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Native American connections

Sarah Cunningham's picture

The assigned readings by native American writers-- Paula Gunn Allen, Winona LeDuke-- are the ones that excite me the most. I get tingles in my belly, a waking up feeling all over, like, here is the key! This is the thinking we need! The concept of "usufruct" (but this is a Latin word! isn't there some native vocabulary we could use for this?) makes so much more sense than our European based land ownership rules. The earth belongs to itself, and we belong to it, to use wisely and lovingly. The minute an individual "owns" a piece of land, he/she is separated from the rest of their people, their community. (Even the phrase a "piece" of land creates separation, a breaking up of something that is really whole.) So this is not just about our relationship with land, but about our relationship with each other. Could we say that the ways in which our society is broken stem directly from this broken relationship-- violently broken by our (my) ancestors when they arrived here, by our nation as it grew? This horrifies me in a way that also feels healing, like the beginning of cleaning a horribly infected wound. How can we honor and retrieve the way of life that we shattered? 

.... If I think about that question for a moment, I can't help thinking, realistically, our own way of life will have to be shattered for that to be possible. Until then, though, can we practice changing our ways, our thinking?



Hannah's picture

I like the analogy of

I like the analogy of beginning to clean a horribly infected wound. In order for it to get better, a little more pain has to come first; In order for stitches to close a gash, you first need to stick the needle into your skin. The way we treat our world won't change unless we embrace the fact that we have to change the way we think and act and this may be confusing and uncomfortable for a while, but eventually lead to a healthier lifestyle.