Tuesday, September 2, 2008

We are not Immigrants!!!

We are not a nation of entirely immigrants. Some of our ancestors were here before wholesale immgration to the western hemisphere began. If my ancestors crossed the "Ice Bridge" then they were the ORIGINAL settlers of this continent. Meaning in the usual eurocentric traditions the newer mmigrants moved onto land owned and deeded to people ALREADY living there. Furthermore, because my forebears couldn't lay hand to their copy of the deed (which incedentally, I'm sure was under a pile of hides in the corner of the wigwam, tipi or longhouse at the time) we have beenconstantly losing ground to a culture that has overwhelmed us by sheer numbers. If the hispanic population continues as projected, newer immigrants will outstrip the "grand old families" of immigrants. What will the "grand old families" have to say when someone moves into theri old digs? Oh, I just remembered the "right to bear arms clause! How convenient.
Once the vast resources of this continent are depleted, where will these guys emigrate to? South America? What about after the planet's eventual depletion at the current rate? Then the moon? Mars? Maybe there is OIL there, or some other easily exploited power source.
I realize I give no answers to all of this. I think the answer has to start with all of us, rich, poor, middle class, Foreign and Domestic, weird and plain to start putting our resources to the most important of our current and pressing needs as stated by a native long ago: Let us prepare for the Seventh Generation unborn.

'nuff for today
Shey Hoy

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tiny Houses. A great Concept!

I was surfing the other day, and you know how serendipitous things can be, this popper up and I thought it was something worth comment. Have you heard about tiny houses? Check out this link Tiny House and see what I'm talking about. It's pretty interesting to see how people are living in a minimum of space. Pretty radical thought in America, land of the 250,000 sq ft home. Very needed in the battle we need to realistically start on sustainability. What is the minimum space you could live in? I think with the right setup, I could live in about 140 to 150 square feet. My family would not be as happy in such a small space. Currently we have about 1200 square feet and it seems no one has any space. In the Orient, people are used to living in small spaces, and do just fine. Probably what you get used to. I was listening to Montana Public Radio the other day, and this man was trying to get people to believe that we need to quit building on farmland and create communities that are more densely populated and utilizing what we have more efficiently. Allowing people (all people, especially poor ones) access to land that they can use to farm and produce their own foods. Bring back the craftsman, and small farmers and becoming locavores. Teaching people to can and put up their own foods, and thus stopping hunger. Putting people back to work doing all sorts of work that was taken away by machines. Paying people a fair price for their goods, and receiving fair value for our own labors. Pretty much the opposite of what we have now. I have come across this thinking before, here at Dave Pollard's site. This particular blog helps to understand why things are the way they are, and although it will be a tough road to change that, we will start having to move in the direction these people are moving. Poor people eat junk food because it's cheap and bad for you. Hence, they are more likely to have serious health problems. Health problems shorten and decrease quality of life, as well as cost extra at health insurance time, causing less money to be available for nutritious food, so you can only buy cheap, bad food, and then if that's not enough, it is perpetuated in the next generation because they know nothing else. An unsustainable cycle. sooner or later there will not be enough workers to do the labor required to keep the bourgeoisie in the manner in which they have become accustomed to. A veritable house of cards with lives as the supports. Insanity.
Done ranting for today, Shey Hoy

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Painting Part 2

I said earlier I was painting, and this is the
series from the last week. i am using a watercolor notebook made by Moleskine. the first two look pretty bad, as far as I'm concerned. the clouds are lackluster and boring. The clouds in the second look like a crippled plesiosaur.

The First one is a hazy day here in the valley, the second is after I watched an eight minute You Tube video, and got some good ideas and came up with something pretty good, by my standards.

I have one last picture to show off, and that is the sort of southwest thing I managed to paint while my son was swimming for an hour at home. I did watch him swim, and paid attention to him, I was within 16 feet from him at all times. And the pool is only 2 1/2 feet deep.

I think it is a good thing to look at the way light works in watercolor paintings, because most of the paint is transparent, a great discussion of Lambert-Beers law and the interaction of light and matter can take place. One other thing I will mention is that I watched a video from Micheal Wilcox about mixing blue and yellow not making green and recieved some of the best scientific and artistic information on color theory ever. After looking at that and changing my paints somewht, I now usually can mix exactly what I want. It really is a pretty good system. And one of these days, I will break down and buy a set of those paints, instead of havng to make do with others. Who says Art and Science don't make a good pair? Shey Hoy. (by the way, I had a few formatting problems, so I hope this get out OK.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I'm painting again, which is to say I've picked up and dusted off my paintbrush again in artistic endeavor. As I mentioned last week, I have picked up a new notebook, and found my watercolors (field set and crayons) and set my hand to page. Such as it is. I have always wanted to be able to draw and paint lifelike portraits and deeper than deep realistic landscapes. So far, that sort of thing is beyond me, but I keep trying. Maybe when I'm 80 or so I'll get good at that sort of thing. I paint some abstract and symbolic things now, and people tell me they like them, but you can never tell. Maybe I need to actually buy frames for the art so it looks like I'm a real artist. My art friends tell me that I really should paint more, I guess because they think I might have some talent. I have listened to them, because they would know, and they tell me the truth for the most part. Things like I'm good looking and make beautiful jewelry. I love to paint with acrylics, I like the ability to add texture and wild colors like the photo below.
I call this "Formed v. Unformed" and there are a lot of details involved that I won't go into here, just take a look and tell me your opinion, should I keep on painting or hang it up? ;)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Curriculum Development, Pt 1

