Author Topic: Natives Don't Have "Shamans"  (Read 8827 times)

Offline educatedindian

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Natives Don't Have "Shamans"
« on: August 06, 2005, 08:25:28 pm »
barnaby_mcewan" <barnaby_mcewan@yahoo.co.uk>  
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 11:47:34 -0000
Subject: [nafps_again] Re: No Shamans...really?

--- In nafps_again@yahoogroups.com, haidadawn <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> "Shamanism Is Not New Age"
>
> "Shamanism, although a recognized pathway, is in no way connected to> the Native Americans. Anyone who tells you that they are one in the
> same is full of crap! "
>
> "There were NEVER any shamans in the Native American culture"
>
> "no such thing as Native American 'Shaman'"
>
> "contrary to popular opinion, a "shaman" is not an Indian medicine> man, and "shamanism" is not a Native American religion. In fact,> many Native Americans find the terms "shaman" and shamanism"> offensive."

What are the sources of these quotes?

> In North America,  Alaska Native people are most certainly Native> Americans. Eskimos such as the Aleut, Inupiat, and Yup'ik, and> various Indians groups such as the Athabascan tribes, Haida, and
> Tlingit all fit this description, all of which have or had Shamans...
> this is what I learned because I grew among these people.

Which ones? Did you learn to speak any of their languages?

'Shaman' is a an English derivation of a Siberian word. However:

'Siberians themselves distinguish between several different types of  practitioners and adepts too loosely labeled "shamans" by outsiders.'

(Alice Beck Kehoe, 'Shamanism And Religion: An Anthropological Exploration In Critical Thinking.' Waveland Press, 2000. p.4.)

If it's too vague to apply to everyone in Siberia that anthropologists  would like to apply it to, then it's certainly inappropriate to use it to describe Indians.

http://www.alutiiqmuseum.com/wordsofweektext/36shaman.htm

This page shows that the word "shaman" is *not* an Alutiiq word. The fact that you try to use it as evidence in your favour shows that you've
fallen into a classic error: you believe that there is a thing called 'shamanism' which really exists in the world.

It's a category invented by Westernanthropologists into which many of them, blinded by racist ideas about 'primitive' people, busily shoehorn people who seem to occupy similar positions in their respective societies to Siberian shamans. That page gives us the nearest English equivalent to an Alutiiq word. It doesn't prove that the imaginary category 'shaman' applies to their society.

Similarly the other page you mention is in English, and is part of a site intended to bring tourism and investment to Alaska. 'Native shamans' are presented as a tourist attraction like the mountains and bears.

There may well be similarities between Siberian shamans, Alutiiq kalla'aleks, and ritualists from the other nations you mention. I'd be suprised if there weren't given their geographic closeness. But to say they all practise a variant of 'shamanism' just perpetuates racist thinking about 'primitive' people.

So, no shamans. Really. Deal with it.

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Natives Don't Have "Shamans"
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2005, 08:29:51 pm »
Michael Two Horses" <twohorse@u.arizona.edu> ? Add to Address Book
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 19:10:56 -0000
Subject: [nafps_again] Re: No Shamans...really?

No. ? None of the Alaska Natives I know refer to themselves as "Native Americans." ? Most of them refer to themselves by their particular Innu grouping, and few ever use the word "Eskimo," which has a pejorative meaning. ? And the problem is really the word "shaman," which doesn't have any roots on this continent, but which is used -
primarily by newagers - as a catch-all for a whole bunch of non-shamanic religious traditions.

mth

mibby529" <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> ? Add to Address Book
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 21:28:42 -0000
Subject: [nafps_again] Re: No Shamans...really?

Actually, Innu's what the Cree call themselves. Different language family.

It's a common mistake. It's made more complicated because there's a group in northern Japan called the Ainu.

Michael Two Horses" <twohorse@u.arizona.edu>  Add to Address Book
Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 01:58:21 -0000
Subject: [nafps_again] Re: No Shamans...really?

Actually, Innu is the Inupiaq word for "person" or "human being."  I got that from an Innu, by the way, a guy from Nunavit, who supplied
a lot of the information we use in teaching about the Inuit and Inupiaq in the U of A TRAD101 course, Many Nations of Native America.

mth

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Natives Don't Have "Shamans"
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2005, 08:32:10 pm »
vikinglady03" <banfield@algonet.se>  Add to Address Book
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 19:51:58 -0000
Subject: [nafps_again] Re: No Shamans...really.?..not here either...!

The aboriginal people in Sweden, the Samiis (who have many similarities to Siberian aboriginals, partly due to the climate and environment they live in )call their "medicine-people" for "nåjder".
One of my friends is Samii and her grandmother was what in many NA cultures would be called a Medicine Woman. But she was only referred
to as "A wise woman".

Quite often here in Sweden we hear people talk about the Samii shamans or the Samii´s shaman drums. But according to my Samii friends the word Shaman has never existed in their lanugage.( Granted there are several different Samii languages.....) And the Samii people here are also sick and tired of the strange mix of ingediences
here: NA culture ( or rather SOME parts of SOME of the beliefs in SOME of the NA tribes ) + new age + Siberian-Alaskan-Greenland worldviews + Asian-Indian beliefs + Chinese Horoscopes + Samii
beliefs + Christinaity ( yes, we have new agers offering Christ-healing here...what IS that??! ) and why not a little bit of Norse Gods´ Sagas....and out comes a wonderful stew called Shamanism.

I guess the good thing is you can pretty much make your own stew with any ingredients you can get hold of ...:))

Soooo....I don´t think that the word Shaman has got many roots on this continent either APART from the real Shamans in Siberia.

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Natives Don't Have "Shamans"
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2005, 08:35:43 pm »
spirit_guardian_2000" <huhanas_consultancy@hotmail.com>  
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2003 00:56:10 -0000
Subject: [nafps_again] Re: No Shamans...really?

Generic terms does try to fit the old adage one size fits all and with practices and spiritual rituals etc, evidence shows they are not the same throughout all cultures. I think the generic term shaman
diminishes the quality of the work done by other cultures. My people or rather our Tohunga are not shaman, they practice differently.
We believe differently. Shaman is for siberian, not for other cultures to describe what a healer or a specialist in medicines, practices and other skills that our Tohunga or even your ancestral experts were.
Hu


--- In nafps_again@yahoogroups.com, mibby529 <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> I figured as much. Melanesia isn't really much like central Siberia > anyway.
>
> Supposedly universal terms obscure over important details. For > example, the Farsi word bardaj originally meant a boy prostitute;
by > the end of the 18th century, its Gallicized spelling (berdache) came > to mean Indians of "in-between" gender, such as a hermaphrodite or
a > transvestite. OTOH, the Tongan word tabu (forbidden) has maintained > its meaning perfectly when the English borrowed it.
>
> Also, certain words, it's the use. Notice the Cree word esquimeaux > (one who speaks differently) and how it's been used. Or the Algic > suffix -skwa. Both words today would be considered quite offensive > simply because of historical use.
>
> --- In nafps_again@yahoogroups.com, "spirit_guardian_2000"
> <huhanas_consultancy@h...> wrote:
> >
> > its not valid among Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian > > indigenous cultures but then the european colonist has given this > > word to explain our traditional healers, so it has become a word.
> > Until then, it didnt exist among these peoples.
> > Cant speak for NDN but as I understand it the European colonist > > introduced the word there too.
> > Huhana