It is now the fourth time that the Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Eastern Germany (which is dedicated to author Karl May who lived in the 19th century and became famous by writing novels about Native Americans and created a big interest for Native American issues in Germany, lasting until today) celebrated Thanksgiving together with the visitors in the beautiful garden of the museum. For the first time, One Spirit Germany joined in. In Germany Thanksgiving is not a national holiday as it is in the US and we also do not have a
certain date to celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally, a Thanksgiving celebration within a community or city takes place on a Sunday either in September or early October.
Luckily we got a place in the pavilion of chef-in-charge René Griesbach which was great not only because of the little rain every now and then but also because we were able to have a little taste of his wonderful pumpkin soup he traditionally prepares for Thanksgiving .
Since a few years, the museum runs a garden, growing common North American medicinal herbs and crop plants. The visitors could take part in a guided tour where they could learn how the Natives used them to heal sicknesses or why the Iroquois Nation always sowed pumpkins, beans and corn together: the quick growing corn plant would become the stake for the bean plant to climb up and the big leaves of the pumpkins would cover the earth and provide shadow to avoid the ground to dry out.
A special breed of pumpkin with white flesh was harvested on the spot and added to the pumpkin soup – it proofed to be delicious and excellent for a cool and windy day like this. So chef René had to prepare a second pot.
But there were other things to do for the visitors: Old Shatterhand himself (one of Karl May's characters) gave guided tours through the Museum which holds a fine exhibition of Native American way of life in the 19th/20th century and showed the library and the study room in the originally conserved house of Karl May. Later he trained the younger visitors in archery and supervised them while playing “Western Games” such as horseshoe-throwing. The kids could also enjoy themselves while doing arts and crafts, so a lot of beautiful and individual dreamcatchers were made.
Meanwhile their parents were watching a group of Iroquois showing traditional dances. Ok, they were not real Natives from the Iroquois Nation but Germans interested in the traditions, the language and the way of life of the Iroquois. You may find it weird but here in Germany there are a lot of people interested in Native Americans and their traditional living. So they gather in social clubs and try to learn everything about a special Native tribe like the Lakota or the Iroquois. They read a lot of books, study the language, sew clothing, visit the Reservation and get in contact with Natives … For them it is not dressing up but to try to dive into the culture of Native Americans. They do it with respect and admiration for Native Americans. Unfortunately, there is not enough money to invite Native Americans to every event taking place in the Museum, paying the flights, etc. so it is a great opportunity to invite these groups. They show a part of Native American culture and get people interested for Native American issues. After learning about the past, the people start asking: But how is it today? And One Spirit tells them about the hard life on the Rez.
So the visitors watched the “Iroquois” dancing and singing. Afterwards, the leader explained the elements of the dance and their clothing and told people about the culture of the Iroquois. The people listened very interested and asked a lot of questions.
Even though there were so many things to discover, a lot of visitors came to visit the One Spirit information booth. Most of them were vastly impressed by the Buffalo-House-Project. They thought it was a great idea to combine a traditional way of living and modern day life and called it a good thing for achieving self-sufficiency. Just as I said… One man was so delighted about One Spirit's programs that he promised to become a regular supporter or sponsor because he called it a very useful way of helping people. Some visitors subscribed to our German Newsletter in which we give information about ongoing programs, problems on the Reservation, the food day or events here in Germany, so we were delighted about the positive feedback and the interest people showed.
We would like to say a warm Thank You to the Karl May Museum, the director Claudia Kaulfuss and the curator of the collection Robin Leipold for the invitation and the great support during the day. A big Wopila Tanka also goes to René Griesbach of the Karl May Museum Association for the wonderful soup and his help during the day by dog-sitting now and then while the dog's mistress was sometimes occupied elsewhere and his help at the end of the day towing packages of One Spirit flyers and posters to my car.
Report by Katharina Schacht
|Iroquois dance||Rene Grießbach prepares pumpkin soup||Our booth||OS Germany dog Leon|