Blue moon ceremonial

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Vizenor, Gerald. “Blue moon ceremonial.” In: Earthdivers: tribal narratives on mixed descent. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 1981. Pp. 67-76. Key source


This engagingly written and thought-provoking short story resonates with questions of identity. It opens with a quotation from Karen Blu's The Lumbee problem: “...Indianness is based on an orientation toward life, a sense of the past, 'a state of mind.' ... It is the way of doing and being that is 'Indian,' not what is done or the blood quantum of the doer'” (p. 67).

The story focuses on eight mixedblood scholars from various tribes who are attending the Convocation of American Indian Scholars in Aspen. They experience uneasiness—with themselves in their roles as scholars; with each other, in this new environment; and, later, with each other's conceptions of Indian identity. In a key portion of the story, a silver-haired Lumbee economist questions a medical doctor - an Anishinaabe mixedblood from a reservation—who, in his room after the conference, put on beads and feathers, started a record player, and danced a warrior dance. The Lumbee economist questioned, “What sort of a primitive backward savage would dance alone and call that a culture?” (p. 73). After an exchange of comments between the two characters on culture, Indianness, and laugher—into which Vizenor weaves quotations from Adolph Dial at the first Convocation of American Indian Scholars—the Lumbee economist gives a surprising demonstration of Lumbee sacred music and sacred tribal dance.

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