I have been away working on a curriculum project I'm on in Fort Collins, Colorado. With all of the other things I do, this has been pushed to the back burner for the last couple of months. To all of the people I work with on that project, I apologize. Making new things and trying to not use old things is a difficult task at best. Original thinking is a a premium these days, and highly underrated. In the political arena, the scientific area, education, agriculture, automobile, all are suffering from the "in a rut" syndrome. Any new thinking is maybe being held off until after the Presidential elections, or the New Year or some other regime change. My new thinking has been held off due to family matters, but at least I have a weak excuse. Native science has been in full force with me, and writing has been cast aside. I really don't enjoy writing sometimes, but I also feel that if I totally stop, my ideas will languish and die. The thought itself will continue, but the record of it's progress will stop. As a constantly evolving entity, the knowledge section always is past explanation here, and I hope the crumbs and fragments of the basic ideas get through.
This is also a curriculum development activity. A written document chronicling the thought patterns of someone who walks in at least two different neighborhoods in the same city. Many natives call it living in two worlds, but as I see it, there is only one world, one place humans can call the communal home. If I went to China, or France, I would still be in this one world, but the perceptions around me would change of the same place, would they not? Do we all see the same world? I have asked this before, I think, but it is worth revisiting. Would you want to see the world through my eyes and I out of yours? Some days I think the world has gone into the proverbial hand-basket. Other days are much better. Especially days without television.

More on that later.

My newest thing are my Moleskine sketchbook and watercolor notebook. These are the best thing to come along for a while for the writer and artist. Nice lined, unlined and sized pages, great paper, variety of styles, all good stuff. Check them out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Folk Festival in Butte, MT

etozI was in Butte, MT this weekend as a vendor for the festival, and it was pretty interesting. There were about 60-70 thousand people that attended. I was there with my business, Salish Silver, selling silver handmade jewelry. Part of being a Renaissance Indian is keeping up with multiple arts and cultural events. I have several very good friends that are excellent artists, Valentina La Pier, a Blackfeet Indian from Browning (living in Arlee, MT) whose paintings are too great to ever pass up if you have the funds, and DG House, a Cherokee living in Bozeman, MT who has animal and native paintings and prints that are distinctly different from others. Both of these ladies I count among some of the best people I know. I also was able to talk to Leroy Whiteman, an antler carver who makes the best antler carvings I have ever seen. Merle and Nicole Big Bow from Ronan were there with their beadwork, paintings and crafts, all beautiful things. It was like old home week visiting with all of these talented artists. I'm glad that my son is able to meet and get to know these prople as well, because it shows him the value of making friends with good people. Of all the artists, DH is like a sister to me, we can see each other once a year or month or whatever, and we're always just glad to see each other. I call her about once a month to keep up with her, she travels to shows all over the western US and meets some pretty interesting people. I think we probably have 30 DG House prints at my home, and always looking for a place to cram another three or four in. It's the most awesome wallpaper you have ever seen anywhere. My artist friends always tell me to paint more, and I should, but I need to sleep sometime as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Weeks of travel

I have been a traveling man the past several weeks, I was in Challis, ID during the second week of June presenting and participating in a "Pathways to Mars" workshop. NASA and NSF provided funding for this, (I think) and there were a variety of activities. For my part I made an atlatl (AT latl) to show how it was used. People love to throw things, don't they? Projectiles are an important part of all cultures, whether or not you want to believe it or not. Hunting and protecting your family are pretty good reasons to have some sort of projectile around. The Maya used them to puncture the armor of invading Spaniards before disease weakened them to a point where it made no difference. Atlatls have been found on every continent except Antarctica.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Symbols of the present.

Symbols seem to surround us, from traffic signs to restroom and directional arrows. We have chemical symbols, warning symbols, the hazard diamond just in my field of chemistry. What about numbers? They are symbols as well based on an Arabic decimal system from the ninth century. Think about the symbols 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0. (remember that zero is a fairly new idea in numbers) What exactly do they mean? The first numeral system was probably tally marks. Marking one line for each counted item would have become unruly after the first hundred or so, at least very monotonous. Somewhere along the line, somebody made the decision to make another kind of mark mean some number of other marks. Revolutionary. World changing thought occurred in that instant. Something to think about. Around the same time, addition and subtraction must have been born, giving rise to mathematics. Mathematics is rife with symbols, all with their own life and system of operation. The next time you dial your cell phone, think about the symbol you have just used, as well as the status symbol you hold to make the call. Humans use symbols for many things, the list is constantly changing as well, evolving as we speak. The letters you are reading are symbols of the language that is fast becoming world-wide.
Something to think about...

