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Seekerofsolace
05-08-2013, 12:18 PM
Hello everyone!
I have made an account of these forums after a long time of lurking. I've always felt a strong pull towards American Indian spirituality. Lately it has gotten a lot stronger. I am a Christian, but I also want to learn more of the spirituality of the American Indians. I thought it was confirmation that I should study this path more when I came across someone who has a very close connection to an infuential member of the Lakota. Being a noob I started talking about my desire to learn more of Native American spirituality. This person did not want to share anything. It seemed they did not even want to talk about regular stuff...note this is on social media. I fear I may have offended them by coming directly at them about my desire of spirituality. I apologized but I am unsure it helped. To make matters worse I later read that there is a great big wall about whites learning American Indian spirituality. How can I show the person I talked with I am not out to use them, but learn about them and their culture and be a friend? How can I learn about the spiritual aspects when faced with the stigma of what my ancestors took from them? I do have some Cherokee ancestry but for all intents and purposes I am as white as they come. Your thoughts?

Namaste

Albalida
06-08-2013, 02:13 PM
My first thought is that Native American spirituality isn't some monolithic thing. It's going to be different for each tribe.

The bad news is... when you come in with the attitude of, "Any will do, as long as it's Native American, it doesn't matter which because they're all the same," then that can be off-putting because it sounds like you're drawn to the stereotype more than anything else.

The good news is... Will just any be good enough, as long as it's Native American? Because if Lakota snubbed you, then there could be others.

Otherwise, I would simply have to respect cultural elders whose decision is to keep me an outsider. If The Great White Spirit and animal totems come to me, then I'll just have to call them something else.

Thunder Bow
07-08-2013, 07:14 PM
Most Native People in today's times are just modern people such as yourself. The Lakota you mentioned is a Modern person, that you encountered on the internet. He is imprinted with modern fears, such as the fear of rejection by others. Much has been lost.

Him snubbing you is a result of short thinking and fear. Blood quota does not matter any more, it is Spiritual Quota that maters.

Star Wolf Medicine Woman
04-03-2014, 11:06 PM
I am saddened by some things I have read in this thread....
Yes we do wish to learn of the 'old ways' and for some the big fear is, traditonally, the elders would be the teachers, but sadly often they were not permitted to learm themselves so cannot pass on what they have not been given in the traditional way...

I have many Native people as friends and I know that they have taught me a lot, but once they can get to know you and to trust that you have a good heart and motivation to learn with respect... My teachers are many, some live on the rez, some do not... They have been initialy puzzled as to why we want to learn... but have had the patience to understand me better... I am privileged to have friends in many tribal groups...

I actually give talks on NAI History and culture with their blessing.. I take no fee, all donations got to 'Friends of the Rez my nominated charity. There is a great fascination with this subject...

It is time to tell the truth about the cruelty, injustice and deprivation that has gone on in the name of progress.... It is time to be honest....because it is still going on today too...
I cannot blame someone for the sins of their granfathers , uncles etc..as we were not on this earth at the time of the dreadful acts... Correspondingly they cannot blame my forefathers... But that does not mean I do not feel their pain and anguish...because I do... I try to make people aware of how they suffered and I do all I can for the NAI's today..
Pila Maya..

Native spirit
05-03-2014, 11:08 AM
:smile: The spirituality of the Native people is as old as time itself it will vary from each tribe, the Native people even today dont talk about theit beliefs only to other members of the tribe, and they are very cautious about the white man wanting to learn from them because of the past events. you have to gain their trust before they open up to you,i am a celt we are very similar to the Native people in our ways,but i also have Native blood in me,so they except me a lot easier than maybe they would someone else, i have a lot of IND friends and we get on great, you get a few who hold on to past events and dont talk to non Native people very well, but it is only a few,

Namaste

Star Wolf Medicine Woman
03-04-2014, 11:20 PM
Yes I agree, I am pretty sure they are able to jidge ones motives and if you go to them with a good heart and open hands, they will in time accept you..

