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  1. #1

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    An honest question [Indian Village]

    I strongly debated with myself if I should post this or not. I feel it is a topic usually avoided, and I wished to ask it head on. Here is a passage from Davelandweb
    THE INDIAN VILLAGE
    (1955–1971) Opened in 1955 near Adventureland (between the Frontierland Train Depot and Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House), the original village had authentic live Indians who performed their ceremonial dances for guests. Many of the pictures here show the Ceremonial Dance Circle, which let guests watch six authentic tribal dances (summer, weekends, and holidays only): The Omaha (called the War Dance by white settlers), The Shield & Spear, The Eagle, The Zuni-Comanche, The Mountain Spirit, and The Friendship Dances. Tribal performers were invited for a periodic contract with housing for the duration of their run at the park. Within six months, another tribe would be represented with slightly different performances of their tribal customs. Kids were invited to participate during these performances. The village moved in 1956 to what is now Critter Country. Representing many tribes, Disney used tribal consultants to create displays and practice rituals that were passed down through individual tribal customs. The Indian Village presented the culture, customs, and arts of Native America including teepees, totem poles, and a burial ground. Guests could meet a full-blooded Indian Chief, buy authentic Native American crafts at the Indian Trading Post, or paddle an Indian War Canoe. By the late 1960’s, a series of labor problems had begun between the Indians and Disneyland. By 1971, continued animosity between the two and lack of interest by the guests caused the final demise of the village. Bear Country moved in and the Indians were no more. The Indian War Canoes became Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, which operated until October 1998. The Indian Trading Post remained the Indian Trading Post until 1989, when it became the Briar Patch for Splash Mountain.
    link for this page is http://www.davelandweb.com/indianvillage/

    I honestly believe that a Native American dance circle is needed in either Frontierland or Critter Country. I realize that Frontierland's theme was a 1950's Cowboys vs Indians style... and actually feel that due to this the circle would be more appropriate in Critter Country. Mainly because the belief in animal spirits could greatly increase the theme, and explain the "talking animals" in a way that would be considered purely magical. The obvious tie in would likely be either Pocahontas or Brother Bear, but I would prefer that they not do this. I would rather they focus on several tribes, their cultures, and their traditions. My question is this.

    In this politically correct society... is it possible to present honest representations of the Native American culture without offending anyone, and without displaying the tragedies that occurred in our nations history? A lot happened, I am not ignoring that, but I do not feel a discussion of horrific events is appropriate for little ones, or belongs within the berm of Disneyland. So... is it possible to bring back the beloved "Indian Village", or should it remain in the past? I know Knotts did so successfully at one point but I am not sure if they currently use their area because I have not been there in several years.

    Moderators and Mice Chatters alike, please realize this thread is not a debate over the atrocities that happened. This is a pure and simple question. Would it be possible for Disneyland to bring back the Indian Village; to keep it family friendly, to accurately represent the respective cultures, most important to not offend the parties involved... or should it remain in the past. Please attempt to stay on topic.
    "Happiness is a Low Water Level"


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  2. #2

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    Re: An honest question

    I guess the unease is felt when people start viewing the display of culture as entertainment - the colonialist "gawking at the heathen display" attitude. that we left in the last century. Most Native American displays have a serious meaning behind them. Can you imagine what offering a staging of the Catholic Mass would entail as an analogy?

    It's very hard to do something like this correctly, especially in the commercial reality of Disneyland. How would you encourage guests to separate in their minds the pure entertainment of something like Space Mountain (indeed the entire Disney Co) from the serious representation of a culture? Especially with Disney's generic and clumsy handling of such cultures in their animated features.

    It may require the creation of a whole new land with a definite border, one one side fantasy and pure entertainment, on the other history and culture. It would also require the cooperation of and respect for the cultures invited to display.

    Possibly it's better left to those cultures to organise their own displays, in an environment that's more keyed to respect? Or at least ask them their opinion?


