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please rethink using the term Blessingway to describe your baby shower*new info* - Page 3

post #41 of 274
I am sure the Native American tribes never harmed anyone, never took over resources, never warred.

Call me pregnant and grumpy but from looking back over history, all people seem to have done these things. This being said, everything changes, as others have said, many words have many meanings, things evolve. I am sorry bad things have happened, they certianly are not special in that way in history, I have seen how the word Blessingway has changed and would respect the request if the native word was being used, but that is not the case. If it offends, I am sorry, but I think there are bigger issues.
post #42 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
simply picked what worked for them and discarded the rest.
Actually I thik for the most part that is great way to live. Not from just one culture or one book or one source. We are ALL ONE PEOPLE, no matter who or what culture we where born to. We should do what actually works.
post #43 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironica View Post
Ok, lemme tell you where I'm coming from on this...

See this book? http://www.malkimuseum.org/Temalpakh.htm The people who wrote it were close friends and colleagues of my dad's. Actually, my father and Dr. Bean also co-authored The Romero Expeditions together. Most years, we made the trek out to the reservation for Cathy Saubell's birthday celebration. I still have early memories of the giant barbecue pits where entire cows were cooked to perfection in the traditional way, and playing in irrigation ditches with native kids my age.

I have great-great-grandmothers on both sides of my family who were natives. It's unclear from family history what tribes they were from (and, as a historian, my dad tried REALLY hard to find out for sure), but that makes me about 1/8th native myself. Back in the days of Jim Crow laws, being that black would keep you out of college.

My father dedicated his life to documenting and teaching about the role of indios, mulatos, and mestizos in the founding of Los Angeles and much of California. He went to great effort to tear down eurocentric myths about how the Spanish Missionaries "built" California, and watched carefully to make sure my history classes in school were learning how the native people were enslaved by the missions.

So, yeah, I kinda get the whole concept of cultural sensitivity toward native peoples. What I *don't* get is why it's disrespectful to:

a) be inspired by a Native tradition in our own rituals
b) use a term which is a translation of the name of an original term.

Yes, I think it's good information to have. I would love to know more about the original ceremony/ies, too... that would be educational and interesting. But "blessing" is an English word, used primarily by Christians... and, heck, if I was Navajo (I probably am not; Cherokee and Chickasaw seem most likely, at least on one side), I think I'd be offended that people are dropping the real name in favor of a eurocentric translation. The reason Cathy and Lowell wrote Temalpakh was because the Cahuilla language was *dying*, and would be GONE in another generation if they hadn't documented it. There are concepts and philosophies and ideas that are incredibly difficult to translate from one language to another, so losing a language is a giant step toward losing a culture. It pains me to see that happen.

Frankly, I'm all for people dropping the term "blessingway," and it's not one I would EVER use, but that's because I don't believe in blessings ;-). So, selfishly, I hope that this thread makes people less likely to use it (though, since they'll probably still use something with "blessing" in it, won't help me much).

Now, would the Dineh people be as offended by it if someone attempted an authentic "blessingway" and used that term? What *exactly* is offensive... the term being used to describe a ritual that is significantly different than their own? Or the use of the term in total ignorance of its origin? Or is it just that non-Dineh dare use their (translated) word? It really feels like you're coming from the latter point, and I don't think that in any way forwards cultural tolerance or preservation of native cultures.
look, the dineh asked people not to use it. i am passing that on. so whatever your background is or isn't, really has nothing to do with that. i am sharing information. you can do with it what you like.
post #44 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kontessa View Post
I am sure the Native American tribes never harmed anyone, never took over resources, never warred.