Shey hoy

Monday, June 2, 2008

Check out salishworld.com

I try to put in something in Salish, the language of my ancestors, and I have been amiss in not getting this out sooner. Try out Salishworld and get the Salish online dictionary and the Salish font. You can contact NKwusm, the Salish language immersion school in Arlee, MT (sorry for the lack of fonts here, hard to get it online.) and get assistance in pronunciation of the letters and words of the Salish language. You can also contact the Salish Kootenai College Bookstore at (406)275-4722 and order language materials from my friends there. They can even e-mail you a list of current Salish books available from SKC press. I hope this will pique the interest of some in my language. Remember that the people's worldview is rooted in the speech and metaphor of the individual placed-based groups.

Shey hoy

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Medicine Men of Today

Where are the great medicine men of the twenty-first century? Have they been born? Or will our traditions be diluted further by the west? I start the blog this week with a rant about medicine because my life the past couple of weeks has revolved around the hospital. Not the place for a nature-lovin' action-based thinker to hang out and get much done. My father has cancer, and it was caught by the coyote effect. He had a TB Tine test that came back positive, and the X-ray showed a mass in his lung. After some pretty extensive testing, it was determined that he had 2 sites, his left lung and just because we are a weird and difficult bunch, a totally different type of cancer in his bile duct. Atypical as all get-out. Usually the cancers are a primary site that metastasizes and then moves to other places. So I spent the night with my mother on watch at the ICU at St. Pat's in Missoula. Not a very comfortable place, the waiting room. I had to come home and teach, then back to the hospital to watch my father. He doesn't do well with many pain meds, and had a hard time getting rest for the first 4-5 days out of ICU. He only spent about 18 hours there, pretty robust for a 79 year old man, wouldn't you say? But he was pretty glassy-eyed from something in his epidural, and they finally changed that, and then the morphine. He is like me, and we pretty much had to take him off the pain meds to bring him back to us. He was loopy as hell for a week. slowed his recovery, I think because we couldn't walk him around too much, he was too unstable, and might have fallen. And then the leak in his lung kept going on, and this and that. Finally after 18 days in the place we finally got to bring him home. He had potato chips on the way home because he wasn't allowed salt. He had sausage and fried fish within a day, and I brought him dried meat as well. He had lost over 20 pounds. He asked for sausage and eggs as soon as he was able to eat, and the hospital denied him that because of his "heart-healthy" diet he was supposed to be on. He eats sausage or bacon for breakfast about once or twice a week, and has oatmeal the rest of the time. He's in better shape than I am. The man should have been allowed a decent breakfast for Pete's sake. And a little salt. Not a whole shaker a day, but maybe one little packet a day, just to make the food taste like something. Just for fun sometime, order a diabetic or heart healthy lunch at a hospital and see what it is like, and if you would make it a regular part of your daily regimen willingly. I realize that in some situations, those things are necessary, but not always. Especially if you are elderly and are losing weight by not eating because you food tastes and has a texture like sawdust. Some people try and get this part right, and it can be done fairly easily, but it is probably hard to do on the scale of a hospital.
I feel some outrage because it was my father, but I have also worked in a similar setting.
But because some folks don't seem to care much is not an excuse. When I worked as a nursing assistant in California, I tried to put as much care into what I did as humanly possible, mostly because I saw the patients as people, fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. I worked damned hard for the money I earned then, and was pretty well worn out at the end of the day, and then came home and cared for my own children. And then got up the next day and did it again. I work now just as hard in science and trying to preserve my culture because I see the value of it all. I think western medicine could learn something for the native, primarily in patient care. It should never be about the money. Always about the person. Not about the insurance or who pays what. Insurance and the like eats away at a person, and the costs are always too high. If you have a good paying job, you will live longer in this country. Is this because you can buy a few more days from the creator? Is that what we are doing when we use all of the tricks in a doctor's or specialist's bag to stay alive? I really don't know, but I need to end this, I'm running out of page. Let me know what you thing about my blog, leave comments and I'll give feedback wherever I can. Ask questions, suggest topics, I'm always thinking and wondering what people want to know.
For now, Shey Hoy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Agriculture or Agribusiness?

Much of what I hear about these days has to do with agriculture, but what is unsaid is that it is really agribusiness. I think of agriculture as the cultivation of crops for personal use or for your community. Agribusiness is that overarching mentality of having to make a dollar on whatever it is that you do. Most of the US is in agribusiness; we grow things that we can sell to feed others. In an article I read today by Michael Pollan titled "Why Bother" from the New York Times I found the statistic that the old "Victory Garden" supplied Americans with up to 40% of their produce a phenomenal idea. If you have property, grow a garden! According to Pollan, the benefits far outweigh the costs. It adds to the idea of sustainability, makes your life closer to a subsistence lifestyle. Heck, I'm even considering it, so I can have zucchini to give away! Beans, corn and squash have been the magic trio of vegetables on the Turtle Island for hundreds of years, why stop now? With global warming, I think I can even get a good crop of corn here in Montana. I pay electricity for a freezer I usually fill with frozen veggies, why not fill it with my own? I'm ready to get off my duff and grow something, even with the WORK involved. Saves electricity, gas, I will get some much needed exercise, spend time making my family weed the darned thing, and spend time with them, I think it's a great idea.
Agriculture instead of agribusiness, it's your choice.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to Collaborate with Native people.

