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  • The Assumption of Wholeness

    While reading the arguments on the “should women gourd dance?” thread, I was reminded about some of the larger issues within Indian country that it brought up for me, namely loss and what it has done and continues to do to us psychologically and psychosocially. We have lost so much of our traditions and that goes double for the women’s side, not to mention the side rarely even spoke of that belongs neither to the male or female. Most of the little that has survived is the man’s side of our traditions. Much of what many of us have come to view as “Indian Tradition” is part of the male side of a tribal tradition most likely different from our own tribal traditions. Yes, I am speaking in general terms and mean no offense. Some tribes have been more fortunate than others have been regarding preservation of culture and traditions and some families within some tribes more fortunate in this regard too. Quite often, the response to what is perceived as women trying to hone in on men’s territory – dancing drumming, ceremony etc… is met by men with a “we have our dances and societies and women have their’s so why are they always trying to nose in on our territory?” And to answer that question, I believe that it is because many women are told to go to a menstrual lodge that just isn’t there. In other words there is the assumption of wholeness within the traditions that does not exist. This assumption is a natural psychological defense to the reality of the vastness of the loss and to recognize the vastness of the loss is just too painful so we make up any other explanation to some crazy woman’s behavior except the reality right in front of our eyes – we are not whole – that makes people do crazy things. The other assumption that I see often on these threads is that women take up traditionally male doings due to hatred of men or desire to be like men. This is just not so. I believe that many women who turn to male traditions /dances etc. have nothing else to turn to and desire wholeness. Some may even truly be called to do so. So what is a woman to do who has been told to go join a women’s society that doesn’t exist? This is not to say that women’s societies do not exist, they do but not to the extent that the men’s societies do. The other response is, “they should start their own dance.” Fair enough but those same people who suggest such things are often the most unsupportive of women starting their own thing and often the first to label women who try such things. The women’s drum debate is evidence of this. Does anyone out there know what I am getting at here? Thanks for your time. I am not interested in trading insults, just a thoughtful discussion. Thanks again.

  • #2
    You bring up several points that have been addressed many times on these boards over the years

    Understand something here
    There are over 500 Tribes in North America
    What is acceptable for some is totally taboo for others
    So you have to look at the roots of what your speaking about

    Gourd Dancing is a Man's Dance
    period
    Women have there own part in it
    But then this is not about that is it??

    Singing or as you say Drumming depends on what your talking about
    IN Southern Powwow country women dont sit at the drum
    Up North and to the Northeast that is not necessary so


    Too often Natives in this country have all been lumped together and called Indian Ways
    As if we all have the same belief

    We have such a diverse belief system that this debate has no meaning unless you specify what Tribe you are talking about
    Last edited by Josiah; 12-30-2008, 06:39 PM.
    ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
    Till I Die!

    Comment


    • #3
      I think you are correct to some extent. I agree that there has been a great loss of Women's traditions and I agree also that this is more true in some communities then others. Fortunatly where I live there are Womens ceremonies (no moon lodge though). However a lot of these would be way harder for an outsider to find out about...which is probably how they survived.

      I think most of the Women you see wanting to do Men's things (personally) don't have a lot of teachings or just are not ndn. for the later group...who gives a sh!t but for the first group we are dropping the ball...when they ask we need to follow up the "no thats for Men" with whats for them, or an introduction to some good traditional Women who can say "ya don't need that men's stuff, we got our own"; cause I think alot of the Men out there saying "no" know exactly which Women these people should be talking to.

      However I know damn well that some Women are so wrapped up in white ideas of what makes for equality that they are just unwilling to listen and learn

      Comment


      • #4
        That's some good words I hear... I agree with a lot of what's being said by you guys. I once was talking to some women about our roles in Ojibwe society, and I said something to about male and female having certain jobs so to speak... holay!! This one woman just about bit my head off!! LOL Calling me chauvinistic, and saying I was being a typical man. I spent the next 20 minutes re-explaining what it was I was saying to them. Eventually she settled down and listened to what I had to say.

        In many ways our traditions have mutated into something else. In some ways it has to do with "Equal" rights, and the attitude of I can do what ever it is I want. In other ways its male arrogance... and we can't forget the people that make it up as they go.

        Example; A jingle dress has to have 365 cones on it, one for each day of the year!!! Aren't we taught there are 365 1/4 days in a year... Hmmmm... sound kinda fishy!! LOL

        In response to Josiah... up north in Ojibwe country a woman's place was outside the drum, not alongside of it. Just to let you know.
        I'm innocent I tell ya!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by soopashinaab View Post
          In response to Josiah... up north in Ojibwe country a woman's place was outside the drum, not alongside of it. Just to let you know.
          True, but some Nations do have Women on the hand drum or water drum...just thought I'd add that before it hijacks the whole conversation.

          You also bring up a good point about the chauvinist idea, Women who don't know our ways need to be quiet and listen to us when talking about our roles and then they would realize it is about equality...but unlike white society we are respected as equals because of our differences, where as in white society Women are searching for equality by copying Men...and a copy is never equal to the original so their struggle will never end.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SuzzeQ4 View Post
            True, but some Nations do have Women on the hand drum or water drum...just thought I'd add that before it hijacks the whole conversation.

            You also bring up a good point about the chauvinist idea, Women who don't know our ways need to be quiet and listen to us when talking about our roles and then they would realize it is about equality...but unlike white society we are respected as equals because of our differences, where as in white society Women are searching for equality by copying Men...and a copy is never equal to the original so their struggle will never end.
            I like your words SuzzeQ!! We at one time understood our roles in the world and did not question them... somewhere along the line we got lost. Now some people will latch on to anything they can so they can belong... males as well!
            I'm innocent I tell ya!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Alot of the old ways were lost and shattered when Missionaries came to this country and taught us There ways
              In Europe at the time of 1st contact women did not have any rights
              Could not own Property, vote , no voice in politics

              My tribe at that time
              Women owned the home, had a equal seat within the council
              and when a man and woman was married the man moved to the woman's clan

              So alot of the equal rights that is spouted out nowdays comes form the European point of view
              ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
              Till I Die!

              Comment


              • #8
                Indeed

                Thank you all for your responses. I agree with all of you. Josiah, I do know what you mean about being tribally specific in these discussions but I was trying to get at some issues I have seen Intertribally. I find the lumping together frustrating too and we are so diverse in our beliefs. The lumping together is done both by non-natives and Natives alike, especially when it comes to issues of gender roles so my hope was to spark others to be specific about their tribally and family specific beliefs. Not all families within the same tribe believe the same thing either. You are right, it isn't about the gourd dance, either. I agree that it is a man's dance and don't dispute that that should change. The men have every right to the gourd dance to belong only to them. What I would like to see more of is compassion and understanding for those women that SuzzeQ refers to that lack teaching and understanding. Soopashinaab brings up a good point about latching on to things and that is what lost people do. Thank you all again for your educated and thoughtful responses.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Josiah View Post
                  Alot of the old ways were lost and shattered when Missionaries came to this country and taught us There ways
                  In Europe at the time of 1st contact women did not have any rights
                  Could not own Property, vote , no voice in politics

                  My tribe at that time
                  Women owned the home, had a equal seat within the council
                  and when a man and woman was married the man moved to the woman's clan

                  So alot of the equal rights that is spouted out nowdays comes form the European point of view
                  very true, the europeans accused the cherokee of having a "petticoat" government because women seemed to run everthing(in their prospective)

                  equality in the european way is far different from our veiw of equality, and in almost everyway.

                  i've live in europe, it seems odd, but there is still a degree of women work the house men work outside, not alot but the aura is still left, and for all their tolerance they now have there is still alot of racism, i had to go around Germany telling people i wasn't turkish that i was american because of how i look
                  Last edited by Flying_Raven; 12-31-2008, 04:49 PM.
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by soopashinaab View Post
                    That's some good words I hear... I agree with a lot of what's being said by you guys. I once was talking to some women about our roles in Ojibwe society, and I said something to about male and female having certain jobs so to speak... holay!! This one woman just about bit my head off!! LOL Calling me chauvinistic, and saying I was being a typical man. I spent the next 20 minutes re-explaining what it was I was saying to them. Eventually she settled down and listened to what I had to say.

                    In many ways our traditions have mutated into something else. In some ways it has to do with "Equal" rights, and the attitude of I can do what ever it is I want. In other ways its male arrogance... and we can't forget the people that make it up as they go.

                    Example; A jingle dress has to have 365 cones on it, one for each day of the year!!! Aren't we taught there are 365 1/4 days in a year... Hmmmm... sound kinda fishy!! LOL

                    In response to Josiah... up north in Ojibwe country a woman's place was outside the drum, not alongside of it. Just to let you know.
                    You know niji I have often wondered this, looking at some dresses you wonder how there could be 365 cones on them, because of the patterns that were used to make the dresses. Also, I have seen women dance with a cone or two missing, so then they would be two short of dancing within that tradition, and yet I do not see those ladies upset about it. Finally, what about all of the young girls I see dancing out there? Those dresses can scarcly have 50 cones on them. And these kids come from traditional famillies that have a long history of dancing.

                    I know we have discussed this at length here, but now I am really starting to wonder how much of this pow wow stuff is for real. Are we just making it up as we go along? I am starting to think that it is real only because we pretend to, or actually make it real.

