Saturday, May 18, 2019

My Little Princess Scroll Saw Pattern.

This sign is for your daughter or granddaughter. You can put it on her bedroom door. If your daughter is over 30 you may want to get her permission first.

I listened and I learned:

As you can probably imagine I receive a lot of emails. Most of the emails are questions and requests. Every so often I will get an email that is critical and sometimes harsh. If you put yourself in the public eye you have to learn to take some shots. I have gotten pretty good at that over the many years I have written the blog.

Sometimes the criticism is from someone just being a troll and sometimes I get educated. Today I got educated. 

I received the email below and was so touched by how eloquent and thoughtful R.D. was that I wanted to share his email with you all(with his permission). Not only is his message powerful but the way he delivers his perspective shows so much class and pride that I needed to let you read it. 

From R. D.

Good morning Steve,

I want to start off by saying thank you for all you do and have done for the scroll saw community. I’ve been a subscriber of your blog for many years and have enjoyed the countless patterns, advice, and stories you’ve shared. 

But I am writing today to provide a different perspective on today’s pattern entitled “Native American Chief.” As a citizen of the Tuscarora Nation, one the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (sometimes erroneously referred to as ‘Iroquois’), I feel the pattern of a generic Native person promotes Native stereotypes. The pattern depicts an Unknown Native man from an unknown Native Nation wearing a headdress and is apparently considered a Chief by his people. This imagery helps to create a generic image of Native people which further helps to erode our individual distinction. It’s analogous to using a single image to depict a generic American Leader or European Leader. One would be hard-pressed to create such an image. 

There are more than 500 unique Native Nations across what is currently called the United States and Canada. Each of these Nations has its own unique language, culture, customs, and way of life. There really is no such thing as a generic “Native American Chief.” 

Here among my people, we still have our original government in place - the same one that existed prior to colonialism. We have men who are Chiefs, selected by our Clan Mothers, but they do not wear a headdress like the one depicted in the pattern. They wear a headdress called a gustoweh that has deer antlers on it indicating their position. Being a Chief is very hard work. 

I offer you this perspective not to condemn your work but to hopefully educate you on the perspective of many Native people. Our way of life has been threatened since the arrival of the Europeans. Generic depictions of us propel people to think of us not as distinct individuals, but as a singular, extinct culture that is part of America’s past. We are still here. We still fight for our sovereignty. We still resist forced assimilation and citizenship. We have our own passports and are citizens of our own Nation. 

I hope my comments don’t offend you and I thank you for listening. 

Thank you R.D.

I wanted to share this email for four reasons. First and most important, I thought the message was powerful. Second, I thought it was educational. Third, I felt it was a master class in how to express your perspective. Fourth, I wanted to apologize. 

I think most of you know that I meant no disrespect. I was thinking of the pattern as a tribute to Native Americans. After reading the email I understood how the pattern would be interpreted differently by many people. I'm not asking you to agree or disagree with R.D. Just listen to his perspective. I listened and I learned. I hope you will also.

I'm not going to beat myself up for posting the pattern because I meant no disrespect but I did learn from it. I am also going to delete the pattern from the catalog. 

Thanks for listening.

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