Collaboration is a many splendored thing. It can be the best experience, and at the same time the worst. Collaboration is working together to meet some goal, make something happen, sharing communications in an altruistic manner. Collaboration is a hard thing to do, because not all of us will ask for/accept help. I wrote before that the Creator has given us all some special ability, but I think the ability given the most and used the least is the gift of communication. We can talk to one another, and through that activity gain insights on what another's thoughts are. Some people use this to benefit themselves. Some use it only enough to get through the day, with minimal interaction with others and all the nature around them. Can we communicate and collaborate with nature? I guess it depends on what you hear when the earth talks to you. Does the farmer or rancher keep using the land when he knows it needs to lay fallow? Good farmers let the earth rest, or use practices that minimize the effects of plowing and overgrazing. Here in Western MT some places have only the thinnest of usable soils available, and if you drive your ATV over it much, the vegetative supporting layer is destroyed. Continued use makes ruts and eventually gullys, ruining more land. Is this collaboration? Probably not, unless you confine the road use to existing roadways. then eventually the roadways limit use when natural processes make road use impossible. I collaborate with several people, and am always looking for new collaborators. But the process is time consuming and a little tricky. I started working with 2 ladies in a nearby city, and for about a year I went to their office and visited them, and had them come to my office. I feel that because of the investment I have made, that if they need to make a decision for me in a snap, they can, and for the most part I'm pretty comfortable with what is decided. If I need something from them, I'm comfortable with asking almost anything, because they worked towards the collaborative understanding as hard as I did. In essence the collaboration was forged. Look up a definition of forge and you find that it has some difficulty involved, from hammering metal, concerted efforts, trying to get ahead, any number of things related to making something. Even the negative, as in making a counterfeit, would involve an investment in time and resources to occur. Anyone who says collaborations are easy doesn't really know what it is all about, then, do they? To collaborate with Native people, greet them to begin with. The next thing is to set aside an extended time to really gain an appreciation for the culture, philosophy and personal relationships they have. Extended family and external forces are a constant with most of us, because we have familial responsibilities that are poorly understood by the west. A western person might have that weird uncle or auntie you only see at family reunions or gatherings and a native probably has one living with them, or sees that person on a day-to day basis. And, we care about and for that person, and feel we have to, all because of these family ties. Where the West would put someone in an institution (or nursing home etc...) , natives as a general feel they must take care of that person. Family duty or honor. We revere the elderly, because of what they know. This understanding is the hardest to explain, because there is no "typical" native family. Collaboration takes work, and when successful is a joy to the heart. If you decide to collaborate, spend the needed time to get to know your partners, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oral histories- future tense and Escape Pod

This is a shameless plug for my favorite audio podcast, Escape Pod. for recreation I read a great deal of science fiction, looking for that better place that fits my particular worldview. A story called Friction by Will McIntosh and read By Stephen Eley was something that fit my thinking on the day I listened to it. I was working and listening and thinking about what I was doing, and wondered about the friction we all face in our day-to-day lives. Made me think about what I want out of the rest of my life, and what changes I can make to enable that. I made a connect today with the oral histories, or futures as the case may be. I love hearing a story, as do all os us in our core. Stories that are of interest to us are even better. If you look at podcasts, make sure to include something enjoyable and even challenging to your list. You might learn something about yourself in the process. I like science fiction almost as much as science itself, and I am looking forward to a 16 foot 20 pound tipi sometime in the future. One that sets itself up with the push of a button. Well, maybe that would be inappropriate use of technology, but it would be cool, right? So head right over to http://escapepod.org for your Sci-Fi fix. See you in the future, right?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Community and what it means.

Community, in the native sense is all the people and places and things you know intimately. In the tipi days, everyone from every family (barring tribal taboos) talked to and knew people from their own and other families. People went "visiting relatives." During "visiting" I think much native knowledge was passed on, almost always in an informal setting. These settings were anywhere people met and talked. When you go to an elder and ask "How do you do that?" inevitably it requires several stories and anecdotes surrounding that information. It helps you have an intimate relationship with the giver and history of the information. The particular bit of knowledge may only be a few sentences, but the required cultural information is encoded into the lore associated with it. I guess it is sort of like owning a gun. It is all wood and steel with moving parts and shiny bits and browns and blacks and blues, and to you a thing of beauty. Then anyone can pick it up, and learn to put cartridges in and set it off. At face value, this is is no great feat. But instilling the associated moral, ethical and cultural values into a person before setting it off MUST be done to prevent it from being used in an inappropriate way. How do you get those moral, ethical and cultural values? You have to be associated and involved with a community that has those values. Someone once said, it takes a village to raise a child, which is true, but can be immediately negated if that village has no sense of community. We, as Indian people must strive to regain our communities, remember and visit our elders and maintain our ties to our land and community. This is a key ingredient of our unique place in the world of today, an important distinction and difference between the west and Indigenous people of the Americas. Indians are the only people I have observed that gather regardless of tribe and do meaningful activities. We carry our culture everywhere and dance, sing and talk because it is a part of our nature to be connected to many things at once. We just have to try and keep all those connections open.

Monday, April 7, 2008

One last note on Books!