Raven Poet
06-04-2014, 02:28 AM
Hello everyone!
How can I show the person I talked with I am not out to use them, but learn about them and their culture and be a friend? How can I learn about the spiritual aspects when faced with the stigma of what my ancestors took from them? I do have some Cherokee ancestry but for all intents and purposes I am as white as they come. Your thoughts?

Namaste
Hi, Seeker of Solace. I am so happy you are open to find out more information from a different culture(s).

Some of the Elders I have had the honour to work/apprentice with in my part of the world (Canadian Prairies/aka "Plains" region) have been very vocal about their reluctance to share some teachings with newcomers. We see in so many places (the internet for one) where people from other cultural groups have taken knowledge about Indigenous ceremonies and teachings and passed them on for money, and without cultural protocol and accuracy. The result is, some of our teachings that have been around for thousands of years have gotten watered down and even fundamentally altered.

The way teachings usually get shared, from how I've learned from the people I have gone to for knowledge, is through first establishing a relationship. The Traditional people I know really appreciate when a newcomer comes to ceremonies by invitation and conducts themselves with an attitude of humbleness and willingness to serve/help. Asking to help with whatever needs to be done is one way to show these virtues. Then, when the knowledge keeper feels closer to the seeker through time and interaction, they tend to feel more safe about sharing this sacred knowledge.

It isn't about power or racism always (although, sadly, sometimes it is, but hey - we are all human!). But if you get a good feeling with an Elder or a knowledge keeper, and you can feel their spirit or their heart, that would be a good person to initiate a relationship with.

Generally speaking, it is a good thing to offer gifts and Asemaa when approaching someone for traditional knowledge. Asemaa is Ceremonial Tobacco, which is a prayer medicine that I know a lot of peoples from various Indigenous nations - including the Lakota people (I have just made friends with a local Lakota Elder couple) use in a traditional way. Again, this is not so much about dollar value, but more a symbol of giving unconditionally and demonstrating respect for a reciprocal relationship (give and take, instead of just take.)

I have had to work helping an Ojibwe Elder for about a year before he would open up to me. I am Anishinaabe (Ojibwe/Cree) myself, but it was important to him to establish a relationship of trust and respect. When he saw me help without question or complaint, he realized that I respected protocol and tradition, and then he took me on as an apprentice in some teachings and ceremonies.

Remember these teachings are deeply sacred and many Elders do not just want to toss them around like penny candy. I'm not saying that's what you wanted - I just want to point out that it's not about you, or the seeker, but about the sacredness of these teachings that could make some Elders hesitant in sharing. Indigenous spirituality has been, sadly, so commodified and exploited, often with thousands of dollars going to those who exploit them and have done so by betraying the trust of the knowledge keeper. If there was a piece of info or vision or dream that was deep in your heart, and had been passed down to you by your grandmothers through the centuries, would you want to share them with someone you didn't know that well yet?

Good luck, keep your heart open - our Traditional people can feel an open, honest, and loving spirit, so you will find folks who will be glad to share with you if it is done in a good way!

Star Wolf Medicine Woman
06-04-2014, 08:24 PM
Excellent post..

Aki
09-04-2014, 06:56 AM
It's nice to know that people would be willing to share and help if I show a good heart and respect, as well as an earnest interest in learning... I want to learn more about NA spirituality, to see if that is really where my heart is drawing me, but I'm mostly just too intimidated to ask... >_>;;

Star Wolf Medicine Woman
09-04-2014, 07:07 PM
They are courses on NAI History, Culture & Spirituality because I have attended them for the last 4 or 5 years... But they were residential and not cheap... 500 for a week including accomodation..

Thunder Bow
10-04-2014, 02:15 AM
Remember NA Spirituality varies from nation to nation. What Nation appeals to you?

Aki
10-04-2014, 05:10 AM
I would love to follow my blood, which is Oregon Clatsop Chinook, but, well, I think it's probably something that's just not going to happen. <=]

Thunder Bow
10-04-2014, 04:34 PM
If you live in Oregon check with your Tribal Elders. Other wise check online for their web site, also check books and articles on those people. Your people I associate with Salmon Hunting. Thus their Spiritual practices, probably include some thing about Salmon.

