Monday, July 26, 2010

A Day with Native Americans

By Outi Hakola, Finland

On Saturday we got a glimpse of Native American culture that once ruled in Ohio. We visited the Indian Mound City in Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. In burning mid-summer weather – weather that we would call an Indian summer in Finland – we were amazed by the geometrical shapes of mounds. One just could wonder how life was 2000 years ago when the area was inhabited by Native Americans and what secrets lay in the ground. Walking around the grass gave me an almost a spiritual experience. Mound City used to be the ceremonial center of that long-gone culture.

When the sun set slowly behind the trees and the Indian summer day turned into moonlight we experienced a rather different kind of encounter with Native American culture in Chillicothe. This experience of an outdoor drama had nothing to do with spirituality, although it did evoke our spirits. For almost three hours we were entertained with a story of the great Shawnee leader, Tecumseh.

For me this was especially interesting play. After all, one of my colleagues in Finland recently finished his lengthy study of Shawnee people and during the passing years I have had privilege to comment on his work, listen to his seminar papers and even learn some sentences in the Shawnee language. Evening moonlight glittering on the bodies was more entertaining and stereotypical than educating, but these "homemade" Indians took us through different emotions with their tales of romance, adventure, battle, deceit and death.

Even more emotions were encountered after the show when we had the pleasure of meeting the actors. From our behavior you might have guessed that we were a bunch of six-year olds, but the happy smiles on our faces proved that we had a great day out and we returned to Athens with stories about Native Americans - made both from facts and fiction.

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