showing pictures of these high school students while calling them racist is not the way to bring light to this issue. Its disgusting. Have your petty arguments, but leave the current royalty out of it and stop picking on the kids.
    3. KiYi is the only week that WHS comes together and my senior KiYi was the best week I've had to date. It is about unity. There is so much pride in being a Watertown Arrow. Let the week of festivities continue. I wouldn't have wanted to participate in any other homecoming.

  180. Andrew J. 2014.09.25

    Amber, explains how these kids are racist and stupid? Would you say the same thing if Native American students dressed up as cowboys and had a western legend for their homecoming? The answer is NO.

  181. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Mary, I disagree with the "Don't knock it 'til you try it" argument, especially when it invites me to participate in what appears overtly racist.

    The picture speaks for itself. It shows the costumes worn. It indicates that, while watered down from an earlier, more offensive form, the cultural co-optation continues. Why I can't I call things what they quite obviously are?

  182. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Per Amber and Andrew's exchange, please note, I do not take the position that the kids are stupid. I do take the position that they perhaps have not had sufficient conversation about cultural sensitivity, Western cultural imperialism, and other related topics... for which the blame lies entirely on the adults in their community.

  183. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    WHS Alum, hold your horses. Watertown's own paper placed the students' photo online for public consumption and discussion. You can't blame that on anyone else; the locals own that publicity. Does the Watertown school district have a media policy allowing parents to opt their children out of any publicity or requiring parents to give the school explicit permission to allow their children's names and images to be published by the school or by press covering school events?

    The newspaper photo is an important document for us to share and discuss. Discussing it does not have to equate to picking on the kids, and I don't seek to pick on the kids. I question the community as a whole and the attitudes and beliefs underlying this cultural practice.

  184. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Curious: why do defenders of this ceremony give such credence to Native Americans who supposedly approve of Ki-Yi but immediately blast Native Americans like Amber who criticize the ceremony? Are we really respecting Native Americans or just those people who agree with us?

  185. Craig 2014.09.25

    Roger: "What nationality are those that dress up in Civil War, Revolutionary, or Pilgrim garb?"

    I cannot possibly know as I don't make a habit of asking people where they are from or where their ancestors originated. However I do recall watching a television program a few years ago where a Scot (from Scotland) was partaking in a Civil War reenactment- the accent was quite a surprise, but he seemed to be enjoying himself.

    Bottom line Roger - I'm sure there are a variety of people who have participated in such events, and yes... I'm sure although the majority are "white" I know for a fact not all have been. That doesn't mean they are being disrespectful by participating... even if it may not be 100% historically accurate.

    As to these Watertown youth - I'm not about to assume I know their history or ancestry purely based upon one photograph - after all Slash (former guitarist for Guns N Roses) is half black and I surely wouldn't have made that assumption based upon his appearance.

  186. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Karin, I have tried not to speak with hate. (Hate isn't good for anybody.) I have offered a document, offered an opinion, and offered reading that supports that opinion.

    Some people on both sides have responded with heat. These things happen when people feel their culture is being challenged. I can understand the tone from Watertown boosters: we all like to think our hometowns are great, that we grew up with sterling souls. When someone brings outside eyes to our cherished traditions and says, "Um, do you really think that's appropriate?" it's easy to get defensive.

    We can all work harder to seek honest conversation and not speak with hate and exclusion.

  187. WHS Grad 2014.09.25

    I find it crazy how out of hand this whole thing has gotten...each person has the right to say what they want but is saying these things that are hurtful to others going to change things...writing it on here probably wont change anything that is going outside of the internet. i am very surprised that no one had said anything about my long post but i am still wondering why of all years this is the year this got put on here? the picture similar to this gets posted every year if there are so many not happy with how we do homecoming in the town why have more people not stepped up in the past and given more opinions on how to change it. i think the fact that we have listened to those and changes things that were done in years prior suggests that we are not out to start a huge fight or to try to be offensive to anyone! i feel that if you want to see a change in the homecoming (not saying i want it changed since its what must of us grads/alumni know and want future generations to see) but im also not saying that things cant be changed but some of you should frankly be ashamed of yourselves! you are all adults, have some of you really stepped back and read what you are saying? i think the whole situation is a mess and i think way more issues got brought up than just the fact at what the kids are wearing or about the homecoming.

  188. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    BHB, actually, white conservatism capitalism may qualify as a culture. I hearken back to my SDSU Human Relations class (hey, where are the graduates of that class, the teachers, in this conversation?), where our textbook defined culture as the system of ideas, customs, etc. that define how we perceive, believe, act, and evaluate. We can closely identify "culture" with "worldview." Majoritarian-White conservative capitalism is very much a worldview and a culture. Does that affect our discussion?

  189. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.25

    A little clarification from me: I have not called anyone 'racist' or any other insulting names. What I have done is encourage you Arrows to bring folks from your neighboring reservation to Watertown to advise you about this Ki-Yi thing. Or better yet, go there.

    There is a duality in these comments. WHS alumni telling non-alums to shut up because we don't know your traditions and culture. At the same time, at least 3 American Indians have said they find this particular WHS tradition demeaning. It is the Indians' tradition being drawn upon. They are the ones who truly know. They are the real experts here.

    WHS commenters have challenged us to educate ourselves about WHS. Doesn't it stand to reason that the reverse is also true? Arrows ought to be educating themselves about American Indians, right? It's established that the legend is a fabrication by people who are not natives. So your educators in this instance should be American Indians. I have no doubt that your teachers did their best, but it just makes sense that to get the best information, ask the experts.

    There seems to be several alumni here, and thank you. Perhaps if you asked other alums to join you, there would be a significant number of signers asking your school to bring actual Indians into the school to speak. You could urge them to bring local American Indians in on the planning stages of your homecoming. It could be a marvelous educational opportunity.

    Is there a college on the res there? Take some classes. It would be exciting and fun.

    C'mon, y'all are clearly passionate about this. Put that into positive action!

  190. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    I need to jump back up to Cathy's comment: if I understand all of this correctly from local commenters, Ki-Yi is not teaching the students about Native American culture. It is reciting a fiction created by white people with a vague pretense of Native authenticity. We do not learn about Indians by studying our preconceptions about Indians. We reinforce our stereotypes and ignore the real Indians living among us, the real culture that our fictions and biases crowd out.

  191. Paula 2014.09.25

    Well, we might as well cancel Halloween from now on too. I would hate to have some little girl dress up in a little buckskin dress with fringe trying to look like Pocahontas end up on someone's blog condemning her. Or maybe no more "hat days" at school; some one might wear a big sombrero and insult someone from Mexican heritage unintentionally. I'm 1/8 Irish and I don't like the well-known insinuation that Irish people are all drunks. And let's ban silk kimonos and any clothing with an Oriental flair to it-Asians might take offense to that. Seriously, no one answered the simple question of WHAT EXACTLY is offensive about the Homecoming apparel and the play they do? I'd like to hear from an answer from a Native American who thinks the activities and dress are "racist" what makes it that way.

  192. JeniW 2014.09.25

    Now that the issue has come into the light, it is now up to the school administration and School Board to deal with it constructively for the future.

    Maybe it is time to develop a different ritual, or new tradition that honors the students, and all of those who have been involved in helping the students' goal of graduating from high school.

  193. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    In honor of Mike, I think Watertown should change Ki-Yi to depict two fictionalized bands of White homesteaders from Iowa who not only can't get along but can't drive their wagons in straight lines. They keep driving into Lake Kampeska until the two tribes cooperate to create a driver's ed program... taught by a Minnesotan. ;-)

  194. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Say, there's a lot here, so maybe I've missed it, but I haven't heard a response to this core question:

    When Watertown defenders here tell us that we can't talk about their homecoming activities if we aren't from Watertwon, are they essentially making the same appeal as Native Americans who protest non-Natives co-opting their cultural elements?

  195. mike from iowa 2014.09.25

    WHS Grad-you are learning that you can't compartmentalize everything in a neat little box. Not everything fits. Not everything is yes or no,black or white. People can say so much with expressions or their hands or eyes that you have to be able to decipher. Protest is not just verbal or physical. The world,as you will find out,does not consist of only you and your wants and needs. There really is a good reason why people have two eyes and two ears and only one mouth.

  196. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Paula, here's exactly what's offensive about the apparel and the Ki-Yi ceremony as a whole: Watertown children learn to think of Indians as fictional abstractions based not on real Native neighbors but on a story written by a white woman that tells us nothing true but only reinforces our biases. They learn to think of Indians as things we dress up as for our fun and games. They learn to take pride in their own arrogant co-optation of another culture instead of studying and interacting with the real culture.

  197. larry kurtz 2014.09.25

    what a goose siam.

  198. Paula 2014.09.25

    Cory, how do you know what the students know or study, and what they don't. You are assuming. That is why it is important to get THEIR side of this too. You can't say what the students and thinking and learning in all this.

    Also, I asked the question earlier, would it make a difference if a Native American author wrote the story?

  199. pete 2014.09.25

    its way to nice outside to waste time and energy reading all these stupid posts if had enough drama for a year

  200. larry kurtz 2014.09.25

    yer a bad man, fleming.

  201. native american 2014.09.25

    I am a native american... and proud. Watertowns a great community that comes together every year for this special week. There is nothing wrong with what the students of whs are doing and have done. I participated and the legend ceremony is so touching I still cry when I see it. It symbolizes the unity. IT shows the fact that tribes were honorable, strong, and came together through history... its one of the best ways to celebrate my ethnicity and I love every moment. Dont judge until youve seen it.

  202. mike from iowa 2014.09.25

    Cory,let's save the state some money and make it abstinence only driver's training. Think of the savings in man hours,time,gas,insurance monies if they just tell everyone not to drive. No liability,no fault,nothing.

  203. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Yes, it would make a difference, Paula, if a Native American author wrote the story.

  204. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Or how about we do a morality play more closely representative of our real history: how about we show two "tribes" of homesteaders coming to Lake Kampeska, squabbling over petty issues, then finally uniting as a loving community that works together to push all those darn Indians off the good land and out to the reservations?

  205. Bill Fleming 2014.09.25

    Bad to the bone, Kurtz. Could see this coming a mile away.
    S'pose anyone still has any laughs left in 'em?

  206. Paula 2014.09.25

    If it is a FICTIONAL story, what difference should it make who wrote it? To me, it doesn't. Maybe to other it would (obviously to Cory it does) Maybe to appease the Homecoming situation, a Native American woman could write the story.

  207. Former WHS grad 2014.09.25

    I've read a lot of comments about Ki-Yi in this post. They run the gamut of of positives and negatives. Most comments are simply factually uninformed. Others appear intended simply to inflame. What's lacking, however, is background on how and why Ki-Yi came to be. I'm hoping this is useful.

