Picture of Marjane Ambler

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Traditional head drum group at a pow wow at Ethete on the Wind River Reservation.

Mainstreaming on the Reservation

(SANTA FE) — Harold Littlebird sits in his wood-heated studio near Santa Fe, New Mexico, drawing a design on a clay saucer, his long black hair hanging down his back. To many people, who have been taught to hold the melting pot image of America as sacred as the flag or the Statue of Liberty, Littlebird might be seen as a symbol. In their eyes, he has escaped the poverty of reservation life. He has married an Anglo; his pottery will be displayed soon at a convention center in Houston, Texas; and his daughter, Maya, at the time of the interview, was waiting anxiously for the Easter Bunny. Assimilation. Joining the mainstream. Melting into the pot. In fact, his pottery, while accepted by most Indians who are familiar with it, symbolizes such concepts to at least one Indian critic, who tried to make him leave an Indian fair because his pottery, with its modernistic butterflies and commercial clay, wasn’t Indian enough. But Littlebird refused to go. “What do I look like, a Chinaman?” he asked.

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