I need to make a statement here on the book list and its addendum. I have specifically used titles I think will be attractive to a large audience. There are many more books I like but don't want on the list because I feel it may alienate a segment of the population. (Immigrants, you can figure this out for yourself or ask...) I have left out some books that are great, but tend to be inflammatory. Many of these titles include use of the words "racism" and "racist" far too much for my liking. I hope to move to a level above that and truly have meaningful discussions about what is appropriate science, and what the context and content should be for teaching. I say to everybody I talk to, "If the context fits, the content to fill that context is readily available." So anyone reading this blog should know that is my philosophy. E-mail me if you would like the optional list, I will get a list of authors sent back to you ASAP.

Xest snyaqukay (Good Afternoon in Salish. This blog doesn't allow me to use the Salish Font, so please bear with me.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Definitely Definitions

In the class I teach, NASD 210, I have this list of definitions I use derived mostly from Wiktionary. I thought it might be enlightening for people to see this list, and maybe get some comment. It is vital to have words and phrases defined in order to further discussion, to make sure we are all on a level playing field. I have edited this list somewhat for space. Just for your own purposes, look up technology. I think the answer will be quite enlightening. The list is in no particular order. Have a good day! Nem el es wichtmn! (I will see you again. the font isn't quite right, sorry Salish writers and speakers!)

Definitions for NASD 210
From http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Main_Page

1. The profession of teaching.
2. The activities of educating, teaching or instructing.

1. The methods or techniques used to teach adults.

1. born or engendered in, native to a land or region, especially before an intrusion, especially of plants and indigenous peoples.
2. figuratively, innate

Literally, "native to the soil"; from autochthon.
1. Native to the place where found; indigenous.
2. (biology, medicine) Originating, where found.
3. (geology) Buried in place, especially of a fossil preserved in its life position without disturbance or disarticulation.

1. Originating in a place other than where it is found.
2. (geology) Buried or found in a place remote from the site of formation.

1. First; original; indigenous; primitive; native; as, the aboriginal tribes of America.
2. Of or pertaining to aborigines; as, a Hindoo of aboriginal blood.

science (plural sciences)
1. The collective discipline of study or learning acquired through the scientific method; the sum of knowledge gained from such methods and discipline.
2. A particular discipline or branch of learning, especially one dealing with measurable or systematic principles rather than intuition or natural ability.
3. (Biblical) The fact of knowing something; knowledge or understanding of a truth:
4. (archaic) Knowledge gained through study or practice; mastery of a particular discipline or area.

religion (plural religions)
1. A system of beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body.
2. A number of customs and rituals associated with such beliefs.
3. Anything that involves the association of people in a manner resembling a religious institution or cult.
4. Any system or institution which one engages with in order to foster a sense of meaning or relevance in relation to something greater than oneself.

to consecrate
1. To declare, or otherwise make something holy.

1. Set apart by solemn religious ceremony; especially, in a good sense, made holy; set apart to religious use; consecrated; not profane or common; as, a sacred place; a sacred day; sacred service.
2. Relating to religion, or to the services of religion; not secular; religious; as, sacred history.
3. Designated or exalted by a divine sanction; possessing the highest title to obedience, honor, reverence, or veneration; entitled to extreme reverence; venerable.
4. Hence, not to be profaned or violated; inviolable.
5. Consecrated; dedicated; devoted; -- with to.
6. (archaic) Solemnly devoted, in a bad sense, as to evil, vengeance, curse, or the like; accursed; baleful.

1. desecration, profanation, misuse or violation of something regarded as sacred
desecration (plural desecrations)
2. An act of disrespect or impiety towards something considered sacred; blasphemy, sacrilege or profanation.

1. desecration, blasphemous behaviour, or the act of profaning

1. Belonging to one by birth.
2. Characteristic of or relating to people inhabiting a region from the beginning.
3. Characteristic of or existing by virtue of geographic origin.
4. (biology, of a species) Which occurs of its own accord in a given locality, to be contrasted with a species introduced by man.
5. (computing, of software) Written specifically to run on a particular processor.

The term comes from the Latin word occidentem meaning the "western sky, part of the sky in which the sun sets." [1] And like the term western, it is often used only to refer to things of or pertaining to France and England, and later came to include United States and Canada.
1. Of, pertaining to, or situated in, the occident, or west; western; – opposed to oriental; as, occidental climates, or customs; an occidental planet.
2. Possessing inferior hardness, brilliancy, or beauty; – used of inferior precious stones and gems, because those found in the Orient are generally superior.

1. (of a nation) The ability to make its own laws and control its own resources.
2. (of God) Supremacy over all, supreme authority. (Ref. ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords’)
3. (of self) The ability to make its own values and restraints. Also see autonomy.

1. A group of people sharing aspects of language, culture and/or ethnicity.
2. A historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture
3. (law) (international law) A sovereign state.

1. A socially, ethnically, and politically cohesive group of people.
2. (anthropology) A society larger than a band but smaller than a state.
3. The collective noun for various animals.