    Florence Bruhn, who was a librarian for many years in Watertown (Bruhn Avenue runs in front of the public library). I got to know Ms. Bruhn when I was a young boy, and her story about Ki-Yi was one that I still remember. 1920s Watertown, like many South Dakota towns, was plagued by rampant racism against Native Americans. Ms. Bruhn was appalled by the racism and wanted to do something to combat it. Keep in mind, most imagery of Native Americans at the time depicted Native Americans as "violent savages." Ms. Bruhn created the Ki-Yi myth and ceremony engender love and brotherhood with the Native Americans (it caused a stir then, mostly from racist whites). It was also intended to send a message of inclusiveness, that Native Americans are our brothers and sisters and that we should celebrate, rather than denigrate, them.

    I find it unfortunate that some Native Americans take offense to the story. I am particularly concerned that a woman who dedicated herself to helping decrease racism toward Native Americans should be criticized for her efforts.

    If we cannot talk about race in a way that seeks commonality, equality, or inclusiveness, how can we ever hope to overcome those who would use race as a tool of oppression. Ki-Yi sends the message that we are all on this world together and that we should come together in peace rather than war. It is truly sad that someone would think that such a message is somehow negative.

  208. paul 2014.09.25

    major Riesman may be coming for bad to the bone flemming

  209. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25


    What governing body regulates Halloween, do they have the authority to cancel Halloween?

  210. Paula 2014.09.25

    Well, the Student Councils and School Boards can always cancel any Halloween festivities; if fact, lots already do, or go with the Fall Festival themes instead. Wow, it sounds like you want to cancel their Homecoming Festivities, Roger. Do you not remember how that was a highlight of high school life?

    I agree with some here that the week could be enhanced by some Native American education during Homecoming Week and it would be great for everyone.

  211. College student 2014.09.25

    People who argue against stuff like this are so against seeing anyone else's reasoning that you will never get your point across

  212. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    I said it would make a difference. I didn't say it would make a definitive difference. I dind't say it would appease anyone. But I would be interested to see what sort of story a Native would write to help whites understand their culture.

    The historical context offered by Former is enlightening. Motivation matters. But good intentions can still make mistakes. Have we pinned down yet whether cultural co-optation is acceptable?

  213. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25

    When schools or school boards cancel Halloween does that stop children from the traditional Halloween activities, like going door to door with their "trick or treat"?

  214. PC Man 2014.09.25

    The author of the article needs to consider the political correctness of their own derogatory comments. How do you criticize innocent kids but ignore your blatant derogatory writing. The word "Indian" is NOT politically correct! The word is "Native American!" Last I recall, "Indian" refers to individuals from India. The terminology "Indian" when referring to "Native American" individuals only does more to create the illusion that Native Americans are not Americans and ignore the egregious treatment of Native Americans in this country.

    I urge a retraction letter posting apologizing for the use of "Indians" instead of Native Americans. Removing the keyword "American Indians" which should be changed to "Native Americans." I find it hard to take your stance on Native American derogation seriously when you perpetuate the derogation in a larger forums and seem to focus your attention at informing educators. Educators, students, parents and members of the community are looking at the information and want to act appropriately according to common political correctness standards will now be under the false belief that calling Native Americans "Indians" is somehow ok.

    If you preach political correctness, please make sure you are up-to-date on the politically correct terminology.

  215. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    The terms "Native American" and "Indian" are both used by various members of various tribes. I've had this debate before. Move on... and use a real name.

  216. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25

    PC Man
    I have been an Indian all my life, I'm not offended by the term, often times "Indian" can be offensive depending on the context in which it is used.
    "Indian" doesn't necessarily relate to people from India, the correct terminology in that case is East Indian.
    Native American and American Indian are acceptable as far as I'm concerned and most Indians use them interchangeably.
    The offensive part of this discussion is that WHS continues to use a clearly offensive sketch under the guise of honoring Indians.

  217. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Part of the problem with talking Native American/American Indian/tribal/indigenous/First Nations issues is the endless number of complications, grievances, and cultural disconnects that can get in the way of open conversation. I've recently had a discussion about whether we can even say "tribes" or whether we need to enumerate each tribe by its own language's name. Whenever possible, I do prefer to say Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, or whatever tribal name we are talking about.

    But the Watertown fiction doesn't deal with any specific tribe. It peddles an abstraction that only reinforces the stereotype of what the oppressor culture thinks of as... "Indians".

    Hmmm... how about we require the Watertown participants to perform the ceremony in Lakota language?

  218. HeatherS 2014.09.25

    As a Watertown graduate I can not stand the hatred some people have on this. Maybe before judging you should attend a KIYI event. We are not making fun of, mocking or disrespecting Native Americans with KIYI activities. The KIYI legend was created because there was racism towards Native Americans at that time. The Legend is suppose to show unity. The coming together of the tribes in the legend represents the coming together of the whole community. KIYI is a highlight in many students lives that you can not find from other homecomings. So before making assumptions do your research on the actual meaning of KIYI.

  219. JeniW 2014.09.25

    How much better the story might of been if it was about the unity of the Indians in the area with the settlers, but maybe that unity has not happened yet?

  220. Melissa A 2014.09.25

    I also graduated from Watertown in 1994, and participated in the homecoming festivities. I also agree with Paige in what she said earlier, the tradition is entirely about unity and equality and has been since at least the 1920's. "Ki-Yi" was not created to be mocking, but rather, a sign of respect and acknowledgement to our Native American friends' and neighbors rich history in the area; even if it is not an actual story, but "legend". Its about 2 tribes coming together. I also agree that the real question is, why do we need to attack one high school's homecoming week? Along with that It doesn't change the past. It doesn't change the future. It's just offense for the sake of being offended. There are far more important things to complain about... These days people just get offended by any little thing..

  221. lesliengland 2014.09.25

    Your pride as a grad is acknowledged, now put that education to work and understand however well-intended, KI-HI is quite possibly offensive. Cultural awareness, or lack of it, appears to have the whole mid-east on fire. your young grads may be heading to war. this is NOT a little thing.

  222. melissa a 2014.09.25

    Ya know if it made people feel better about the legend and KIYI, why haven't any of the local Native American people instead of fighting it, why haven't they asked to be included. add in some of the drumming and to be a part of it in some sort of way. Keep the meaning of why the Legend was written.... People are wayyyy to sensitive these days!! WOW!!! Cant people just get along? Include them and maybe have them dress in their gear when the legend is going on. Add to the legend! Make everyone happy!! Don't destroy what Mrs Bruhn worked so hard on. Just add to it with taste!!!!!

  223. HeatherS 2014.09.25

    Some people just aren't gonna get the concept... Is it really something people need to find every little thing to complain about? Why don't you go do this is every other schools' homecoming then too? Many people from Watertown had tried to explain and people still feel the need to ignore. Like many of us have said attend an event! Watertown has a great tradition and one we are proud of. If we were trying to be disrespectful why would we have such meaning behind it? Nobody has ever said Native Americans couldn't join us. We would actually love that.

  224. Donald Pay 2014.09.25

    Here's the thing. What was an acceptable, even somewhat liberal, approach to race relations in the 1920s, may not be the best approach today.

    That is not to say that anyone is racist for supporting this tradition. Long past the time that most of the virulent racists had long died, black folks couldn't play at Augusta National, the home of the Master's gold tournament. Then Tiger Woods came along. Things change. Now they just got around to letting in women members. Traditions have to give way to fairness and new ideas.

    I think the Watertown committee that studied the issue in 2001 recognized that the homecoming tradition was out of touch with the modern world. They suggested a complete change in the tradition. I wonder why their excellent recommendations were only adopted in part. I appreciate that some modifications to the homecoming tradition were made at that time, but they should have gone farther.

    It's really disappointing that students aren't leading on this, but defending this tradition. My generation (I was class of '69) would have loved to make this change.

  225. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    Melissa, do you hear the imperialism in your suggestion that instead of complaining, the Indians ought to ask to participate in the majority culture's ceremony?

    Heather, I'm not ignoring the explanations. I'm looking at them very closely and finding that they confirm my initial concerns. The ceremony, based on details provided by folks in Watertown, had its roots in cultural co-optation and continues to express a certain cultural Euro-imperialism that perpetuates stereotypes and bias.

  226. JeniW 2014.09.25

    Has anyone ever invited Native Americans, who are not students of the WHS, to the event?

    It is rather awkward/tacky to invite yourself to someone else's party.

    As I mentioned previously, WHS should invite and include the people who belong to the tribes in the area to the event. That would make the celebration so much more rich and fulfilling.

  227. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    There's the thing, JeniW: the real story, about how our tribe came in, kicked the crap out of the Native tribe, and stole their land by force and deception, wouldn't make for a happy homecoming coronation. We thus have to base ceremony on fantasy and pretend that it represents reality.

  228. A 2014.09.25

    This is disturbing. Reading all these comments. You know we are all proud of going to WHS. We arnt making fun of indians as some of you say we are. Its OUR homecoming. NOT YOURS. You don't like it? Go read something else on the internet and quit hating.

  229. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25

    Several people have suggested that this pageant is acceptable because the local Indians haven't protested it. I would think that they did do that in 2001 as Dr. Deutsch pointed out.
    In fact there were apparently some major changes to the pageantry and thus started a new tradition.
    When slavery was legal in this country and the founding fathers found it necessary to whip their slaves, their foremen usually did it. The slaves didn't like it, but they accepted it.
    When there was the era of Jim Crow, all dark skinned people were subject to the laws, they didn't like it, but they accepted it.
    When Indians are mocked by such pageantry in South Dakota there has until recently been a passive acceptance. When Indians are the minority, they often find it futile to express their opinions, who will listen to them?
    You will often some of the local Indians that support these displays and want to be a part of them, they are conditioned to accept what a dominate society imposes on them.
    As these ridiculous displays are exposed, Indians are challenging them, as they should.

  230. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.25

    It's our culture, not yours.

    There's that argument again, applied selectively. What gives?

    And again, I'm not "hating"... which I find to be a verb abused to the point of meaninglessness.

  231. A 2014.09.25

    But i will thank you for taking time our of your day to make up this story about what we do. Gets the word out! Obviously this is full of negativity. Bet ya feel proud of yourself. Again. This is Watertown High School's homecoming activities. You don't like it. Good for you. You oppose it? Good for you. We will keep doing it and we are proud. I have attended the events this week and have seen local Natives there. They were clapping and smiling. Not everybody dislikes this homecoming. Are you really going to sit on the internet and make fun of high school kids for dressing up and trying to take part in their school's activities? I bet you feel great. I don't care if you have some smart or sarcastic answer to this.

