Author Topic: Reaching people just learning about their heritage  (Read 8184 times)

Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Reaching people just learning about their heritage
« on: December 07, 2005, 10:57:14 am »
A recent incident brought the topic of reaching people just learning about the heritage of an ancestor, to my attention.

There are many websites out there started by well meaning peoplewho had an ancestor from one tribe or another, usually a tribe from the East that has disapeared or has nearly disapeared.

It is VITALLY important that for these people to understand the importance of not just "making up" a do it yourself religion" to accompany their new found interest in the great grandparent they have discovered.

It is VITALLY important these people understand that they MUST teach newbies that this practice is NOT acceptable -- otherwise they are just playing a game. Otherwise people who today are just discovering that their great grandma had "Saponi blood"  will be proclaiming that they are a "Saponi Shaman" or a "Cherokee pipe-carrier" ten or twenty years from now, and the will be teaching others (for a fee) how to become one. They'll wear Plains regalia and learn to make tee-pees, et cetera . . . they'll do things their Saponi or Cherokee great great grandma or ancestor never did.

They feel free to do this because they are so far removed from most American Indian Culture. You can learn a lot from reading a book, but not everything. They need to be around known American Indian people who were raised in the culture who will guide them away from new age ignorance -- they know no better.

They need to know not everyone with their surname was "Indian", most weren't. They need to know to do better research and learn the true history of their ancestor and not a made up history.

But basically my fear for the present is that if these groups don't teach they can not just "make up a religion", if they instead stifle the voices of those who warn them that they can not do this -- then they run the risk of being nurseries for the next generation of self-proclaimed "chiefs", "shamen" and "pipe-cariers".

They might perceive any outside intervention into their little kingdom as some type of "inquisition" or "witch hunt" -- they may think they are sincere and they may be sincere in  other ways.

I fear I have stated more of a problem than a solution, but it is a problem that worries me.

vance


Offline debbieredbear

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2005, 06:04:06 pm »
I agree with you, Vance. I see people who have just discovered their Indian ancestry and they flock to the frauds. Or read books by Lynn  Andrewes or worse.  I tell them to learn about Indian things they must get involved with the community. Thatr is how they will learn. I try to tell them who to steer clear of. They don't always listen, but I try.

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2005, 12:18:23 am »
Perhaps what's needed is a list of the better sites and books for them to learn from. Start with genealogy sites, then sites about enrolling, sites for learning the basic heritage. Probably good sites on the Cherokee since that's what everyone seems to think their heritage is. Perhaps even a write up like "Do You Think You Have Cherokee Ancestors?" explaining that they might be actually be Saponi, Melungeon, etc.

I'd really like to hear from our newest members from the Saponitown forum about what they think would be the best ways to help.

Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2005, 01:38:48 pm »
I'd kinda like to see them here too.

vance

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2005, 09:33:51 am »
This discussion might be also helped by some input from those aforementioned "known American Indian people who were raised in their culture".

As the articles written by Susan Adame , " New Age steals Native spirituality , identities ", posted by Debbie Bear , in this Etcetera section , ? on Dec 10 says , and I quote

"Furthermore, after centuries of
exploitation, imprisonment and murder for practicing their own religion,
most tribes maintain a strong tribally enforced silence surrounding
their religion. Outsiders are rarely, if ever, invited to participate in
any ceremonies of significance, and in many cases, urban Indians may not
even be allowed into a ceremony if their ties to the reservation
community are not strong. "

I am wondering how these "known American Indian people who were raised in their culture", feel about "guiding" distant relatives who have a "new found interest in the great grandparent they have discovered."

or maybe a
"Saponi or Cherokee great great grandma or ancestor"

Do some of these distant or disconnected relations sometimes create problems for Native communities , and if so how do they do this ?

Is there a way for these people to reconnect that is actually beneficial to the Native communities involved?

If some people in a community are welcoming to distant relations , but others are not , is it right for people to try and be involved , if some people don't think they should be ?

Be interested to hear what people out there think .

« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 12:00:00 am by CrystalMirror »

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2005, 10:35:31 pm »
"wondering how these "known American Indian people who were raised in their culture", feel about "guiding" distant relatives"

I think most are generally skeptical until they get to know the person better, and wonder about motives. Is this PODIA doing it because of all the wrong reasons? Does this PODIA think there's "free money given just for being Indian"?(Sorry, that's a racist myth.) Do they have fantasies of becoming an Indian/chief/princess/messiah/guru/savior? Do this PODIA have fantasies that they project onto Natives? While these aren't true of everyone, it happens often enough to make people wary.