1. Of or pertaining to India or its people.
2. Of, or related to, the aboriginal people of the Americas, the people who lived in the Americas before the Europeans came, as well as the descendants of such people.

privilege (plural privileges)
1. A peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor; a right or immunity not enjoyed by others or by all; special enjoyment of a good, or exemption from an evil or burden; a prerogative; advantage; franchise.
2. (law) a common law doctrine that protects certain communications from being used as evidence in court.
prerogative; immunity; franchise; right; claim; liberty.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Additions to Book List

I have just added two new titles to my reading list. One is purely about teaching an learning science, Jack Hassard's "The Art of Teaching Science: Inquiry and Innovation in Middle and High School" (ISBN 0-19-515533-5) because it asks teachers to view teaching science as an art, and to add aspects of many different disciplines into a science class. Many of the types of experiential learning activities I use with adult learners are included as lessons for younger students. I think this approach works with all age groups because in our deepest core, it is the way we really learn to know something. We learn by doing and experiencing. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.
The second is 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann, ISBN 1-4000-3205-9. A very nice compendium of what indigenous peoples of the Americas were like before the arrival of the Europeans. No Science for Indians? I think not! Huge civilizations, running water, advanced mathematics, large community farms were all a tiny part of what the American continents carried in technology. I'm still in the process of reading and rereading this book, it keeps me coming back.
See you later!

Monday, March 24, 2008

About the Book List

I have been meaning to explain my book list, because some of the titles may seem confusing. American Indian Thought: Philosophical Essays, ISBN 0631223045 is loaded with Native American thinking and Philosophy, and is extremely enlightening reading. It has several essays I find empowering. All of the Gregory Cajete books detail native science and aboriginal teaching methods, so are a staple on my shelf. the ISBN numbers are Native Science: 1-57416-035-4. Igniting the Sparkle: 1-882308-66-2, and both add a pedagogical component to the list. David Abram's "Spell of the Sensuous" is a sociological and experiential look at the human need to be in touch with the environment. In the February 25, 2008 edition of People Magazine, Page 53 it seems that Ellen Page is reading this book, ISBN 0-679-77639-7. This is one of the books that truly made an impact on what I do in teaching and day-to-day life. Many of the things i take for granted it seems others must tune out. A huge MUST read book. I like only certain philosophies, and Taoism fits with my thinking nicely. I'm a Gemini, and have always faced this sort of dichotomy in almost everything I do. The Benjamin Hoff books using Pooh and Piglet to illustrate various principles are great books to read, even for casual interest. The Tao of Pooh is ISBN 0140067477 and the Te of Piglet is ISBN 0140230165. No indigenous Science bookshelf would be complete without Blackfoot Physics By F. David Peat, ISBN 1578633710. It is truly a great explanation of native science and thought. Chemtrek is a laboratory text, written by Dr Stephen Thompson at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. The ISBN is 0-205-11913-1. This whole laboratory series is presented in a way that allows students to learn in many different modes with inquiry, action-based experiences. This author is not a native (He's British); but he thinks and teaches like one. I know Dr. Thompson personally, and he puts his student's education before anything else. While Chemtrek is a College-level text, the other title, Small-scale Chemistry Laboratory Manual by Thompson and Waterman is designed for High School level courses. That ISBN is 0201250071, and is somewhat harder to find. American Indian Contributions to the World by Emory Dean Keoke and Kay Marie Porterfield , ISBN 0816040524 is a super-duper reference to all kinds of native inventions that have changed the world. The Joseph Campbell and J.F. Bierlein books help bridge stories to science, and help understand the roots of our past. ISBN numbers are 0385418868 and 0345381467 respectively. I think I have listed all of the pertinent information for the book list, and hope it benefits you. Xest Xalxa, (Good Day, in Salish)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Knowing By Listening

How much do you know by what you have listened to? I mean really know? I know sometimes that my car needs a quart of oil, just by the sound of the engine. I know that the dog next door has been stepped on by the horse -AGAIN. I know that the car that drives by needs the brakes fixed. Can you tell how the forest feels by the way it sounds? Can you tell the water in the creek is polluted by the song it sings? Sometimes you can, sometimes not. Do the little birds that are now starting to return sing a song that is sad and needs care? I have listened to people walking by in the mall and heard angry, happy and sad footsteps, tired, old and young footsteps. It is very funny to have your eyes closed and look up and see old steps on a young person, and vice versa. The sound tells a little story about that person, as do the sparkle in their eyes, the way they hold themselves, their dress, and even their choice of shoes. I have heard women with voices like nails on a chalkboard, silk, a small stream, hoarse, husky, hard, sad, righteous and pitiful, as well as hundreds of other things. Men have the same voices, but all different. How many people can you identify in three spoken words or less?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Knowing- the Native Way.

Epistemology, or how do you know what you know. An interesting idea, this. Hmm, how do I know what I know? I know because I've studied it, done it, experienced it, tasted it, loved it, hated it, listened to it, taught it, and lived it. To quantify and question a person's knowledge seems a poor way to honor the person, if you ask me. If anyone asks my help, it is freely given, with what facilities I have at my disposal. Sometimes it is merely a shoulder to cry upon, moral support, or simply leaving a message. The occasional tire changing, faucet fixing, and quick jewelry repair are also included in that help. Sometimes the help is in the form of a refusal, as well, such as not lending someone beer money. I've helped people build their houses, paint their cars, and watch their children. I've also had to rely on others for those same things. Every one of us is the best at what we do in at least one thing. I try to empower others with that phrase. Think about that, really exceptional at one thing. It sounds like a PhD in some phase in life, doesn't it? I know a woman with 6 children, and she has a PhD in Patience, with special honors. Never loses her temper. I know another who tans and scrapes hides, she deserves a PhD in that. I know a man who can dry meat (sort of jerky, but not quite) and can cut meat like no tomorrow who deserves a PhD for that knowledge. The west is concerned with a piece of paper that informs others of your prowess in some field. All you really need to do is talk to people, most will tell you what they are passionate about, and what they do. I think that to test what people know is a hard business, and will continue to be a challenge for the west. Indigenous peoples look at a person with wrinkles and grey hair and see a library of life lived, with many lessons to be shared. The west seems to discard these like paperback books, a sad commentary if you ask me. The volumes of knowledge walking among us may never be truly realized.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Indigenous Thought!

