Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:49 AM
First of all, I am not surprised at terms which may or may not have been from the Lenape language are mispronounced. How many native speakers are there today and how many lodges have access to them?
There is no disrespect intended. To give another example, many Latin-origin words are mispronounced and misspelled today, even by the US government in official documents (I will not bore you with examples).
As far as the example of a group using Christian imagery in a ceremony causing offense... I doubt it if no offense was intended. It actually happens to some extent. Some common imagery of the age of chivalry, knights errant etc. is historically wrong. Few people get upset. In fact, few people even if their ancestry is from that background understand their past well enough to recognize a glitch. Vikings for example did not wear cow horns on their helmets, but did you ever see someone with a Nordic ancestry picketing over that?
A co-worker of mine who is Lakota and proud of her heritage told me she wouldnt know an authentic Lakota ceremony from, say, the 1700s if it walked up and bit her. She has been told much of what she sees at Lakota gatherings today is an amalgam of Lakota, Dakota, and even eastern seaboard tribal origin (at least according to her grandmother). What is authentic in a society governed by oral tradition depends to some extent on which living memory of that oral tradition you consult and how seriously that person takes your question.
Lastly, there is a lot of politics and individual opinion involved in how Native Americans see the issue and there is no one common viewpoint. A well-known Native American (Lakota) journalist in my neck of the woods periodically publishes opinion pieces on how sports teams named after Native Americans should be banned as offensive. When informed that the Seminoles had officially blessed the use of their name by the team and university in Florida, he responded by publically attacking the Seminole tribal council as turncoats and traitors to (his) view of what Native Americans should be.
Moral: You cant please everyone. Just look in your own heart and see if the intent is respectful or mocking and go from there.