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Old 12-18-2014, 08:15 AM   #16
OLChemist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiathLeFey View Post
There is nothing I can do to change history. I have carried the guilt of being white for a long time, but when it comes down to it...I myself didn't commit any atrocities. Should I be held responsible for something that perhaps my ancestors did?
Do you have any idea how tired I am of hearing this? "Get over it; it was a long time ago." "Don't blame me, I wasn't there."

My non-Indian ancestors weren't holding a gun at Mystic River, Horsehoe Bend, Sand Creek, Milk Creek, Wounded Knee.... My white relatives weren't holding a scalpel sterilizing Native women, or dragging Native children off to white foster homes. But, they weren't standing in the way either. Most Germans weren't concentration camp guards but at the end of the war the country and the people as a whole weren't let off the hook just because they weren't handing Mengele a syringe. Guilt was acknowledged and a culture actively reshaped. (And it wasn't reshaped by Germans taking up the practices of Judaism.)

I don't get to put down the weight of history or escape what it has wrought in my people's world. But, every white person I've ever known wants a Get Out of Jail Free card.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiathLeFey View Post
I have a strong inclination to be closer to the Earth and live in harmony.
Please, start by not romanticizing us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiathLeFey View Post
I don't see the color of my skin as a barrier. I don't think that should be a barrier for anyone in any way.
This isn't about skin color. It's about being who the Creator made you to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiathLeFey View Post
In any case. It is clear that this is not the right time for a white person to pursue Native American spirituality.
This isn't about being white. It has never been about being white. It's about not being Lakota or Hopi or Cheyenne or whomever.

Let me try another tact. I really admire the Dine'. They have this freaking awesome esthetic and a really powerful artistic tradition. They have persevered. I can admire all I want. Half my teachers and mentors in silversmithing have been Dine'. I've lived in NM. I've studied the forms and the roots of their artistic traditions. Friends have taken me into their homes, families, studios and celebrations. But in the end, I have no clans. I am not and can never be part of them. That essential connection of blood and spirit is not there. I am as I was made by the Creator and my ancestors -- not a Dine'.

If I use their motifs (not techniques) in my work I am taking what is not mine. If I were to try to pray their prayers -- impossible since I move my lips when I talk, LOL -- I would be presuming to something that isn't mine and in which I have no place.

When you truly get this, then you will understand the narrow but very deep chasm that separates our various ethea from that of the dominant culture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiathLeFey View Post
But is it disrespectful to learn about the cultures without taking from them or practicing aspects of them?
Learning is one thing. But, trying to usurp the rightful owners is another.

[email protected]subeeds and @Joe's Dad have already pointed out, part of the reason that Native people get so incensed over this issue is that non-Indian people study us for a few years or less and then become self-appointed experts. They make themselves into gatekeepers of authenticity. Do you know how many hobbyists have told me, that based on their mastery of my people's 19th century material culture, they know more about being a "real Indian" than I as a city born, educated mixed blood Native woman ever could? Or how many academics have gently corrected my ignorance on some point, because what I said didn't agree with Walker, Mooney, Lowie, Wissler or some other deceased denizen of the ivy-covered halls of academia? Every Native person has had a non-Native tell us we're ignorant of our culture or are a disgrace to our ancestors because we have refused to assist in assaults on our cultural integrity.

Learn, but don't presume to expertise. Don't interpret us. Don't represent us. Don't exploit your knowledge to make yourself rich.

(At the risk of weakening my, no doubt compelling, argument :) with an off-topic aside. When you form the plural of ethos in English, do you use the Greek conjugation or do you preform some sort of mixed marriage and break both languages' rules? It's acts of linguistic imperialism like this that make me unable to spell, LOL.)

Last edited by OLChemist; 12-18-2014 at 11:52 AM.. Reason: Proof reading -- not just a good idea,
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