  232. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25

    Cory has a thread posted about the Chamberlain School Board refusal to play a Sioux honoring song during the high school graduation ceremony. The school board has continually refused to listen to the complaints of Indian students and their parents.
    Now the school board is faced with a Civil Rights lawsuit for their blatant racism, eventually they will be compelled by a federal court to play the honoring song.
    This is what it has come to in South Dakota, or what I frequently refer to as North Mississippi. Will it be a federal court to tell Watertown High School to start behaving with some civility and to quit their racist practices?

  233. JeniW 2014.09.25

    Ever open one of those little packets of mustard and poured out the mustard? There is no such thing as putting the mustard back into the packet and resealing it to its original state.

    The picture and story was made public by Watertown's local newspaper. Once in public, there is no such thing as being "yours." Just as there is no such thing as putting the mustard back into the packet, no matter how hard the attempt is to put it all back.

    WHS is a public school supported by tax dollars, so to an extent, the homecoming belongs to all of us.

    It should not be all that hard to make a few changes so that the event would be perceived in a more favorable light. The school administration and School Board could and should be able to make some relatively easy changes for next year's event. A whole year should be plenty of time to discuss and make changes.

    Be proud of your high school, but work on making it even better for the current and future students.

  234. HeatherS 2014.09.25

    It's funny how people call Watertown students and grads racists for having KIYI yet the people doing it have never been to KIYI activities. Way to judge...

  235. jerry 2014.09.25

    Add them all up and you can see that racism is alive and doing well here in South Dakota. You have Chamberlain and Watertown both cities and then you have an entire county, Jackson that discriminates against native people. Yep, I guess that is what it will take to show that enough is enough, federal lawsuits.

  236. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.25

    Over my lifetime, if I've seen one of these "honoring Indians" pageants, I've seen them all.
    You don't have to see the pageant, all you have to do is look at the picture to see the mockery.

  237. Paula 2014.09.25

    Whoa, whoa, whoa...comparing Watertown's homecoming activities to Chamberlain refusing to allow the Lakota honor song at graduation is not an equal comparison. All I know is, when I saw Cory's article and photo, my mind didn't go anywhere near, "look how those kids are disrespecting Native Americans; what a bunch of racists!" Instead I ignored Cory's inflammatory comments and read the article and the comments to find out what the representation was about. I didn't get ANY impression at all that Native Americans were being shown in any kind of negative image with that they were doing. Even if the story is fictional.

  238. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Your entire comment is the definition of white privilege, of course don't see racism, in the isolated world of towns like Watertown racism is subtle and accepted to a degree, it doesn't always a sign on the café door that says "No Indian Allowed".
    Whether subtle or overt, racism is racism.

  239. A 2014.09.26

    Please tell me how it is mockery. Do we sit there and laugh about this whole deal an say hey! Look at me I'm pretending to be an Indian!! The kids take the roles seriously. I encourage you to come see this event in person. It will maybe give you a new light on things. We mean well at WHS. We are all working together to get a good education and do good in the world. As a part of this school I can tell you first hand what goes on. We have 100% respect for natives here. We welcome them. Actually I am very good friends and sit down and eat lunch with them everyday! The story is about unification. I love learning about Native American life. I think it would be amaZing to live back in the old days and see how thy did things. You know WHS isn't as bad of a school as some of you think. Everyday we have a good character quote of the day on how to be a better friend,classmate,coworker...etc. This homecoming is for Watertown and I think te majority of us look forward to it. I am also proud to be in the band. We march through town homecoming day. Which is tomorrow actually! The streets are filled. Everybody has their purple and gold and kiyi apparel. The town obviously supports it. The legend was packed full!! The pep rally was full!! The game is full every year with lines out the door. We love kiyi. We have no intentions of hurting anybody we are just trying to unite as a school and community. Why can't some of you quit being so harsh and negative and actually be decent. Sure I know not everybody will agree with me. But just because you oppose us or don't like this doesn't give you an excuse to go all haywire. Come talk to us in person here in Watertown SD!!!!!

  240. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.26

    I wish any one of you WHS alumni would talk about making concrete efforts to consult with the local American Americans, or First Americans, for this activity. If you can let down your defensiveness, just for a brief time, you may realize there are many comments that are not attacking you, but offering suggestions for improvements.

    C'mon Arrows. You can do this.

  241. Paula 2014.09.26

    Roger, please explain what EXACTLY is disrespectful, racist, whatever you feel it is. Can only Native Americans wear buckskin? What is it about the story that is upsetting? I am really trying to understand. The only person who has answered this question directly is Cory, and I am not sure if he is Native American or not. I would really like to understand WHAT is offensive. The students have explained the story, the history of the story, that it is to promote peace and unity. What is it exactly that is the problem with what WHS is doing?

  242. Arrow 2014.09.26

    You people don't even know what KiYi is about. It's about the unity of the school even if it is just for a week. In my life I have never heard of anyone complaining about The Ledgend which is a great story and great tradition. I praticipated in it for all four years I could and we were always to make sure it was shown the utmost respect and not to be taken lightly.

  243. Paula 2014.09.26

    ^ Sorry, I forgot to add that Cory mentioned that the problem is that a white woman wrote the story. And therein is the issue.

  244. Tom 2014.09.26

    Well we better ban moccasins while we are at it too! Are they offensive as well? I mean we must be dressing up as native Americans if we wear them! And not to mention the Washington Warriors with a mural of an Indian chief in their gym. Better take that down and change their name! Better have the NFL Washington redskins change their name! The Redskins are promoting racism across the country! I think that is a bigger problem than a town of 21,000 people. So stop all this BS about WHS and the legend and move on with your lives. You are adults arguing over a not important topic.

  245. A 2014.09.26

    WHS is not such a horrible school like some of you try to make us loo like. We welcome natives here. We don't not mock them. We have no intentions of making anybody feel bad. Heck I love learning about them. It would be awesome to go back then and live when they hunted the prairie and see how they did things and lived! Everyday I sit down and have lunch with a couple natives actually. They love kiyi as well. Obviously we have a lot of community support for kiyi. Every year the legend was packed!!! This year it was!!! The pep rally tonight was packed!! The game was packed!!! I am also a proud member of the band and when I March homecoming(it's tomorrow!) the streets are filled. Every one has their purple and gold and kiyi gear! This school really is caring if you spent a day here. Everyday they have a good character quote of the day an they try to make us young learners a respectful person in this world. When you walk in the schooll you will see in the hallway door RESPECT. They push respect a hard in this school. But I'm glad they do. They do a really nice job. We care about native Americans. We care about how we treat others. But when some of you keyboard warriors say we are out to mock people that is just not right. Come to the homecoming kiyi week. It will give you a new perspective on things. Just because you disagree with us or oppose us just doesn't give you an excuse to go talk crap on the internet. Oh yeah Watertown is just trying to mock idians let's take em to court. No. You don't know our intentions. This whole week is supposed to bring us all together. The legend is supposed to inspire us to unite and become strong. We don't mean to mock anybody. We are trying to become better people in this world and this school is a great place to do that. We have respect. We are caring. If you have an issue about us come talk to us in person. Don't sit here and say oh your just mocking us or any of that crap. Actually find out our intentions. I can't believe some people would think we are all a bunch of horrible kids. We mean well. We welcome any and all Native American students. We care about them just as much as anybody else.

  246. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.26

    "You people don't even know..." Yes we do. We have had intelligent members of the community tell us what Ki-Yi is about, how it originated, and how it has evolved. We are looking at that evidence and saying, "Gee, it's still co-opting culture." You need to come up with a new argument.

  247. mike from iowa 2014.09.26

    So we open up a quarrel
    Between the present and the past
    We only sacrifice the future
    It's the bitterness that lasts

    So don't yield to the fortunes
    You sometimes see as fate
    It may have a new perspective
    On a different date
    And if you don't give up, and don't give in
    You may just be O.K.

    thanks to Mike Rutherford of Mike and the Mechanics (The Living Years)

  248. mike from iowa 2014.09.26

    and B A Robertson.

  249. Craig 2014.09.26

    As I said before, many Native Americans in South Dakota have experienced racism for so long that they may see this for more than what it was intended to be or they may see things that the creator(s) overlooked. However that doesn't mean we automatically call this celebration racist and close the book nor does it mean we dismiss the concerns without consideration.

    First, we see suggestions that Watertown involves Native Americans in the tradition and that they consult with them. Great idea... yet do we know that hasn't already occurred? (Hint: It has) We have heard from at least one student who has participated and is Native American. We have heard from others who have explained they have Native American classmates who enjoy and participate in the practice. Perhaps instead of judging the tradition based upon our limited understanding it is out duty to dig deeper before making baseless assumptions.

    Cory has stated the ceremony/fable tells us nothing true but only reinforces our biases. I'd have to ask... what biases are being reinforced by an event and story which promotes unity and peace? Can you honestly say that when people use stereotypes against Native Americans that peace and togetherness are the concepts they base their statements upon? What bias is being reinforced by assuming Watertown hasn't already consulted with a local tribe?

    Adding to that, aren't you as guilty of reinforcing a bias based upon a limited understanding and one photograph which you presume to only show those with no mixed heritage?

    Roger doesn't mince words and flat out calls this racism. He feels he doesn't need to see the celebration himself because he has seen many similar events in the past and knows the outcome. Is that not relying upon preconceived notions? Is that not reinforcing a bias? If I were to say I have no need to speak with a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe because I've been to the casino in Flandreau and met several already would that statement not suggest I am relying upon preconceptions and bias?

    Roger also states there is no need to see the event in question because all he has to do is look at the picture to see the mockery. Apparently Roger is a better man than I, because when I see the picture I'm unable to determine what is on the minds of those in the photo. I'm unable to determine what their heritage is or what the celebration means to them as individuals. I cannot presume to know that they all come from 100% 'white' homes and that they have no connection to South Dakota history or Native American culture. All I know is there are some kids wearing clothing which I presume are made to resemble buckskin while smiling for the camera. Roger would be quick to call that white privledge (which is a fancy way of seeing he presumes we see what we see based upon the color of our skin) yet Roger made that mistake about me once when he presumed to know my heritage. Defending bias with bias generally doesn't lead anywhere.

    What I also know (thanks to Dr. Deutsch) is that the Watertown Superintendent has met with Native Americans regarding their concerns of the ceremony and that changes were made based upon those concerns. I also know that the school district consulted with Scott German who was a tribal leader of Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe (which has a presense in Watertown). Dr. Deutsch calls German the Tribal Chairman although I believe he was Vice-Chairman at the time, but there is still a clear effort to communicate with the local Tribe and hear their concerns. German reviewed the script and stated he did not have any problem with it and that it was the school's tradition rather than an Indian tradition.