    *suppresses joke about building casinos in Frontierland*
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

  3. #3

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    Re: An honest question

    I'm torn on this subject. On the one hand, I would love to see an Indian Village. Why? Not out of curiosity over aboriginies I know nothing about, but fascination with a culture I've only been able to glimpse a small amount of, despite a shared country. On the other hand, the problem is not how it would be displayed but the caliber of those who would take it in, and how they would react to it - either as low-brow purveyors of "savagery" or indignant protesters of exploitation.

    There would be dissent. And, to speak frankly, it would come from caucasian liberals only. How dare I say this? Because I've known a few Indians. And I've never heard a one of them use the term "Native Americans." This is a term reserved for college professors and television shows. I knew a guy named Bear who had a tattoo on his shoulder: FBI (meaning: Full Blooded Indian).

    If such an installation could be created, fostered, designed, populated, staffed, and hosted by Indians exclusively, it could be great. And they might get away with it.
    Zoe Necrosis
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  4. #4

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    Re: An honest question

    Quote Originally Posted by Zoe Necrosis View Post
    ... I've known a few Indians. And I've never heard a one of them use the term "Native Americans." This is a term reserved for college professors and television shows. I knew a guy named Bear who had a tattoo on his shoulder: FBI (meaning: Full Blooded Indian)...
    Yeah.. Indians come from India.. stupid Columbus.

    I agree with what you say, as it in some ways reflects what I said. I believe I've read that the original Frontierland Indian CMs were all "FBIs" and, in a 1950's way, the respect was there. A lot of descent in these things does come from 'dogooder' third parties. My main concern is that the cultures represented are respected and not just seen as some kind of circus act.

    There of course is another matter we haven't touched on as yet, are today's cellphoneipodxboxwiigenerationwhat interested in such things? Or would it be poorly patronised.

    And a third point; does Knott's still do the native american displays? I seem to remember them in the mid '90s.
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

  5. #5

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    Re: An honest question

    I don't know if it should but I'd love to see it! Again, i'm not educated on this subject enough to determine a good answer to your question but being a park fanatic I can say that it would be awsome to have an indian circle in Frontierland and use it to express the back story of Frontierland. I mean like there could be shows daily were the performers tell tales of how Big thunder became the wildest ride on the wilderness.(like Big thunder's back story) and if any new attractions come to FL they can tell the stories of them. It would be very educational obviously and I would welcome it to Disneyland, I don't know about other people though..

  6. #6

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    Re: An honest question

    I love learning about American Indian tribes and customs and beliefs. The various religions and ways of life of American Indians bring a person so close to nature. I think it could be a great learning opportunity for a lot of people if an authentic and meaningful village was recreated in the park by various tribes. I got a lot of education about American Indians when I was young because in my area the Pomo tribes are a very important part of our community, but not everyone grows up in an area with a tribe or reservation nearby.
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)



  7. #7

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    Re: An honest question

    It's this kind of idea that makes me wish we had a version of Epcot. Certainly this sort of thing would fit in well, and provide the serious nature that Disneyland may not be able to support strongly enough.

  8. #8

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    Re: An honest question

    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman13 View Post
    I don't know if it should but I'd love to see it! Again, i'm not educated on this subject enough to determine a good answer to your question but being a park fanatic I can say that it would be awsome to have an indian circle in Frontierland and use it to express the back story of Frontierland. I mean like there could be shows daily were the performers tell tales of how Big thunder became the wildest ride on the wilderness.(like Big thunder's back story) and if any new attractions come to FL they can tell the stories of them. It would be very educational obviously and I would welcome it to Disneyland, I don't know about other people though..
    Ummm.... how would Indians telling stories about fictitious DL attractions be educational?

    This goes to my point of being able to separate the history from the 'tainment.

    Does anyone know why the Indians left Frontierland in the first place? *goes to consult Werner*
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

  9. #9

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    Re: An honest question

    Quote Originally Posted by monotonehell View Post
    Ummm.... how would Indians telling stories about fictitious DL attractions be educational?

