Pete's Blog

Kaw-Liga

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We were working out some Hank Williams songs tonight when somebody broke into "Kaw-Liga," the whimsical story of a cigar store wooden Indian and his doomed love for the statue of "the Indian Maiden over at the antiques store." A "wealthy customer" buys the maiden's statue and takes her away while "pore ol' Kaw-Liga" has to stay behind. The performer remarked that in one group he appears with the girl singer wouldn't let them play the song. She thought it was "politically incorrect." When I asked what the problem could be somebody else said. "Stereotypical language." WTF? I assume the stereotypes she means are that Kaw-Liga the wooden Indian is rendered in his beads and feathers and carrying a "Tommy-hawk." This is a stereotype. But if it's a stereotype it must have come from somewhere. Stereotypes don't just appear, they mutate out of cliches. They're truth that has been overused. So. Is it a malicious lie to show an Indian with beads, feathers, and tomahawk, a lie designed to belittle and degrade him and his culture? Or is it true but we're just not allowed to talk about it? "Well," you might say, "it's limiting. There's more to Native culture than just beads, feathers, and tomahawk." Yes, there is. But this is a WOODEN INDIAN we're talking about here. It was designed as a stereotype. If Hank Williams wrote about an actual Indian who persisted in standing in front of a cigar store wearing beads and feathers you might have a case. But good grief, people, can we put aside our self-righteousness for a moment? Please?

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