    So I ask - why are we so quickly dismissing the opinions of the local tribal leadership? Why are we reading into this more than we rightfully should? Why are we condemning the community of Watertown even before we have taken the time to learn all of the details? Is this just an example of being so overly cautious about anything surrounding race that we assume it must be offensive until it is proven otherwise?

    If this topic reinforced anything in my eyes it is that we still have a long way to go. Some people will never see racism or even a hint of it while other see racism everywhere regardless of what they are shown. People are still very guilty of preconceptions and personal bias, and we all see the world through our own lens. As with most things in life, the truth is probably somewhere in betweeen the two extremes and concensus will most likely never occur on the issue if it is only debated on the Internet.

    Of course we still have the right to be offended, but I'm not certain that gives us any special power over anyone else.

  250. Douglas Wiken 2014.09.26

    Your request timed out. Please retry the request.

  251. Bill Fleming 2014.09.26

    Craig, good thinking, but with the following proviso: In the context of reconciliation, it is never the prerogative of the oppressor to demand forgiveness of the oppressed. Nor is it either ethical or productive to minimize their feelings and concerns.

  252. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    A, you have written one long paragraph that is unreadable, so I didn't read it. If you are a WHS alum, didn't they teach you the importance of paragraphs?
    The good news of the day so far, is that Wiken's request was timed out. Yeah!

  253. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Paula and Craig,

    You may have read my comments and nitpicked them to death, but I don't think either of you comprehended the words.

    Cory's basic question still has not been answered.

  254. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Your comparison on the oppressed and the oppressor is spot on.
    Remember last spring during the Chamberlain debate on the Sioux Honor Song? One of the solutions was for the teachers to meet with Indian graduates and get their feelings and opinions.
    The result was the teachers telling the students how the graduation would go on without the honor song. That was a perfect example of what we are talking about.

  255. Bill Fleming 2014.09.26

    I hear ya, brother Roger. I hear ya, man.

  256. JeniW 2014.09.26

    The story is about the unity of two so-called tribes.

    A better story would have been about the unity of the tribes with the settlers. Now, THAT would be worth celebrating if it would have only happened.

    It reminds me of how some people in the U.S. talk about how other countries should/ought be at peace and stop engaging in war, but there is not peace in the U.S.

    Have the citizens of Watertown formed a formal constructive and positive relationship with any of the tribes, like some cities have "sister" cities? If so, that would be an excellent thing to celebrate every year.

  257. Paula 2014.09.26

    Roger, I have always thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments on everything here at Madville Times. I don't know how I have nitpicked what you wrote. I only asked what specifically is offensive. I'm afraid I don't understand, and I want to. But either you can't/won't explain it, or I'm just not getting it. But that doesn't make me racist. In fact, I hold Native Americans in high regard, really.

  258. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Ok, here it is.
    As I've stated previously, I have attended these type of displays before.
    When I see non-Indians dressed up as Indians pretending to be Indians, I consider it an insult. I will likely concentrate on the absurdity of the costumes and miss the message that they wish to send.
    Today there is the controversy of the Washington Redskins and the Fighting Sioux has made headlines numerous times, Chamberlain High School continues to disrespect their Native American community, and on and on.
    Take a good look at the picture posted above, how many Indians are in that picture? Is that a true representation of WHS?
    Now, I realize that the message of this pageantry maybe an honorable one, but when Indians and some non-Indians see it, it becomes a mockery. Are all the people posting here wrong?
    If this whole thing is a fantasy or whatever with a mythical tribe, why aren't the costumes mythical too?

  259. BHB 2014.09.26

    Wow, lots of new comments since I was last here.... Donald Pay great comment! Tom, grow up, "Well we better ban moccasins while we are at it too! Are they offensive as well? I mean we must be dressing up as native Americans if we wear them!" Most childish thing I read today, must've been sticking your tongue out at the monitor as you typed that one!

    Don't think that WHS is being singled out. I went to Bennett County High School, in little old Martin, SD... Located right smack dab between the Rosebud and Oglala Reservations. We too had a Homecoming Ceremony that attracted hundreds of locals, it was the talk of the town during homecoming week. And it was also started as a "honoring ceremony for Natives." But, the thing is, white people, who knew absolutely nothing about being Native started the ceremony. As with WHS's "Legend." To make a long story short, BCHS student council did the right thing and changed it. Now a new, more appropriate homecoming coronation is in place, one that took a few years to be accepted, but to this day, the old wasicu folks in town still talk about bringing back the old ceremony. But it'll never happen. So Watertown, take that step in the right direction, it's time for a change. Start with changing your Homecoming.

  260. Paula 2014.09.26

    Thank you Roger; I can see where you are coming from a little bit. I personally can "try" to put myself in your shoes and say that I could overlook the costumes see the bigger picture and not be insulted, but I will never be in your shoes. Maybe you and some of others here would have felt better if a few of the kids on the homecoming court were full-blooded Native American. Now if there ever will be some in the future, people will complain that it is not genuine. Some people have more of a problem with the story not being written by a Native American person. I think of my girls who loved to read about Kaya, one of the American Girl book characters (Native American) in the series and wonder if people would now see THAT as controversial. Do we have to wonder if a white, black, purple, or Native American author wrote the series for it to be authentic enough, or politically correct enough in this day and age?

  261. Steve Sibson 2014.09.26

    "Take a look at all the old photos and you'll see them wearing the same clothing their white contemporaries wore, albeit oftentimes with an extra, added, Indian flair."

    And today they complain when we do the same. Sad that so many fall for the hate mongering from the cultural Neo-Marxist left.

  262. larry kurtz 2014.09.26

    Sad that so many fall for the hate mongering from the earth hating cultural christofascist nut wing of the right.

  263. Steve Sibson 2014.09.26

    "Your entire comment is the definition of white privilege, of course don't see racism"

    Roger, the "white privilege" was invented by the same Neo- Marxists who invented faux racism. Is it an absolute truth that only whites can be hate-filled racists?

  264. larry kurtz 2014.09.26

    Roger, the "white privilege" was invented by the same christofascists who invented faux creationism.

  265. Craig 2014.09.26

    Roger: "Take a good look at the picture posted above, how many Indians are in that picture?"

    Here you go again Roger - you presume to know the cultural heritage of everyone in the photograph based upon what? The color of their skin?

    Doesn't that perpetuate bias and stereotyping?

    Roger: "Now, I realize that the message of this pageantry maybe an honorable one, but when Indians and some non-Indians see it, it becomes a mockery. Are all the people posting here wrong?"

    Of course you aren't wrong - you are entitled to your viewpoint and if you feel it is a mockery then nobody can discredit your feelings. Nobody can tell you what to think or how to feel and you need not answer to anyone for holding a belief.

    That said, the question is should your opinion carry more weight than the Native Americans who are in support of the ceremony? Should your opinion carry more weight than the Tribal Leadership which has been consulted? It is a sincere question, because although your feelings and opinions are of utmost importance to you, we have to look at the situation with a broad scope to hear more than a few voices.

    Watertown can't possibly please 100% of the Native Americans who have stated their viewpoints on this tradition. So I'm sure you understand how difficult it is to be sensitive to issues of race while also attempting to recognize even a bunch of 'white' kids from South Dakota are still connected to Native American culture and should celebrate that fact rather than being ashamed to speak of it.

    One might even go so far as to ask if this little tradition gets the school talking about Native American heritage and issues of race conflict for even one week - if it helps educate kids who otherwise would have no idea such a divide exists, or if it helps open eyes to how these issuse are very much alive today... does the benefit outweigh any potential hurt feelings? I suppose the alternative would be a more traditional homecoming celebration with a King and a Queen and no connection to anything in American history. That is perhaps less offensive to some, but it lacks an underlying theme to learn from. A message built upon royalty just doesn't carry the same influence as a message built upon cooperation and peace.

  266. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    And once again Steve Sibson proves his neo-Marxism is irrelevant. Don't you have a blog to write, Sibson?

    White privilege was not invented by anyone, it has become a norm of a dominant culture, Christians don't like the term because it points the finger at themselves.

  267. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Please identify the Native Americans in the photo.

  268. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Does your support of this pageantry have a greater support than my opposition to it? Is your opinion more valuable than mine?
    You see nothing wrong with the photo and the pageantry, yet I am somehow wrong in my perceptions, why is that?

  269. JeniW 2014.09.26

    Wow Larry, what a find!

    The new mascot looks like a drawing of Jesus. :)

  270. mike from iowa 2014.09.26

    Come on,guys. You can do this. Let's shoot for 300 plus comments. Try hard and try harder.

  271. Steve Sibson 2014.09.26

    "it has become a norm of a dominant culture"

    Is that why Ray Rice lost his job, or does the feminist Neo-Marxists possess more privilege than the colored folks?

  272. larry kurtz 2014.09.26

    Jeni: that came over my twitter feed the other day just waiting for the opportunity to fling it into the fray. My guess that it has been pronounced Ā-rab during part of its history.

  273. Steve Sibson 2014.09.26

    Roger, this points to eggheads as the source to "white privilege", which supports the history of the Frankfurt School Marxists at Columbia University:

    Academic perspectives such as critical race theory and whiteness studies use the concept of "white privilege" to analyze how racism and racialized societies affect the lives of white people.

  274. Steve Sibson 2014.09.26

    Roger, lloks like a feminist Neo-Marxist invented white priviledge after inventing male privilege. No wonder Ray Rice lost his high-paying job:

    Peggy McIntosh is Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research for Women.
    Reprinted by permission of the author. This essay is excerpted from her working paper. “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s
    Copyright 1988 by Peggy McIntosh.

  275. larry kurtz 2014.09.26

    Steve: have you gotten your genome sequenced yet? Find out how much Neanderthal you have in there diluting your overwhelming numbers of African genes.

  276. larry kurtz 2014.09.26

    Steve: god is a human construct and your war against socialism is evidence you believe your worldview is being threatened.

    There is a twitter war being conducted today over Rush Limbaugh's statement that there are more indigenous in the New World today than before Europeans began extirpating them after Columbus: a statement so ludicrous that it boggles the mind.

    American Indians were communitarian and small 'c' communists (many still are): their numbers indicate a threatened culture now caricatured by an insensitive high school in occupied territory.

    White privilege existed long before people assigned a name to it, Sibson.

  277. mike from iowa 2014.09.26

    Time for a Dan Rather- here is the sequencing of Sibby's genome in no particular order.

  278. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    What "color" are the "folks" you are referring to, Steve?

  279. Craig 2014.09.26

    Roger: "Craig, Please identify the Native Americans in the photo."

    I can't Roger, because I don't know them or their families. That is precisely why I don't make assumptions about their heritage and why I have asked you what you base your assumptions on. Since you (conveniently) dodge that question and your premise appears to be that none of them are Native American, I'd suggest it is your duty to provide such evidence to support your statement.

