So give me the latest, coolest trends in Blessingway ideas! - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-04-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A friend is having her first baby--she is in her forties, a professional, and not the type who would want the traditional koochey koo baby shower. She is interested in attachment parenting and alternative parenting, and another friend wants to host a blessingway for her. It can't be too hocus pocus if you know what I mean--I think a blessingway that was more hip and cool than hippie and granola would go over best. I've been asked to scare up some ideas--got any??


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Old 01-04-2011, 05:06 PM
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The term "Blessingway" is specific to a certain Native American culture--the Dine, I think.  Therefore it's not PC for others to use the term.

 

That being said, here are my best baby shower ideas:

 

Get white onesies and white bibs, and fabric markers.  Have the guests decorate the onesies and bibs with the fabric markers, then use a blow dryer to set the ink.  Let the mother-to-be keep these, of course.  (This is fun for all ages!) 

 

Have everyone bring a poem, saying, or quote about mothering, parenting, or children in general.   Have them read this to the mother-to-be and have them say why the poem/quote matters to them.  Then let the mother-to-be keep the copies.

 

Have a "book shower" where everyone brings their favorite children's book for the mother-to-be.


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Old 01-04-2011, 06:46 PM
 
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The term "Blessingway" is specific to a certain Native American culture--the Dine, I think.  Therefore it's not PC for others to use the term.


There are tons of words out there that originally were part of a specific culture, but now are part of the greater language.   I use the term blessingway to describe what the op is looking for.   Rather than baby shower.  Words and terms have to start somewhere.

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Old 01-04-2011, 06:47 PM
 
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one thing I've done for a blessingway is as the "favor" give every guest a candle with a little inspiration word or quote tied around it.  Then when the mom to be goes into labor, we all light our candles.

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Old 01-04-2011, 07:10 PM
 
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Here are some things that have been done at ones I have attended or been part of:

-candles passed out for guests to light when the mother is in labor.  My friends and family did this for me and it was so nice to think about all the candles burning in solidarity.

-a beaded bracelet made by the guests at the blessingway/shower for the mother to wear while in labor. 

-a fabric happy birthday banner with well wishes written on the back from friends and loved ones to hang up after the baby is born and for each birthday after (loved this)

-henna the pregnant belly with meaningful symbols

Have fun!


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Old 01-04-2011, 07:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by A&A View Post

The term "Blessingway" is specific to a certain Native American culture--the Dine, I think.  Therefore it's not PC for others to use the term.


I've heard the term "blessingway" used for years, usually by mothers planning a celebration for another mother that they want to have be a deeply meaningful expression of love and joy, rather than just an afternoon of presents and games.  I can see how using the original Dine name for their ceremony might be offensive, but I'm guessing that original name is probably not an English translation?

 

As for ideas, at a recent... celebration... we collected letters, and poems of encouragement and wisdom for the mama to be from all the women in her life (mom, sisters, grandmothers, friends, etc.), and then printed them up on nice paper and put them into a scrap book.  We included a lot of old photos (baby photos from mom, sisters at the beach, friends in college), etc.  The mom really loved it, and it was just intended to always serve as a reminder that the new mom has support from the people who love her, that they all believe that she'll be a wonderful mom.


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Old 01-04-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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Here's an older thread about it:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/778097/please-rethink-using-the-term-blessingway-to-describe-your-baby-shower-new-info

 

The Navajo themselves want you not to use it. It's a little like calling your child's 13th birthday party a bar mitzvah.


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Old 01-04-2011, 07:57 PM
 
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People sensitive to the issues surrounding cultural appropriation of terms the actual culture in question doesn't want others to use tend to use "Mother Blessing" as an alternative to "Baby Shower" if they want to indicate that something more than cutesy games is in the offing. I've been to a couple of Mother Blessings and they've been very nice.

At one, each person brought a candle. As she lit her candle, each guest spoke a wish for the pregnant mother. At the end of the evening we blew out the candles. The idea was that when she went into labor, the mama-to-be would re-light the candles and be surrounded, as it were, with all those good wishes.
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Old 01-04-2011, 07:58 PM
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I think calling it a Mother Blessing conveys the idea nicely without the problematic cultural misappropriation.