    This goes to my point of being able to separate the history from the 'tainment.

    Does anyone know why the Indians left Frontierland in the first place? *goes to consult Werner*
    I meant both the "'tainment" and true stuff being told, either way both are technicly(sp) educational

  10. #10

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    Re: An honest question

    This would fit fine in Epcot, which is a showcase of real world cultures. No matter how sincerely the village/dances/showcase is arranged it would appear trivialized and shallow in DL sitting alongside Toontown, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, Sheriff Woody, etc.

  11. #11

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    Re: An honest question

    Quote Originally Posted by vfire View Post
    This would fit fine in Epcot, which is a showcase of real world cultures. No matter how sincerely the village/dances/showcase is arranged it would appear trivialized and shallow in DL sitting alongside Toontown, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, Sheriff Woody, etc.
    This is a very valid point. Anything that is introduced into the park at this point is going to be insulated by a vast landscape of vacuity and triviality, and therefore, be assumed to be reflected with an equal amount of reverence.

    In other words, perhaps we're past the point of no return?
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  12. #12

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    Re: An honest question

    Personally I love the frontier dream, I don't think it is very far from Main Street though I did hear some rather lack of consideration complaints from other mice chatters... which was supposed to equate to what TechSkip (confiding and supporting your argument in this area)? No further create on Frontierland? Blah!

    I think Native American stuff is really something and when will kids get to ever see things from that amazing culture? Broad generalities and Disneyland will never mix (Charlie Browns AUGH!, lol) and I don't feel that adults' embarrassment in seeing other adults beat drums and chant in some super spiritual way should have to be a stop to something that creative and enlightening. Call me sane but I think it's a great idea and when I think of some of my favorite beings, really high tone beings, I think that is something they would love to see too. Saying because it's within 200 yards of Toontown invalidates it is a broad generality to me, but that's an opinion, not a stated fact. LOL
    Last edited by TaraPiglet; 02-25-2008 at 12:04 AM.

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    Re: An honest question

    ...and 20 years from now on some magical evening at Disneyland they'll be saying "I really liked that" "I didn't think they could pull it off but they did a good job because of such and such and I really liked that Native American culture show in Frontierland".... and I'll laugh and think of TechSkip who gave me hope for the future of Disneyland.

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    Re: An honest question

    Quote Originally Posted by TaraPiglet View Post
    Personally I love the frontier dream, I don't think it is very far from Main Street though I did hear some rather lack of consideration complaints from other mice chatters... which was supposed to equate to what TechSkip? No further create on Frontierland? Blah!

    I think Native American stuff is really something and when will kids get to ever see things from that amazing culture? Broad generalities and Disneyland will never mix (Charlie Browns AUGH!, lol) and I don't feel that adults' embarrassment in seeing other adults beat drums and chant in some super spiritaul way should have to be a stop to something that creative and enlightening. Call me sane but I think it's a great idea and when I think of some of my favorite beings, really high tone beings, I think that is something they would love to see too. Saying because it's within 200 yards of Toontown invalidates it is a broad generality to me, but that's an opinion, not a stated fact. LOL
    You're sane!

    It doesn't invalidate it, it just blurs the lines for the guests regarding how they are to receive something. Maybe I'm not giving our average guest enough credit, but the cynic in me sees people kicking fictitious characters on one hand and then expecting them to respect a non-fiction culture on the other.
    Disney FAQ#275: What is DCA?
    DCA stands for Disney Construction Area. All the Cast Members are themed with hard hats and steel toed boots.

  15. #15

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    Re: An honest question

    Knott's still offers traditional Indian Dancing, which is done with respect and heritage, including the use of insence and other traditional rituals.

    It is held on most days, and is very interesting.

    Check out my Theme Park Photos at http://darkbeer.smugmug.com

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