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Letter from
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Cultural Freedom

Todadaho Sid Hill, Onondaga Nation
Traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, Todadaho Sid Hill addresses the Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues April 2010
By Broddi Sigurðarson
[CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I struggle to resolve my issue of wanting my ethnic neighbors to perpetuate their culture of origin so they can flourish in all their brilliance. I love the beauty of their traditional colors and symbols, perspectives and stories, and physical features.

In spite of this, I do not want to confine them to their ethnic roots.

On the one hand, I want people to be free to be whomever they want to be, even when that means that they choose to adopt others’ practices, and distance themselves from their own heritage. On the other hand, I am afraid that if people truly have this choice, cultures will die.

I don’t want any culture to die. Therefore, I have a hard time trusting that if we give all people the freedom and power to truly live their lives as they choose, some will continue their heritage. After all, no significant part of my identity seems to link with any of the cultures of my ancestry.

I feel free to choose from any cultures that attract me, as if I am at a banquet. I fill my plate from many choices. I choose offerings from the North, South, East and West. I choose offerings from ancient peoples and more-recently-formed cultures. I want everyone to freely choose from the table.

What do I contribute to the banquet? Nothing that you might recognize as being from my ancestors. Therefore, who am I to say that some people must bring something that reveals their superficial lineage instead of their deeper selves? I am simply a guest who certainly has no right to tell anyone what to offer. Nonetheless, I feel enormous disappointment when I realize that an item on the banquet table has disappeared.

Traditionalists see the damage caused by cultural exchanges, and work to protect their populations. My German and Greek ancestors formed closed communities, and continue to deliberately perpetuate their ways.

I see other possibilities, and encourage interaction. I want everyone to have access to the banquet, but I don’t want the interaction to dilute cultures. I wonder how we can balance this.

I venture to say that all cultures benefit – and are hurt by – the exchanges that occur during globalization. Perhaps simply valuing all contributions to the banquet minimizes damage, and perpetuates cultural freedom. When cultures blend, we improve each other.

26 responses to “Cultural Freedom”

  1. Hi Grace. An interesting piece. I believe the protection(and even perpetuation) of indigenous cultures is one area which modernization(globalization) has ensured will never take centre stage. Globalization in essence, subscribes to one rule, what’s in it for the shareholder? Unfortunately indigenous cultures tend to be based on patience, tolerance, understanding and a whole lot of other virtues which multinational shareholders don’t have in much abundance. In Southern Africa, the San people are fighting tooth and nail for land and some recognition. But I’m said to say the rest of us watch curiously on television whenever these ‘backward’ , scantily dressed people appear. Yet, university professors are looking to study them and their ways in a bid to improve the longevity of us, the ‘forward’, fully-dressed educated, globalized people. How ironic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sydney. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      “patience, tolerance, understanding” – that’s music to my heart. If only the “shareholders” were people with these qualities in abundance. Then, we could all enjoy more longevity.

      I feel so sad when I see indigenous people wearing t-shirts with trendy logos, listening to pop music, and eating Fast Food. I want them to value their old ways and feel safe in their celebration of who they are. However, I don’t want them to be museum pieces, or tourist attractions like the photographer in the following article describes.

      What do you think of the post at http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2013/11/04/nicola_lo_calzo_photographs_the_san_people_of_south_africa_in_his_series.html?


      1. I’m always amazed at how resilient indigenous people are. Globalization has ensured they are not left untouched but they still find ways and means to survive in a culture totally alien to them. One of the most demeaning things that a tourist can do is to photograph indigenous people for their own amusement, as pieces in museum like you say. Studying their way of life is a totally different thing though, I think people don’t study what they don’t respect. But then again, that’s just my opinion. I’m touchy when it comes to people”s dignity. I think that should be one of the most basic of human rights, the right to dignity.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sydney, I, too, like to think that indigenous people have the advantage over us immigrants because they are on their land. Although they are surrounded and crushed by alien cultures, and were relocated to the least desirable places, they are still at home. Maybe this is part of their apparent resilience.

          You mentioned tourist photographs. I feel unsettled when I see certain photo albums that people bring back from their travels. Some of the pictures are of indigenous people, apparently performing for tourists. This seems to keep their culture alive. On the other hand, this kind of expression is what made them vulnerable to abuse in the first place. I understand that many went “underground” to preserve their cultures, and only practice their ways in secrecy, where we can’t taint their ways. Yet, some get dressed up and perform like monkeys in a zoo.

