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please rethink using the term Blessingway to describe your baby shower*new info* - Page 5

post #81 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerthElde View Post
Admittedly, I haven't read many threads by Bellymama, but I thought that she was keeping her composure very well in this thread.
thanks. this is what most people in the thread who have posted have said, as well as the several pm's i have recived about it.
of course who knows what people who read and didn't post have thought.
again, i did not mean to piss anyone off. i did not want to start a fight. i did not think that everyone would suddenly say: "oh okay, well now we are going to do this". i simply wanted to share something that i learned, from a few native mama's here as well as doing some research myself and from my personal feelings. i am not God. no one has to do what i say. no one even has to listen. if this is upsetting you, file it away under "who gives a damn" and stop reading it.
but i am not going to NOT share what i think or have learned simply because a few people don't like it.
i AM sorry to have upset or angered anyone. that is not my intention. its hard to sometimes "hear" someones tone in an online discussion...if we had actually been talking to eachother rather than writing, perhaps it would be easier to realize that i am not "coming out swinging"...again, my apologies.
post #82 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anubis View Post
I'd just like to know what the problem is with not using the term. There are several suggestions for alternatives in the very first post. Or you can come up with your own name for your own celebration. Yes, there probably are Dineh people who don't care about how the term is used, but we've been informed that some Dineh are offended. I'm sure no one's going to be offended if we use a different term.

I must say I fail to find the post where bellymama says she's going to come and break your legs if you use the term, or in any way forbids you to use it. I see "please reconsider" and "I want to encourage", others seem to see personal insults. I don't see why there would be a need to get defensive about a simple request to reconsider the use of a word that has the potential to cause offense.
Personally, even if I was into baby showers or blessings of any kind, I would just feel silly using a term of such deep cultural meaning for my celebration. Most cultural and religious terms have been translated into different languages as people have moved around. The word mosque is English for the Arabic word 'masjid'. Doesn't mean I'd want to use the word mosque to mean my toilet, no matter how much meditation and soul searching I might do in there. If the meaning of a word is changed everytime it's translated, it kinda defeats the purpose of ever translating anything IMO.
great post.
you must have missed the post where i said i was coming to break legs...that was in the OP but i edited it to be sneaky.
i bolded the part that really means the most to me. i have really really tried to be clear in several posts now that i am not telling you not to use the term. i am asking you to rethink it. to reconsider it. you may decide that you still want to use it. that is your decision. i simply wanted to bring to people's attention that this word's usage in terms of a baby shower is offensive to some people. i would want to know if i was doing something like that.
post #83 of 274
Moth to a flame...

Signed, the devil's advocate
post #84 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post
Moth to a flame...

Signed, the devil's advocate
i know...its like a car wreck you can't look away from.
everybody, i really sincerely from the bottom of my heart. never meant this to make anyone feel bad. i never wanted us to fight over it. i would love to continue discussing anything you want to discuss, but i really don't want us to start personally attacking eachother.
much love!
post #85 of 274
I'd just like to point out that the objection raised by some of us was not to the question itself (why are natives objecting to non-natives using an English term that describes a native ceremony) but to the way in which it occured.

That way being flippant, condescending, mocking, and cruel.

Carry on.
post #86 of 274
this discussion has been quite interesting, i can understand both sides, and while i never used the term blessingway because i live in a spanish speaking country i wouldnt have a problem using a different one if that is better for a group of people.
But my observation is that i first encountered the term in one of Aviva Jill Romm's books, The natural pregnancy book, where she suggests a blessingway instead of a baby shower. I dont know if she is from a NA heritage, she is a renowed herbalist and midwife who seems to have a lot of respect for NA culture, she encourages mamas to listen to NA flute music to their babies and i have seen pics of her where she is wearing NA jewlery(not that that would be enough to show true respect for a culture, but that's the impression i get).
I don't know, maybe when she did this she had the idea that people would rethink the rituals of passage, but then people just started to call a normal baby shower a blessingway? For what i read is so ot the same...
post #87 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
I'd just like to point out that the objection raised by some of us was not to the question itself (why are natives objecting to non-natives using an English term that describes a native ceremony) but to the way in which it occured.

That way being flippant, condescending, mocking, and cruel.

Carry on.
i agree.
post #88 of 274
This thread has been lingering in my mind since I read it yesterday. I don't know if I have anything valid to add but hopefully getting my thoughts down on 'paper' will stop them buzzing around in my pregnant brain!