    Roger: "Does your support of this pageantry have a greater support than my opposition to it? Is your opinion more valuable than mine?"

    I think you misunderstand Roger. I have no idea which side has greater support, and frankly I'm not of the belief this type of debate can be settled based upon majority opinion - this is why I was asking questions. In fact I have asked you if your opinion should carry more weight than the Tribal Leadership which has been consulted or the Native Americans who have stated they support the ceremony. This is somewhat of a rhetorical question meant to show how we each have our views but those views shouldn't automatically take precedence over the view of others.

    I have at no point suggested my opinion is more valuable than yours or that anyone else's opinion holds more value than yours. I'm merely asking why the opinion of the local Tribal Leadership seems to be ignored here. They may not be "right", but it does seem relevant to the discussion as they are closer to this situation than you or I and likely have a better understanding than what they could learn from a short blog article and a few comments.

    Roger: "You see nothing wrong with the photo and the pageantry, yet I am somehow wrong in my perceptions, why is that?"

    Where did I say you were wrong Roger? I think you'll find I said no such thing and I acknowledge your opinion and your feelings. Nobody can take that away from you and I'm not trying to minimize them. That said, I don't feel it is fair to make assumptions or to ignore the opinion of other Native Americans who have offered their support of the ceremony.

    I'm back to my previous question - should we calibrate our cultural awareness and sensitivity meters to the level of outrage, or is there an opportunity to learn from one another before we reach the point of calling each other racists?

    It seems to me there is bias being shown on both sides of this issue, so we need to take a step back and try (as hard as it may be) to see this issue from one another's eyes. That may not result in a different answer, but it cannot hurt.

  280. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Steve, male privilege has existed since biblical times, look at the men who wrote the Bible and how they treated and controlled the behavior of women.
    White male privilege started in this country with signing of the U.S. Constitution. Note that women weren't allowed to vote and were assigned a subservient role by society, Indians weren't allowed to vote even though this was still there land. White men, the often acclaimed founders, were allowed to own and abuse slaves.
    A dominant white male society fought against establishing all rights to all people. Even the great Abraham Lincoln opposed allowing women to vote and coupled with the fact that he started Native American genocide.
    White men opposed segregation, white women fought to keep Jim Crow laws, white men fought the Civil Rights Act,
    white men like Ronald Reagan fought the Equal Rights Amendment.
    This what created white privilege, and fortunately it is slowly being eroded with more minorities and women involved in politics. White men are quickly becoming a minority, if they aren't already.

  281. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Before I respond to your entire comment, would you please provide us with absolute proof that current "Tribal Leadership" of this pageant, or am I expected to take your word for it?

  282. Lynn Hart 2014.09.26

    Greeting everyone!
    My name is Lyndon Hart a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and a graduate of the WHS 1979. Iv'e been through this issue before. So let me be frank! We have Sisseton Redmen, Indians dressing up like Cowboys, I'm one of them. Halloween is around the corner and I hope that we do not pick on the kids that buy a Indian costume and goes trick and treating next. Now on the other hand The Washington Redskins to me is offensive. In europe they have powwows all the time, They build tipis and even come to our reservations in america to learn our ways. Honestly America as a tribal enrolled Native American, Im more concerned about terrorism than this! Grow up people and get thicker skin! Hopefully it's not RED!

  283. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Oops! Shouldn't type after eye examine.

    That should have read absolute proof that the current "Tribal Leadership" endorses this pageant.

  284. Bill Fleming 2014.09.26

    Roger nails the 300th post with one eye closed.
    That's good karma, baby.
    (...or "good caramels," as I like to say.)

  285. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Bill, thanks for the accolades, I'll save the bows for later.

  286. Craig 2014.09.26

    Roger: "Before I respond to your entire comment, would you please provide us with absolute proof that current "Tribal Leadership" of this pageant, or am I expected to take your word for it?"

    No need to take my word for it Roger, you can review Dr. Fred Deutsch's comment above for a reference where the ceremony was discussed with Tribal leadership. Dr. Deutsch has been a member of the school board for 8 years and has served two terms as School Board President, so I'm going out on a limb and saying he is qualifed to directly speak to the subject since he has been on the school board during the time it was discussed.

  287. lesliengland 2014.09.26

    Tribes typically debate and then adopt a formal written resolution on important issues. it is likely there are lots of anti-Washington redskins resolutions out there.

  288. pete 2014.09.26

    really!! everybody stews on this for two days what a waste of energy and time

  289. Bill Fleming 2014.09.26

    yes, pete, and yet you keep coming back. :-o

    ...just kidding, I know you've been trying to be the "can't we all just get along" guy all the way through this thread, and I've enjoyed reading what you have to say. Thanks.

  290. mike from iowa 2014.09.26

    No one has anything to say? I'm hearing crickets-wait they are in my kitchen. Nevermind. Where were we?

  291. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    I recall Dr. Deutsch's comments, I believe he was referring to when the adjusted back in 2001. Does the current "Tribal Leadership" still support this thing?
    Lyndon Hart & pete, this is still America, if I and others here wish to waste our time on this issue, we are free to do so, thank you.
    I'll let leaders with more powerful and with more control than I have fight the war on terrorism, I'm concerned about it, but there is little I can do about it.
    This pageant thing is more local, I can lobby like all hell for it to be changed to something more appropriate, if I choose to waste my time doing so, tough!

  292. HeatherS 2014.09.26

    I'm so glad Lyndon commented on this! Roger maybe you should do you research on Lyndon. There is a headdress in Watertown high school that was made by the Native Americans and given to us and correct me if I'm wrong Lyndon but you are the one that gave this to the high school?
    But seriously do your research on him, he's a great man and has a great story. You can go ahead and waste your time all you want but you are gonna have one heck of a time trying to get something changed. And seeing one is not seeing them all others in no way resemble ours. And how is that picture mocking? Oh because they have smiles on their faces? Bet you never thought they are smiles on their faces because they are proud it's a HUGE honor at Watertown to be royalty, so the fact they get to wear the as you think of them "costumes" is a great honor.

  293. mike from iowa 2014.09.26

    Didn't our European ancestors fight a war and decided we didn't want or need "Royalty"?

  294. Bob Harty 2014.09.26

    '78 graduate of WHS and good friend of Lyndon Hart. A large percentage of you, on both sides, bring up the "what if" a Native American attended the Ki-Yi activities. Lynn was there for three years and his opinion is the one that matters. I pointed this mess out to him and asked him to weigh in. I hope this settles it(lol). Semper Fi Lyndon, thank you for your service and your dedication to the Native American people of South Dakota.

  295. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Why would Lynn Hart become the final authority and qualified to settle this.
    Native Americans, like whites, often have differing opinions on a variety of subjects.
    Settle it, I think not.

  296. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.26

    Roger Cornelius is a man of respect, courage, and dignity. What he says, he means. Roger does not play games or pick fights.

    I think all the talk about white privilege and male privilege hit the nail on the head. White people don't have to do anything to benefit from it. It's the way our nation works, the basis.

  297. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.26

    Earlier Cory suggested a simple change in The Legend that would make any conversations like this unnecessary. Keep the very same story, but change the identity of the actors to white settlers. It could still be about unity and overcoming differences. If you don't want to do anything that could be construed as racism, but rather want to focus on The Legend and themes of unity, change the identities of the players.

    I'm curious WHSers, do you believe that would be effective to gain the ends you've described?

  298. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.26

    Thanks Deb,

    What could I possibly add.

  299. Tiger 2014.09.27

    Leave the Legend, it will help take their minds of the game last night.

  300. Bill Fleming 2014.09.27

    Detaching from our emotions for a moment and looking at the Legend ceremony from an objective perspective, we can see that it is what Richard Dawkins calls a "cultural meme." Memes are very much like biological genes. They tend to mutate and evolve (or sometimes devolve) over time as the environment around them changes.

    The connotative meaning of words change, as do other symbols, rituals, fashion styles, hair styles, etc. etc. And it is not uncommon for a word that used to mean one thing evolves to mean it's exact opposite over time. (Take the word "bad" for example, or better yet, "bad ass." We all know what the denotative meaning of those words is. They represent something undesirable, and in the case of the latter, even unmentionable. And yet, most of us also recognize that something strange has happened with those terms. In an ever widening sphere in the world's English speaking culture, calling someone "bad ass" has come to signify a certain special kind of compliment.

    I submit something like that has happened with the once well understood and appreciated meme of The Legend. Much has changed in the cultural environment of relationship between "whites" and "indians" in South Dakota. 75 years ago, it was illegal for members of one group to marry another... and on and on. We all know (or should know) the history. Suffice it to say that regardless of how noble the intent of the original, local cultural meme "Legend" may have been, time has moved on, and the meme has moved and changed with it.

    There is, of course, no "final" answer. 75 years from not, the "Legend" meme will no doubt have yet another different meaning to the citizens of Watertown. So I'm not going to suggest what could be done to "fix" the problem. Only to suggest that readers here note that there IS one. The meaning of your beloved Legend meme has changed because the environment in which it arose has changed. That's not anyone's "fault." It's just how culture works.

    To punctuate this point and perhaps bring it back from objective to subjective, I'll close with thi: "We don't get to vote on the way things are. We already did."

  301. larry kurtz 2014.09.27

    Imagine a pageant where a male migrant worker from Honduras and a white preacher's son fall in love and save the community: call it KiRimini.

  302. WHS Grad 2014.09.27

    Mike from Iowa--- regarding this comment mike from iowa
    2014.09.25 AT 17:53
    WHS Grad-you are learning that you can't compartmentalize everything in a neat little box. Not everything fits. Not everything is yes or no,black or white. People can say so much with expressions or their hands or eyes that you have to be able to decipher. Protest is not just verbal or physical. The world,as you will find out,does not consist of only you and your wants and needs. There really is a good reason why people have two eyes and two ears and only one mouth.

    First off you don't know me or know what i have been through, which means that you have no idea of me...i find it sad that now we are saying things like that in my comment i was just saying that i had one question for everyone who was apposed to ki-yi and no one ever answered it but if we want to go into deeper issues at hand well we can do that to...i have tons i want to say but i feel this might not be the place however i did see something about white privilege and i don't know about some of you but i have had to work really hard my whole to get what i have and i know for FACT that isn't true for others! this will be my final comment since everyone gets off topic and can't answer one of my questions i hope you all have a good day and find the answers you are looking for in this post...ARROW PRIDE!

  303. Bill Fleming 2014.09.27

    WHS Grad, you make an excellent point, and coincidentally, one that perhaps even answers the question you claim has not been addressed here.

    You are correct when you tell Mike from Iowa, "you don't know me or what I have been through, which means that you have no idea of me."

    Right! We don't! In fact, I would venture to say that very few of us who comment here on this thread actually know each other. I have personally met a few of them, but actually have spent very little actual "face time" with anyone here. And yet, I feel like in some ways I have come to know a little about many of them because they have been generous enough to share their thoughts and feeling with the rest of the "virtual community" here on Cory's blog.

    Now, to your question. You want to know why this post went up right at the time that graduating seniors were going through the Legend. Why at this time and not in some year past? Or (presumably) some year in the future. Why now?

    The answer as I see it from the posts on this thread is that someone called other people's attention to it because they had some concerns and didn't want to stay quiet about it any longer. (see 9/24 at 21:52 above)

    In other words, they wanted a discussion. So, it seems did Cory. In other words, "It was time." Many here have shared their feelings and thoughts on the matter, and for better worse we have come to know them a little bit, yourself included.

    Now, to the degree you are willing to share more, we will come to understand you a little better. But, I suspect from your post that may not be what you are after. It may be that you instead want to keep to yourself, mind your own business, and stay silent. And if so, that may well be all we ever get to know about you. Which would be fine. It's your call.

    But your implication is that just because you don't want the matter discussed means that no one else should either is probably what Mike is getting at. This post isn't about you and what you want. It's about who we are, why we do what we do, and what it would take for us all to get along better.

    Kind of like the "Legend" story only in real life. Question for you then WHS Grad, is this: "Are you in? Or out?" Either way, thanks for sharing what you have so far. I wonder if you realize that you've already told us quite a bit about yourself, even though that perhaps was not your intent.

  304. Bill Fleming 2014.09.27

    p.s. WHS Grad for more on what I mean by "It's time." See Malcom Gladwell's excellent book "The Tipping Point."

  305. Jerid K 2014.09.27

    I have no idea if anyone ever mentioned anything about this above since it is a ridiculously long post, but back when I was at WHS, a native woman tried to sue the school for its KiYi activities. The tribe she represented actually made the school an authentic chieftain headdress for the school to display in its halls because they were happy about what the school was, and still is, doing. This obviously stopped the law suit. The only stipulation was that the headdress was to be used for display purposes and not for any activities inside or out of KiYi.

    There must be better things for people to do these days than shout racist and bigot to everyone they don't know. Granted this is the Internet where everyone hears you scream but nobody cares.

  306. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    When is it a good time to discuss racism and stereotyping?

    Sorry to disrupt your daily lives, but the time now.

  307. Jerid K 2014.09.27

    I'm not saying a discussion about racism shouldn't be had, but it seems you completely skipped over the past of my post stating that the tribe clearly does not see what is being done as racism. Imo racism is a pretty dumb concept. Why should humans ever view someone that looks different than themselves in a different light. No other animal has that mentality, but unfortunately it does exist.

  308. Donald Pay 2014.09.27

    I briefly checked out the history of the entire idea of homecoming. Maybe it has come time to totally end the tradition of homecoming at high schools, no matter what occurs in the now usual week of activities leading up to a football game.

    The original idea for homecoming, apparently, grew out of former football players coming back to watch their old teams (college or high school) play. A few decades later, it had morphed into a broader event involving all alumni (not just football players), but still the focus was on a football game. Schools began to make it more formal and add a week of activities for current students.

    There is some dispute between schools, but the first actual sponsored "homecoming" didn't happen until the nineteen teens. So, the entire "homecoming tradition" began before players wore helmets. Apparently we can make it safer to play football, thus breaking with "tradition," but when it comes to the tack-on events that had nothing at all to do with the original "tradition," well, those are sacrosanct.

    As a former student of Sioux Falls Lincoln High, I have never once returned to the school, let alone for homecoming. I don't even know if former grads can attend the homecoming dance. I have never attended a class reunion, either, but I would much rather attend one of those. I think most people who graduated from high school don't go to homecoming unless they are living in the same area, in which case they may attend a game or two. It's probably more in smaller schools.

    Essentially, then, the whole homecoming "tradition" no longer serves its traditional purpose, which is for old football players to return to watch a game.

  309. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    I did not skip over your post, I read it.

    I've been waiting for a response to my earlier question about Dr. Deutsch earlier post in which he said that the Legend was changed in 2001 to reflect modern concerns and that the tribe agreed to it in 2001.
    What is the official position of the tribe now in2014?

  310. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27


  311. Jerid K 2014.09.27

    This is where my ignorance comes into play. I only ever attended one legend for my school which was actually in 2001. I never heard the previous legend and can't comment on how the tribe feels about the subject today since I am in no way related to them.

  312. Jerid K 2014.09.27

    You are correct, and as I stated before, it unfortunately exists. But since you are no longer capable of discussing this in a formal and civil manner, I bid good day to you.

  313. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    Read my comments Jerid, I am fully capable of discussing this topic and others in a formal and civilized manner.

    If your expectation is that I totally agree with you, guess again.

  314. Jerid K 2014.09.27

    It doesn't really matter to me how you have spoken with others on this topic, what matters is the discussion you and I ate having right now. So there is no point in me conversing with you any further. There is also no reason for me to believe that anyone, including yourself, would have the same beliefs or views as myself.

  315. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27


    You have stated a couple of times you are through discussing this issue with me, yet you keep coming back.

    You obviously have more on your mind regarding WHS.

  316. Bill Dithmer 2014.09.27

    "Crazy Horse first took a scalp when he was just 14 years of age. From here he would soon have a scalp shirt with over a hundred scalps."

    Natural born killer and taker of scalps. Very few infantry in any army can claim that many kills. And yet I have respect for the man. I can say the same thing for Red Cloud.

    Both men made sure that every person ate before they ate, had shelter, and the young and old were taken care of. But if you didnt work in some way, and you were able to work, you didnt eat and you werent welcome around the fire. They didnt wait for a government to do anything because they symply didnt trust white men. We have come a short way in a long time here.

    If either man was alive today I would be willing to bet that they would say, "white men act silly, leave them alone and dont get to close, we have work to do.

    The Blindman

  317. JeniW 2014.09.27

    Donald, the whole purpose of homecomings are to party. :)

    People enjoy partying and will come up with all kinds of excuses to have parties.

    A high school football game is worthy enough of an excuse to party.

  318. mike from iowa 2014.09.27

    Bill F-you educated people say things better than an uneducated peon like me can. I'll leave it at that.

    Jerid K,fear of the unknown(human nature) can cause people to view other people in a different light. People who have grown up without exposure to other cultures or colors of skin can be very frightened by strangers. Distrust is,I'm guessing,a natural defense mechanism for all cultures and creatures. As for animals I can say throw two seperate litters of pigs together and see what happens. They will fight to the death to establish dominance. We had to spray both bunches with diesel fuel so they smelled the same before they would get along.

  319. Larry 2014.09.27

    Oh my god no one cares. Stop publishing stories about Indians it's so annoying.

  320. larry kurtz 2014.09.27

    Hey, Larry: which part of 337 comments escapes you?

  321. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    Larry, it is incumbent on me to annoy the hell out of those that refuse to educate themselves on racism and stereotyping.

  322. larry kurtz 2014.09.27

    Just plowin' da road, Roger: it's up to you, Fleming and others to build the snow figures from the windrow the plow leaves at da side o' da road.

  323. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    Thanks Larry, couldn't ask for any better plows.

  324. Bill Fleming 2014.09.27

    Appears as though the Watertonians have left the building, gentlemen. Nice of them to stop by, don't you think?

    Snow angels, Larry, snow angels. You lay down in the snow on your back, move your arms and legs up and down and...

  325. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    Wow Bill! Even with the 83 degree temp in Rapid City I could still envision Larry making snow angels. I gotta get a life.

  326. Paula 2014.09.27

    Boys, don't even mention "angels" around here or the athiests will come out to play ;)

  327. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.27

    Too late Paula, the atheist are already here, at least some of them.

  328. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.28

    It is important to note that "Larry" who finds stories about Indians annoying is most definitely not our Larry Kurtz. He left a fake e-mail, showing his lack of trust in and respect for those of us trying to have an adult conversation about the morality of the Watertown homecoming pageant.

    Perhaps we should assume that he was referring to the good people of Watertown, who wrote a fake story about fake Indians and now claim their fake re-enactment of their fake story is a great legend that everyone in town enjoys and thus is immune from moral critique from anyone not in town. I would then agree with Larry that such fabrication, white tribalism, and cultural co-optation is annoying.

  329. mike from iowa 2014.09.28

    Wassa matter with play? Play,like work,fascinates me. I could sit and watch it for hours and it has nothing to do with religion or lack of same.

  330. lesliengland 2014.09.28

    the big lebowski popularized blathering which grudz and wiken like to use derisively, but check out doug's thune slammin' blog. well done, and thanks for backing off your anti-tribalism. the dems might hold onto the senate and get a new governor. the nation and world will be a better place. someday tribes may have better reason to trust government.

  331. Bill Fleming 2014.09.28

    Just now on the closing segment of "This Week" on ABC the reporting crew on the deck of the USS George Bush showed a bomb being loaded onto a fighter jet.

    Painstakingly lettered on the side of the bomb were the words "War Party" and beside them a carefully rendered graphic of a fringed and beaded Indian tomahawk. ...and so it goes.

  332. Donald Pay 2014.09.28

    Taxpayers do subsidize these homecoming "parties," and that includes state and federal taxpayers. Maybe the time has come to just pull the plug on homecoming, and put that money to use in the classroom.

  333. mike from iowa 2014.09.28

    and just think if terrorists took the time and energy to paint on hijacked planes a little love note for infidels and then broadcast it to the world,we might catch them beforehand. Or not as a former dumbass appointed Potus proved to the world(with/without Indian symbolism)

  334. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.28

    Donald, I participated in a homecoming activity on school time Friday. Taxpayers paid me for an hour to supervise a lunchroom of students who didn't want to participate in the homecoming rally but who needed to remain at school until the buses left at the normal time. I did not teach any French verb conjugations, promote any other curriculum standards, or boost any test scores. But a Somali girl did try to convert me to Islam with the argument from design.

    I agree wholeheartedly that "homecoming" is a complete misnomer. Few if any alumni flock back to high school for homecoming activities. Students organize few if any activities around the idea of inviting or honoring alumni. It's a party on school time. Why not just call it "Party Week"?

