Statement From Lenore “Lee” Dingus, Seneca and Co-founder of Echoes of the Four Directions

As part of my earlier post, I reached out to several local women in the native community. This is a response from one woman – she offered it to me as a quote, but I thought her comments warranted their own post  and she agreed to let me publish in their entirety ~ Sue

Submitted by Lenora “Lee” Dingus, Seneca, Co founder Echoes of the Four Directions

Until this past weekend, I have to confess I have never heard of the
Whirl Magazine. I do not live a sheltered life. I am very involved
in and around Pittsburgh most of life. I have especially involved
with Indigenous Women, and Women of Color in general. I am retired
from the Federal Government and worked within the government and a
variety of agencies and was always on the special emphases committees
I chaired the Pittsburgh Federal Executive Boards Native American
Heritage Committee for over 20 years, and was involved with the
Black, Hispanic, Women’s and LGBT, and other programs. I currently
work for an International Company, called Pearson which where I am a
Diversity and Inclusion advocate, in addition to being a full time
Test Center Manager. On a more personal level I am Seneca women that
in conjunction with my husband Earl, who is Cherokee, conduct
programs on Native American interests and concerns from preschool to
college level and to other organizations as well. I am also an
adjunct professor for CCAC where I co teach a Native American History
course with Earl. So I still am involved within their programs and do
feel I have a good pulse on what is going on in and around the city
and a good pulse as to what is happening in “Indian Country”. I am also
a traditional Seneca artist, I do bead work, quill work, as well as
traditional drums, rattles, shawls and more.

A friend of mine forward the post from Whirl where this was a
discussion thread about the inappropriate use of the word Pow Wow in
describing a conference that was being held by the magazine.

I have to admit I was both surprised and not surprised at the same
time. But that happens to us a lot. Just when I think we have come
along way with racism, I am always slapped in the face with a not so
subtle reminder that racism is alive and well. This one was a bit
more muted then most, but still I was surprised. After I digested it
a bit and did some research on Whirl, I honestly was not surprised.
I looked at their headliner articles listed on the site and there were
very few articles about any people of color, women or men. I saw
couple of well know Steelers, and a musician interviews, but that was

I have to honest. I felt most of articles were “fluff”. They were
put in there my writers that really do not have a pulse on the city,
but think they do. They didn’t cover the wonderful initiative by
conflict kitchen that just passed, featuring Haudenosaunee food. The
articles focused on successful people, but no successful people of
color for the most part. It seemed like they were reaching out into
the suburbs and ignoring the city itself and all the color of the city
and the people who are in it.

I was interested in the magazines objective to bring women together to
support and help each other in a non political environment. I
honestly can’t wrap my head around how any women’s magazine in this
current climate cannot be political; especially if you care about, all
people, the environment our Turtle Island and all the lives here, the
winged, four-footed and that crawl and all our brothers and sisters.
You don’t have to be in your face shouting out politics. If you have
a compassion for the world we are in today, you have to be a bit
political. Supporting importance social causes should be in their
objectives if they want to be taken seriously.

I feel that the magazine really only gave us lip service when I
messaged them this past week-end. I see “Pow Wow” is still listed on
their home page. They only did a small step to change and correct the
mess they started with this insensate name. They didn’t give a bit of
thought to it. They did not even ask why we were offended by it.
That would have been a good step to educate them selves as to why it
was wrong. It was interested that they deleted some to of the
initial comments made on the post. I was raised that your own you
mistake, you don’t make them go away. They are not owing their
mistake. They have not made any effort to be inclusive of Indigenous
women or any Women of Color after this blunder. I tried to be the
voice of reason on the posts that were appears on their page and
giving them room to make changes. I have given them many changes.
They have not reached out. It appears as of now I made a mistake. We
are the invisible people of the city, yet we are part of the fiber and
culture of the city. You would think they would be reaching out. I
would be.

I am very sorry to say that I got no response when I asked them to put
their money where their mouth is. I did not say you have to give to
this place or that place. I just made a suggestion based on current
events that I would have thought someone at Whirl would have been
aware of. The upcoming March in Washington DC on March 10 is so
important to all of us not just Indigenous people. With out water
there will no life. I truly thought that they would be more awareness
of the efforts that are going on right now in regards to the DAPL
and even more awareness since it has coverage everyday, somewhere.
Sadly my experience is that they (most people) think it does not
effect them, since they are more affluent and not people of color, it
does not really matter to them. Maybe they think, gee I still can
just go to the store and buy water if my water get contaminated. You
would be surprised at how many people do think that, and do not
realize that the spills will contaminate our food sources, our land.
We are all connected. No one is thinking about the next seven
generations when they make decisions, not our politicians for sure.
And now appears not our own white sisters in Pittsburgh. don’t care
or are not thinking. They need to move out of their comfort zone and
be more inclusive.

If they truly do not want to “rinse and repeat” and they want to help
all women, not just the well off successful women that they seem to
write the most about.

Indigenous women have always been at the forefront of our people.
Perhaps they could learn a lesson for that. We could help them
archive their goals. We have been there and done that for over 500
years. We have much wisdom and insight into this.

To learn more about the March 10 March on Washington, please click here. 


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