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.

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