Germany’s obsession with a past it never had
BY ADAM GILDERS
In one of its more equivocal forms, the experience of homesickness is rooted in an intuition that there is not and never has been a home. This occurred to me on an unseasonably warm spring afternoon, shortly after arriving in the town of Regensburg, deep in the heart of Bavaria. Outside the train station, I found a cab and asked the driver if he knew of the Regensburg Cowboy Club. He gave me the once-over. “Cowboy Club?” he queried. (I was lacking the requisite Western attire.) “Yes,” I said. “The Regensburg Cowboy Club.” He shrugged. “No problem,” he said.
I was in Regensburg on the advice of Murray Small Legs, my Blackfoot guide to Germany’s famously flourishing Indian hobbyist movement. As I was soon to discover, the presence of a Canadian at the Cowboy Club was a special occasion. My trip was a reversal of a pilgrimage that, for most hobbyists, is a right of passage: Instead of coming to North America to see real Native Americans, I was journeying to Germany to see pretend Indians.
Murray Small Legs, incidentally, is not a hobbyist; he is a real Blackfoot, from the Peigan reserve, in Alberta. He has been living in a suburb of Berlin since 1997, part of a growing aboriginal expatriate community in a country where an estimated 60,000 Germans convert, on weekends and holidays, into Nineteenth-Century Native Americans. For those who haven’t witnessed its curious pageantry, Indian hobbyism describes the imitation and study of Native-American culture by non–Native Americans. Typically, the hobbyist gatherings in Germany are organized around a central event, such as a powwow, a sweat lodge, or a rodeo. It was just such a gathering that I hoped to witness in Regensburg. The Regensburg Club, Murray Small Legs had told me, was hosting a weekend rodeo, and the local cowboys were expecting large contingents of dress-up Indians........
(Vollständiger Artikel: https://thewalrus.ca/2003-10-feature-2/)