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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

Young campers enjoy activities based on Indian tribes

By Wendy Plyler

Swimmers beware. The Caddo, Osage and Quapaw Indian tribes were in battle Wednesday evening at DeGray Lake.

The fight was not a physical one, but one of skills and cooperation. The "tribes" were fighting to build the best sand castle on the beach.

The Indian "wars" were part of Camp Kadohadacho, a program sponsored by the Arkadelphia Junior Auxiliary. The participants were soon-to-be fourth graders who were nominated by their third grade teachers for their good behavior during the year.

The week-long camp, June 14-17, allowed the students to participate in activities that were "based on Indian tribes," according to JA president Carol Sanders. She said the tribe leaders also re-enforce citizenship attributes that were taught during the school year, such as responsibility, honesty and kindness.

Camp began each day at 3:30 p.m. when the participants met at Central Primary School. The children were taken by bus to the lake where the day's activities were held. They were divided into "tribes" and participated in various activities including: Listening to stories, learning chants and making crafts. One of the more popular crafts they have built is a marshmallow gun. After they were completed, the children used the guns to "shoot" the confection at other participants.

They also had the opportunity to go horseback riding at Clark County Livestock and Feed. Sanders said the organization tries to make horseback riding an annual event, but it is not always economically feasible. The business donated the horses for this year's activity, she said.

Besides participating in those activities, the students heard a presentation by Brian Westfall, a ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The program was similar to one taught two years ago that helped a young girl save another child while they were swimming.

The final day of the camp found the children at the aquatic center for swimming. They went from there to Sanders' house, where they spent the evening having water balloon wars, fishing and going on a hay ride.

The organization's involvement with the participants does not stop when the camp is over. Students are involved in the JA mentoring program during the school year. Sanders said the group is called the Blue JAy kids, and they take part in events, including movie nights and walking in the Christmas parade. The JA members are also available if the children need help with their school work.

The camp and subsequent mentoring program are available through donations from restaurants and a grant from the Clark County Community Foundation.

Rob's comment
This camping activity, like programs such as the YMCA Indian Guides, distorts the basis of Native culture. It particular, it portrays Native people as contentious and warlike. (It's not clear how much of the martial activity is inherent in the program and how much the writer invented, but either way the article is stereotypical.)

Consider the evidence. (The pictures come from other events, but they give you a hint of what "playing Indian" involves.) Some quotes:

This sounds more like warlike competition than "cooperation" to me.

Is shooting guns another "cooperative" activity? Hardly.

If you're targeting other human beings, pretending to kill them, does it matter that you're shooting only marshmallows? The activity encourages violence and aggression even if it's superficially benign.

Yet another "war," suggesting the "Indian wars" theme is predominant.

Related links
Savage Indians

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