 

I like the idea of having guests write and illustrate a wish for the baby on a scrapbook page for mom to keep.

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Old 01-04-2011, 08:32 PM
 
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I called my childrens' ceremony a Blessingway.

 

But then I'm Navajo.

 

My maternal family doesn't get together and play "white guy"...z'all I'm sayin'....shy.gif

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Old 01-04-2011, 08:53 PM
 
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And there are a lot of words that aren't.   As said above - would you throw a generic 13th birthday party and call it a Bar/Bat Mitzva?  Would you have a party for your baby at home and call it a Christening?  Do you have a big shindig on the 8th day of a boy's life and call it a bris?   If you have a cocktail party with wine and crackers, is it a Eucharist Celebration? 

 

Is it only okay to appropriate the name and a few fun candle games from someone's deeply-held spiritual beliefs if they're a Non-Western culture?   


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Old 01-04-2011, 10:35 PM
 
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And there are a lot of words that aren't.   As said above - would you throw a generic 13th birthday party and call it a Bar/Bat Mitzva?  Would you have a party for your baby at home and call it a Christening?  Do you have a big shindig on the 8th day of a boy's life and call it a bris?   If you have a cocktail party with wine and crackers, is it a Eucharist Celebration? 

 

Is it only okay to appropriate the name and a few fun candle games from someone's deeply-held spiritual beliefs if they're a Non-Western culture?   


ilu.

 

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Old 01-04-2011, 10:49 PM
 
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When I was pregnant with DD2, guests brought their own beads to represent their birth(s). If it was a rough birth, the bead felt coarse. If it was easy, the bead was smooth. If it was natural, it was made from a natural material. If it wasn't, it was made with man-made material. The beads were all strung together, and I held it during DD2's birth, feeling the strength of all those women, feeling connected to them through the act of giving birth.

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Old 01-05-2011, 01:21 AM
 
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The term "Blessingway" is specific to a certain Native American culture--the Dine, I think.  Therefore it's not PC for others to use the term.


There are tons of words out there that originally were part of a specific culture, but now are part of the greater language.   I use the term blessingway to describe what the op is looking for.   Rather than baby shower.  Words and terms have to start somewhere.

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Old 01-05-2011, 04:44 AM
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Seriously, why do you have to call it a blessingway? Find two words that sound cool and hippieish, stick them together, and call your celebration that. Maybe I am a little superstitionish but I don't feel it is appropriate to begin a new life by offending existing groups of people. 

 

There are lots of creative mamas here, why don't we brainstorm some new ideas. (and I'll be back after coffee)

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Old 01-05-2011, 05:33 AM
 
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Seriously, why do you have to call it a blessingway? Find two words that sound cool and hippieish, stick them together, and call your celebration that. Maybe I am a little superstitionish but I don't feel it is appropriate to begin a new life by offending existing groups of people. 

 

There are lots of creative mamas here, why don't we brainstorm some new ideas. (and I'll be back after coffee)



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Old 01-05-2011, 06:02 AM
 
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Is the offical language of the Dine English?  If not, then is Blessingway really even the same term?  Let's take BAr mitzvah as an example.  Should people use the term  to describe a party for a non jewish 13 year old?  probably not.  But I don't really see a problem for a non-jew to have a coming of age ceremony and "son of the commandment -(if that means something to them - they're religious, etc...) ceremony.  What is the term in the Dine's language?  Protect that.  But how dare anyone say that a group of people can't use words from their own language however they see fit?  Is every word that can be translated or has it's roots in another language off limits?  Boring.  Sad.  OP - Good luck with your blessingway <3

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Old 01-05-2011, 06:03 AM
 
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You know what word I find way more offensive as far as cultural (mis)appropriation goes?  Yoni.  And its used all the time here.  How dare we white people use the sanskrit term???  It is sacred to them, too.

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Old 01-05-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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best post ever on blessingways...