I can completely understand why someone would find it upsetting to see something that is, to them, sacred, being used in a flippant way by those who don't understand its true significance. I have experience in this area and it can be tricky. However, I also think it is valid that when a request or point is made another can simply say 'no' or 'I don't agree'. I feel this is what Ironica has done, put across an argument that essentially says 'I don't agree'.

As for using the term 'Blessingway' I find this difficult. I don't really understand baby showers, I am british so it isn't part of our culture. I've been to a couple and have mixed feelings about what they are for and the intent behind them. I can understand a woman wanting to create something different and wanting to use a beautiful word to describe her own unique and, I believe, sacred journey. Perhaps that difference is small to an outsider, a little change from the norm. But her desire to use a more sacred word (and I believe that some words are sacred in their nature and resonate regardless of cultural bias) is a signal of a shift in consciousness no matter how small.

When I see all of the children out trick or treating tonight I could choose to be upset by their seeming lack of understanding of the ancient tradition and deep magic that is at work tonight. For me it is a sacred night, the most important of the year. In fact I see a manifestation of the true spirit of this night, maybe those who are running around in silly costumes don't understand the urges they are acting out, but I see them acting upon ancient and powerful forces no matter how superficially. I hope that the true nature of this night may draw them a tiny bit closer to a deeper understanding of life and death, of what is possible.

I think a woman using the word Blessingway is a sign of her desire for poetry to describe her own journey, perhaps in a way that she is not able to fully articulate. Does it in any way touch upon the sacred nature of the true ceremony practised for thousands of years? Nope. But I hope that these incidents of 'stealing' that happens from all ancient cultures when appropriated by the new are a symptom or an acknowledgement of the sacred nature of what you (and I) and trying to protect.

Maybe people will abide by your request, if not perhaps the word itself has the power to change the way in which some people see their journey.

Thanks for raising this topic, it has given me a lot to think about.
post #89 of 274
I worked with some of the last traditional Dine' peoples in Black Mesa, Arizona in 1997. Ironically, I was told by the remaining elders that the representatives of the Dine' Nation do not represent the old ways.

When missionaries from Christian and LDS groups swooped down on them, they stole their children and raised them in "white" boarding schools. They were beaten for saying anything in their native tongue. When they were grown, and thoroughly brainwashed, they became the "representatives" for their people. They sold the lands to Peabody Coal back in the 70's. The peoples, except for a stubborn strong few, were relocated to uranium-contaminated lands where, as you can imagine, birth defects and illness ran rampant.

The stubborn few that remained were harrassed and threatened with eviction by Peabody Coal - and their supposed tribal "representatives" - on a regular basis. Peabody Coal used up all the land's water so that Black Mesa was - and still is - a drought area and the native people cannot even water their animals without walking for miles and miles to drink from extremely dank, dirty contaminated run off spots.

I know that to these particular peoples - the last true natives who are sticking to their old ways, ie., no electricity, raising their own livestock, etc. - appropriation of a word is the very last thing on their minds. It is possible that the white-bred tribal leaders really really do care about appropriation, and it's possible that some of these leaders aren't brainwashed like they were way back when. And I guess maybe it is crass of me to say hey, look, I know for a fact that these remaining true Dine' peoples who stick to the old ways and have no access to internet or the "outside world" could give a rats ass about the blessingway. Maybe just because they are the last "true" Dine', by the cultural definition of the word, doesn't make a Dine' person who eats Burger King every day, wears Nikes, and posts on the internet any less... well.... Dine'. I don't know. This has always been a very intense subject for me.
post #90 of 274
FTR, my friends and I have always done "birth blessings". It's worked well for us.
post #91 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by candiland View Post
I worked with some of the last traditional Dine' peoples in Black Mesa, Arizona in 1997. Ironically, I was told by the remaining elders that the representatives of the Dine' Nation do not represent the old ways.

When missionaries from Christian and LDS groups swooped down on them, they stole their children and raised them in "white" boarding schools. They were beaten for saying anything in their native tongue. When they were grown, and thoroughly brainwashed, they became the "representatives" for their people. They sold the lands to Peabody Coal back in the 70's. The peoples, except for a stubborn strong few, were relocated to uranium-contaminated lands where, as you can imagine, birth defects and illness ran rampant.

