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LiathLeFey 12-17-2014 10:21 AM

A Question Concerning Offense
 
I have come across the issue of white people practicing Native American traditions being viewed as offensive. Is this really a widespread perspective?

I ask because I am beginning Shamanic training, and my mentor incorporate Lakota practices. He danced in the Sun Dance and he is white, and he was taught these practices by Lakota people. When I was a child I attended a Native American camp, lead by members of the Seneca and Mohawk. We were taught traditions, they really resonated with me and I want to further this exploration. I know that physically I am white, but my soul identifies with every race and I don't see race as a barrier. I am also interested in African tribal traditions, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism and South American indigenous practices particularly of the Incans.

Well I want to pursue this with as much respect and honor as possible. I have no desire to offend anyone. I don't believe this will make me a Native American and I'm interested in getting involved with Native American activism, as I am getting involved with the #ICan'tBreathe movement.

Thoughts?

AmigoKumeyaay 12-17-2014 12:33 PM

:lurk::lurk::lurk::lurk::lurk::lurk::lurk::lurk:

wardancer 12-17-2014 12:44 PM

:nono:

Joe's Dad 12-17-2014 01:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiathLeFey (Post 1613263)
I have come across the issue of white people practicing Native American traditions being viewed as offensive. Is this really a widespread perspective?

I ask because I am beginning Shamanic training, and my mentor incorporate Lakota practices. He danced in the Sun Dance and he is white, and he was taught these practices by Lakota people. When I was a child I attended a Native American camp, lead by members of the Seneca and Mohawk. We were taught traditions, they really resonated with me and I want to further this exploration. I know that physically I am white, but my soul identifies with every race and I don't see race as a barrier. I am also interested in African tribal traditions, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism and South American indigenous practices particularly of the Incans.

Well I want to pursue this with as much respect and honor as possible. I have no desire to offend anyone. I don't believe this will make me a Native American and I'm interested in getting involved with Native American activism, as I am getting involved with the #ICan'tBreathe movement.

Thoughts?

I didn't see where you mentioned any of your own anglo cultures (german, english, scottish, etc.). Is it because you feel these cultures have nothing to offer or are you ashamed of your own culture and have to vulturize someone else's culture?

Just asking.

OLChemist 12-17-2014 02:25 PM

Yes, it is a fairly widespread belief.

Why do you feel free to regard various cultures ways as a all-you-can-eat buffet? This I'll have a dab of Igbo Ọdinani, a spoonful of Zen, scoop of Vaishnavism, and slice of Lakota traditional religion approach is just more colonial privilege at play. Each of these belief systems are complete, all-encompasing worldviews. To mix and match violates the sanctity of each and shows a deep disbelief in reality of all.

My people's ways are for are my people. To be part of our system, you have to be part of our people. The Great Commission isn't a Lakota thing. I have never encountered a Native religion that provides a path to conversion.

Understand for 500+ years, our ways have been attacked, suppressed, punished and damn near erased. The lands have been taken, the languages silenced, the People broken and pushed to the edge of extinction. Now, you want to share our last refuge? You want us to give our last to save the world from your ways? Maybe you should find your own way to save yourselves. We are too busy preserving our own fragile communities.

Is this a friendly, nice kumbaya view, no. But look at the history from which it was born. Try to respect cultural boundaries, rather than helping yourself to our intellectual property.

wardancer 12-17-2014 03:01 PM

:hysterica I like that word "vulturize" ! Like your son "vulturized " your beaded dance stick ???

milehighsalute 12-17-2014 04:59 PM

my suggestion to liathlafey is to sell EVERYTHING and move near pine ridge where you can meet your new people and tell them all about your plans......they will respect your ambitions.....i promise

LiathLeFey 12-17-2014 05:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joe's Dad (Post 1613275)
I didn't see where you mentioned any of your own anglo cultures (german, english, scottish, etc.). Is it because you feel these cultures have nothing to offer or are you ashamed of your own culture and have to vulturize someone else's culture?

Just asking.