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/778097/please-rethink-using-the-term-blessingway-to-describe-your-baby-shower-new-info/200#post_11343107

 

this poster also suggests in another thread the idea of explaining the origin of the term blessingway and asking, in lieu of gifts, for people to bring a donation for a group that supports Navajo culture:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/896021/blessingway/20#post_11343198

 

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Old 01-05-2011, 07:20 AM
 
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best post ever on blessingways...

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/778097/please-rethink-using-the-term-blessingway-to-describe-your-baby-shower-new-info/200#post_11343107

 

this poster also suggests in another thread the idea of explaining the origin of the term blessingway and asking, in lieu of gifts, for people to bring a donation for a group that supports Navajo culture:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/896021/blessingway/20#post_11343198

 


Of course, that post is suggesting a culturally sensitive teaching about the actual rituals and beliefs of another culture.


not appropriating the name of something sacred and then tacking on a bunch of new-agey random hippy ideas onto it. 

 

Want a "Blessingway?"  then do some research, explain that you're adopting the beliefs and positions of the culture of its origin, and then do it.  Don't call it a "Ancient Navaho Ritual" and then tack on henna bellies and fun candles and belly casts and diaper pin games.    Doing that is like saying you're going to have a Passover Seder and then decorating Easter eggs.

 

The "it's just language" argument is especially ironic, given the US historic policy of stripping native cultures of their language on a formal, systematic basis.   If the term has been translated, its because generations of native children were  removed from their parents and not allowed to learn the language and traditions of their people.   

 

All in the context of a situation where, unless you're a member of the group in question, you're a member of the group that attempted to eradicate that culture in the first place.   You're talking about appropriating a cultural practice as some kind of  fun party theme, without any real idea of what the practice means, its history, or what traditionally, or currently, is done during it.  

 

Pratt's practice of Americanization of Native Americans by forced cultural assimilation, which he effected both at Fort Marion and Carlisle, was later regarded by some as a form of cultural genocide.[5] He believed that to claim their rightful place as American citizens, Native Americans needed to renounce their tribal way of life, convert to Christianity, abandon their reservations, and seek education and employment among the "best classes" of Americans. In his writings he described his belief that the government must "kill the Indian to save the man". At Fort Marion and Carlisle, he sanctioned beatings to force Native Americans to stop speaking their own respective languages. Later schools run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Carlisle model were marked by kidnapping and imprisonment of children at the schools, disease, sexual abuse, and suicide.

 

Lest you think "that's history,"  remember that many states, Arizona included, are passing "English only" and "official English" laws even today, designed to ensure that native languages remain second class.

 

 


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Old 01-05-2011, 09:18 AM
 
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I find it kind of heartbreaking that this is still being debated. Could the latest, coolest trend be respect for the traditions of other cultures, please?

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Old 01-05-2011, 09:35 AM
 
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Is the offical language of the Dine English?  If not, then is Blessingway really even the same term?  Let's take BAr mitzvah as an example.  Should people use the term  to describe a party for a non jewish 13 year old?  probably not.  But I don't really see a problem for a non-jew to have a coming of age ceremony and "son of the commandment -(if that means something to them - they're religious, etc...) ceremony.  What is the term in the Dine's language?  Protect that.  But how dare anyone say that a group of people can't use words from their own language however they see fit?  Is every word that can be translated or has it's roots in another language off limits?  Boring.  Sad.  OP - Good luck with your blessingway <3


I can see this has upset you but I don't think that's a totally fair criticism...I don't think people would use "son of the commandments" for a 13 year old's party because once it's translated it becomes clear that it's got quite a cultural and religious context.

 

The problem with a lot of First Nations cultural appropriation is that not only are the tribes' cultures not well enough understood to understand the context of sacredness, but the tribes themselves have had to fight so hard to even keep their own awareness and knowledge. So it's kind of easy to dismiss it as "just a word." I'm not really sure that I think making a donation makes up for it as that thread you linked to suggests - there's a colonial or class overtone there that I find a bit disturbing. Like oh well, we are handing over money so it's just fine, really. 