In the broadest terms, is this hypothetical PODIA wanting to learn for themselves, or to see what they can do for their people, to be part of a community?

"Do some of these distant or disconnected relations sometimes create problems for Native communities , and if so how do they do this ?"

See all of the examples above. Many also form would be "tribes" or join the very frauds we try to warn people about.

"Is there a way for these people to reconnect that is actually beneficial to the Native communities involved?"

Sure. Do some research and see what needs the communities have. Speak up on Native issues. Try to be an advocate working with (as opposed to speaking for) Natives.

"If some people in a community are welcoming to distant relations , but others are not , is it right for people to try and be involved , if some people don't think they should be ?"

That's such a broad question the only possible answer is both yes and no. Depends on what issue.

For example, if an enrolled NDN is involved in spiritual exploitation, or if part of the community welcomes outside developers who want to put a waste dump on the rez, then becoming involved with the wrong side will make things worse.

Even by becoming involved with the right side of an issue, that could be used by their opponents to say, "See, it's just the wannabes who support that side."

I'd just say be prepared to listen to requests to step aside if it's for the good of the community.

A whole of these issues come down to being willing to think of the community before yourself.

Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2005, 01:32:49 am »
Howdy Guest --

Good points.

I don't have any answer . . .

It's a whole lot easier to post questions than it is to answer them . . . :)

vance

Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2005, 09:26:50 pm »
I have been very patient because a couple of posters at Saponitown forum have stayed in touch with me, so I have said nothing more. They do a lot of great historic research. But Linda in her apology never apologized "to me" nor has she allowed me to post on her forum, yet I have still defended her to others. Sometimes I wonder why. I've had mixed emotions.

http://www.saponitown.com/forum/showthread.php?s=3622b15ca53457de70648051d913d502&threadid=1965

The topic above is one that would have driven me crazy as I see no need to bring up a Navao ceremony on a Saponi board. She knows it would have driven me bonkers, too, if I were still allowed to post.

Interesting discussion on this topic at the above link. Please read it.

Interesting how easily people say they want to attend a sweat. A few months ago I felt I was the ONLY ONE on the Saponitown forum that was worried about talk of this nature.  When I spoke out, no one thre defended me or if they did it was in a minor way, not wanting to offend anyone.

Now that I am forbidden from posting at the site, I am very happy to see that there are others to divert the conversation (something noone but me ever did before). I still have very mixed emotions. At least they realize (I think) more than they did before, but I don't know if they are serious or were just afraid of NAFPS.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/12/02/veterans.medicineman.ap/index.html

Here is the article Linda quoted (above link). Were I allowed to post I'd say something like this --

"I personally wonder if Mr. Laughter was misrepresented in the article. I really don't know. Maybe he wasn't. I can see someone taking a little here and a little there about what he said, using it out of context, and have it twisted around. He might be sayin, "Oh my God! I'm never gonna talk to another reporter!" as I write this. I can see someone there in Virginia start staring at crystals while in a sauna, thinking it has some power for them . . . Maybe he wasn't misquoted, but everyone needs to think about this topic cautiously, and I don't think it is a topic that should have ever been brought up on a forum researching Saponi History, as Navajo ceremonies have nothing to do with Saponi History."

Even mentioning such topics on THAT forum is dangerous, as it brings out all the curious people who say "Oh, I want to have a spiritual cleansing!" they are not bad peple, just uninformed. Fake Cherokee tribes went through that stage a decade ago and decided to fall for phoney balogna. Therefore many of them are already over the edge -- but this Saponi/Monacan/Occoneechee/Tutelo tribal research group is newer and they are NOT lost yet, as are those fake Cherokee groups. It is as tho they are on a cusp, should they go one way or the other? Some good people are there who want to go the right way . . .

I can't respond -- I'm banned from posting there . . .

vance


Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2005, 01:47:53 pm »
Well I am gonna finally wipe my hands of the Saponitown website -- God, I hate havin' to do this. I just sent Linda, the owner and creator of the web site  the following email --

http://www.saponitown.com/forum/showthread.php?s=0797c162f2d014fce426231a71c5d7e6&threadid=1965

What on earth are you posting this for!! Confront the author of this topic and make sure he quoted Mr Laughter correctly! He places Navajo mater [note: I meant to say mater"ial"] beside Lakota -- ask why?