Not at all! I celebrate my own ancestry. I've been studying Celtic Druidry for a while now, I am particularly smitten with the Celts of Ireland, Britain, Wales and Scotland. I have also looked into Norse Traditions as well. I'm not vulturizing anything. That's a rather negative perspective to place on someone you don't even know. Are you suggesting we should each racially stick to our own ancestral culture and not value or celebrate the diversity in the world around us?

LiathLeFey 12-17-2014 06:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OLChemist (Post 1613278)
Yes, it is a fairly widespread belief.

Why do you feel free to regard various cultures ways as a all-you-can-eat buffet? This I'll have a dab of Igbo Ọdinani, a spoonful of Zen, scoop of Vaishnavism, and slice of Lakota traditional religion approach is just more colonial privilege at play. Each of these belief systems are complete, all-encompasing worldviews. To mix and match violates the sanctity of each and shows a deep disbelief in reality of all.

My people's ways are for are my people. To be part of our system, you have to be part of our people. The Great Commission isn't a Lakota thing. I have never encountered a Native religion that provides a path to conversion.

Understand for 500+ years, our ways have been attacked, suppressed, punished and damn near erased. The lands have been taken, the languages silenced, the People broken and pushed to the edge of extinction. Now, you want to share our last refuge? You want us to give our last to save the world from your ways? Maybe you should find your own way to save yourselves. We are too busy preserving our own fragile communities.

Is this a friendly, nice kumbaya view, no. But look at the history from which it was born. Try to respect cultural boundaries, rather than helping yourself to our intellectual property.

I see that you speak from deep pain. I am sorry for the crimes that were committed to your people. 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?

The reason I asked this question, is because I care a great deal. If I didn't care, I wouldn't have started this conversation. And what is discussed here WILL influence my decision on whether or not to pursue such studies. I have a great deal of respect for the Native cultures, in North America and South America. Maybe you're right in that I am treating the world like a "buffet". I am not Christian, I am not straight, I adhere to an alternative lifestyle, I have a disability. I'm not looking for a place to fit in, or for anything or anyone to save me. I don't need to be saved. I have a strong inclination to be closer to the Earth and live in harmony. 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.

I do have white privilege. I am well aware of that. But just because I'm white doesn't mean I cannot relate in some way. I am part Jewish. Some of my family members were in concentration camps. I do not hate German people or hold their descendants accountable for those actions. The Jewish people have been persecuted throughout the centuries all over the world. I practice Druidry because of my Irish and Scottish heritage. I come from Pagan descent...Well, Druidry was wiped out. We have some idea of what it was like, but most of the information comes from the Romans who conquered the Celtic people, and the rest comes from Christian Monks, and the stories were re-written with a Christian perspective. I can practice Druidry, but its only an echo...because true Druidry has been lost to time.

Maybe in a sense, us Western Europeans grasp at other culture's customs because we have been severed from our own? And for some of us, it really is lost and cannot be regained. The coming of Christianity wiped out a lot of pagan religions in Europe. Thousands of people were murdered for being pagan, or a witch during the witch trials. One of my ancestors was burned at the stake for being a witch, though she wasn't actually a witch at all. Are these not atrocities too? I don't hate Christians or hold them in contempt, though I have faced discrimination from them.

In any case. It is clear that this is not the right time for a white person to pursue Native American spirituality. I pray that in centuries to come, existence between our people will be more harmonious. I am not blaming Native people, I understand where you are coming from given the history (which I did learn about). I don't think that anyone is wrong for feeling this way. It is what it is.

But is it disrespectful to learn about the cultures without taking from them or practicing aspects of them? I studied anthropology in college and really enjoyed learning about other cultures around the world. I can't help if they influence my perspective on the world, information influences. Thank you for the opportunity to reflect and learn.

wardancer 12-17-2014 06:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiathLeFey (Post 1613285)
Not at all! I celebrate my own ancestry. I've been studying Celtic Druidry for a while now, I am particularly smitten with the Celts of Ireland, Britain, Wales and Scotland. I have also looked into Norse Traditions as well. I'm not vulturizing anything. That's a rather negative perspective to place on someone you don't even know. Are you suggesting we should each racially stick to our own ancestral culture and not value or celebrate the diversity in the world around us?