          How does amusement differ from education? How can we determine if presentations are conducted to increase awareness of the value and validity of indigenous ways? Can we? Or is the only difference people’s intent, which can’t be measured?

          Hooray for your sensitivity to people’s dignity! I’d like to read more about what that means to you.


  2. I agree that this tension between choice and a culture continuing as a living thing is a thorny one. (And nearly parallels the issue of minority languages.) In the end though, we can’t do much to affect cultures or languages, they do what they will, adopt what they want and, if enough people decide to stop participating in the, they will die. As much as such deaths sadden me, I would rather have them occur than some sort of attempt at cultural enforcement.

    That said, there are things that we can do to make participating in them more attractive. One of the biggest ones is to make make at least basic educational (say, up through high school age) material available in the culture’s language. Again though, this requires participation from the culture in helping translate (both in language and in cultural context) the material. Beyond that, official recognition and support from governments – particularly at the local level, which generally has a far greater impact on people’s day-to-day lives than federal level – is important as well,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “cultural enforcement”!! That horrifies me when I think of outsiders making a community into a spectacle!

      I think we CAN do something to preserve cultures. My cousins live in close families in close communities where traditions are celebrated, the “home” language is spoken, and their culture is THE way of life. Likewise, an Amish community developed near me during the past few years. They keep to themselves, and live a unique lifestyle.

      Also, I have a friend (whose ancestors were from Europe) who was a key person in starting an amazing school for indigenous children. While at school, they only speak their language. Check it out at http://freedom-school.org/. Cary, you will probably appreciate that they say, “Language is the key to cultural survival.”

      This is cultural re-enforcement from the inside: the adults decide that their own children will grow up learning the old ways.


  3. If you haven’t already, you should read this excerpt from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”: http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/columbus-the-indians-and-human-progress-by-howard-zinn/


    1. Thank you Jeff. I haven’t read that particular book or web page, but am familiar with the stories. So sad. Thank you for spreading the word. I hope my readers will follow the link.


  4. OOOooooohhh!

    Can I trust myself to comment here in such a way as to reach the tendrils of my thought into each and every heart and still do justice to the warm burner of my feelings after reading all of the above?

    One of the frictions within the issues raised is that there is an assumption of a core of ‘normality’. The idea that how we are now is the rational and reasonable way to be, that we, who contribute to such a discussion share some kind of global norm which is a-cultural and that any others who visually differ are somehow ‘cultural’, BUT there are exceptions which are usually made to this construct.

    What do I mean? An example might be with the ‘Goths’ of mostly urban cultures of Europe who are pretty, visibly different, but have been incorporated into the ‘normalised’ urban cultures of the west, yet the so called BAME communities, who are located within the same societies are considered cultural lacunae within society, no matter how hard many may try to visually (and in other ways) ‘fit in’.

    My eldest ought to suffer from some kind of cultural schizophrenia, with his ‘wild, root dreadlocks’, piercings and gothic style, and Oxfordian accent, given the many different ways he is ‘received’ by those he encounters in his daily walks of life. What choices does he have for ‘normality’, or even a reasonable sense of self? His choices, to my mind trace evolutions of his attempts to adapt, over his life’s journey so far, as a visibly ‘different’ ‘minority’ person. Yes, he has supped at the banquet, but not before the banquet had supped off of his ‘body’.

    The land base ought to be a healing one. The ability to use a ‘land anchor’ to give one authenticity in an apparent global culture which links land to some kind of ‘proper’, genuine, ‘cultural’ status.
    What it appears to do, from where I am standing, is to offer some foundation to a rational argument, especially well championed by those who study ‘indigenous’ culture in all its aspects. these same folk may also fail to characterise the nature of the colonising, rampaging, aggressive cultural modalities of the very real cultures they belong to in relation to the notion of indigenous.
    Why does the Minority rights groups of the UK, for example, not view the diminishing populations of so called BAME label as ’cause celebres’ to protect and be in anguish over?

    I too have roots, from which I have been torn and which I look back upon with mixed feelings because the predominant discourse places them in the category of ‘backward, tribal, and altogether exotic and something from which humankind has evolved’. I see much in my ancestry that the so called modern world has much to gain from, philosophically and in terms of material lifestyle, but hey, i don’t have a voice in all of this, because it is not attached to some land which I can say is my own to wave a flag from!