  335. Former WHS Grad 2014.09.28

    I think there are much bigger issues out there to deal with than an homecoming tradition of a high school. I also think that in high school you are old enough to make an educated choice to participate in this tradition or not. I think if we all just took a step back and let the kids decide if they want to continue it or not. Kids these days seem to be so much more involved in everything going on around them than they did when i was younger. they are a lot more opinionated and independent than i remember them to be. It seems to me that the Native Americans in the area have looked over the script for the Legend and have approved it. So why can't we just let everything be and get over many of you commenting on here have actually been to a Ki-Yi Legend or participated in our week long festivities? How many of you have been a part of it and are now (pardon my french) b!tching about it? You were never forced into doing something you didn't want to do by the school district. If you were a student in the Watertown School District long before high school you had plenty of time to learn all about it. It was something celebrated from Kindergarten till your Senior Year. I myself attended a few Legends and burning of the W's before i entered high school. We also spent time learning of the history of our area...I can't remember what grade it was but i remember having a whole year dedicated to learning about Watertown and surrounding areas history and how we came to be who we are today. Everyone needs to get over it and just let it be. Its not there to hurt anyone. To me it seems that a lot of the people on here complaining are "White People"....if i remember right we "white people" are the reason the Native American's are so hurt by everything we do. We took their land from them for next to nothing.

    next week all the "white people" are going to be complaining about how we give to much money to the Native Americans and all they do is drink it away or think they are owed something. Well in my opinion they are owed something...their land back...they were here first who were we to take it away from them.

    Next off y'all need to take a longer look in the mirror of who you are. Look at your linage...I myself may not look Native American but I certainly have Native American blood running in my veins, even if it is just a very small percentage. I am sure the rest of you can say the same thing. Grow up and let kids enjoy one week of unity and comradery among them. I know that homecoming week brought all the cliques together in school for one common goal. Celebrating who we all are no matter how big or small of an amount most of us are some percentage Native American.

    I can't remember who said it previously in this feed but they said keep putting us in the spot light. If there is one thing I know it is that we ARROWS (past, present and future) will stand strong though this and it will make us stronger and prouder to be who we are.

    It saddens my heart to know that my children will most likely not get to grow up a Watertown Arrow, due to where I live, and experience the insane amount of school, community, and personal pride felt during that week, especially if your a Senior.

    someone else said it before, the week is over and there is nothing that can be done about it this year. But I beg of you to let the students next year enjoy a homecoming week filled with many memories that they won't get to make again untainted by the negative backlash of people who think they know what is going on but have no clue. I know if i was a senior this year i would be so upset and taken aback by everything that has gone on this year with all the negative spotlight they have gotten. let them have their week untainted. I can I am very happy that my last homecoming week wasn't like this one filled with all this bs about stuff 80% of you have no clue about and just make unjustified conclusions about on seeing ONE picture posted by a town where it didn't happen. GROW UP PEOPLE AND LET THESE KIDS HAVE THEIR HOMECOMING!

  336. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.28

    Great summary, Bill. The Ki-Yi boosters seem more interesting in shouting "ARROW PRIDE!" than in having a real conversation. They don't want to talk about the real issues, and they want to restrict our discussion of them.

    And I have yet to get an answer from any one of the Watertown locals to the really interesting analogy that I have repeatedly asked about in this attempt at conversation: Are they mad at us for discussing their local cultural practices in the same way that some Native Americans get mad at whites for co-opting tribal dress and other cultural practices?

  337. mike from iowa 2014.09.28

    My eldest bro and sister-in-law returned to WHS for homecoming Friday night from Virginia. The WHS in Cherokee,iowa so I guess,in a sense,it was a homecoming for them after 50 years from the year they graduated. Cherokee,iowa athletics need all the boosterism from alumni they can get since they have lost about 20 million football games in a row. Only one legend from there-a youngster named Adam Timmerman who played collegiately at SDSU and had a probowl career as a guard for the Packers and St Louis Rams.

  338. JeniW 2014.09.28

    WHS Grad, sometimes when people tell me of their struggles, be it financial, physical or otherwise, they end by saying "I shouldn't complain because there are people who are suffering more than I am."

    My response is "Yes, there are people who are suffering more than you, but that does not make your suffering any less important."

    My response to your comment about "bigger issues," is that yes, there are bigger issues, but that does not make the issue involving the WHS ritual any less important.

    The attempt to trivialize the issue is insulting to those who have strong feelings about what the picture and story conveys.

    I still think it would be wonderful if the citizens of Watertown had a strong and positive relationship with any of the tribes in the SD, now THAT would be unity.

    The school's administration and School Board have a whole year to discuss the current ritual, and make some relatively minor changes, that would still celebrate WHS pride, and be less offensive.

  339. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    First comment request timed out. I'll make shorter comments to accommodate Former WHS Grad.

    As to your first comment about bigger issues to be dealt with, we all have bigger issues and they are all different. The issue here may seem like a small issue, but it leads to a larger of racism and stereotyping, for me that is a major issue.
    Simple comments like "get over it" or "grow up" are not arguments, they are a dictate in hopes of making the issue disappear, "let's not talk about it and maybe the controversy will go away".

  340. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    Former WHS Grad,
    You state that Native American students "appear" to have looked over the script and approved of it. Have they in fact done that? Have they gone on record giving their approval?

    Just as Cory's initial question about the Legend has gone unanswered throughout this thread, mine has remained unanswered as well and that is, has the current tribal administration gone on record in support or disapproval of the Legend?
    About the picture, a picture has a thousand faces and this one reflects mockery of Indian culture.
    No one has to attend the pageantry to form an opinion just as no one has to attend a Washington Redskins football game to see their disgusting portrayal of Native Americans.

  341. Cullen M 2014.09.28

    Lynn Hart's comment should ended this discussions posts ago.

  342. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    Cullen M.
    I just re-read Lynn Hat's comments and don't see how his comments ended this discussion long ago.
    It doesn't "appear" that Lynn Hart is a finally authority on this issue.
    His comments actually begs the question, how has the Watertown community influenced him so much that he would take a stand against Native Americans.

  343. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.28

    Hogwash, Cullen. You have one Indian saying Ki-Yi is great. We have other Indians saying it's not. Discussion continues.

  344. JeniW 2014.09.28

    Since it is unlikely that the citizens in Watertown can develop a positive and constructive relationship with any of the tribes, how about WHS forming a positive relationship with any of the high schools on the reservations (Pine Ridge, Wakapala, Red Cloud, or Takini.) That would not only convey the message of unity, it would be an opportunity to learn more about each others' culture, be a source of fun social relationships, and simply be awesome!

    Try it, you might like it.

  345. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.28

    As to another thread woven into this conversation, as Ki-Yi boosters try to deflect discussion of their cultural co-optation by saying there are far more important issues to discuss: you're right. There are more important topics of discussion than homecoming... so why don't I hear any of you commenting on the EB-5 issue? Why don't I hear you joining me in calling on the Regents to release the April 2014 Bollen deposition?

    This blog is capable of discussing a plethora of issues. Ki-Yi apologists appear capable of discussing one, and doing so rather poorly.

  346. Bill Fleming 2014.09.28

    Cullen M, did you understand Mr. Hart's comment? I have to confess that I didn't, especially the last sentence. Unlike you, I don't think his contribution resolved anything. In fact, from my perspective, it just added to the confusion. Perhaps you could read it again and tell us what he means. In any case, his is just one opinion among many here. Are you trying to tell us that Mr. Hart's is the only one that matters?

  347. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    I am a tribal elder, that should give me the final word.

  348. Paula 2014.09.28

    Are you the "final say" of all the tribal elders? This is something for ALL the tribal members of SD to decide, IMO.

  349. Paula 2014.09.28

    Are you the "final say" of all the tribal elders? This is something for ALL the tribal elder of SD to decide, IMO.

  350. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    Not at all Paula, I wouldn't presume that role, I was mocking Cullen for saying Lynn Hart for should be the final word.

  351. Paula 2014.09.28

    Oh, I see :) Didn't make the connection-sorry :)

  352. Bill Fleming 2014.09.28

    I am a non-tribal elder. Elder than Roger (I think). Elder than my spouse. Elder than dirt. That and a nickel gets me a cup of coffee at Al's Oasis. LOL.

  353. Seanne 2014.09.28

    So the legend and tribes they are reinacting are fake? And this is the best way they can teach their students the honor of Native Americans that once lived in the area? What about those who are still here? The real live ones. I wouldn't go as far as to say that these students are being racist. It sure does become an issue of seeming racist if you don't seek the input and advice of the particular individuals you hope to represent and honor. I'd sure expect some actual teaching of the true history leading up to contemporary issues rather then a fictatious play to represent my ancestors, elders, family, and self. Fictatious plays are in no way honoring our culture, spirituality, everyday life, etc... I get it people want to honor our culutre. Then go to a powwow. Speak with a Dakota elder about what values are honorable. Purchase Native hand made crafts and arts from the artist themselves and ask them to tell you the story behind the piece. Support a local grass roots org that is trying to keep the language alive. Invite a traditional story teller to speak with your students. You can change your traditions to include some of these proper teachings. My problem is that its teaching the students to honor something that they believe "once was" with out teaching any value or regard for "what is". Our culture is always talked about by outsiders as something that is in the past. "They were once such a strong Nation". I'm sick of being represented as something from the past. Who are we today? We are advocates, teachers, lawyers, journalists, homemakers, business owners, tradesmen (and women). Some of us are light skinned, some of us are black, some of us are Christian, some follow traditional spirituality, some practice both, some of us are alcholics, some of us have been victimized more times then you can count on one hand, some of us have never had a drop of alcohol or been a victim. You see we are so much more then a legend, a fictatious one at that. Would it be an honor for me and my family to honor your culture and race as I imagined it to be in the past? There is no honor in that.

  354. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    You have won my heart and spirit with your well articulated comment, thank you.
    As you have pointed out, all cultures have the good, the bad, and the ugly. In our lives we work to make the bad better, eliminate the ugly, and improve the good. There are changes in our beliefs going on all the time, our parents and grandparents want to make life better for the young ones, it is a lifetime of work and devotion.
    Thank you again, Seanne.

  355. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    I'll have to concede that Brother Bill may have a bit more elderliness than me, I say that with respect.

  356. mike from iowa 2014.09.28

    I'm not a tribal elder,but where I live I am supreme ruler and I saw it first. That means it is mine and as the old Indian chief is quoted as saying,"I have spoken."

    We trying for 400 comments?

  357. JeniW 2014.09.28

    No Cory, you are not quite at the El! yet... be patient, it will come in a few more years, by then you may not want to be an El!

    :) LOL

  358. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    Cory, don't push the elderliness, you will catch you soon enough

  359. bearcreekbat 2014.09.28

    I have been out of the area for a while, but I will give 400 comments a shot. What is so hard about developing a homecoming program that does not alienate a minority? If the WHS program causes pain and hurt to anyone, then why not just change it? Even if the original intent was honorable, that doesn't support keeping it the same once we know that it hurts others we don't want to hurt. And how hard is it to come up with a homecoming program that makes us all smile?

