Keep laughing—we’re losing!

“Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Minnie too, we love Disneyland, how about you?” went the first salvo of a powwow song sung at the Belvidere Powwow Sunday, Aug. 22. It was performed during a children’s dance by the traditional powwow drummers. However, the song is not so innocent; it’s actually a slap at the Disney corporation for its not-so-careful handling of Native American depictions at Disneyland and in early Disney movies.

Disney moviemakers also damaged landscapes needlessly during shoots. Their most notorious caper occurred while filming in Monument Valley in Arizona, where prop specialists painted giant cliffs because the cliffs’ original color didn’t enhance the appropriate light.

Native Americans have had to be very resourceful in light of all the mistreatment they’ve received over the past 500 years. One of their biggest resources is their sense of humor. The Mickey Mouse powwow song was probably written during the rebellious Wounded Knee era of the 1970s. What a tremendous safety valve we have when one can turn strong, rational anger into satirical comedy.

The Belvidere Powwow occurs every third weekend in August. It’s a joint effort between Boone County and Native Americans of Midwestern nations that live mostly in the Chicago region. Local environmentalist Scott Caring attended the Belvidere Powwow to search out members of the Sauk and Fox nations, two nations that once occupied our area. Scott was looking for Sauk and Fox willing to fight a flare-up of over-zealous developers and politicians. If Rockford’s political and developer chiefs have their way, natural areas near the Greater Rockford Airport would soon be buried under commerce.

Sunil Puri’s appointment to the Greater Rockford Airport Authority board would put tremendous pressure for large-scale development around the GRA area. Native Americans and other savvy citizens realize that Sunil’s appointment would act like smallpox on the land where the Kishwaukee and the Rock River merge. Yes, we’ll have to keep our sense of humor handy while Quick-Take Doug and Sunil Puri swing their golden shovels blocking arrows and dazing the collective head of the sparingly-toothed BlackHawk Sierra Club. The tooth reference is not directed at their average age.

How pathetic is it when we ask a people who had their land taken from them to come and help us so their land is not taken again? Did Yogi Berra coin that? Keep laughing—we are losing!

Here are some jokes I heard at the powwow. A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “Why the long face?” A snail climbs onto a turtle’s back and says, “Wheeeee!” A termite walks into a bar and says, “Where’s the bartender?”

How many big developers does it take to ruin north central Illinois? One. Hi, I’m an environmentalist, and I live in Winnebago County!

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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