    All of the voices raised in the preceding conversations have glimpses into the ‘truths, which must converge, if we were to really ‘go for it’, but there are interests that we all inherit and bear which prevent us from going too deep, too far over, or to even trust our first thoughts over our second, more ‘developed’ ideas…

    It is so difficult when MC is said to be imitating the ‘traditional style of Black women’s dance’ in the so called ‘twerking’ discussion. Those who have land have animated dances that link to that land heritage, be they of whatever nationality. The dispossessed of the Caribbean or the ghettoes of the African Diaspora hold onto aspects of these dances, blended in with all kinds of nu-cultural representations almost as an involuntary way of claiming a distinct sense of being, only to have it capitalised upon by a teen-celeb because SHE CAN, that’s all, because she represents those aspects of Europeanised culture which says ‘I can claim what is yours, and pay no price’. It is a deep, colonial mindset which is part of its cultural heritage and it is ambiguous about it, because on the one hand it enables ones to live a certain type of privileged and earth exploiting consumerist lifestyle, and on the other hand the religions which are extant within it forbid such taking/stealing and general greed. It is a ‘BECAUSE I CAN culture, wherever it is found in the world.

    When I was little, I used to wonder what kind of church could exist in South Africa.

    So, where does all this leave us? To me here is an opportunity for some deep cleansing, atonement and healing, for all of us.
    When I went to work in Africa, I felt the weight of all of the above on my shoulders because, I was seen to be a benefactor of a rather torrid, world history. Understandably. Folks wanted to also have my passport, whilst I was ambiguous about holding it!

    A European project ‘missionary’ found the only conversation he could have with me was one that made reference to the unequal position of the immigrant population in the ‘mother country’. He was unable to see me as an ‘equal’ able to relate to him as part of ‘normal’ society, able to talk about ‘normal’ things.
    Yet, I would have been happy to have shared with him at the banqueting table of difference and sameness, without skipping a beat.
    Should I have referred to his probable Viking ancestry and its interaction with Gauls (is my history right?!) Maybe ask him if he still enjoys raw meat? (such was the nature of his questions to me).

    I probably have offended everyone now, in my quest of opening up what was seeming to be a neatly parcelled quandary.

    There is a reason why we have a banqueting table, there is a reason why we can feel free to approach it. There is also a reason why some may feel that they have nothing to contribute to it, We need to unpack these reasons (they are not in truth singular, they are plural).

    A west African Shaman speaks of needing to be able to roll in the mud of our making in order to journey to a joint cleansing healing.

    My response here is not to offend anyone, not from my heart, not to any of yours, but it is because I seek healing and I recognise that unless we can see each other, bare, stripped of our armour, we cannot truly embrace.

    Grace, thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts. I am genuinely looking for opportunities for some deep sharing and the deep healing that must come from it.

    Awkward spaces.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mama D, you raise so many issues it leaves one too excited to not answer but also not sure what to respond to because everything you raise carries so much weight. “I too have roots, from which I have been torn and which I look back upon with mixed feelings because the predominant discourse places them in the category of ‘backward, tribal, and altogether exotic and something from which humankind has evolved’. I see much in my ancestry that the so called modern world has much to gain from, philosophically and in terms of material lifestyle, but hey, i don’t have a voice in all of this, because it is not attached to some land which I can say is my own to wave a flag from!”

      That too me, sums up the feeling of displacement that ALL, not just indigenous people, but all who have had their ‘cultures’ let to extinction by the globalization of consumerism(capitalism if you like). So even though I might view myself as ‘normal’, in the pursuit of materials I have had to abandon my cultural practices because they have been deemed ‘backwards, something that humanity has evolved from’. Yet I have a land from which I can wave a flag. I know this might sound too simplistic, but I still believe the multinational shareholder’s thirst for profit at all costs is responsible for all our cultural displacements. Worse, we participate in this colonialist practices through worshiping the power of money. MC, and other unfortunate pawns in the bigger scheme of things, are just people who have found a way of attaching dollar values to indigenous practices like twerking. But I truly believe we should forgive her “for she knows not what she does”. The system that allows her to pick and choose what to take as valuable from ‘indigenous’ practices is at fault. And you are right, even religion classifies it as stealing. But our consumerist society decides which stealing is shameful or not(much like discussing compensation for slavery or apartheid, present day multinationals refuse to take responsibility for their ancestors faults).

      Religion, dear Mama D, is like the law. It can protect the weak if used fairly, but the powerful and strong can bend it to serve their own perverse purposes. That’s the kind of Christianity that existed in South Africa, the twisted kind that said slavery existed in biblical times so it must be ok to believe in God and still think of others as subhuman.

      Mama D, I’m still blown away by the depth to which your way of thinking goes. Amazing.

      WeaverGrace, again, interesting piece. Allows Mama D to weave her magic.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Dear Mama D, Thanks for stopping by, sharing your thoughts from your heart, and stimulating thoughts in my heart.

      I consider groups “cultural” who have distinct, definable ways of celebrating events, and of decorating themselves and their environments. I include Goths and other more-recently-formed cultures. This is in contrast to people who are hybrids of several cultures, not identifying with one or two. (I am tempted to qualify this with the notion that “the hybrid person” selects from several cultures – what do you think? Anyway, this is just MY definition.)

      Association with a specific land mass is not a requirement for cultural status. Indigenous people can feel at home at a specific location or continent, or as residents of planet Earth. I hope connection with a specific land mass or all of the universes is healing for all.

      Certainly everyone is not either cultural or acultural; I am cultural sometimes, and acultural at other times.

      I like being a hybrid because I think that it connects me with the universes, and I value that. I recognize that some
      cultures agree that this connection with others is important. Such shared values are why I embrace their influences, and choose to have limited visits with the closed societies of my cousins and ancestors. I do enjoy my visits with my family, and am glad that those cultures are thriving; I just choose to expand or dilute beyond them.

      I wonder why you think your eldest “ought to suffer from some kind of cultural schizophrenia”. I consider his hybridization a common experience, since globalization has been an issue for millennia. I can imagine travellers arriving at a village thousands of years ago, and, like your eldest, not fitting the villagers’ expectations. I agree that, like your son, a traveller adapts over the course of a journey to become a unique person, as we all do during our journeys through life, even within cultures that don’t value individuality. Even homogeneous cultures value their unique society, and deliberately attempt to conquer the natural state of unique individual uniqueness.

      I am not familiar with the BAME issue in the UK. I hope you will take us through your perspective of the story.

      I hope you will share more about your perspective on the Miley Cyrus dance controversy, and take us to a place where you can offer healing by enlightenment, including to Miley.

      You wrote that your roots are viewed as “backward, tribal, and altogether exotic and something from which humankind has evolved.” I would like to read more about how you embrace and discard that.

      Your story about having a passport in Africa sounds much like stories of white people who live along the Mexican border. They, too, feel ambiguous about the extreme preferential treatment that they receive.

      You got me thinking about my judgment of some cultures as being desirable, and others not, like cultures that deal with outsiders aggressively. I insist that even these undesirable cultures have aspects that are desirable. Even people who lead cultures of terrorism lead people who benefit from the cultures they propogate. Hmmmm

      I like your point out that we all have “glimpses in to the truths”. I don’t think that these glimpses will ever converge to one point, since the Truth is so enormous. I think of my eyes or ears or other parts of my body, how close they are together, and how differently each perceives the world. No one is as close to me as parts of my own body, thus no one can perceive the world like I do. This is what motivates me to converse with you.

      You share so much at the banquet table. I, too, hope the tendrils of your thoughts reach into and open every heart. I hope you continue to speak from and listen with your heart.



  5. Hi Grace

    Sorry I’ve been away and out of internet reach. Back now. Will have a read – I’m sure it’s perfect – your writing always is – and let you know what I think!



    1. Dear Shun, we’ve missed you! See you soon 🙂


  6. What a thoughtful piece Grace. The word culture has its roots in mediaeval English and means to till. In that respect, then, culture is not a static thing. It grows and changes to meet the needs of society. The abominable thing is when cultures are wiped out by so-called “civilised” people – as in the Mayan culture and, here in Malaysia, with the indigenous people whose lands are being taken away in the name of “progress”.

    However, I disagree that, from the participant’s point of view, it is necessarily a bad thing when a culture dies. Everybody has a need to progress, to make his or her life better in some way. If discarding ones culture will help one to a better life, while it is sad, then who are we to say that they shouldn’t do so? I think that we too often mistakenly believe that keeping ones culture is of utmost importance. In my case, I have kept parts of my Chinese culture while embracing western culture (I am writing in English!) and I think this makes me the person I am. I could not be me if I had adhered strictly to Chinese culture. I also feel that everyone should have the freedom to chose which parts of their culture they wish to keep and which parts of the globalised culture they should embrace, if any.

    I also don’t think that globalisation is the bugbear that many make it out to be. To be globalised is to understand our world in its entirety, to understand that we can all work together towards a common goal. It makes us all a rainbow nation, to borrow Desmond Tutu’s words. Greedy corporations are another thing and I feel they have hijacked the word to disguise their economic hegemony. I welcome this globalisation as it has meant that I have been able to communicate with people such our wonderful Litscrib group. Without globalisation (and the internet!), it would not have been possible.

    Perhaps the way to keep different ethnicities and their cultures alive is to educate them so that they understand that it doesn’t have to be either/or but can be both. It is useless for us, either individually or as a collective, to rail against the destruction of so much history and ancient knowledge. It will happen, it has always happened and it will continue to happen. The only thing we can do is to make sure that a record is kept of what went before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hooray for your new avatar, Shun! And thanks for stopping by for such a nice visit, and sharing so many of your thoughts. I hope you know how much I enjoy conversing with you.

      Thanks for sharing roots of the word “culture”. I enjoy looking into that kind of thing. You remind me of the use of the word as a verb, not just as a noun and adjective. I’m thinking of cultural cultures culturing. The cultures culture as they culture cultural people…

      You make a good point: we must not deny anyone’s right to discard one’s cultural heritage. We also must not deny a culture’s right to grow.

      “To be globalised is to understand our world in its entirety, to understand that we can all work together towards a common goal.” That warms my heart. I would like that to be the whole story, the entire result, the whole sum of the experience. I am so very glad that you are part of my globalization experience.

      I agree with you about the value of educating people about their own and other cultural heritages, so each person can make deliberate decisions that they feel good about. I also like seeing closed cultures that preserve their integrity, though as I wrote those words, I cringed with fear of us/them thinking. What I meant was that I like knowing that some cultures still exist, in tact, and secure, authentically continuing practices from hundreds (or thousands) of years ago. I want them to have the freedom to do so in safety. Yet, I don’t want them to be so secluded that we don’t have the opportunity to learn from them.

      Your statement, “make sure that a record is kept of what went before” expands my appreciation of historians. How precious!

      I look forward to when your blog is up and active 🙂


      1. Thanks for your very kind words. I also enjoy our conversations. We are all trying to learn, about each other, what we think and the differences in how we react to certain things, all part of our education. I’m not sure how many cultures can survive millennia without changing in some way as life changes.

        I’m not sure how I’m going to get my blog going – I don’t really know what to write about and I’m not sure who’s going to want to read it! I’ve been looking through the themes to see if there’s anything I like. I also thought about changing the blog name. Oh well, slowly slowly I guess.


        1. How is The Writer’s Journey working for you?

          You might enjoy this page: http://learn.wordpress.com/get-comfy/ as you figure out how you fit in the blogging world.


        2. Greetings Grace,

          Sorry to just drop in like this in your conversation. I had started a response to your response to my earlier response, but then realised that it would be too long a reply, possibly go off your topic and so be unfair. So I shall have to write my own blog entry, which I will share with you. Hopefully in the not to far distance 🙂

          I just wanted to say here that the exploration of culture can be very broad and deep, exploring the many aspects of one’s home culture and how it impacts upon you as an individual, other individuals, families,communities and societies.

          Once we can realise that what we have taken as normality is simply cultural expression with its own set of values and positions and which has historical attributes, we will also see that we can not take it very much for granted. It permits us to see ‘the other’ with new eyes and to acknowledge the impact that ‘normality’ has had/is having on the world.

          A good example is the idea of development, that there is a trajectory of progress which places one set of people as primitive and another as possessing the exemplary pinnacle of ‘advancement’. What are the consequences of this and what values underpin this?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Mama D, no apology for dropping in, please. You are always welcome, no matter how much time you wish to remain here, especially when you bring a statement like, “what we have taken as normality is simply cultural expression with its own set of values and positions and which has historical attributes.” Great point!

            Ohhhhh, you really could open a can of worms, talking about “development”, “advancement” and “primitive”. I learned about the dangers of these value-laden terms, from precious mentors in high school and college. I am now finding that vocabulary in general is so specialized, a dictionary is rarely useful to me anymore. I am finding that words are incredibly fluid, defined according to their context, in response to people’s needs. I have been working on a piece about the word “terrorism”, and why we must go beyond any dictionary definition.

            Yes, let’s open that can of worms, and let the light shine on them so we can see where we are. I look forward to seeing what you do with your blog.


            1. Yes Grace and thank you for the acceptance 🙂

              Maybe my blog post ought to be entitled ‘From Primitive to Primary’!

              More anon.


              Liked by 1 person

              1. I like the names you come up with 🙂


            2. I’m sorry I missed this discussion when it was first posted. It’s beautiful to me to see people picking this apart and working with it. Colonized culture has always been a vampire surviving by draining its victims-the myriad cultures its steamroller has run over since Roman times.  

              Tai Alfred is a Mohawk scholar at U-Victoria who writes about cultural maintenance and evolution, about using ancestral wisdom to address current issues.  And it seems to me from his and others work that indigenous cultures are so much more functional and valuable to us all than the culture of commodification, colonization and globalised profits-over-people.

              Even that rude missionary mentioned in the comment above could learn from his Viking ancestors about how to live better right now. Imho colonization steals not only languages and decorations like costume and art, but something much deeper and more necessary which is the worldview our ancestors developed over millennia of relationship with the land and other living beings.  This worldview is unique to each culture but with astonishing commonality across time and space in land based cultures (versus ideas or technology based cultures like modern globalised “Wal-Mart and McDonald’s culture”).

              We can preserve language in books and recordings, and decorations,  costumes and art in museums but worldview and a peoples built up wisdom is stored in our bones. Even those separated by generations of time and thousands of miles from their ancestral culture still have it somewhere inside them forever singing in their dreams and imaginings.

              people in the British isles and France have been resurrecting their ancestral wisdom,  trying to relearn the myths and the land with varying degrees of success.  

              I don’t think decolonizing is just useful to First Nations/Native American people.  Decolonizing imho, allows us all to weed out programming designed to make us robotic consumer slaves and return to more authentic living reality.

              of course I still think we should do everything possible to preserve the material culture of those who still have it and to protect those who still live their culture from the predators who try to take their land and resources thru violence and trickery. 

              Musicians have always shared across cultures-and you can see them just lighting up with joy in one another while playing together. Culture isn’t something that has to be isolated to thrive.absorbing elements of other cultures is natural.  

              What is unnatural is having the colonizers enforce their religion and capitalism literally with violence and force. Including the force of poverty and advertising. 

              I think the elder cultures are inherently stronger and will survive and reflower after the collapse of colonized globalised culture completes its horrifying trajectory. 

              Thank you for creating this enlightening discussion Grace!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Thank you for reviving this discussion, Ohnwentsya. You are right in guessing that my interest has not dwindled, and that I would enjoy continuing this conversation.

                The image of colonizing cultures as vampires is easy to conjure. Well put. Now, where is an artist who can draw this out?

                I see that YouTube and 8th Fire have Tai Alfred videos. I look forward to watching them. Thank you for bringing him to my attention.

                I wonder about my valuing indigenous cultures so much more highly than my own heritage. I have a hard time seeing my European ancestors as good people who bless me. I have become far more aware of them as atrocious opportunists who gave me unfair advantages. I want to think of them as indigenous people in their homelands. I want to recognize their “worldview and … wisdom stored in [my] bones,” as you wrote. Even though I am “separated by generations of time and thousands of miles from [my] ancestral culture,” I want to find “it somewhere inside [me] forever singing in [my] dreams and imaginings.” I don’t recognize the voice in me as theirs.

                I appreciate your graciousness when you point out that the missionary could learn lessons from his Viking ancestors that are similar to what I want to learn from my local indigenous people. What happened to the European “relationship with the land and other living beings”? What makes idea-based culture so destructive? Can’t we build something new without trashing the old?

                When I look for information about my ancestors, I stumble over too many stories of war. War killed them. War relocated them. War rewarded them. I also find that authors cater so much on their anticipated book customers that they focus on the most notorious figures rather than my humblest ancestors. I am writing a fictitious autobiography about my grandmother’s grandmother so I can reach beyond the historians and biographers to see what I can find.

