Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Southwestern Style and Popular Culture

I can remember back in 2005 there weren't alot of Southwestern style items represented on Etsy. That has changed in recent years. With more and more sellers joining Etsy and a broader customer base to match, the number of Southwestern style items has grown exponentially! Once considered to be somewhat on the periphery of Etsy's "in" styles, it has since earned a significant portion of the market share and garnered a respectable position in the Etsy marketplace.

With its rich cultural mix of Native American, Mexican, and Cowboy/Cowgirl the style is really coming into its own.

I have seen alot more Treasury lists dedicated to the Southwestern way, for the most part very uplifting. As of this writing I pulled up 2,183 search results with the search term "Southwest". I have included a few such treasuries below;

As those of you who read my blog regularly probably know I have recently been very involved in the plight of snakes villified by the Lacey Act because of constrictors found loose in the Florida everglades.

All this turned the Herp Community's consciousness toward yet more atrocities against snakes, also born of ignorance, prejudice, and irrational fear.

This got me thinking about how culture and tradition intermingle and what that means. Sometimes culture has a darker side.

The Rattlesnake Round-up, an annual festival held in Sweetwater, Texas, organized and run by the Jaycees gives a view into this seemier side. According to an article on Kingsnake.com similar events are held in about 6 US states, but the one in Sweetwater is the biggest and most well-known.

Nearly 20,000 Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes are collected for the Sweetwater event, the rationale being that people don't want them around, and that the venom can be used for potential cures for cancer and other diseases, but these stated reasons are suspect because as  Carl Franklin, a herpatologist says, "Venom collected at the round-ups is not collected in a sterile environment".

In addition, at the 2006 round-up revenues were projected in excess of 5 Million dollars! States use these events to draw in tourists and tourist money.

Snakes are often not collected in areas where they'd pose real danger to humans; instead they're extracted from deep rocky dens in remote areas that really take some effort and time to get to. It is a real shame that such beautiful animals are hounded and hunted so intrusively when all they're doing is trying to raise their young in peace. These animals are not going out to bite humans. All they want is to be left alone, minding their own business.

Once taken from their dens (in some cases by putting gas fumes down a hole), many of these unlucky snakes are stored in inhumane conditions before being exploited before crowds of attendees, milked of their venom (for shock value), used in dare-devil type freak shows, and finally, as if that weren't traumatic enough, beheaded,  skinned, cooked, and some of them served to the blood-thirsty crowds alongside french fries.

Not only does one have to wonder about the morality of what this does to the Rattlesnakes, but what kind of message such displays send to children who are in attendance with their families, who really should be taught to preserve and respect wildlife, not revel in killing it.

Sure, it's a tradition, but not a very nice one. The Southwest has so many wholesome and beautiful attractions to offer. Why should this kind of cruelty become one of the attractions that tourists associate with the Southwest?

At the rate these round-ups are going we could see Diamondback Rattlesnakes, and other native rattlers in various Southern and Southwestern States reach endangered species proportions in our lifetime.

Like the Seguaro Cactus, the lizard, and the Coyote, these beautiful and powerful symbols of strength are an important part of what makes the Southwest special.

Watch this video made by National geographic with real footage of the Rattlesnake Round-up;

and thisone shows footage of two representatives of Urban Jungle Radio being served a restraining order preventing them from entering the round-up, although it is publicised as being open to the public. This goes to show just how entrenched the local police department is in seeing the event continue.

You can protest this barberic practice by going to the Jaycees Facebook page and asking politely that they change the format to one of public education about these animals; one which teaches humane respect and appreciation of these reptiles instead of the gratuitous slaughter that currently goes on. Many thanks to the Herp Center Network for the link.

My beadwoven bracelet, Diamondback pays tribute to this beautiful and majestic snake of the Southwest. I fashioned it after the intricate pattern on the skin.

Purchase this bracelet or anything in my store with a price of $65.00 or more (not including shipping), and the first few customers will receive a really nice genuine leather zippered pouch free with your jewelry. I have one that I use as a coin purse, but it can just as easily be used as a little travel case to put some of your jewelry in when you go on trips or even to keep in your purse or in the car's glove box. The picture below shows the same pouch but different views. Yours may be black (like this one) or dark brown depending on which remains at the time of purchase. Supply is extremely limited, so don't delay. The first buyers to meet the criteria get one!


BlacknickSculpture said...

Kudos about getting the word out about the rattlesnake round ups!

Giftbearer said...

Thanks so much for your kind comment! Stay tuned. I will probably have more snake news to come!