 

I don't use yoni either though. :)

 

To get back to the original question, if you want to have something hip and cool I'd actually go the other way - I'd do a totally retro baby shower with 50s and 60s inspired hors d'oeuvres straight out a vintage cookbook, collect some hillarious baby advice from old baby books, and for entertainment see if you can score some more classic PSAs like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kRUEV8we2w or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiwjtyQjP8M

 

Clips of pregnant smoking and drinking women (from Mad Men or elsewhere) might be funny too.

 

This movie maybe isnt' so funny but might give you some ideas: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/01/14/to-cure-a-fat-child-is-not-a-simple-matter-1967-psa/


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Old 01-05-2011, 11:07 AM
 
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I am sure the original poster meant no harm in using the term blessingway.  Provide information not nasty comments if YOU think she should not use the term for her party.  We are lucky enough to have free speech so she can call the party what ever she wants.  Telling someone they can not say a certain word is silly and reminds me of a bunch of children trying to hold power over each other with mind games. 


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Old 01-05-2011, 11:35 AM
 
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I am sure the original poster meant no harm in using the term blessingway.  Provide information not nasty comments if YOU think she should not use the term for her party.  We are lucky enough to have free speech so she can call the party what ever she wants.  Telling someone they can not say a certain word is silly and reminds me of a bunch of children trying to hold power over each other with mind games. 



Where do you see anyone telling someone what they can and can't say?  I see people offering information and extending a plea to be respectful of the fact that there have been numerous requests over the years by people who hold that term sacred that it not be used in this context. 

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:39 AM
 
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Here's an older thread about it:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/778097/please-rethink-using-the-term-blessingway-to-describe-your-baby-shower-new-info

 

The Navajo themselves want you not to use it. It's a little like calling your child's 13th birthday party a bar mitzvah.



I am pretty sure not all Navajo feel this way.  You can't speak for an entire group.

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:39 AM
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I am sure the original poster meant no harm in using the term blessingway.  Provide information not nasty comments if YOU think she should not use the term for her party.  We are lucky enough to have free speech so she can call the party what ever she wants.  Telling someone they can not say a certain word is silly and reminds me of a bunch of children trying to hold power over each other with mind games. 


Two things. First, go read the first amendment to the Constitution. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

 

Since no one here AFAIK are congresspeople attempting to make any laws, free speech has nothing to do with any posts here. Not to mention some of us are not in the US. 

 

Second, no one here has called the OP names or made nasty comments. People are trying to gently inform her of the implications of using the term and the consequences thereof. 

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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To get back to the original question, if you want to have something hip and cool I'd actually go the other way - I'd do a totally retro baby shower with 50s and 60s inspired hors d'oeuvres straight out a vintage cookbook, collect some hillarious baby advice from old baby books, and for entertainment see if you can score some more classic PSAs like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kRUEV8we2w or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiwjtyQjP8M

 

Clips of pregnant smoking and drinking women (from Mad Men or elsewhere) might be funny too.

 

This movie maybe isnt' so funny but might give you some ideas: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/01/14/to-cure-a-fat-child-is-not-a-simple-matter-1967-psa/



I think this idea is brilliant! 

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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Is the offical language of the Dine English?  If not, then is Blessingway really even the same term?  Let's take BAr mitzvah as an example.  Should people use the term  to describe a party for a non jewish 13 year old?  probably not.  But I don't really see a problem for a non-jew to have a coming of age ceremony and "son of the commandment -(if that means something to them - they're religious, etc...) ceremony.  What is the term in the Dine's language?  Protect that.  But how dare anyone say that a group of people can't use words from their own language however they see fit?  Is every word that can be translated or has it's roots in another language off limits?  Boring.  Sad.  OP - Good luck with your blessingway <3


I can see this has upset you but I don't think that's a totally fair criticism...I don't think people would use "son of the commandments" for a 13 year old's party because once it's translated it becomes clear that it's got quite a cultural and religious context.

 

The problem with a lot of First Nations cultural appropriation is that not only are the tribes' cultures not well enough understood to understand the context of sacredness, but the tribes themselves have had to fight so hard to even keep their own awareness and knowledge. So it's kind of easy to dismiss it as "just a word." I'm not really sure that I think making a donation makes up for it as that thread you linked to suggests - there's a colonial or class overtone there that I find a bit disturbing. