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Native Wanabe?

To: alt.pagan
From: (William Edward Woody)
Subject: Re: Native Wanabe?
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 1996 12:58:19 -0700 (Donn Chambers) wrote:

> Somone who wants to take bits and pieces from differing Native American
> cultures (a sweat lodge from this one, the pipe from that one, a prayer
> stick from another) without learning at all about the rest of the
> culture... like why the rituals are done the way they are, and why only
> a few certain people lead them.

Or even that only a few cultures even bothered with rituals in the 
first place. And the worse part is when these same folks turn around
and start mapping their belief system on the symbols they stole, and
then repackage it as True Indian Spirituality (TM), such as the
attempts to map colors with the four compass directions, and then
replace the LBRP's Judeo-Christian archangels with 'Grandfather Sun'
or somesuch crap.

Like there is a mapping. Or that all Indians had color associations with
the four directions. Or that even all Indians *had* four directions
to associate colors to--my tribe added 'up' and 'down' as the basic
set, and at least one tribe I know of had _7_ directions: the four
compass directions, up, down, and _into_the_heart_...

Or worse, the gal who taught at Merry Meet a class on a particular
exercise routine used by the tribe with _7_ directions, and who cut
the exercise routine down to four steps--because she thought the
original person who taught her the moves (which involve seven iterations,
one for each direction) was in error, because *obviously* there are only
four directions, not seven. And so, instead of asking for enlightenment,
she mangled the entire thing....

> Someone who thinks there is one Native American path.

Don't get me started on this one!!!

> Someone who is impatient, and wants to learn immediately, and so turns
> to books by white experts or apples for knowledge, and ignores what
> people who live in the culture say.

Here's one: do you want to listen to the divine spirits say in my
culture's tradition? I've once had some folks trail along when I wanted
to go hiking alone to meditate and listen to the divine. I explained
what I was doing--and they said great! we'd love to worship with you.
*sigh* Okay, you can come along.

So without explanation I took us up to an extremely lovely part of
the wilderness, next to a bubbling brook. I sat down, asked them to
sit down, and said 'be quiet.'

Fidget. Fidget. "What next?" "Why are you doing what you're doing?"
"What's going on?" "When can we leave?" and finally "You're wierd."

On the way back, they asked me what I was doing. And I said "I was
trying to listen."


"Silence is God speaking."

Afterwards, the guy who came along got his hands on such a book,
which discussed mostly Navaho philosophy. And came down hard on me
for pulling such a cruel prank. And to this day it's one of the
reasons why he never wants to speak to me again.

Some folks never learn.

> People who tell you not to listen to the Indians that live on the Rez,
> because they've lost touch with the "real" spirituality. (honestly, I've
> heard this from several different people, a couple of them real
> "Native Americans" with whiter skin than me, and my Indian features
> are pretty much diluted to my nose and eyes.)

I've also run into 'don't listen to the Indians who no longer live on
the reservation because they've lost touch with 'real' spirituality.'
Like holding a job or driving a car makes you any less Indian.


> This is a short list of my personal qualifications.  Anyone have
> anymore to add.

Only one, my favorite:

Those who, when you explain to them your personal experience, as it
comes from your heart, tells you your full of shit because it doesn't
agree with the book they just got through reading last week.

                                                - Bill

William Edward Woody  |  e-mail:
In Phase Consulting   |  WWW:
1545 Ard Eevin Ave    |  Fax:    (818) 502-1467
Glendale, CA 91202    |  ICBM:   N:34.15' W:118.25'

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