Thursday, August 10, 2017

Yeha noha
Author: Attila Kenyeres
Blog post

Yeha noha - this is the title of my favorite Indian music-based song. For me and for most people outside the United States, we have some knowledge about Native American Indians only from songs like this, as well as from movies and books. But at least for me, I had the opportunity to explore a piece of the heart of the sacred land of Native American Indians – Chillicothe, Ohio.
Windswept mounds under a sky full of fast-moving clouds, and the speedy Scioto river behind rustling trees – we are in the land of the ancient Hopewell culture. The land of Native American Indians, who had lived here before Europeans came into their territories and destroyed most of their culture and people. Nowadays this area is protected as a part of the Hopewell Culture National History Park. It was good to see that American government tries to save at least the remnants of this once-booming culture. We had the opportunity to visit this sacred land of Native Indians during our SUSI (Study of the U.S. Institutes) program.
And also to see an outdoor drama called “Tecumseh!”. It was just amazing, a lifetime experience, especially for me, as I am not just a journalist and lecturer, but also a teacher of history. The “stage” was set in the middle of a forest, surrounded by trees, and behind the stage was a little lake, which was also a part of the set piece. The flashing little lights of fireflies after dark intensified the experience. All of these things were not just somewhere in the world, but exactly in the middle of the sacred land of Native American Indians. This environment gave a magical atmosphere to the performance.
The story of the drama was not so interesting – at least for me. It was the same old story about how technologically developed European colonizers defeated poor Indians, spiced with a sad love story. The real experience came not from the script but the whole environment (the forest, the lake, the real horses etc.) the spectacularly dramatized scenes (e.g. tribal dance in masks around a totem column, singing around a fire in the night) and the authentic clothes of the actors and actresses. It was just like a time travel.
Some critics of the drama can say that real Indians did not look like this, they did not sing and dance like this. And this drama was a fake presentation about the life of Native American Indians. And maybe they are right. But still. This outdoor drama gives at least some “real-like” experiences about Native American Indians in their own land. It is beyond movies, books, and music songs.
And what was also really interesting for me is the audience. Maybe some of them are descendants of European colonizers, and now they see a drama about how Indians suffered at the hands of colonizers – their ancestors. And they have the opportunity to face the past, and to feel the pain and hurt of defeated and humiliated Indian people. That is a great thing in American society. American people can be proud of it. In this country there is an opportunity to present sensitive social topics, to think and to talk about it and to face the mistakes of the past. I think, there are still many countries in the world, where this kind of drama would be immediately banned.

Attila Kenyeres, Hungary

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