The stubborn few that remained were harrassed and threatened with eviction by Peabody Coal - and their supposed tribal "representatives" - on a regular basis. Peabody Coal used up all the land's water so that Black Mesa was - and still is - a drought area and the native people cannot even water their animals without walking for miles and miles to drink from extremely dank, dirty contaminated run off spots.

I know that to these particular peoples - the last true natives who are sticking to their old ways, ie., no electricity, raising their own livestock, etc. - appropriation of a word is the very last thing on their minds. It is possible that the white-bred tribal leaders really really do care about appropriation, and it's possible that some of these leaders aren't brainwashed like they were way back when. And I guess maybe it is crass of me to say hey, look, I know for a fact that these remaining true Dine' peoples who stick to the old ways and have no access to internet or the "outside world" could give a rats ass about the blessingway. Maybe just because they are the last "true" Dine', by the cultural definition of the word, doesn't make a Dine' person who eats Burger King every day, wears Nikes, and posts on the internet any less... well.... Dine'. I don't know. This has always been a very intense subject for me.
thank you for sharing this with us.
post #92 of 274
I know it really didn't do too much for the thread itself, sorry.

What I DO know is that when I know a group of people find a term offensive - even if it's not every single person in said "group" - I simply don't use it anymore. I don't find it that difficult, ya know?

For example, I was raised in an Atheist home and I consider myself more..... pagan/earth-centered/New Age..... don't really have a "term" for myself, lol. A bit of everything out there, I guess. But I know that saying "Oh my gosh!" instead of "Oh my God!" is a better habit to get into, because the word God is really sacred and special to many people. And even if blessingway is offensive to a small percentage of a minority group, why do I have to use it? Even if there's a chance that it's something special and sacred to these people, I don't understand the need to use it. But that's just me.
post #93 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by candiland View Post
I know it really didn't do too much for the thread itself, sorry.

What I DO know is that when I know a group of people find a term offensive - even if it's not every single person in said "group" - I simply don't use it anymore. I don't find it that difficult, ya know?

For example, I was raised in an Atheist home and I consider myself more..... pagan/earth-centered/New Age..... don't really have a "term" for myself, lol. A bit of everything out there, I guess. But I know that saying "Oh my gosh!" instead of "Oh my God!" is a better habit to get into, because the word God is really sacred and special to many people. And even if blessingway is offensive to a small percentage of a minority group, why do I have to use it? Even if there's a chance that it's something special and sacred to these people, I don't understand the need to use it. But that's just me.

i agree. while i don't doubt that there are many Dine people who really aren't worried about it one way or another, or perhaps are unaware that it is even happening, i know for a fact that some do care...and even one is enough for me, because these traditions are theirs and not mine.
post #94 of 274
Thread Starter 
oh, and candiland, i love your senior title. tom robbins is my favorite author!!!!
post #95 of 274

My thoughts exactly

Gingerbane, I think you stated the below beautifully. I pretty much never ever post, but I couldn't stop myself on this one. I have the same questions and would really love to have more information about this issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gingerbane View Post
Ahhhh, threads like this always get so muddled which is why they're so interesting to read but also why I usually stay out of them. I'm just so interested in this though. I think this thread has the usual problem of misinterpreting what others are "trying" to say.

Bellymama - I understand that you are a native and that this is a very important subject to you but I think some of the problems that other people are having are that you asked us to "rethink" a very serious issue. The process of rethinking involves thinking again, questioning, mulling over in our minds the original subject. For some they see a right answer right away (i.e. okay I'll stop using the term) but for some the rethinking just opens up questions.

In threads like this it always seems like the questioners are waylaid and outnumbered while those who have come to the immediate and "right" conclusion are lauded and comforted. I have always found this somewhat distasteful. I've lurked on these threads quite a bit and I've always thought this (whether I agree with the "questioners" views or not). There is always one side that is patted on the back while the other side is asked time and time again why they don't "get" the "correct" answer.

Your post has brought to light a lot of questions for me and for others too. I don't think that questioning certain things means that those questioning are being disrespectful but I feel as if those asking questions have been disrespected. We are questioning because we care and want to know more. We are interested.

There are many things about this that I don't understand and perhaps I never will but I will ask my questions here in a respectful manner and I hope I am treated the same.

The first thing I don't understand is this: I've done the research and according to it the root in Navajo for the term blessingway means many things.