    As an analogy, I suppose the intent behind allowing a child to shoot an automatic weapon was positive, but once she accidentally killed her instructor by shooting him in the head are we wrong to suggest that maybe there might be a better approach in the future? By the same token, if the WHS program unintentionally hurts others, aren't we smart and sensitive enough to recognize the benefits we might actually enjoy by changing it? There is no need to call it racism nor impugn the motives of those folks who designed it. Isn't it enough to simply recognize that whether intended or not, the program can cause pain to others that we do not wish to hurt? To tell those folks we hurt to get tough seems no different that to tell gun instructors to duck.

    It simply cannot that difficult to design a homecoming program that everyone can enjoy, and that does not leave anyone with bad feelings.

  360. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.09.28

    No problem, friends. I won't push an elderliness. I'll just be what I be.

    But I've lived long enough to see all the "homecomings" I really need. Let's go to school, study hard... and when we want to have a party, let school out and let everyone party as they see fit, without taxpayer subsidy.

  361. mike from iowa 2014.09.28

    Push for mandatory education for pols. A certain former half-gov of our nation's largest state moved the White House to 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue in a recent outburst of flagrant stoopidity.

    At what age does one become an elder in a tribe? Is everyone eligible to become an elder? Having some knowledge of tribal culture would certainly benefit me. Stuff like this you can't or don't find in books and I don't have access to much plains Native cultures around NW iowa.

  362. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.28

    mike from iowa,

    Short and simple to answer to becoming a tribal elder is that you get old, grey, and wrinkled.

  363. Hau Ma Hunkpapa Lakota,enrolled on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. I read this story and was actually taken back 50 years.
    My thoughts on this are, 100 years ago none of you were Born. 75 years ago maybe a few of you were Born. That being said, these are OLD, OUTDATED and OFFENSIVE TRADITIONS! As you have Said they are "fictious" romanticized story.
    If the history and dressing up to Honor the American Indian why were the school board and students not agreeable to the "REAL AMERICAN INDIANS own way of HONORING their students achievements???"
    There is proof this tradition is nothing more than an outdated and OFFENSIVE thing!!

  364. mike from iowa 2014.09.29

    Thanks Roger. I guess I am beginning to qualify. I am just now outgrowing terminal cuteness.

  365. lesliengland 2014.09.29

    I think rapid city school district needs a fictitious honoring song/dress up pageant to distract from its connivance with the national guard and city hall to strip 1200 acres of indian land from the federal government so the city's parks and chuches could afford the west side of town!! who's with me!!

    no snark from people out of town!!!!

  366. Thomas Pearce 2014.09.29

    I really don't understand why white people would first kill all the Indians and then dress up like the Indians. Your cultural cross dressing is not tasteful nor is it honoring. It is disgusting. Why you dress up like pioneers with crooked dirty teeth and run around raping each other. That would be more accurate.

  367. Bill Fleming 2014.09.29

    Thomas, with all due respect, I don't believe historical accuracy has ever been part of the ceremony celebrant's intention.

    However misguided it may seem, I believe the author and practitioners of the ceremony had in mind to bring out the "better angels" of our human nature, and they chose a romanticized fantasy of tribal people as an symbol of those types of inner "beings" we all, in theory posses. It was not an uncommon practice in it's day, unfortunately:

    For more on this see:

  368. bearcreekbat 2014.09.29

    Bill, while your observations about the intent of the program are probably accurate, that still begs the question - if this program causes any Natives pain, why not design a different program for homecoming? I have seen no valid arguments on this thread supporting hurting others. The arguments, instead, seem to be tradition, or we meant compliments not harm, etc. But when people honestly respond that someone's intended compliments are hurtful in effect, then it is time to change approaches, rather than attacking those folks who are expressing the pain.

    The "better angels" of our human nature are the angels who listen with empathy to those who express pain and distress from a romanticized fantasy of tribal people .

  369. Bill Fleming 2014.09.29

    No argument, BCB. My intention was not to dispute Mr. Pierce, but rather to provide some historical context as to the schools original intent. Patronizing (and arguably even insulting) as it was, it was perhaps the best the community could muster in those times.

    I agree that these days, there is no doubt they could do better. The play is, after all, a fictional narrative, a product of a creative mind. Surely there are other creative minds in the community who can come up with something even better, or at least not so potentially hurtful and divisive.

  370. lesliengland 2014.09.30

    guess its not a local matter. see comments

    Why I Collect Racism
    Frank H. Wu
    Chancellor & Dean of UC Hastings College of the Law

    Posted: 09/27/2014 6:11 pm EDT Updated: 09/30/2014 9:59 am EDT

  371. lesliengland 2014.09.30

    Wu: My purpose is to provoke. I would like to disrupt our shared comfort. The greater the upset caused by references to the past, the more intense the urge toward action for the future. ***

    My idea comes from a story I read some time back about African Americans who have a similar hobby. It turns out there exist a few, not many but not none, African Americans who search out articles such as lawn jockeys and then display them.

    you all know who you are hanging on to those lawn jockeys don't you?

  372. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.01

    Tasiyagnunpa Livermont follows up with a full guest column relating the Ki-Yi homecoming activities to the controversy over that football team from Washington and the history of football in America.

  373. mike from iowa 2014.10.01

    Less than 10 comments to go to get to the big 400. I have confidence we can do this together. Let's go,team.

  374. Naomi from WHS 2014.10.01

    I go to Watertown High School. I'd like you to know that not all of us dress like Indians because the people who are dressed up as Indians are Ki-Yi Royalty. It's not a theme for dress up days. It started out when our football team needed a name. A football coach originated the Ki-Yi Days, but the football team still needed a mascot. One of the Ki-Yi day floats sponsored by an Indian legend that supposedly happened on Lake Kampeska about a Sioux chief's daughter and a young Pawnee brave coming together when the two tribes were at a state of unfriendliniess. It was voted the best float and the student body named the football team the "Arrows". An "Indian Princess" and a "Big Chief" were elected as homecoming royalty. In 1939, an art instructor thought of an original way we could represent our homecoming couple. A word like Ki-Yi, of course made them think about the Indians, so she thought about this legend that supposedly happened. She invented two tribes, the Kione(ki-OWE-knee) and Yiwawa that represented our school colors. (purple and gold) In the Ki-Yi legend, the two tribes met on the shores of Lake Kampeska. They had differences, but they were able to overcome their differences during a council and be reconciled. Thus the Ki-Yi. It was never meant to make fun of the Indians. It was just an idea that came to mind and has been a tradition for many years to support our school and the homecoming football game, and who would think of breaking tradition? It has been edited throughout years to make it less offensive, so at least give the school a little bit of credit. I just want you to see the school's view, if you're not familiar with it. Thanks for reading if you did. :) I got my information from this link so I could learn more about it myself-

  375. lesliengland 2014.10.01

    thank you naomi. chamberlain refuses to allow Native Americans an honoring song at graduation also ignoring Martin Luther King Foundation supporting correspondence.

    WHS has an old tradition, now modified, "honoring" Native Americans including masqueraded royalty at its homecoming.

    Rapid City has a reputation for lingering racism its leaders are actively attempting to reconcile.

    Other locations in the state have similar problems. Jackson county is being sued over failing to provide primarily Indian satellite voting.

    This blog is merely an attempt by concerned readers to illuminate the debate toward a positive outcome.

  376. Naomi from WHS 2014.10.02

    You're welcome for the explanation. I would also like a positive outcome. I'm getting tired of all the racism. Indians are people just like white people. We're all the same. We might not look the same or have the same cultures or past, but we all have feelings and hope and dreams. I wish the world would be more forgiving and fair. I wish that people would look at the heart, not what people have done or what they look like. That's my opinion. :) Again, thanks for reading if you did. :)

  377. George Hawkins 2014.10.09

    I think Corey has two unanswered questions still out there: 1) are Watertown alums upset about others talking negatively about their "culture" and 2) is cultural co-opt acceptable?

    The hurt feelings, as a alum, comes from having our childhood being discredited. These are unequal comparisons since Native Americans have had their (actual) culture misrepresented in (the larger) society while this is a local tradition (not culture) that serves as a week to rally the town with a story about cooperation. So the hurt feelings come not from my way of life being mocked but about a childhood activity that I am now being told is racist.

    To the second question, cultural co-opting is widely accepted and probably participated in by most in this list. Thinking of common phrases/words: long time, no see; in cahoots together. The clothes we wear: parkas, bikinis. Or the most obvious, the food we eat: Taco Bell, Taco John's or Olive Garden; what do we learn about another culture when we eat at these establishments?

    To say anything productive will come from this story post is a farce. To those who have not seen the presentation, I invite you to go. I will go with you next year if you want. See want parts are racist and then take REAL action against it if this truly is an issue of substance. That is what caused changed just over a decade ago. Not ranting.

  378. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.09

    Thanks for thinking about those questions, George!

    Small point: I would argue that local tradition is part of culture, and evidently a very important part, given the passion with which it is defended by members of the Watertown culture.

    Your comment about why criticism of this tradition hurts so much makes perfect sense. When a core part of one's culture is challenged, it hurts. It upsets one's sense of cultural identity. It generally provokes either defensive reassertion of one's cultural identity ("ARROW PRIDE!!!") or painful yet thoughtful re-examination and change of one's thinking and actions. Protest provoked Watertown to start rethinking and revising Ki-Yi in 2001. Now we need to get past the idea that "compromise" justifies continuing some small portion of racist cultural co-optation and go all the way. Pioneer outfits next year? Norwegian and Swede homesteaders overcoming differences on the shores of Lake Kampeska?

    Taco Bell is indeed an abomination to real Mexican cuisine. But the servers at Olive Garden don't fake Italian accents or create imaginary legends about imaginary Italian settlers conforming to American prejudices to soothe our angst over manifest destiny.

    Every productive action starts with a story, with communication, with conversation that provokes people to consider making change. "Rant" is a word thrown around by those who want to dismiss an argument without really addressing the issues. I would hazard that my patient restatement of certain important cultural questions has been ignored by several locals more interested in ranting about the cultural specialness of their traditions and their loathing of outsiders who would dare suggest that their actions are less than pure.

  379. lesliengland 2014.10.23

    "rant"-transparent attempt at 400 posts. "cory"-blogger, journalist, lawyer, anthropologist, educator

  380. lesliengland 2014.10.26

    Last Real Indians - According to Chase Iron Eyes "Our children are not objectified relics; they are not owned fetishes for American entertainment; they are not decorations for your apparel and we who see through the Indian mascot phenomenon cannot in good conscience stand idly by while this nonsense occurs." October 2014

  381. leslie 2014.11.05

    1491s parody:watertown homecoming

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