Author Topic: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?  (Read 5352 times)

Offline Yiwah

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Tan'si,

I'm bringing this here because it's a lively debate among many educators and those working to promote aboriginal teachings and/or work with urban native communities.  The question is essentially...are some aspects of 'pan-Indianism' useful or valuable despite not being rooted in traditional teachings?

I am referring specifically to things like the medicine wheel, which has been long used (and abused) by natives and non-natives alike.  Many of us are aware that there are no medicine wheel teachings from our particular nation.  Some nations do have these teachings, yes, but often what those of us outside of those few nations learn about the medicine wheel comes from brightly coloured charts used while planning aboriginal language curriculum, or health outcomes ;D

I have heard good arguments for using the symbolism of the medicine wheel to engage native students or urban aboriginal adults in a holistic manner.  However, I have also recently encountered the argument that the medicine wheel is evolving into a legitimate 'pan-Indian' symbol/teaching/expression based mostly in the intertribal nature of the urban aboriginal experience, which is then fed back into on-reserve approaches.

I'm not entirely convinced.  My main fear is that children are being raised to believe that the medicine wheel is 'traditional'.  On the other hand, our traditions evolve.  Urban life is the reality for most of us now and while we still tend to interact most with the aboriginal community, that community is often not culturally homogeneous (ha, outside of the Prairies anyway, miywasin!).  So that blending of native culture is going to happen, and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, I like to think out loud, but I'm going to stop here to avoid a monster first post.  There are other examples of pan-Indianism out there and evolving traditions which have been fairly accepted in native communities (eg, certain regalia and dances found at powwows etc), so the issue is not black and white.

Thoughts?

Offline earthw7

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Re: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 03:07:54 pm »
Native people each have their own ways which should be preseved,
People who mix up traditions confuse people example-
my petpeeve the word Aho! which is Kiowa but every new ager
person use this word and when asked where it come from they
claim all kind of nations.

Their are traditions on how to share traditions, songs, dance and way
of life. In the 1970s the hippy brought some tradition together not
knowing the culture but corrupting it.

Pow-wow-Wacipi is a social dance with social songs that can be shared
with other but our ceremonies are not in the same catagory.
The medicine Wheel is not a part of many tribes but today it
has become a teaching tool use by many for the syblomism.
Urban communities are a gathering of tribes from different
nation and traditions so they tend to mix them up.

This is not accpeted by the traditonal people on the reservations.
In Spirit

Offline earthw7

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Re: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 03:09:46 pm »
It would be like AIm Movement which was a urban group they were not
accpeted by the traditional people in fact it is said they are the one who
brought these non-indian into our ceremonies that started a lot of corrpution.
In Spirit

Offline Saga

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Re: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 03:36:43 pm »
I don't know how much to the point this is, since I am not native and only commenting one thing in the post... Not sure if I have said it before. Anyway, about medicine wheels, I have the Sunbear's medicine wheel book, which has probably started lots of the common interest. He is very clear with saying that his view isn't traditional, but instead came to him in a dream or something, think he says that in his site too. But when browsing some other sites, there is no reference on what tradition the medicine wheel or anything related comes from. I like the symbolism of the medicine wheel, Sunbear's and the ones I have founded all over the internet, including the stone ones made on the ground. Not always sure how much of the symbolism is part of any tradition, altho i found one site where is supposed to be different, more traditional medicine wheels introduced. Can't find the link right now tho.

And Earthw7: you are right with the "Aho", sometimes i wonder if the word will be worn out... Other favourite in spiritual circles seems to be Mitakuye Oyasin. Repeated everywhere. :) What's the origins of that one?

Offline Yiwah

  • Posts: 25
Re: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 04:03:24 pm »
earthw7, don't know about 'Aho'...where I'm from and where I live now, people are either too ignorant about natives, or too aware of the variety to use a 'pan-Indian' term :D  Although...huh...you know, 'Meegwetch' is probably the most common term I see used by people of various nations, and not necessarily because it's part of their actual language.

I think it is important to keep your own traditions and not mix them.  I think that is difficult for some people who grow up urban, or are of a certain age (those that grew up without their language/traditions because of residential schools or out-adoption etc), and so things like dream-catcher symbolism or 'medicine wheel' teachings become a way of finding an identity.  I do not like teachers, for example, telling my children that the medicine wheel is part of their tradition. It isn't.

However, if it is understood that the medicine wheel (again just an example, probably the most used pan-Indian symbol) is NOT based in traditional teachings, but is a way for native people to express certain concepts (holistic approaches to healing and education for example), is there space for 'new traditions'?

There is a fair amount of curricular development in Alberta, for example, which is done in consultation with Elders, community linguists and so forth, which incorporate the medicine wheel motif, not linking it to traditional teachings but rather intended approaches to language teaching and so forth.  Considering that Elders are involved in the development, it seems that there is some acceptance of the symbolism for that purpose.

However my problem with it is again the confusion...some of our people are being taught that this is part of our tradition, and it is also becoming a patronising way to 'indigenify' products and presentations to native peoples.  Like, 'slap that into a medicine wheel and it will become culturally relevant'.

Offline earthw7

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Re: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 06:55:53 pm »
Mitakuye Oyasin that comes from my langauge which means "we are all related"
I see that all over the net these days.

I am against mixing traditions too but i do understand that urban people by the need
to be around their own people tend to flock together so that you have a mixture of
tribe who sing or feast together. So many today are being taught the Lakota/Dakota
songs because many did not know their own language and culture.Sharing song among
Native people has always been done but their was a respect with the sharing.
 They would say I learned this song from (tribe) and their family is (name) so that
you always acknowledge the owner of the song. Today it is not like that, I happen
to be listening to some urban people sing on a drum, I knew the song but it did not
sound right so when they were done i asked what language were they singing in,
They looked shocked and said those were words! They sang a song with out
knowing what they were singing and what the words meant. I have seen new ager
doing this too.
The syblomism of the medicine wheel is not our tradition, but it has been used to explain
our way of life. It is like the dream catcher we laugh at all the dream catcher in cars
wondering are those people sleeping and driving almost like texting and driving.
I encourage everyone to know their own culture and not to teach a mixture of everyone culture.
We would end up like americans not know who they are.
In Spirit

Offline Yiwah

  • Posts: 25
Re: Pan-Indianism...nuage crap or emerging urban aboriginal identity?
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 07:47:36 pm »
It is like the dream catcher we laugh at all the dream catcher in cars
wondering are those people sleeping and driving almost like texting and driving.

 ;D

This comment really cracked me up.  My daughter got in a bit of trouble at school one day because she told the teacher that the dream catcher was not traditional and was "a way to make money off of people who are hungry for 'native' crafts".

That's my girl...

I'm surprised at what you've encountered, with people singing songs without knowing the origin or the meeting.  That is saddening.  The urban communities I've been part of consist of people who are just here for work or school really, and have regular, constant ties with their home communities.  So there is not really mixing of Mi'gmaq, Cree or Mohawk culture...though there are plenty of non-native wannabes.