Aki
10-04-2014, 07:48 PM
That's the problem, I don't live in Oregon, and I don't really have enough of a bloodcount to really call them "my elders". All I can really say is that they are awesome people that I respect.

But yes, I am looking around and into what they were about. And yes, it seems that Salmon is a big thing. It usually was to a lot of Northern West Coast tribes.

Thunder Bow
10-04-2014, 09:29 PM
Blood Quota does not matter. Thus they are your Elders. If you approach them as your Elders, they will accept you. This Navajo "Elder" knows this.

Raven Poet
12-04-2014, 04:25 PM
Thunder Bow, I agree that blood quota does not matter. I personally have rejected the impositions of identity from a government that has done nothing but exploit and colonize my peoples. I have also been hurt by some Anishinaabe who called me a wannabe because my mother is white, which totally insults the woman who gave me Life and my Anishinaabe grandmothers who call me their granddaughter.

But ... I have heard some Elders critically question why some people from other cultures are so attracted to NA culture. Is it a result of the romanticization of our ways; the appeal of the "noble savage" and the beautiful ceremonies that speak deep to the spirit? And will that interest pass away like a temporary fad? Or is it a heartfelt commitment to walking a certain way of life and doing one's best to honour traditions that have been around since the beginning of time because one's spirit is leading them to this one way of life?

One of my dear friends is Irish and English, and calls herself "white". She is a Sundancer; she follows all the protocol of this sacred role and is 100% committed to the Sundance way of life for the rest of her life. I have the utmost respect for Sundancers, and for her. Her Elder lovingly calls her a "reverse apple": red on the inside, white on the outside.

I guess, like so many other things, it goes back to looking at one's real intentions and one's spiritual path.

I admit, I carry some hurt from my people (that's one of my jobs as Raven; to absorb others pain and transmute it into cleansed energy). I have heard them say, we have had our lands, our communities, our traditions, our languages taken away - do we also have to let our ceremonies be taken from us too? We highly value the culture of sharing; and I think that's a pretty universal value across the NA nations. But true sharing involves an open and caring heart and mutual trust; we need to trust that what we are asked to share will be cherished as deeply as we cherish them.

So funny, I was talking with an Elder last night and she told me this story from an Elders conference she had coordinated years back. A young woman brought a sheet of paper to her and asked her to make copies of it. On the paper was a freakin "menu" that read: sweatlodge ceremony: $800; pipe ceremony: $500; naming ceremony: $300. The "elder" that the young woman was helping wanted to hand out these for-sale menus to participants at the conference! My Elder friend was horrified and refused to make copies! She refused to assist with selling ceremony. Yes, Elders need to earn a living, and in this capitalist society, money is needed to keep a roof over our heads and food on our tables (plus a few extra luxuries!) But that was never our way - to sell or give away our ceremonies. This is not part of the spirit of sharing. Sharing means giving equal respect to accepting the tradition of ceremonies as they have been passed down to knowledge keepers and helpers through the years.

So I understand why there is some hesitation among Elders. Please know, I am NOT saying anyone on this thread is attempting anything disrespectful. I just felt the need to reiterate. I'll be shush now! :wink: (Unless Raven feels the need to do some more croaking!)

Raven Poet
12-04-2014, 05:36 PM
And on an ironic note ... my signature line is a quote from a movie that has been labelled by some as perpetuating racist stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, "Dances With Wolves." Yet parts of that movie really touched my heart.

Raven looooves irony! Although bitter at times, it also can be a tasty bite to chew on!

Raven Poet
12-04-2014, 05:49 PM
I would love to follow my blood, which is Oregon Clatsop Chinook, but, well, I think it's probably something that's just not going to happen. <=]
Aki, I just checked out your profile. Fun-neee! "too young for my own good" and "unsatisfied bookkeeper". Love it!

Can I ask, why do you not think "following your blood" will happen? You carry your blood with you, do you not dear? Your blood follows you; you get to decide which path to take.