                I love the image you make of multi-cultural musicians enjoying sharing music as they inspire each other, not replace each other. Artists in general are known for being open to this kind of inter-relating. Advertising is not needed to draw an artist’s attention to the work of another. Artists can’t live in isolation; their wells dry up; they need inspiration, encouragement, and validation from others who are different. Artists are expansive in their world view, not centralizing like major corporations.

                Ohnwentsya, you wrote, “I think the elder cultures are inherently stronger and will survive and reflower after the collapse of colonized globalised culture completes its horrifying trajectory.” Amen!



              2. My friend Estrella is an artist who does a lot of wirk related to colonization and decolonizing. I don’t know if she’s done that but I will ask. I hope she will eventually get a WordPress blog as I would love sharing her stuff here.
                I have an interview with Tai Alfred on redmanlaughing posted somewhere on here too. I was lucky to have one of his books in my university library and Estrella was his student at IGOV which is how I learned about him.

                I was a strange child in loving history but even stranger in that I felt the last thousand years was just too recent to be really interesting:-)

                I still haven’t adjusted to Ireland having lost all its big forests or to half the great cities being under water now. Even tho I know what my European ancestors did after colonization it doesn’t seem real to me because it IS so miserable brutish and stupid.
                It’s like colonization is a sickness that destroys a peoples spirit so they behave like traumatized children.
                If you look at the paintings in Lascaux and Chauvet caves you can feel what they were like before. The spirit of the people cries hauntingly from those images as if those painters knew what would be lost and tried to preserve it for us who came after.
                The uncolonized indigenous cultures that are known now are the survivors, fragments of what was once a worldwide tapestry of wise and biologically integrated beings.

                Colonizers make sure we don’t recognize the voices of our ancestors in our bones-if they didn’t work to traumatize the people thoroughly and we could recognize those songs no place on Earth would have remained colonized more than a few generations.

                The epidemic of alienation so discussed in the 2011the century is a goal and achievement of colonization. You could say the Sex Pistols and that Rhinoceros play grew out of the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition:-) and out of Enclosure, Transportation of Irish and Scots Resistance, and the industrial revolution.

                If you think back to the wild horsemen riding the steppes and the Caucasus how different were they essentially from the Lakota or the Blackfoot?

                The Scots used blue woad while the Plains tribes of North America had black and white paint and the people around Usury (Ayers rock in Australia) have red and yellow ochre made from minerals. We have different styles and motifs but the same wild aliveness and connection to the spirits of the land is common to all.
                I’m falling asleep but remind me to tell you the dvd about the musicians. I have go re find the title.

                Liked by 1 person

              3. I hope Estrella will at least be a guest blogger for you.

                I bookmarked a couple of your Tai Alfred posts, to read later. Thanks for leading me to them.

                OH! You are so inspiring! I bookmarked Google searches for Lascaux and Chauvet cave so I can spend some time with them and see how they speak to me. You wrote, “The spirit of the people cries hauntingly from those images as if those painters knew what would be lost and tried to preserve it for us who came after.” Thanks for giving me a starting point. I look forward to sharing with you what I perceive. I welcome others to do so as well.

                You wrote, “the same wild aliveness and connection to the spirits of the land is common to all.” I see the internet possibly bringing us closer to being “a worldwide tapestry of wise and biologically integrated beings” as we discuss issues like these here.

                You wrote, “remind me to tell you the dvd about the musicians. I have go re find the title.” I’m reminding you 🙂

                Thanks again for your contributions here.


  7. In the light of the night with a spiritual strain coating the other night sounds and I want to tell you Ohnwentsya that you can reach out your hand to the uncivilised and uncolonised heart that taps away here.

    She is rooted in customs native to her, even if undiscovered and resonates and vibrates with ancient cultures and ways not yet dead…we can all find them if we open to the sheer beauty of being what we can be and are not what we are told or taught to be…having to hold onto the mud-crusted palms of the ancient crone and support the bloodied warmth of a new born, wrapped in freshly skinned beast… we’d best get accustomed to the smells and tastes before we embrace what we used to be and can become again.

    Like one cannot extract the active ingredient from the foxglove or Vocanga africana and maintain a good relationship with the meadow or forest and live wholesomely, one has to accept all the essences and the flesh too of that which we still have buried deep within us.


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