A basic underpinning of indigenous thought is the realization of the interconnectedness of all things. Deep ecology comes to my mind as another sort of explanation, but as a thought process. If you are truly connected to the place you live, you can look and see where one thing depends on another for its being there. We have Rough-legged hawks that winter here in the valley, because we have a good supply of small rodents. We have a good supply of rodents because we have grain and grasses the grow here in plenty. In order to have grasses, we have to have the right rain and sun patterns that allow them to grow here. We also have the whitetail deer, who also have a great love for grasses, so we can count ourselves lucky to have those beings here as well. To me, philosophically, this is a great place to live because you can still see things connecting without much human damage. But the damage is happening, places traditionally used for food gathering and other cultural traditions are being used for housing sites, plowed under, and trampled by improper livestock practices. I see use of the land making certain places tired. It is something to drive by a piece of property (I truly mean in the western sense, fences and all.) and see and/or feel that it needs a break from the constant winter pasturing of x numbers of cattle. I like beef as much as the next omnivore, but there has to be a better way. Always, always always, Is man a part of nature or are we above it?

That is my thought for today.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Buckskin Encampment: Want to join?

How about the concept of a "Buckskin Encampment"? This ideology would allow for multiple learning styles, all within the autochthonous milieu, and also would foster the idea sharing among many, as well as knowledge in return for becoming a part of the community. This is where we need to go as natives involved in education, learning, science and community. All peoples need to learn how to connect with the world around them. For the most part, those who have maintained as indigenous as possible still teach and live this way, from what I've seen and heard. I am using this as a counterpoint to the "Ivory Tower" syndrome prevalent in western education. It is changing, but institutions change glacially. As far as where you come from, it could be a wigwam, igloo or even a cave. I think the concept really depends on the place you are at, and then further defined by the group of people. If someone acquires the first and most basic understandings of native thought, the rest should be guided in a good way. As we know, the west does not want to wait to gain understanding, they want it right gosh-darned-to-heck right now. Understanding takes time and observation as well as patience. Native traits would better serve the world!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Navigational Narration or Native Navigation

I'm writing a supplement to the Geocache post, and adding the term NN, for Navigational Narration or Native Navigation. This refers to the process of creating a story to get from one place to another, hence the update. If you don't use a formal written language, and rely on oral history communication, a story of getting from place to place is a logical outcome. As this all refers back to caching, think of a story of the things you would find from your recliner to the cookie jar. I myself would emerge from my chair and turn towards the mountains, and cross the linoleum expanse of the plains of the gathering zone, passing by the canine font and eatery, along the cliffs of despair, past the frozen food repository and near the bread burning device to find the receptacle of sugary goodness. (the cliffs of despair would be on the counter where the bills accumulate! You should be able to figure out the rest of the landmarks.)

Just remember, every where you go, a story is just waiting to be recorded and told!

Sunwise or antisunwise, that is the question.

Deiseil or Widdershins? With the sun or against it? I have a great love for archaic and older words, because they tend to be more descriptive than the tripe we see most of the time. I had read the word widdershins in a murder mystery some time in the past, and found that it meant dancing in an anti-sunwise direction. I thought to myself, “There has to be another old word to describe the opposite. Hmmm.” I looked in my old dictionary from my parents’ house; you know the type, about 8 by 10 by about a foot thick? My mom purchased it because it was the first on she had found with the word “antidisestablishmentarianism.” My three siblings and I had to learn to spell this word because some girl had won a spelling bee on television with it at some point. In this monster of a dictionary it said under widdershins, see also deiseil. These words are of meaning to me because at our war dance celebration in July, and all other pow-wows, we (Salish, Kootenai, Pend d’Oreille people) dance deiseil. Our neighbors across the mountains, the Blackfeet, dance widdershins. As you may have been able to deduce, sunwise and anti-sunwise also mean clockwise and counterclockwise. Other terms might include sinistra and destra. More familiar than that might be dextrous, or ambidextrous, meaning right-handed or either handed, but both with the root right handed, and sinister, meaning left handed and also evil. Do we really think anymore that left-handed people are sinister, and evil, or is it just an arbitrary trait we have specifically bred for?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Indigelogy, maybe a better term.