The fact that you know a specific region of your ancestry is admirable. Your grandmothers must be proud! Many of us do not know where our homeland is. I am glad you do.

Do you see a vision of a possible future of going on a little trip sometime, going back to your homeland to poke around? I took a little trip like that this past summer; I have been trying to find the grave of one of my Indigenous grandmothers. In Canada, "Indian" women did not have an identity in decades past. They were just listed in government records as "an Indian woman", like "a blade of grass" or "a pebble on the beach". Nice, huh? So I don't have a lot to research from. However, things happen for a reason when we are ready for them to happen - I recently met a woman who is expert in researching personal history and knows her way around the intentionally overwhelming and confusing government "archives" system. I am going to contact her some day soon and ask her to tutor me in digging through these archives and see what I can hunt up. Because I know my Grandmother is WAY more than just "an Indian woman".

So stay open to possibility, my dear. I am a firm believer in faith and persistence to keep putting it out there to the Universe what it is we seek. One day, when the time is right (and who knows when that is, other than Creator), a lead will come to you.

Don't give up!

Thunder Bow
12-04-2014, 05:49 PM
Ga'gii = Crow or Raven in my words. They are all over the Reservation.

"Plastic Shaman" can be Native or Non Native people who want to make Money. Go with your Heart. Do not let others do your thinking for you. It is really all about the Heart, not words, not accusations, not head trips.

"Dances With Wolves" is a good movie. Let what may, touch your Heart. Remember any Ceremony must be of the Heart.

Raven Poet
12-04-2014, 06:33 PM
Ga'gii = Crow or Raven in my words. They are all over the Reservation.

"Plastic Shaman" can be Native or Non Native people who want to make Money. Go with your Heart. Do not let others do your thinking for you. It is really all about the Heart, not words, not accusations, not head trips.

"Dances With Wolves" is a good movie. Let what may, touch your Heart. Remember any Ceremony must be of the Heart.
Ah, similar to my ancestors' Ojibwe language: gaagaagi

That's a funny term! Plastic - so true. ha haha. Thank you for reminding me, Brother, to listen to my heart. She will never lie to me!

And the reminder to let in what is meant to touch my heart. Good to hear those reminders!

Thunder Bow
12-04-2014, 08:02 PM
Thank You (Ahe'hee') for your kind words.

Aki
12-04-2014, 11:10 PM
Can I ask, why do you not think "following your blood" will happen?

It's mostly just a personal thing. I have an abject fear of not doing something correctly, or embarrassing or disappointing someone by doing it wrong. Or that my heart just wouldn't be in it. I know that's incredibly silly of me, but with something as culturally important as the spirituality ceremonies, that's not something to be toyed with lightly. It's not really something you can take for a test run, like a lot of other spirituality systems. And that's very intimidating, especially when coupled with my own self doubts. That's all, Raven.

Raven Poet
13-04-2014, 01:14 AM
It's mostly just a personal thing. I have an abject fear of not doing something correctly, or embarrassing or disappointing someone by doing it wrong. Or that my heart just wouldn't be in it. I know that's incredibly silly of me, but with something as culturally important as the spirituality ceremonies, that's not something to be toyed with lightly. It's not really something you can take for a test run, like a lot of other spirituality systems. And that's very intimidating, especially when coupled with my own self doubts. That's all, Raven.
Thank you Aki, I understand better now. Yeah, I've felt this fear lots! And there are some people in the ceremony circles who are quick to criticize and correct; and there are some who are true nurturing teachers and are willing to stand back and let us learn through our mistakes.

I hear and feel how much you respect ceremony and walking a Red Road, in whatever way that means to you. How honorable of you, Aki. That's the most important approach I think anyone can take - a deep, humble reverence for something as sacred and bigger than ourselves like spiritual ceremonies are.

I stlll have self doubts. But it's funny, in my 50th year, I am less worried about what others may say or think, and am more driven to honour what my heart tells me to do. Even if I screw up (and I do lots), or if I don't know exactly what I'm doing (happens about 14 times a day), there is this little nugget of courage inside me that whispers, keep going. You're doing it, keep going.

