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.

No comments: