Author Topic: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?  (Read 37875 times)

Offline Chaska

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2008, 05:05:04 pm »
These experiences I write, are my own, basic knowledge to digest....It is not teachings to make anyone anything other than the example given to me.  My life is used as example from the earliest memories to the 80's....If my life can be a example to help others, then so be it....those helpers of my life along the way and their wisdom is what I share.....my life is far from perfect and I have corrected my mistakes, and have paid for my mistakes, I do all I can to protect the ways, the ceremonies, our spiritual peoples.....because in MY life it is the foundation that has helped me through trials and tribulations.  So, if this basic knowledge in my life has helped me, then I know it will help my NDN people, those who didnt have a Grandfather, Grandmother, uncles/aunties, Tiospeye, to help them know basic knowledge,  help those who were not raised on reseveration..... so now my explanation is done, anything more then I would believe I am target in a witch hunt...lol

Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2008, 07:03:29 pm »
Chaska
Although I used your book as an example , my search for clarification was not specifically directed at you. I'm sorry you feel my questions border on being a witch hunt.

You are advertising yourself as a Spiritual teacher, in conjunction with stuff for sale. Usually that is a big red flag. Questions are fair.

Though you know who you are , all I see is what is on line. It seems to me , if we say one person who is an enrolled Indian who is selling Spiritual teaching is an exploiter, and someone else who is an enrolled Indian who is selling Spiritual teachings is a friend and protecter of ceremonies ,  people won't understand and respect what is being said here , if we aren't clear what the difference is.

That said , I am guessing if there was any serious concern about what you are doing, Earth , who is  in touch with Elders in her Lakota / Dakota community , and who obviously deeply cares about the preservation of her culture , *would probably say* something . (*edited from "would have said", as I shouldn't assume  ...) So as far as what you are doing personally , it isn't any of my business to comment on one way or another. Believe me I could say more than I have .... LOL
(referring more to my big mouth than anything that needs to be said about Chaska )

What I am hearing in the replies so far, is that there isn't really strong traditional precedents for how to use the written word, and there is mixed feelings on this. Native people should be able to write about themselves and their experiences without having to worry that something Spiritual might be in there and they are selling their culture or some traditional wisdom , but it is hard to know when information shared might be misused.

I can see it is totally unrealistic to think any traditionalist could write a book about themselves or their community , without Spiritual teachings coming through in some way . As Earth says , for Native people , Spirituality is in everything. Obviously it would be wrong to insist Native people shouldn't write or sell books, because their Spirituality might be in there.  I said that in my first post.

I can also see where books with accurate and authentic information can help preserve culture and traditions, and with all the wrong information on Spiritual traditions out there, books with the right information might be a good thing.

So , I guess there is no cause for concern , as long as the Native people concerned with protecting their culture have no objections, and the information is authentic and accurate. (?)

What I notice, is things tend to go off the rails when the Spiritual teachings get seperated from the ordianary day to day things and history , and a book gets written that is advertised as about "Spiritual teachings"  , as if this is something which can be seperated out from the day to day life and history of ones community. I'm not saying things always go off the rails at that point, but that does seem to be the frequently slippery point of departure.

I know I have a book I treasure , that I bought ,  that was written about a tribal history by the tribe. The Spirituality comes through , especially in a couple personal stories that are told, but it is the ordinary life and culture and history that are the focus of this book , not Spiritual teachings. The creation of this book was supported by many tribal leaders and Elders, and it never struck me as wrong that those stories were included in there.

I can see where it is complicated and can be hard to say if there is a clear right and wrong in all situations ...

Sorry to be so nit picky about how exploitation is defined, but it really can be pretty confusing.

Well blah blah blah... hopefully I will shut up now... for a while ...
« Last Edit: March 31, 2008, 11:38:10 am by Moma_porcupine »

Offline earthw7

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2008, 09:44:08 pm »
I have to say that it has been a big discussion here with the elders.
There was book wrote about Arvol Looking Horse have been condemn becase
people interrupt only what they want, even though Avrol did not write
the book himself.

These are very important issues that we face. How do we find a balance
with who we are and our history and stories?

On hand people want to hear the real history
but we can't tell a story without all of our world around us.

If tell people our stories orally then they take and write them down
and copyright our history so our stories are no longer ours.

Or they make up their own stories about who we are just like the
many people who are frauds and steal what is the very center of
who we are.

There are no easy answers.
In Spirit

Offline matt e

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2008, 06:58:29 am »
the way I see it-

   selling a book in which you speak directly about your life experiances, including spiritual is far different than selling a step by step "how to" book. 

To talk about the why of a ceremony and what you experianced during  is far different than talking about how-"to perform this ceremony first you... then you....".

  To sell a book that says "This is who we are, this is what we believe, this is why others should not attempt to engage in our ceremonies... etc" is not in any way the same as someone selling an instruction book, or charging someone to participate in a ceremony.
 
 One is educational, and the other is exploitive. for the educational, before publishing have trusted friends both ndn and non read it, and ask them to write down questions the book raises, or points that need to be clarified. then use their input to make it better.
   

for earth, if i might make a suggestion- video.
  you can make a video without expensive equiptment. you just need a computer with a dvd burner, a digital camera ( i have a cheap one I paid $20 for, the pictures are not real great, but when used as a video camera on my comp, it works great.) and a microphone.
   
 I suggest working with the Elders to come up with a list of topics to discuss, and then stage an interview. have one of the Elders ask you about each topic, and you then can answer. I also suggest answering in your own language, and have someone to interpret into english.
 this way future generations will be able to hear the language as well as have some thing to watch. most people would rather watch a movie than read a book these days, so the odds of them actualy taking the time to watch as opposed to reading a book are much better. you could also have someone transcribe the interview into your language and english. This way you not only have a written record, an audio/video record, but you also have something that the Elders have approved so you don't have to worry that you are sharing things you should not. and since the video can be edited, if it is decided that something should not be shared, you can easily cut it out.
 just a thought. 
feel free to share any post I make as long as you give me credit. I want everyone to know who to send the hate mail to.

Offline Freija

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2008, 08:32:26 am »
 
 I suggest working with the Elders to come up with a list of topics to discuss, and then stage an interview. have one of the Elders ask you about each topic, and you then can answer. I also suggest answering in your own language, and have someone to interpret into english.
 this way future generations will be able to hear the language as well as have some thing to watch. most people would rather watch a movie than read a book these days, so the odds of them actualy taking the time to watch as opposed to reading a book are much better. you could also have someone transcribe the interview into your language and english. This way you not only have a written record, an audio/video record, but you also have something that the Elders have approved so you don't have to worry that you are sharing things you should not. and since the video can be edited, if it is decided that something should not be shared, you can easily cut it out.
 just a thought. 

And then someone on the rez will get hold of it and sell it to the New Age market and it will be copied and distributed all over Europe - and this "someone" (or "someone´s" European friend who all of a sudden became a shaman) will tour around with it.  It doesn´t matter if it is things that Elders are comfortable with sharing because it will most likely be twisted and turned into something completely different.

I have seen that happen, exactly this way. So....didn´t mean to sound negative, guess I´ve just seen too much of what is going on over here.

But maybe it´s the best way to do it and take the consequences. Like Earth said, there are no easy answers.

Offline matt e

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2008, 09:12:58 am »
 true, people will use anything to take advantage of others and/or make money. this will most likely happen no matter what you do, say, print or video. someone will use it for other than it's intended purpose.
 
     in this situation, you have to ask yourself which is more important- makeing sure that future generations of your people(no matter the tribe) is able to learn the true ways directly from someone who has lived it, or the fear of someone using what you do/make/print/record for their own selfish use.  this is what you have to ask yourself.

 "is recording(written, video, audio, etc) my peoples heritage for those that will come so they can learn the truth from someone that has lived it  more important than someone using the information for wrong purposes?" "does the benefit outweigh the risk?"

 In the end, we cannot control what others do. Only what we do. If we do nothing for fear someone may steal it and use for selfish purposes, then every ceremony needs to be no longer performed. after all, it is possible someone may sneak in and watch, then go and sell it to make money. 
feel free to share any post I make as long as you give me credit. I want everyone to know who to send the hate mail to.

Offline earthw7

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2008, 05:49:28 pm »
While we have done that and have archived many of our elders stories
they are kept at the college.