Call me pregnant and grumpy but from looking back over history, all people seem to have done these things. This being said, everything changes, as others have said, many words have many meanings, things evolve. I am sorry bad things have happened, they certianly are not special in that way in history, I have seen how the word Blessingway has changed and would respect the request if the native word was being used, but that is not the case. If it offends, I am sorry, but I think there are bigger issues.
this is true. but the scale to which it was done to natives is pretty huge. and just because it happened to others doesn't make it less horrible that it happened to natives.
post #45 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
look, the dineh asked people not to use it. i am passing that on. so whatever your background is or isn't, really has nothing to do with that. i am sharing information. you can do with it what you like.
Ok, well, you're the messenger... I get that. You chose to carry the message, though, which makes me think you believe it's an important and useful one.

It's interesting, though; I can't turn up anything else on this, except one mention of Dineh peoples who do *not* find the use of Blessingway for something that is really just a renamed baby shower terribly offensive. (That is an aside in a discussion about something totally other on this page: http://www.bluecorncomics.com/skinwlkr.htm)

Now, if it's offensive to use the term for things that are not actually related to the native ceremony, then this place must get a ton of hate mail from the community: http://www.blessingwaybc.org/index.html .

But I do really wonder where this is coming from, since I can't find any reference to it on any page about Navajo/Dineh beliefs, rituals, whatever. As I said before, I think it's really great to educate people on the origin of terms they may be using without any knowledge... but calling it "offensive" just seems... counterproductive.
post #46 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
this is true. but the scale to which it was done to natives is pretty huge. and just because it happened to others doesn't make it less horrible that it happened to natives.

Your not kidding, it was horrible, it horrible when ever it is doen but it not something rare. Look at Palistine right now..... -shiver- Heck, look at what we are doing even now in Iraq.

My point is, PEOPLE have done horrible things, no one is clean, no one people have excaped being victums of some kind.

While I respect cultures and keeping traditions, I find it sad not more is being done to see PEOPLE as a whole and not different groups.

We need to share more I think, that means wonderful words and traditions, not further put things in the way.
post #47 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kontessa View Post
My point is, PEOPLE have done horrible things, no one is clean, no one people have excaped being victums of some kind.

While I respect cultures and keeping traditions, I find it sad not more is being done to see PEOPLE as a whole and not different groups.

We need to share more I think, that means wonderful words and traditions, not further put things in the way.
Well said. I think this is my main point; I get that people find it dismaying when folks use the term "blessingway" with no awareness of its origin, but I feel the solution to that is education about the Dineh tradition, not a demand that they abandon the word.

OTOH, I'm not a big fan of political correctness in general ;-). If the KKK started using the term "African-American" tomorrow, it wouldn't suddenly make them think differently... it would just mean we'd have to find yet *another* term to show we're enlightened, right-thinking individuals. (Besides which, I'd be a bit offended if someone called me European-American, even though my ancestors left Europe of their own will, and didn't have their old world culture forcibly beaten out of them.... so I've never fathomed why African-American wasn't an offensive term. But *shrug* I still use it when it's expected.)
post #48 of 274
It's about respect. I don't understand why that's so damned hard to understand, except that maybe most people in the US don't give a rat's ass about respect unless they are seeking it out. Giving it seems to cause major pain and inconvenience.

Bellymama, I'm sorry. You made a simple, thoughtful request that anyone who gave half a brain cell's worth of effort should understand. Thank you for trying.
post #49 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironica View Post
(Besides which, I'd be a bit offended if someone called me European-American, even though my ancestors left Europe of their own will, and didn't have their old world culture forcibly beaten out of them.... so I've never fathomed why African-American wasn't an offensive term. But *shrug* I still use it when it's expected.)
I prefer to be called a non-native.
post #50 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironica View Post
OTOH, I'm not a big fan of political correctness in general ;-). If the KKK started using the term "African-American" tomorrow, it wouldn't suddenly make them think differently... it would just mean we'd have to find yet *another* term to show we're enlightened, right-thinking individuals.
I can understand why you wouldn't be a fan of "political correctness" if you saw it as a pretentious tool to demonstrate your enlightement or right thinkingness. But I have different reasons for using the terms with which people self-identify--it is simply a show of respect. I cannot purport to understand the nuances and histories of every cultural or social group. But I *can* demonstrate my respect for them from a distance. I can acknowledge that I am at a distance and always will be and act accordingly.

