“Powwow” Used Improperly in eNews

I was distressed to see the headline on today’s eNews: “Let’s Powwow on Plastics...” I am not an indigenous person, and I have no way of knowing if the person who wrote this headline might be. However, it seems unlikely that they are and much more likely that the headline was chosen because it alliterates and without much thought. I know how that happens — I have a number of phrases that pop into my head and out of my mouth despite my knowing that they may hurt people in specific groups. (Examples: “lame,” “gyp.”) I keep working on it; progress, not perfection.

“Pow wow” can be, and in this instance is, culturally insensitive, because what the phrase actually refers to is a sacred cultural practice in Native American groups. Not meetings on things like plastic usage (although this is an important topic too, of course).

I would love to see the next eNews offer an apology for using an insensitive phrase and an invitation for anyone in the Weavers Way community who may have been harmed or bothered by it to contact a person competent to listen and offer amends within the organization.

— Dawn Star Sarahs-Borchelt