S.E. Ruckman: Gift-giving in Indian Country

"Gift giving in Indian Country can be tricky.

In our society, a gift is a conversation between the giver and receiver.

So part of the trick is to know what to give.

Likewise, there are intricacies for accepting a gift.

There is an etiquette for gift giving in Oklahoma from tribe to tribe.

You can see it unfold at pow-wows, the usual place for statement giving.

Among the Plains Indians, some of the best gift givers I have known are the Kiowa and the Osage.

I make that distinction solely on the time spent during a "giveaway" special in a powwow, without any implied personal preference.

To the outsider, the giveaway is simply the time between drum songs at a powwow when people talk. But it is more.

Much thought has been put into every gift.

The gift imparts honor to that person."

Get the Story:
Susan Ruckman: Gifts: A link to one's heritage (The Tulsa World 10/1)