Hell, call it manners if it makes things more pallatable. Manners are simply social rules which provide us with the tools to show people enough respect to avoid being the cause of their discomfort. It's quite simple really when it's deconstructed enough.

The other part of your argument is sort of a 'chicken or the egg' argument. Is it the language that shapes the culture or the culture that shapes the language? (I'm referring here to your KKK reference). That argument lends readily to the question 'what is reality?', 'how do we know what's real anyway?'. The reason is that it's pretty much impossible to answer. We would have to peel back the layers of human history to their very essence in order to discover whether the first humans had any form of communication prior to their development of culture. Since this is essentially an excercise in futility, I say that we work with what we know.

1) We know that language (communication) and culture are, at this time, inseperable from one another.
2) We desire justice, equality, and respect for all people (and acknowledge that it doesn't always exist in the day-to-day lives of our fellow humans).
3) We know it's impossible for us to simply change the social structure of our society in the blink of an eye.

- However, we can control our use of language to reflect the above statements.
- Therefore, it is within our power to make some changes in our daily lives to pay respect to other human beings by simply making language choices to reflect that respect. and then...

tadaa! We aid in a social and cultural shift to accomodate the aspects we desire in statement 2.
post #51 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy View Post
It's about respect. I don't understand why that's so damned hard to understand, except that maybe most people in the US don't give a rat's ass about respect unless they are seeking it out. Giving it seems to cause major pain and inconvenience.

Bellymama, I'm sorry. You made a simple, thoughtful request that anyone who gave half a brain cell's worth of effort should understand. Thank you for trying.
post #52 of 274
Bellymama
post #53 of 274
bellymama, i appreciate you sharing that with me. i certainly will make sure to spread the word.
post #54 of 274
There is a lot of weight to words. Simply by changing my choice of words, I can alter a situation. I do this quite often with my children. "No not now" vs. "Yes, later" gets me a very differenct response from my children.

PC or not, the way we use our language can change the way we see the world and the way others see us.
post #55 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
Considering NA's are victims of genocide and forced assimilation and were virtually wiped off the face of the planet, I'm not surprised many of their languages are dying and they'd be using English words. And I don't see what's humorous about that, either. Actually, I find white people LAUGHING about it pretty offensive and disgusting.

Thank you for your post, bellymama.


Thanks for posting bellymama. I guess some people are beyond offense...until they are offended usually.
post #56 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Missy View Post
It's about respect. I don't understand why that's so damned hard to understand, except that maybe most people in the US don't give a rat's ass about respect unless they are seeking it out. Giving it seems to cause major pain and inconvenience.

Bellymama, I'm sorry. You made a simple, thoughtful request that anyone who gave half a brain cell's worth of effort should understand. Thank you for trying.
thank you. i appreciate this.
i agree that it is about respect. i also agree with the pp who posted about "PC" vs. "manners"....word on that.
Ironica, i understand that by not finding anything about the Dineh and their dismay over the use of the term "blessingway" on google may make you feel like it doesn't exist. if it isn't google-able, i guess it doesn't exist right?
natives tend to be private people. they tend to not usually get in your face about things. it is often part of the way that their particular tribe's values are taught to them...this is obviously not always the case, but it is something i have known of many natives i have known who are what we would describe as "traditional" natives. so the fact that there are not manifesto's decrying the use of this word, or vitrolic hate mail from them, doesn't mean it isn't something that affects them. i promise you this. there are many native mama's on this board, while not necessarily Dineh,will tell you that the "use" of traditional/spiritual/cultural ceremonies, prayers, costuming outside of its intended use by the people it belongs to, is disrespectful and harmful and hurtful.
again, i was sharing this information because i felt that it was very important. yes, as a native, i DO feel like it is important and i DO feel like it is disrespectful.
but i can not make people do or feel anything and i can not change anyone. that is not my goal. its not my job. i can merely be the change i want to see in the world. and share what i know, and let others mull it over for themselves. if what i have shared with you doesn't move you to make a change, i understand. to each their own.
but know that the use of this word does hurt people. it does upset people. it does affect people. whether you think it should or not, doesn't affect that fact that it DOES.

