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Old 06-02-2016, 02:34 PM   #1
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Offensive or no?

I am white but want to understand the practices and beliefs of certain Native Americans, to the extent I am permitted to. I don't want to practice or teach them - I am not interested in building a sweat lodge or looking for a spirit guide or any of that. Like I said, I want to understand, not practice or teach, the real things, to the extent I am permitted to. I have studied publicly available practices and beliefs, but it's hard to weed out the new age stuff and find the truth.

Offensive or not? I have no desire to offend. What do you think?

FYI, I don't really have a "people." My family life was complicated by religious alienations, and I was raised without a lot of family contact. I have studied the practices and traditions of the people I am descended from, but frankly, they are just as "academic" as any other group I have studied but don't have any blood ties to. I accept that - it is my lot in life not to have close ethnic ties with any group.
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Old 06-02-2016, 07:31 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by GreatBlueHeron View Post
I am white but want to understand the practices and beliefs of certain Native Americans, to the extent I am permitted to. I don't want to practice or teach them - I am not interested in building a sweat lodge or looking for a spirit guide or any of that.

- it is my lot in life not to have close ethnic ties with any group.
Certain Native Americans? Which ones? Certainly, you should say....
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Old 06-02-2016, 08:20 PM   #3
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Sorry. My interest is in the Northeastern tribes, mostly Iroquoian and Delaware, but as I have traveled and visited other nations I have also been interested in the Navajo, Lakota, Taos Pueblo and Blackfeet. Let me repeat, I am not interested in any of the mysteries I have no business knowing about. Obviously, I don't know what I have no business knowing about and therein lies the bigger problem. I don't want to offend even accidentally. Should I just feel my way through conversations, making it clear I don't want to offend and let the person I am speaking with turn me away when I am going wrong, or is that in and of itself offensive? Or does it just depend on the person I'm talking to, or the nation to which he or she belongs?

One of the things about being white - and this is true with most non-white races, not just Natives - is that you are (understandably) not easily trusted. I get it and I understand why. It just does make it tough to understand others.

Or maybe I am just over complicating things because of my own family history religion-wise. I was often stepping on relatives' toes without knowing it, just because I was not a member of their Church.

Man, human interaction can be tough.
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Old 06-03-2016, 05:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by GreatBlueHeron View Post
Sorry. My interest is in the Northeastern tribes, mostly Iroquoian and Delaware, but as I have traveled and visited other nations I have also been interested in the Navajo, Lakota, Taos Pueblo and Blackfeet. Let me repeat, I am not interested in any of the mysteries I have no business knowing about. Obviously, I don't know what I have no business knowing about and therein lies the bigger problem. I don't want to offend even accidentally. Should I just feel my way through conversations, making it clear I don't want to offend and let the person I am speaking with turn me away when I am going wrong, or is that in and of itself offensive? Or does it just depend on the person I'm talking to, or the nation to which he or she belongs?

One of the things about being white - and this is true with most non-white races, not just Natives - is that you are (understandably) not easily trusted. I get it and I understand why. It just does make it tough to understand others.

Or maybe I am just over complicating things because of my own family history religion-wise. I was often stepping on relatives' toes without knowing it, just because I was not a member of their Church.

Man, human interaction can be tough.
i am taos.....we have some social dances and such that is public.....but the truth is most of our "practices" are very private.......and so are our neighbors the navajo......and if you press too hard it would be considered rude

so my suggestion is you can attend/observe anything noted as PUBLIC on taos website
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Old 06-12-2016, 05:07 AM   #5
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As a fellow white person, my advice is to just sit back and listen as much as you can. If you think a question might be offensive, err on the side of not asking it. I love to ask questions, but I try to stick to general questions, not about religion or ceremonies.

Outsiders have no real need to know any "truths" about beliefs or practices - if they aren't sharing it with you, I would not ask about it (think how tiresome it would be if someone kept bugging you with questions you found intrusive).

Honestly, just my humble opinion here: there is enough public information that the tribes want you to know about (history, treaty issues, sovereignty, attacks on sovereignty, land use, how local or state laws may affect their communities, etc.) to keep your mind busy. There are so many issues affecting native communities today, and most people don't even know about them, or have a lot of preconceived notions and stereotypes. There are a lot of things Natives are happy for you to know, so stick with that. Good luck in your quest to learn more - I find it amazing how little I know of America's first people and communities, who are still here, and still matter (despite what I learned in school!).
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:32 PM   #6
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I hate to say it, but I think you are sniffing at the wrong bush here. I'm actually a lowblood lakota myself and even I am not qualified for what you are asking for. I know you don't mean any offense. I went through the same thing, but you are going to get nothing but thorns rooting around the way you are. I know you don't believe you are being invasive. As far as european etiquette goes, you are not being rude at all... But native culture is very, very different. Spiritual medicine is individualized, there isn't anything akin to a catholic mass or a baptism or bible school or communion or anything remotely similar to that. Bob's spiritual medicine is something only for Bob. Sally's spiritual medicine is something only for Sally. They don't discuss it with each-other because it was something that was given only to them. Something it took me some getting used to was that asking questions is often considered rude in native cultures. You don't just up and ask something deep the same way you would in public school. It's your job to learn it, it isn't anyone else's job to hand it over to you. Native ways are so0o0o0o0o0o0o0o different from any other cultures anywhere, it is enough to make your head spin, even from tribe to tribe... Even closely neighboring tribes... One thing that is sacred here is taboo next door. These people love owls, those people are not fond of owls, and the third people are hitting the X on the webpage because I am talking about owls. As someone raised white, I don't believe that, even at my young age, I could ever assimilate successfully into native culture. Your entire brain from the time you are a baby gets used to the way things are in your social situation and certain things become automatic reflexes in social situations. It is kind of like throwing an ostrich in a pen with a bunch of flamingos. It is running around and digging in the sand and doing perfectly normal ostrich behaviors, and the flamingos are in the water standing all dainty-like whispering to each other "What the hell is wrong with that guy?!" I am not saying we are a different species, and there are some native people who live like non-native people, but if the traditional spiritual practices and medicine are what you are primarily interested in, you are going to have a bad time no matter what, believe me.
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