I was just talking about my stories that i tell.
In Spirit

Offline bls926

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2008, 03:13:25 am »
I think I'm a little confused by this, also. I'm glad Moma started this thread. Why is it okay for some to write about their life and their beliefs, but not okay for others? Why is it appropriate for some to sell their sacred stories, but not appropriate for others? When does someone become a plastic shaman?

Offline matt e

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2008, 08:59:41 am »
BLS there is a difference between someone writting down and selling a book talking about their own spiritual journey, ceremonies they have participated in, and what they experianced during those ceremonies as an educational book for their own people, or even for the public at large so people can know the difference between what teh fakes claim and what is true, as well as make a record for generations to come as opposed to writting such a book to get followers and line your pockets.

  In the second type, these books are usually expensive as they are designed to make money. In the first type, the cost of the book would be to cover production cost (printing, shipping, etc).
 
  in the first, the person writing might talk about the ceremonies, but would not give a "this is how it is done" section. while in the second the person would.
 
    and for earth- I truly believe that you should write. I think as long as you do not give out any details of the ceremonies, it would be fine. and if you mention how much it bothers you about that fakes that steal and sell ceremony, even if someone did leak it to the public, it could serve as a very useful tool when someone encounters one of these frauds. 
   for instance someone meets someone claiming to lead a lakota (insert ceremony here) for only $50, they could say
 "I read a book by an actual lakota who said that a real medicine man/woman would never charge for ceremony, and that sometimes non lakota may take part in  (insert ceremony here) but that the ceremony you are advertising is for lakota only, and you are obviously german, so why are you selling something you shouldn't be, and offering something that is for the lakota only to anyone with $50?"

  It could also help to counter so much of the false ideas of what native americans are that many people have.
 you could even make two versions, one for your people only, and an edited version for the general public. as long as it was not announced that there are 2 versions, no one will ever know.  just another thought.
 But if you have any serious doubts, then I would suggest not doing it.  perhaps you should pray about it and see what happens. prayer is always a good idea before making any such choices.
feel free to share any post I make as long as you give me credit. I want everyone to know who to send the hate mail to.

Offline Moma_porcupine

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2008, 02:04:51 pm »
I was really hoping someone more knowledgeable of Lakota traditions than I am would answer BSL. I don't entirely agree with Matte's answer , and I'm actually worried about some vulnerable people getting led astray ...

I am thinking maybe one difference is in the balance of the work , and whether too much emphasis is placed on the woo woo stuff ....

So on one hand you have the book  "Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions," which I haven't read , but which sounds like it talks about this man's whole life, and does not sound like it promotes a false image of himself as just a Spiritual man, or try to attract people looking for a thrill or to get some power ... ( though I believe exploiters have managed to find a way to exploit this book and perhaps even the man  it was written about )
 
http://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/lamedeer.html


Quote
Colonialism in North America did not stop with the Revolution of 1776. It had new names: "Westward expansion", "Manifest Destiny"; but those who were called pioneers still did the same things based on the same values that caused colonialism in the first place. The text, Lame Deer Seeker of Visions was originally published in 1972 and is the story of both Lame Deer and the Lakota nation as they were affected by our expansion. It gives us the history and brings us up to date on the continued oppression of America's native population

The Authors

John (Fire) Lame Deer was born around the turn of the last century on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He is a full-blooded Sioux and has been many things in his life including a rodeo clown, a painter, a sheep herd, and a thief. Above all, though, he was a Lakota holy man.

In Lame Deer, we are seeing the result of five hundred years of colonization and expansion on one person.
(con...)

And on the other hand you have something like Carlos Castenada books which are obviously both fictional and exploitive as unlike real life they focus on thrilling and extraordianary events .

It seems to me that any book or person claiming to present Spiritual teachings would focus on morals and values, not sensational miracles or how amazing they are.

I'm not sure if it is correct that the Lakota word for White man is fat taker, but it that is true, it pretty much hits the nail on the head. Plastics want to attract fat takers so what they serve up is 90 percent fat and 10 percent bacon ,  people with a real Spirituality suffused throughout their lives tend to offer stories which are 90 percent bacon and 10 percent fat .