"The name of the right, hozhooji, which we render blessingway is derived from a stem which has no equivalent in English. Like the Greek Arete which is usually translated as excellence, but actually covers all form of human excellence and implies an ideal of wholeness and harmony, the Navajo term implies everything a Navajo things is good...It expresses for the Navajo such concepts as the words beauty, perfection, harmony, goodness, normality, success, well-being, blessedness, ideal, order, do for us." (Holism in Navajo Language and Culture)

I wonder why the Navajo people wouldn't want to just use the original term because the English equivalent is such a pale shadow of the depth or real meaning that the original word has. I question why the native feminists wouldn't go a step further and just go back to the original and not worry about the word blessingway because next to the richness of the original it is so bland (again I am not a native so maybe my perspective is just completely not getting it) but maybe this is a question only the Native Feminists can answer.

My second question is this (and I think this is what Ironica was getting at when she was talking about trying to find stuff on google): Who are these native feminists? Everyone keeps saying that the Dineh people have asked us not to use the term blessingway but I can only find that the Native Femisists are the ones who requested this. Are these femenists Navajo? Where did they come from? Did they decide this at a huge convention? Who are they?

I also wonder if the Navajo nation has made a statement or request about this?

I don't ask these questions to be rude or to make you have to "prove" to me that your request is the right thing to do. I believe in respecting people, your post just made me rethink the issue and come up with some questions. If anyone knows the answer to these I would like to know. If I could get a hold of the Native Feminists I would ask them so if anyone has information on how I could contact them, please let me know too.
post #96 of 274
There was a thread about this awile back. I do use the term Blessingway and it is out of respect for those mothers, grandmothers, and women before me be them white like me, africans, native americans, what have you. When I think of a blessingway ceremony I think of other the women in my family and fellow mamas and mamas to be joining together in spirit, harmony, love and respect of the pregant women and child. Celebrating the growth within and the birth and life to come. It is not some glorified 'cool name' baby shower. It is not gifts but maybe a bead for the birth necklace or candles to be lit together when the labour begins. I have nothing but repsect for all cultures and in that I try and take many parts of all to make mine.
post #97 of 274
and these women are refering to themselves as feminists? or is that the term the person who reported this story used?

Because the term feminist is a word that started in another culture from theirs, in another language. Them using the term "feminist" is them using a word that is incredibly personal to many women everywhere. Some feminists are very vocal about how loosely the term feminist is used. Would we ever in turn contact these dineh women and ask them to please refer to themselves as "native women advocates" because the term feminist is really the term that describes the incredible strife and fight that european and american women have been fighting for equal womens rights? And that by using the term feminist they be weakening the overall meaning behind the term?

Im preggo and emotional and find this debate so very disheartening.

In our very society, women are being cut open by medical professional and railroaded into birthing flat on their backs. They are treated like they have imperfect bodies and that pregnancy is a disease that needs curing by a doctor.

Any movement of american women to try and identify with the amazing and powerful sacred energy behind womanhood, pregnancy and birth is right on. This inner attacking and arguing over the VERY WORD THEY USE is petty and trivial in the grand scheme of things.
post #98 of 274
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by inchijen View Post

Im preggo and emotional and find this debate so very disheartening.

In our very society, women are being cut open by medical professional and railroaded into birthing flat on their backs. They are treated like they have imperfect bodies and that pregnancy is a disease that needs curing by a doctor.

