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  • The story The Grandfather's Gift got me thinking. In Germany, in the region where I came from, little of the local culture was left, except traces of a dialect that, when spoken perfectly, was unrecognizable to the rest of the people in Germany. Growing up in a middle-class home, I was already once removed from the indigenous culture. Next I moved to the United States, where all things German invoke phrases like Wie geht's, Auf Wiedersehn, Oktoberfest and Dummkopf, as if Germany were one single homogeneous place. When I see testimonies of the proud Native American culture, I feel thoroughly rootless, and quite envious. It's no accident that the lore and costumes of Native American culture have always had such high currency in Germany -- it's the longing to belong, the longing for authenticity long lost.


    The image is from one of the Karl May Festspiele in Germany, where Karl May's stories used to be reenacted every year. Karl May was the German author of numerous books glorifying Native Americans. He wrote much of his work while in prison for theft and fraud.
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