All of us have that little voice. It just took me longer to find out how to listen to it ... because I move like a Turtle. But that's okay too - cuz I always end up gettin' there! This ain't a race.

Keep having those honest conversations with yourself (no, that doesn't mean you are crazy, it means you are spiritual). Experience different ways of making ceremony and see which ones resonate with you. Our truth changes as we journey through life; the more we experience the more we change and what we seek changes along with it. I feel your bravery to keep going. Remember I believe in you during those times when you might not!

Aki
14-04-2014, 06:54 AM
Thanks for your kind words, and your support, even though we don't know each other. =) It means a lot to be told that my respect counts for something.

iza
30-04-2014, 11:07 PM
Can I just say that if you want to learn, then I would suggest you get involved with Native American charities - it's the best way to get to know the people on a more personal level than just asking for advice on a forum. These people have had so much taken from then and have had everything they held sacred and dear mocked and torn from them - its no wonder they are very protective of their spirituality and customs. They are actually very nice people with a wicked sense of humour once you get to know them but you need to respect them and their ways. If you're truly sincere about wanting to learn about their culture and their spirituality, they will see it and will be more than happy to show you and help you learn.

Aki
30-04-2014, 11:47 PM
I know that they are nice people. I've had the pleasure of being in contact with a very kind medicine man who makes baskets, and talking to some of his cousins. I'm just very nervous around people.

If you could, could you elaborate on "charities"? I mean, I'm sure that there are --there's charities for everything under the sun. But donating to one is a lot different than helping out. I don't know... would volunteering to help clean up after a powwow help at all, or...? Would that just... not be a good idea...? I'm hesitant to do much at all, and step on people's toes.

Makoiyi
01-05-2014, 12:14 PM
Most tribes have a help system / charity that others can donate to and help with things like buying in wood, fuel, food etc or helping pay towards someones electricity bill. This is in place to help the older and people who are more in need for what ever reason. In some tribes you can also sponsor a family. You can find the likes of this out by checking out tribal websites.

Makoiyi

iza
01-05-2014, 10:13 PM
Makoiyi - Thank you very much - I meant to clarify about the Native American charities but it was late and I was really tired.

Aki - I think you are on the right path. You already have some excellent connections - your older friend and his cousins. :wink:

Makoiyi has some excellent suggestions. I got involved by sponsoring a Native American boy back in the 1980's. He lived in South Dakota. I sponsored him for 3 years and visited him a couple of times. I made friends with a Native American woman (Pawnee/Dakota) and learned a lot from her. She showed me how to bead, taught me about tobacco prayer ties, how to make one and where to hang it, what kinds of roots/plants are used for medication (like a toothache), taught me a some words. I loved listening to her and husband talk about their lives and about their family still living in the Reservations. Her and her husband took me to visit friends living on one of the Reservations and we spent a day and a night there. During my visit, I was invited to participate in a Inipi (sweatlodge) purification rite. I made other friends and learned how to make fry bread, how to sew and decorate my own outfit and shawl. I participated in Pow Wow dances and learned more words. I was blessed with a name by one of my Native American friends. I consider it a great honour. My name will always be a part of me, something I hold dear and I will always be humbled and thankful that I was blessed with it.

It was a great time in my life, but also the worst because I had seen the struggles of the people and it's just absolutely heart-breaking.

If you have a Facebook account, look up Native Times. It's a great site that's all about Native life - from pow-wows to Native American issues and causes and sometimes charities are mentioned that you might be interested in. Or you can check out the tribal websites as Makoiyi had suggested. :wink:

Aki
05-05-2014, 08:49 PM
Okay, that clarifies a lot. I never really knew about that stuff in specific, but I guess I realized they existed in periphery. I don't have a lot of money, but I will look into seeing what I can do.

iza
07-05-2014, 09:25 AM
Hi Aki...

I wish you all the best. Please keep us posted. :hug2:

Aki
09-05-2014, 09:00 PM
I will, if anything comes of it.