FIRE AND FEATHERS: THE APPROPRIATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE IN SUMMER CAMP TRADITIONS
In the remote woods of Maine, children gather around a fire wearing headbands and feathers in order to become members of their tribe as they partake in a decades-old tradition. To them, the wearing of a feather is just part of the Council Fire tradition. Fire and Feathers uses the Council Fire ceremony at two Raymond, Maine summer camps as a case study in order to analyze the appropriation of Native American culture at summer camps. Cultural appropriation is a hotly debated topic in society, from sports logos to fashion. However, summer camps are one area where the appropriation of Native American culture has not received a great deal of scholarly attention. This thesis explores why the appropriation became part of camp practices and why it continues to this day. Using the script of the ceremony, old promotional brochures, and photographs from the camp archives, this thesis argues that the appropriation persists because the label "tradition" has been applied to Council Fire and consequently masks the appropriation as simply part of the tradition. While camps have a long history of appropriation, O'Brien believes they can move forward in a way that honors camp traditions while not appropriating Native American culture.
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