We've looked at the German fascination with Native ways and dress, a sort of cultural fandom that manifests itself in massive dress-up pow wows in places-like Schelswig-Holstein. Germans everywhere, dressed like Indians, camping out in tipis and cooking their meals over an open fire. It's a bit funny -- "touching and surreal" is how we described it in an article -- but then, they're Germans. They're known all over Europe for doing things that are a bit funny (that's not all they're known for, but we're not really writing about Germans here).
In an article at Two Row Times, Nahnda Garlow investigates another European country bitten by the hobbyist bug -- Russia. Her story begins with a war shirt she saw on Facebook, a piece created with such skill that she had to find out who made it. Turns out it was a Russian man named Mikhail Vinogradov, a passionate pow wow enthusiast who gets together with like-minded Russians on weekends to wear Indian clothing, hold sweats, dance in contests, and speak Lakota.
While it's a story of cultural appropriation of a sort, Garlow muses that "there is yet a layer of separation between this kind of tokenization and things like mascotry done by professional sports teams in the USA or some idiot wearing a cartoonish replica headdress at Coachella." She reached out to Vinogradov, and asked him some questions about his hobby and motivation. "We show respect for this culture," he told her. "And we don’t understand why sometimes Native people have a negative opinion about as. We don’t steal their culture. We try to inform it to people in our country."
Get the full story at Two Row Times:"Indians" in Russia – It’s not a fairy tale!
Photos on this page are by Zhanna Molotilova; vk.com/zhannalaska.
Mikhail Vinogradov photographed by Zhanna Molotilova. Image source: vk.com/zhannalaska