Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Smoki: The end

I didn't intend to comment on the second part of this piece, which the Courier should have written after we released the film and the Smoki Museum opened its Smoki People exhibit in 2006, but a graf near the end begs for clarification.

Along with most of the quotes and historical scenes in the the piece, Bruce lifted this scene from our film:

Ann Oudin wrote an Internet blog after reading a newspaper story about the Hopi protest in Prescott. "It (snake dance) is the most mesmerizing thing I ever saw," she wrote. "Once you see them, you will never forget them."
The scene shows a pair of hands typing on a text-only '80s computer as the quote rolls on its monochrome-green monitor. How Bruce managed to imagine this as a 'blog' is just embarrassing considering that Ms Oudin was writing in 1990, the word 'blog' wasn't coined till around 1998, and she wrote that letter to the Courier, which is where we got it.

Incidentally, Borrowed Dances is the title on the Museum's cut of Jerry Chinn's feature film Raindance in a Storm. The film is available for purchase at the Smoki Museum.

Kali Simpson's comment paints a sympathetic portrait of the Smoki as as "elite" who were "politically correct for their time." The old Smoki themselves tell a rather different story. They readily admit Smoki was a drinking club, with extreme frat-boy hazings for initiation followed by drunk driving home as cops looked the other way, and much partying year-round (with the exception of show day, a lesson learned the hard way). After dancing in the World's Fair parade, the club was thrown out of Philadelphia for excessive drunken rowdiness and never again toured the show. This behavior mellowed somewhat over the years, but the club's purpose was always primarily social. They collected Indian things, but there was never an Indian member of Smoki.

Ms Simpson also implies a sensitivity to the Hopi among the Smoki, but to the contrary I've seen the letters written to Smoki by the Hopi as early as the mid-'20s objecting to their desecration of the Snake Dance. Smoki "researchers," including Kate Cory and Sharlot Hall, frequently made stuff up and sold it as authentic. The "preserving Indian culture" myth was something the Smoki used to justify their behavior, but they were always insensitive in action and slapdash in execution.

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