You know nobody -- or very few people -- at Saponi Town are capable of handling this! Navajo ceremonies have NOTHING at all in common with Saponi history!

Now people will start sitting in sauna's and staring at crystals and think they are performing some Navajo ceremony! You or someone MUST respond and tell people they are NOT performing a Navajo (or Sioux as I saw them mentioned in the article -- the author mixed the 2 in his writing).

Maybe from the 2 responses you are seeing -- for the first time most likely -- what I have always harped on and will harp on until I die whether you ban me from your forum or not -- innoscent people will take this the wrong way. I told Lynella point blank that she was wrong about this but she STILL is in limbo -- why??? Because no other leadership at the forum stood with me -- now she still believes in soome of that nonsense as is proven by her response on that forum topic. You have opened up Pandora's box.

Can you close it?

vance

ps -- Please tell the posters that the interviewer talked to a Navajo and a Lakota and that readers should not think one can mix the two as the author of that article has done. AT least do that!

Good grief, Linda . . .


Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2005, 02:01:50 pm »
part one]

Before she deletes it here are the posts --

Traditional healers treat veterans
My Aunt Betty asked me to post this for her.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/12/0...n.ap/index.html

quote:


Traditional healers treat veterans

Friday, December 2, 2005; Posted: 10:48 a.m. EST (15:48 GMT)

Navajo medicine man Albert Laughter discusses how he treats American Indian veterans.


PRESCOTT, Arizona (AP) -- When Albert Laughter unpacks his medical supplies, preparing to treat the military veterans who are his patients, he finds no stethoscope or thermometer.

His examination room doesn't have walls to speak of. It is made of canvas and wooden poles, a teepee with a small fire ring inside. His supplies -- pheasant and eagle feathers, cornmeal, sage and other herbs -- come wrapped in small leather pouches.

Laughter, a Navajo medicine man, cares for warriors as five generations of his forebears have: with traditional herbs, songs and ceremonies. But unlike his ancestors, he does it as a healer under contract with the federal government.

Laughter's services are part of a small assortment of programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs to treat American Indian veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder and other maladies.

"Our culture, even though we live in the 21st century, we come back to the ceremonies, we come back to where the fire is, come back to where the herbs is, come back to where the songs is," said Laughter, who does his work in Navajo and in English at the VA medical center in Prescott and on northern Arizona reservations.

There are more than 181,000 American Indian veterans in the United States, less than 1 percent of the 24.8 million veterans nationwide, according to the VA. But officials at VA medical facilities near reservations say they have found Indian veterans have unique needs.

Deborah Thompson, director of the northern Arizona VA health care system, said providers don't have perfect understanding of how traditional practices help, but they have learned they are important for Indian veterans and can aid in treatment.

Most Indian veterans who participate in the traditional practices do so in combination with western medical treatment at VA facilities.

Standard western medical treatments, including psychotherapy, are less effective on their own for some Indians because of their unique traditions and cultural values, including a tendency to avoid drawing attention to themselves, VA officials say.

"In Native American culture -- in every culture -- one of the main things that goes against a spirit is taking a life," said Cari James, the minority veterans coordinator for the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix. The Hayden facility has an agreement with the Navajo Nation to reimburse costs for medicine man services provided to veterans on the reservation.

Navajo ceremonies can be performed to help Indian veterans recovering from combat and other trauma, said James, an Eastern woodland tribe Indian who is married to a man who is Navajo and Hopi.

Practices like hand trembling and crystal gazing -- which Laughter likens to a medical checkup -- can be used to determine what the veteran's spirit needs. Then ceremonies, some lasting days, are used to help cleanse or heal.

Laughter and other Indian practitioners provide a variety of veteran services, ranging from blessings to talking circles to elaborate ceremonies designed to bring a warrior back into the community.

Laughter and non-Indian VA officials say those who take part in the traditional ceremonies often report at least temporary relief from PTSD, a mental illness characterized by symptoms like flashbacks and nightmares that afflicts some who have experienced traumatic events.

Laughter, who served two tours in Vietnam, said he learned how beneficial traditional ceremonies could be in reducing PTSD symptoms when his own father, also a medicine man, performed ceremonies for him.