Why do you think you have the right to use our ceremonies for your own use ?

Yes !

White Powwow Dancer 12-17-2014 06:50 PM

:rolleyes::rolleyes:

White Powwow Dancer 12-17-2014 06:57 PM

:rolleyes::rolleyes:

Joe's Dad 12-17-2014 07:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiathLeFey (Post 1613285)
Not at all! I celebrate my own ancestry. I've been studying Celtic Druidry for a while now, I am particularly smitten with the Celts of Ireland, Britain, Wales and Scotland. I have also looked into Norse Traditions as well. I'm not vulturizing anything. That's a rather negative perspective to place on someone you don't even know. Are you suggesting we should each racially stick to our own ancestral culture and not value or celebrate the diversity in the world around us?

You asked for people's and they were given. You say there is negative perspective of someone I don't even know. You want to learn 'shamanic' ways. How can you even begin to feel what an NDN feels. It's like speaking multiple languages. You may speak a 2nd language, but it will be translated through your primary language. You can 'practice' other culture's ways, but can you truly know how it came to be from the ancestors. Wait. You said some white guy is going to teach you the ways. Are you really celebrating or valuing the 'ways', or are you vulturizing?

A young Irish man introduced me as his friend to a Navajo family. He told me the story of how he was invited to share in a wedding of one of the daughters of the family in the Navajo way. He celebrated and valued his experience, but did not come away as a Navajo ways expert to sell and show other non-natives. Do you think he could teach this experience in the 'Navajo way being Irish and all?

Joe's Dad 12-17-2014 07:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wardancer (Post 1613281)
:hysterica I like that word "vulturize" ! Like your son "vulturized " your beaded dance stick ???

And now he want to ' vulturize' my beaded cuffs. We need to talk. LOL

subeeds 12-18-2014 02:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiathLeFey (Post 1613263)
I have come across the issue of white people practicing Native American traditions being viewed as offensive. Is this really a widespread perspective?

I ask because I am beginning Shamanic training, and my mentor incorporate Lakota practices. He danced in the Sun Dance and he is white, and he was taught these practices by Lakota people. When I was a child I attended a Native American camp, lead by members of the Seneca and Mohawk. We were taught traditions, they really resonated with me and I want to further this exploration. I know that physically I am white, but my soul identifies with every race and I don't see race as a barrier. I am also interested in African tribal traditions, Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism and South American indigenous practices particularly of the Incans.

Well I want to pursue this with as much respect and honor as possible. I have no desire to offend anyone. I don't believe this will make me a Native American and I'm interested in getting involved with Native American activism, as I am getting involved with the #ICan'tBreathe movement.

Thoughts?

You want to know why it's offensive-and why so many Natives feel that white people should not practice Native ceremonies? Two words for you-James Ray. If you haven't heard of him, google him.

OLChemist 12-18-2014 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiathLeFey (Post 1613286)
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 (Post 1613286)
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 (Post 1613286)
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 (Post 1613286)
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 (Post 1613286)
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.)

White Powwow Dancer 12-18-2014 09:30 AM

LiathLeFey
Look at this James Arthur Ray - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mogs 12-18-2014 09:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LiathLeFey (Post 1613263)
...I don't see race as a barrier.

This is a mistake, we whites fall into this trap all too often. Race is a barrier and perhaps it should be for some things, racial diversity is a wonderful thing, it - along with other differences - makes us humans interesting. Inequality is the evil.

Toolbox 12-18-2014 10:55 AM

I'm not going to make any redundant remarks here.

One question that I haven't seen asked or answered is - Are you being paying for this "Shamanic training"?

WhoMe 12-18-2014 12:54 PM

This cultural guru was involved with the "I can't breath movement" too mixing Native Pseudo culture with his own spiritual interpretation. People died as a result.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/us/23sweat.html?_r=0


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