In my opinion , sharing stuff like this , is sure to encourage stupid ideas that Native people are all like the people in Carlos Castenada books - and attract woowoo nuts

http://bigfootsightings.org/2007/03/31/should-bigfoot-researchers-care-about-shape-shifting-reports/


Quote
I am Native American, raised up by my Grandfather and Grandmother, not by circumstance, but by choice, they took me everywhere and was witness to the “Old Ways??? of our Native People on our Mother Earth. Shape Shifting is a Travelling Form used by those who know the Medicine Ways, Medicine Lodge societies…I have witnessed this and know how powerful it is, yet it is something normal to the Medicine people, it is their way of travelling long distances to gather certain herbs, roots and natural medicines. They can assume animal shapes for shorter distances and also become a pure sphere of light for longer distances, about as big as a common basketball, pulsating like breathing….The ones called Bigfoot have many powers besides shape shifting, they can read a persons mind, they can mimic any sound, they can communicate mentally with each other and to certain people who are sensitive. They know of this world and what is going on with us, they avoid what we do and keep themselves hidden, unless they want you to see them, then they show themselves. Is it no wonder then WHY none have been captured? because they know your thoughts and can read thoughts in about a 5 mile radius.

Comment by Chaska Denny — June 21, 2007 @ 4:57 am
( and there is more...  Also I see on the web page, Chaska's name is a link to his web page  ... )

While it is certainly possible some Medicine People occaisionally shape shift , this isn't the mode of travel of any of the Medicine People I've ever known , which is why it is customary to pay a traditional teachers travel expenses. I very much doubt this is how Chaska delivers his books.

The more I dig, the more I think I probably should have posted this situation under research needed , but when something involves a person enrolled in their Nation and living close enough to their Nation for their Nation to respond , I prefer to leave it to people more knowledgeable than myself  .
 
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 03:10:27 pm by Moma_porcupine »

Offline bls926

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2008, 04:47:06 pm »
Quote
I am thinking maybe one difference is in the balance of the work , and whether too much emphasis is placed on the woo woo stuff ....

Thanks, Moma. I've been thinking the same thing. Too much sensationalism, too much emphasis on the mystical, and you're sure to attract every fake and flake out there. Twinkies and new agers aren't interested in the day-to-day.


Quote
The more I dig, the more I think I probably should have posted this situation under research needed , but when something involves a person enrolled in their Nation and living close enough to their Nation for their Nation to respond , I prefer to leave it to people more knowledgeable than myself  .

Can the thread be moved to Research Needed? I know I'm a new member here, but I think this needs to be examined a little more closely.

Offline Chaska

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2008, 04:55:45 pm »
Although I have never seen a bigfoot, I know many who have, I also know of the travelling form of Medicine people who use this form of travel.....Many Tribes know and understand this.....these pecularities of BigFoot were what the elders spoke about...nothing secret....I believe anything is possible when concerned with Medicines...it is up to the individual how they use it.....either for good or bad.....to discipline or to hurt.....all these options are decisions left up to the individual.....we all want the good, but there will always be someone in the crowd to upset things, but thats human nature.....I believe that if a person doesnt know the answer, then ask, but use the protocols in place to do so....

Offline earthw7

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2008, 05:35:23 pm »
After reading all the sites i have to wonder about all of this.
Hey I live on Standing Rock, i was here when Big Foot came
to Little Eagle. i am around all the spiritual leader up here
and never heard of your claims of medicienmen shiftchanging.

I know of certain people who have the gift but very few
In Spirit

Offline Chaska

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2008, 10:52:06 pm »
I do not know of any medicinemen who shapeshift up in Standing Rock and never heard of them being able to do it...but I do know of Medicine people (Medicine Lodge) who do, but thats not anywhere near standing rock.......decades ago in Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, this was common knowledge (to know of shapeshifters), and in old days Warriors fought that way sometimes.....this is only a travelling form.....
There are many Tribes who know of this and some still do it....that is why it is best to respect others where ever you go because you dont know what they know......I also know from the Elders that those who were connected to Medicine lodge ways and used this travelling form, were the ones to keep the unruly in place.....I guess those tribes that did this travelling form mainly used it to gather medicines from long distances.......I do not know IF this travelling form is the same as skinwalkers.......

Offline earthw7

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Re: Books & Spiritual teachings - education or exploitation ?
« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2008, 03:50:41 am »
what is medicine lodge??????
In Spirit