                    I know there are other things that go on as well, things outside of pow wow life. I know thats where the answers lie.

                    Derek
                    I believe in something I want to believe, not what someone wants me to believe.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by crazywolf View Post
                      You know niji I have often wondered this, looking at some dresses you wonder how there could be 365 cones on them, because of the patterns that were used to make the dresses. Also, I have seen women dance with a cone or two missing, so then they would be two short of dancing within that tradition, and yet I do not see those ladies upset about it. Finally, what about all of the young girls I see dancing out there? Those dresses can scarcly have 50 cones on them. And these kids come from traditional famillies that have a long history of dancing.

                      I know we have discussed this at length here, but now I am really starting to wonder how much of this pow wow stuff is for real. Are we just making it up as we go along? I am starting to think that it is real only because we pretend to, or actually make it real.

                      I know there are other things that go on as well, things outside of pow wow life. I know thats where the answers lie.

                      Derek
                      Exactly my point... someone decided at one point that there should be 365 and as they say the rest is history!! My daughter wants to dance jingle, but understands not until after her first moon. I was told and tell my daughter it was a woman's dress. So she is patiently waiting...
                      I'm innocent I tell ya!!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by soopashinaab View Post
                        Exactly my point... someone decided at one point that there should be 365 and as they say the rest is history!! My daughter wants to dance jingle, but understands not until after her first moon. I was told and tell my daughter it was a woman's dress. So she is patiently waiting...
                        I am so glad to hear this. I told my daughter the same thing, 1st comes your first moon; it came & she went to some Oibway Aunties and they gave her permission so she was all rearing to go but I told her she now needs to wait until i know she can fully take on this responsibility (and control her temper), some less traditional dancers we know round here don't get it, the women who gave her permission totally get it though. This is bigger then going out there and kicking it up in fancy shawl, this is a prayer dress. Anyway to tie this into the currant thread...this is something men CAN'T do!
                        I think the 365 thing is some people tryin to be know it alls. when I first heard the jingle thing i couldn't wait for summer, I asked every jingle dancer I knew. They all had a reason why the 365 thing didn't make sense. 2 of them said the only good thing about it was the idea of taking a year to make the dress instead of a weekend job. And while some can do a damn fine weekend job, for to many that would be a not to attractive rush job.
                        Last edited by SuzzeQ4; 01-05-2009, 03:47 PM. Reason: lol i typed so fast it was filled with typos

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SuzzeQ4 View Post
                          I am so glad to hear this. I told my daughter the same thing, 1st comes your first moon; it came & she went to some Oibway Aunties and they gave her permission so she was all rearing to go but I told her she now needs to wait until i know she can fully take on this responsibility (and control her temper), some less traditional dancers we know round here don't get it, the women who gave her permission totally get it though. This is bigger then going out there and kicking it up in fancy shawl, this is a prayer dress. Anyway to tie this into the currant thread...this is something men CAN'T do!
                          I think the 365 thing is some people tryin to be know it alls. when I first heard the jingle thing i couldn't wait for summer, I asked every jingle dancer I knew. They all had a reason why the 365 thing didn't make sense. 2 of them said the only good thing about it was the idea of taking a year to make the dress instead of a weekend job. And while some can do a damn fine weekend job, for to many that would be a not to attractive rush job.
                          Does this mean I have to give up my dress???

                          I never bought bought into that 365 cones BS... Look at the old style dresses and there isn't even close to that amount!!! Besides there are 13 lunar cycles not 12 like the calendar says... drives me bananas what some people pass off as "Tradition". I tell people to listen with their heart, and the answer will come to them.
                          I'm innocent I tell ya!!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by soopashinaab View Post
                            Does this mean I have to give up my dress???

                            I never bought bought into that 365 cones BS... Look at the old style dresses and there isn't even close to that amount!!! Besides there are 13 lunar cycles not 12 like the calendar says... drives me bananas what some people pass off as "Tradition". I tell people to listen with their heart, and the answer will come to them.
                            Ah yep, no dress for you!!

                            The 13 moons is exactly why I went running to ask about the 365 rumour!

                            as for your follow your heart advice it reminds me of the best teaching I was ever given, by a local Algonquin head of family; he told me "If it doesn't make common sense, don't believe it...we weren't fools" So i follow that, now that said If I don't understand something I learn more cause it might make sense but I don't know enough yet to know that, but when something doesn't make sense & is a load of bull the person spouting the bull doesn't usually have any more to add beyond "thats what i was told"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well... "that's what I was told!!"

                              Kidding... I'm kidding!!! You can put the bat down now!! LOL

                              We definitely live in a crazy world... someone should start a thread on "new" traditions!! We could all use a good laugh!!
                              I'm innocent I tell ya!!!

                              Comment

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