i will repost this because it is a google-able document and you seem to need to have google-able document to prove the importance of this, rather than listening to actual native mamas telling you it does ,that shares that the Dine would like people to cease using this word to describe a mother blessing

http://pregnancy.about.com/gi/dynami...%2F4-1pg2.html

scroll down to see the added footnote

Quote:
"1. In 2004, Native feminists wrote us to request that the term 'Blessingway' no longer be used to describe non-Navajo prenatal ceremonies such as the one described in this article. They explained that the term 'Blessingway' refers to a sacred spiritual ceremony performed by the Navajo people to celebrate rites of passage that occur throughout the entire life cycle, and not only the passage into motherhood. They suggested the term 'Mother Blessing' was a more appropriate term for a ceremony that was influenced, and respectful, of this tradition, but not practiced in accordance with the Navajo faith and culture. We completely agree.
Out of repect for the great history and importance of the Blessingway to Navajo people, many doulas, midwives and mothers now use the term 'Mother Blessing' to denote the celebration outlined in this article -- a practice we have also adopted."

i appreciate these people are saying "out of respect for the history and importance of the Blessingway to the Navajo people"...that they, and other mothers doulas and midwives are now using the term "Mother Blessing".
post #57 of 274
I'm going on a picnic in a park. I'll bring some bread and wine. I'll call it communion. I don't see why anyone should be offended if my practice just happens to be called that. It's not like the people in the Bible spoke English, it's just a translation or a word. The Pope speaks Latin for goodness' sake, why should we worry about what the English speaking followers of Christianity call it? I mean yeah, what I'm doing is not exactly the same, we don't do the whole god bit, but otherwise it's pretty similar, so I don't see what the problem is.

I just don't see how it can be so hard to get. Someone asks me not to use a word thoughtlessly, I'll stop using it thoughtlessly. It's simple manners, as a pp put it. Nothing to do with "political correctness". Nothing to do with stomping my freedom of speech. It's a simple case of choosing a different word if I want to have a blessing of some sort for myself and/or future babies (which I don't think I'd do anyway because of my personal superstitions about celebrating before the baby's born, but that's a whole another ball of wax).

We've been given several suggestions for an alternative, but if it's not good enough, no one's stopping you from using the term itself. Just letting you know how many people in the group the term came from feel about it. You may choose to let that affect your decision, or you may choose not to. All that's happening here is bellymama giving us the tools for making an informed decision. Thank you for that, bellymama.
post #58 of 274
Thread Starter 
thanks anubis.
i want to be clear that yes, i am NOT telling you what to do. you make your own decisions. i am just sharing this with you so that you can make an informed decision. so please don't feel like i am trying to control you. just passing along meaninful information.
post #59 of 274
Thanks, bellymama.
post #60 of 274
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamajama View Post
I can understand why you wouldn't be a fan of "political correctness" if you saw it as a pretentious tool to demonstrate your enlightement or right thinkingness. But I have different reasons for using the terms with which people self-identify--it is simply a show of respect. I cannot purport to understand the nuances and histories of every cultural or social group. But I *can* demonstrate my respect for them from a distance. I can acknowledge that I am at a distance and always will be and act accordingly.
Yes, and out of that respect, I do call people African-American rather than "black," even though it makes not a lot of sense to me personally.

I haven't, though, switched to calling the color "R0G0B0", and hope no one asks me to.

I wouldn't call an actual Navajo Blessingway a baby shower. That would be offensive. Calling people or their rituals by the wrong names, intentionally or in plain ignorance without any effort to find out... yeah, that's offensive.
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