My friend/current roommate Gypsy runs a…
I know this is forever late, partially I’ve been busy and partially your last response touched a bit of a nerve and I needed time to reframe things since this isn’t about me or my feelings.
1) Most white people are not educated enough to know the difference between a traditional dreamcatcher, your dreamcatcher, and a kitsch rainbow-chicken dreamcatcher. So, regardless of whether you want to, you do cross markets because the market (in the view of nearly all of the potential buyers) is “dreamcatchers”.
2) People I follow (and who follow me in return) express nearly daily displeasure at what is being done to their religion when it is taken and repurposed by people for their own spiritual needs. “Hurt” is their word for what they feel when this is done. I see nothing that indicates this is different from these other examples. I could ask, but I don’t want to drag my followers into something I know they say hurts them (if I could figure out how to put these things behind “Read More” cuts, I would).
3) No, I am not native.
But on to that central point.
Christianity is completely different from native religions. It is open, more than open, it is evangelical and has been since it’s beginning. You can walk into a Christian church and they will encourage you to join. Some will even come to your door.
It is a tenant of Christianity that its followers see it spread.
That is not the case with native religions.
That is not the case with many religions.
Many religions are not open, you cannot ask to join them, you cannot convert to them, they are simply not open to outsiders.
Some religions are inherited. Judaism is inherited through the mother. Although that religion has an option for converts others do not.
No one is entitled to any religion simply because they fancy it. Not every religion works that way.
As for the quote, that would be specific to Sitting Bull’s time and place and also it lacks context. He might have been referring to weaponry or technology. He may have specifically been saying it is ok to take from these white people, who are stealing our land and murdering our people, in order to defend what we have. I have no idea what he meant because there is no context for the quote.
Also, since you are repurposing their religious objects that is not assimilating or even attempting to. Further, you cannot “see the light” as that is very much a Christian concept and doesn’t really apply to most native religions. Which brings me to my next point, that is religions, as in plural. There is no “good red way” for you to walk. It doesn’t exist (also, “red” is not a word most natives would like you to use in such a manner). To take the “cultural symbol” of a heritage that is not yours and repurpose it is not joining as an adopted sister it is stealing and forcing your presence on a culture’s spiritual beliefs that do not work in that way. It’s like showing up in someone’s house, eating their food, and wondering why, just because you’re not of their blood, they won’t adopt you. You’re not entitled to it and it’s not sensible to expect them to do it.
If the most important thing to you is the idea then why do you need to take this particular culture’s symbols? Especially when dreamcatchers aren’t even a symbol of this idea within the culture? The are not a symbol of respect for all things. I also believe in respecting the world and the people in it but I am able to do so without taking the trappings of another culture. Or believing that all cultures are mine to take if it suits my “ideals”… I think I would rather respect a culture and continue to do so even in the event I am told “no” when wanting access. Accepting that answer is respect. I don’t have to understand why or even agree with the reasons, if I truly respect them I will respect their answer.
Also, what is this “wisdom” that every native tribe had? How is it connected to these symbols you “need”? Dreamcatchers are for children, are you still a child? How can you “need” the symbols of this culture if you are going to erase what they mean anyhow? How is that erasure not a cultural genocide? To see that your colonizers image of you and their use for your spirituality has replaced your most sacred things, things you held above everything else in the world, what you, as a human being lived by, lived for, and would kill for, and be killed for. You’re still holding these things but watching them as they are replaced slowly by foreign images… but this is isn’t hurt? That can dismissed as mere “bitterness”?
I do not think you understand how deeply genocide cuts, particularly cultural genocide, or you wouldn’t say such things. Genocide rips a culture apart, it creates rifts within a people, it cuts false borders making people you should regard as family into foreigners or turning what should be your cousin into your colonizer. These are very painful and complicated things that the people within the culture have to navigate because genocide creates a legacy… the relationship with those outside the culture, who colonized them, and took the bits of their culture that they liked, and homogenized them as one single people instead of many… that is an even more difficult and painful legacy to navigate. It is not up to us to tell them how they should do it.
It is a wound that is trying to heal. Sometimes the only way to heal a wound is to bandage it to protect it from the outside world. Then once it is healed they can be taken off though even then there may be a scar there… but this wound hasn’t even begun to heal, because people keep ripping the bandages off.
If you really respect them and their culture respect what they tell you they need to heal.
I think that this is that unfortunate point where I need to bow out. The reason is that this is hitting nerves for both of us and, frankly, it looks like we’re not going to get anywhere. The fact is that your perception of the Native American opinion, and the opinion expressed to me by those I’ve known, are wildly different. And the difference is where the question of consent lies.
So, as before, I appreciate your input, I appreciate your encouraging me forward in compassion and thoughtful living.
I will continue to listen to the voices of the native americans who speak to me — and right now, those voices are encouraging me forward on this path. If I hear otherwise — from the people themselves — I would be pleased to reconsider.
Thank you for your time and attention.
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