But it's the critics who are doing the stereotyping. One of my readers, parent David Cull, described to me his enriching Indian Guides/Princesses experience with his 6-year-old daughter, Michelle: "Our tribe, the Karankawas, meets once a month at a tribe member's home where we have activities and crafts for the girls (our princesses) and have a story after which we discuss the morals of that story. We go camping several times a year. . . . When our group formed, we researched the Karankawas. They were a tribe that lived along the Texas coast. They were very tall and upon occasion were cannibals. The fathers in our tribe have always been respectful to the Indian culture. In fact, two of the 10 braves have Indian blood in them."
Another parent in south Florida notes that his group has convened overnight events on the Big Cypress Reservation, attended annual Pow-Wows held by the Miccosukee tribe, and shared meals, dances and story-telling sessions with the Seminoles. "I am grateful to have had the chance to expose my children to these things," he said, "and I wonder, if it had not been for this program, what their understanding of Native Americans might have been based on."
Alas, the national YMCA ignored the pleas of parents and children and instead succumbed to pressure from perpetually offended AIM protesters -- some of whom even threatened to sue a YMCA chapter to prevent them from using Indian names and themes. In 2001, the organization voted to eliminate the Indian monikers from the Guides/Princesses programs. The tribal themes will be phased out completely beginning this fall. The groups will now be known as "Adventure" Guides.
This classic example of P.C. bowdlerism is not the end of the world, to be sure. But the death of the Indian Princesses illustrates the fraudulent nature of zealous multiculturalism, which preaches unequivocal inclusiveness while enforcing selfish insularity.