Monday, May 23, 2011

Lilac Parade

The Lilac Parade is becoming a family tradition. This is now the third consecutive year that I have marched in the parade while my family watches. This year, Rhonda and the kids invited a large group of family and friends to join us.  

Marching in the parade is an opportunity to see many different kinds of human interactions, mostly positive. This year, I paused for a moment along the parade route and shook hands with a small group of Japanese tourists. They seemed thrilled by the gesture. One man shook my hand enthusiastically as we bowed to one another. "Arigato, arigato," he said over and over again. It was heartwarming to share this one brief moment of cultural exchange. Others stopped me along the way and asked to take my picture; it almost feels like being a celebrity for a day.

Some interactions are negative. Every year, at least one group of children will make stereotypical war-hoops with their hands over their mouths: "woo, woo, woo, woo..." This year in particular, one woman called out to me and said, "Hey Indian! Come here, I want to take your picture." I generally accept polite requests for pictures, but I ignored this one. I looked the other way and just continued walking. Another woman was sitting with her child. She pointed at me and said, "Look Timmy (or some other child's name), what is that?" I was stunned. I can't remember the last time someone called me that, or any other objectifying term. I almost stopped to confront her, but once again, I just kept walking.

Despite a few bumps along the road, I'm happy to say that most of my parade experiences are positive. Most importantly, I'm happy to represent the Spokane Tribe and to let the community know we're still here.

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