"When (veterans) go to the doctor or hospital, they give them medicine. Pretty soon, they have a bag of medicine after medicine," said Laughter, who wears a waist-length pony tail and turquoise bracelet along with two cell phones strapped to his belt. "We still come back to the ceremony."

===================

[Linda posted this]

Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2005, 02:06:55 pm »
[part 2]

Christopher Elia, head of the PTSD program at the VA center at Fort Mead, South Dakota, set up a sweat lodge 13 years ago and has seen veterans benefit from the sense of purification, forgiveness and thankfulness generated during a sweat.

Among the Lakota Sioux veterans he works with, "many of them feel they left -- for lack of a better term -- a piece of their psyche, or soul, on the battlefield," he said.

A sweat lodge ceremony, where hot rocks are doused in water to create steam, is how the Lakota welcome warriors home and how warriors reintroduce themselves to the community, Elia said.

"Traditionally, you give (your troubles) to the rock and burn them off. You no longer have to carry those burdens," he said.

Elia said he's unsure exactly why sweat lodges aid PTSD patients, but he's seen the experience of a sweat help veterans feel and express emotions and memories that other treatments, like talk therapy, have failed to uncover.

"Veterans will go into a sweat and say things they haven't said in five years of psychotherapy," Elia said.

Edward George Jr., a Navajo from Chinle, recently attended a talking circle presided over by Laughter, even recruiting a non-Indian veteran for the ceremony.

His spirits have been lifted by traditional songs, and George, a former reconnaissance Marine who struggles to be around people, has found it easier to communicate with others.

During the ceremony, George sat cross-legged on the floor of the teepee, his hands palms up. Laughter threw cornmeal onto the small fire and used pheasant feathers to swirl the smoke in a welcoming blessing over George's hands, shoulders and head.

"Coming back to our native culture in a way helps us find our way back, find our spirituality again," George said.

============

[Linda posted this]

Thank You Linda!

This is most interesting to me. And, you are right in the ending of your post too.

I'm curious about the way the Sweat Lodge would help with the PTSD. I suppose it could sort of put you in such a relaxed state of mind that you sort of re-connect with those parts & places that were too bad to be able to cope with. We could probably all do with this on occasion. My Friend Bobbie has suggested this to me, but I've turned her down so far, only because (I'm sure this seems stupid, but) when I get too hot I have horrible panic attacks! Now if I could just figure out a way to do that, but stay cool!

Be cautious before proceeding with this. Sweats run by people not trained and endorsed by traditional practitioners are slammed as "culture vultures." It's considered a religious ceremony. I guess the best analogy would be to suppose that you'd decided confession as practiced by Catholics is good for the soul, so you and your friend take turns playing priest and parishioner and then start telling folks you're bona fide Catholics. The Pope might take exception.

sweats
I am also interested in the ceremony of a sweat lodge. Does one have to be invited to one? I don't want to seem presumptious, but I would like the spiritual purging, if you will, that is said to take place - to reconnect.

Deirdre

I think that it is safe to ask around in the NDN circles etc and then ask the sweat leader where they may have earned it from, if they got froma book or they are just "doing it" then stay away from what they are doing.
Iam familiar with this and if you send me an email I'll respond more to your question but be cautious and take care.

[Tom -- wantiing to change the topic]

Offline Vance_Hawkins

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Re: Reaching people just learning about their heri
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2005, 02:42:14 pm »
I didn't separate it the way I wanted to -- after

"=============

Linda posted this]"

the 2nd time Lynella was the poster.  Linda responded telling to be cautions.  Then Diedre posted then Tom.

========================

I only realized the author of this article spoke of Navajo and later Lakota sources the 2nd or 3rd time I read it -- didn't cross my mind. There are about a thousand people who are members of that forum I think, most think of themselves as possibly having Indian ancestor, most live in Appalachia with some on the East coast in big cities. Most, like me, will pay no attention to the mixing of Navajo and Lakota ceremonies in the article.

They are the people who will fall for charlatains I hope they won't fall for that nonsense and I hope Linda finally sees the Pandora's box she has opened up.

BUT most of the people who read the forum never post or do so occasionally and may not understand that you don't mix Lakota and Navajo ceremonies, they might try something they know nothing about . . . She probably thinks this is censorship . . . bull . . . I'm through makin' excuses for her and defending her here at NAFPS, just makes me look silly and she benefits with her congrgation  on Saponitown still bowing and cowtowing to her.

Vance