DATELINE: RADEBEUL, GERMANY
For our many American and international supporters, it is well known that One Spirit has several branches in countries beyond the United States. Nowhere is this more evident than in Germany, where there is a surprising amount of interest in the Wild West days of the USA, including broad interest and enthusiasm for all things Native American.
All photo credits and link: https://www.dnn.de/Mehr/Bilder/Bilderstrecken/2019/5/Indianische-Taenze-in-Dresden#chart=1
Why, you may well ask? As history would have it, one of the most widely read German authors is Karl May (1842-1912). While a prolific writer on many subjects, he is especially remembered for his novels about the American West featuring an Apache chief, Winnetou, and his German immigrant friend Old Shatterhand. His work is not well-known in English, but hundreds of thousands of copies of his books have been sold around the world. While some of the historical and cultural aspects of the books are sometimes considered a bit fantastical, they fired the imaginations of generations of Germans and fostered a deep interest in Native American culture.
Over decades now, there have sprung up several festivals in Germany and other countries where enthusiasts, some in costume, gather for a few days of music, theater, reenactments, general fun and more that recreate the Old West in the forests of Germany and other countries. The first and foremost of these takes place in a suburb of Dresden, capitol of Saxony, called Radebeul. As many as 30,000 people attend this event, which runs at the end of May, including this year.
One Spirit participates in this event, and we normally send a Lakota delegation to share the Lakota culture. One Spirit Germany sets up a booth and reaches out to attendees to inform them about our work and solicit more support.
This year, although she normally is able to attend, Jeri Baker was unable to go due to health problems. Luckily, we had help from Katharina Schacht of our German chapter to forge ahead, and Jeri is on the mend.
In past years, thanks to the generous support of you, our ongoing donors, we have been able to bring some key Lakota leaders along to meet and greet European supporters and experience cultural exposures they might not otherwise be able to have. They have also been key in educating interested people about the pressing needs of the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation. When some of the actual people involved in the urgent needs of the oyate are there to relate their truth, the impact is always greater.
This time, we were very fortunate to have the attendance of one of the Lakota’s preeminent hoop dancers, Delacina Chief Eagle, and famed expert on Lakota culture and instructor at Oglala Lakota College, Vance Blacksmith (chant and drum) and his son NuVassie Blacksmith (dancing), presenting traditional Lakota genres. They even performed live for an enthusiastic audience in the central square of Dresden in front of the rebuilt Frauenkirche, which was destroyed during World War II. This helped publicize the festival, as well as drawing attention to Lakota culture and issues. Once in Radebeul, they also appeared at the newly completed Great Tipi at the Karl May Indian Museum. Their professionalism and enthusiasm have been powerful medicine for our ongoing efforts to broaden support for One Spirit’s effort to help the Lakota help themselves, not only with nutrition aid but in fostering the honoring of their traditional culture and values.
“Outreach” can mean many things, from handing a healthy meal to someone in need to traveling all the way to Europe to bring One Spirit’s message about the Oglala Lakota to more and more people. In every way, we strive to live up to our mission statement and treat our Lakota brethren with honor and respect. At the festival in Radebeul, their representatives are going the extra mile for their tribe and culture.
Would your community or schools be interested in this outreach? Let us know.