Any movement of american women to try and identify with the amazing and powerful sacred energy behind womanhood, pregnancy and birth is right on. This inner attacking and arguing over the VERY WORD THEY USE is petty and trivial in the grand scheme of things.
first, hugs mama. being pregnant can be so hard.
i can see where you are coming from with your feminist argument. however, when we are discussing peoples who have had their land, traditions, culture, language and actual members of their tribes ripped away, destroyed, suppressed etc...things get a bit different.
the native people's of this country in most cases had not a lot of choice in the matter when it came to them being "assimilated". they were forced to take on white american culture and language. if they openly refused, often they paid with their lives, or the lives of those they loved.so the fact that Dineh women may be using the term feminist is really beside the point. you can't flip it like that. not when it comes to aboriginal people who were colonized. they didn't chose to have white people come to their lands, destroy their way of life, rip apart their families, threaten death to anyone who spoke their language or practiced their spiritual beliefs.
however, a non native pregnant woman HAS a choice. no one is threatening her to use or not use a certain word rather than another (and these things really happened to natives) she can choose to respect the wishes of people who have gone through this in the very not so distant past. she can be inspired by the Blessingway (or any other tradition that is outside of her culture)to quote the footnote used in the OP: "They suggested the term 'Mother Blessing' was a more appropriate term for a ceremony that was influenced, and respectful, of this tradition." it seems to me that the Dineh are not upset that people find their spirituality inspiring and interesting...its more like they are asking you to use it to create your own tradition. and i think that is very reasonable. it may not be important in YOUR grand scheme of things, but to some people, this is the most important part of their spiritual tradition...one that they have probably had to struggle to keep alive and going. respectfully, i have to say that just because something doesn't seem important to you, doesn't mean it isn't important.
i agree that women creating more spiritual ways of celebrating their rites of passage into womanhood is a wonderful idea. i just asked that people reconsider using this term which is already so deeply involved in a lifelong ritual/ceremony done by the Dineh. you can choose to do whatever you feel best doing, of course.
good luck on your pregnancy mama...i hope that you have a wonderful and peaceful birth.
post #99 of 274
I understand everything that has happened, and I agree that it is disgusting what has been done to the natives. My great grandmother was Ojibwa and was adopted as a young teenager when her family was killed and their land taken. She was then forced to lie about her heritage by her irish immigrant adoptive parents out of the fear of what would happen if anyone knew.

It angers me to no end what happened to all the natives in this country. My family's ancestry is gone forever. My great grandmother did all she could to remember and pass on what she knew, but it was sketchy at 80 years of age.

I was all kinds of upset when I replied, bellymama and I am sorry if I came across ignorant to anything. I have been thinking of this thread all night, and I keep coming back to the fact that it really does hurt me to think that my actions could be offending any natives.

I am a long practicing earth worshipping pagan and I KNOW how much it stirs my pot to see pentacle necklaces worn as fashion statements in certain young pop subcultures. It doesnt compare in recent history, but I identify with feeling like something that has deep meaning and a lot of history is being treated like some trivial novelty so that when a pentacle is worn by pagan people it is assumed that it is a fashion statement.

I had a knee jerk reaction because the PC movement gets overwhelming at times, and I feel tends to lead us away from the issue at hand. But that is another discussion for another day.



Thanks for bringing this up, it has been a topic of discussion in this house all night and morning.

But what did you mean when you said that just because something isnt important to me, it may be to others? That is just not possible, ask my DH.

I am truly the authority on what is important and what is not, especially when I am hormonal and all worked up.

***that was just a joke to make fun of myself and my last post- my self righteousness is astounding at times***
post #100 of 274
Thread Starter 
good point with the pentacles...its very similar...things that have been persecuted in the past are now "trendy" so people use them incorrectly. to some 15 year old goth chick, a pentacle could just be a fun way to annoy her christian parents, or she may just think its neat...but to a pagan, this symbol has deep spiritual meaning.
i so didn't think you were ignorant, and i am sorry if i sounded that way. i just sometimes feel like the mainstream pop. has no clue what happened here in this country to the natives and so do my best to remind them because that is a history that must be remembered.going along with the pagan theme, the irish and scottish of europe were treated much like the natives here, and had so much of their spiritual/religious tradition absorbed into the christian/catholic tradition...which is funny to me, when i think of christians/catholics (of which i was raised) doing things they think are really christian but are soooo pagan. BUT this is a new era, and we have the ability to preserve some of these traditions of our ancestors as natives, so it can be frusterating when people just latch on to the parts they find neat.
but, culture, religion, language, all of these are not static. they do change, grow, fuse, absorb, combine with new things, and that is life. which is why i think the concept of a spiritual mother centered celebration is an awesome idea, and i plan on doing that for my next "baby shower". but because i am not dine, i will probably call it a mother blessing. i am very inspired by the concepts of the Dine Blessingway. i have been reading a lot about it ever since i heard about this issue and it is an amazing tradition...
we can be influenced, inspired etc. by traditions and cultures outside our own, but i think we have a responsibility to be respectful of the original tradition and culture that we are influenced and inspired by.
thanks for chatting with me about this in a nice way. its refreshing to have different view points but not be mean to eachother while we are discussing are opposing ideas...and then finding out that maybe we agree more than we realized.
peace mama!
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