I think I need to revise yesterday's term a little. Indigegogy would be the art or science of teaching a place, not very good. I think, if I have the definition right. Indigelogy would be the study of being or becoming indigenous, see also acculturation, enculturation. The process of being or becoming engendered. See also non-didactic. I have spent way too much time looking up definitions on Wiktionary.com and trying to assimilate them into a cohesive area of thought to define terms. It is very hard to provide a word to describe what I'm trying to do in my class. But the sun shines, and provides warmth, the rain and snow fall to provide drink, and the deer and elk are close enough to provide meat. The warmth is a big deal currently, as we are in the midst of one of the coldest times in recent years. The air is fairly clear, and crisp and cold, and if you breathe slow enough your nose doesn't freeze up. It is a beautiful time of the year, as the earth and plants rest for the coming spring, and a blanket of white covers the ground like a big fluffy comforter. I prefer down instead of snow, myself. I like this weather because it hopefully will be long enough to freeze some insects, keep snow in the mountains so we will have a good year of fishing, and it makes families spend time close together. In the native sense we tell stories, and shake hands with those we know when we meet them, hold medicine doings, and embrace the new year that comes after the winter solstice.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Word- "Indigegogy"

I coined a new word today, for my class at SKC called "Introduction to Indigenous Science." Yes, the word is Indigegogy. The etymology is the art or science of learning to or becoming indigenous. From this Site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedagogy
where terms like andragogy are also explained, which is the art or science of teaching adults. You are also probably most familiar with the word pedagogy, which is the same art or science, yet relating to children. Yep, children. why is it called pedagogy if we are not children? Do children learn the same as adults? I tend to think not in the same way. Tell me what you think, please.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cache: Native or Geo?

I have been working this week on the activity of geocaching. The thing I see about this is while it is great fun of a sort, you seem to spend an inordinate amount of time looking at the little digital dial as opposed to actually looking for landmarks. If you stop and look around, you have to start walking again (hopefully in the right direction) to get where you're going. Another caveat is that if the 27 geosynchronous satellites aren't in a good place, you can be off by 100 feet or so. Searching a 100 foot circle (or larger) it could take some time to find a quart jar sized object. And then, if you didn't pay enough attention going to the cache, you hopefully way pointed your car so you can get out and go home. Never mind if you run out of batteries. But again, these are some of the drawbacks. It is kind of a fun and recreational activity. If you have the $$ for a GPS unit. Let us contrast this to what I'm calling the Native Cache system. Say the tribal leader appoints me to take about 8 people and get a bison, dry the meat and bring it back. I'm probably going to be pretty resistant to the idea of taking all of my belongings and the food that my family (not to mention the other families involved) have collected throughout the spring and summer. I'd probably cache it somewhere my family spent time, or along a trade route, but not too close. I would also have to tell whoever was left behind where it was in case I didn't return. Using the descriptive Salish language, I might leave directions something like: Go to where the three big pines south of Ocqe'e'(Ronan) near Crow Creek and turn towards the mountains. There is a bunch of thorn apple trees halfway to the base of the mountain. Look for a tipi pole with red ribbons at the top in the closest bunch. From the bottom of that pole, walk 25 paces towards Sheepshead and look for a round rock as big as a baby's head. The cache is buried under that rock. The only problem with these directions is that the three big pine trees have succumbed to age, and the descriptors would not make much sense to non-indigenous personnel. There are several stories about that place, and things that happened there, so it lives in my memory, from the oral tradition. I'm quite sure it has some set of numbers associated with it, but my friends and other local people would know where it was from the description I just gave, which is all true except the tipi pole and the cache. For this to Native Cache system work you have to look around and be in touch with the local surroundings and landmarks. Both could be fun, even combined to appreciate both activities. She hoy

Today is Waxing Gibbous!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Drums and Strings

What about drums? What about Strings? An interesting thought, I said to myself this morning. A stringed instrument can have different pitches, and by changing the length you can have a cacophony of sound from even one string. With six strings like a guitar? Should be enough differences for anyone. The string resonates and through whatever it is attached to, creates a pleasing melody if you are skilled enough. Or think you are skilled enough. A drum resonates much like a string, but instead of being a line, it forms a plane, with a fixed length and width and in the western sense, one tone. The depth of tone may be reflected as the heartbeat of the world, and for some be a primal link. Do planes or lines appeal to you? I like both. I have a banjo, which is the best of both worlds. Now if I can just find a tiny little drumstick... Sound is an integral part of an indigenous scientist's arsenal of senses, and a beautiful thing. Have you ever sat near a stream in late summer an just listened to the crickets, just to listen? Have you heard the wind blowing in the trees during a storm and heard the cries if the trees as they bend and break? or heard heavy snow as it falls? Rhythm in nature is always there, just waiting to be discovered. Try listening to a large spider in her web after she's caught something. Pretty interesting, if you ask me. If you are a first-time reader, please answer my poll on indigenous lower on the page. Later.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What type are you?

The other day I was driving down the road (this is Western Montana, where you HAVE to drive unless you live in town) and noticed the grasses on the side of the road. I saw short and tall grass stems. Interesting, I thought to myself, what are the ecological ramifications of being either a short or tall grass? As a short grass, you could spend much of your effort producing seeds quickly, and allowing them to fall only a short distance, but allowing you to cover the ground easily. If you opted for the tall grass, and invested in better seeds and greater height, you would be able to spread through a greater distance, and eventually filling in the spaces in between. Benefits and costs all along the way for either path. You know, with much room in the middle for others. Again, Nature tries all the myriad ways, and some succeed, some don't. If you can, search out the Red Queen Hypothesis and see what I feel the heart of ecology really is.