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Powwowing My Way: Exploring Johnson’s Concepts of Indigenizing and Extending through the Lived Expressions of American Indian-ness by European Powwow Enthusiasts

Issue: Vol 9 No. 2 (2018) Special Issue: Indigenizing movements in Europe

Journal: International Journal for the Study of New Religions

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.37623


This article explores Johnson’s concepts of indigenizing and extending through the lens of European pow-wow. Drawing on his argument that “identifying practices of indigenousness…are imagined through global media and often expressed in their forms” it begins with an overview of historical European representations of American Indians: representations that were virtually global at the time, and have led to the ubiquitous image of the Indian (or possibly indian warrior using the hyperreal simulation argument put forward by Vizenor). Such representations dominate the European pow-wow scene, where individuals don Indian garb and dance at social events, many of which are open to the public. The article then focuses on the English pow-wow scene, contrasting it with parade Hobbyism. Here individuals dress up as indians for public commemorations on Bonfire Night (November 5th annually). Both groups can be understood as conforming to Johnson’s extending narrative: the “circulation of religious knowledge and symbols into wider availability… [allowing] what was once a local truth [to be] presented as a more broadly applicable, even a universal one.” However, the far more complex matter of indigenizing requires discussion of contentious issues of appropriation.

Author: Christina Welch

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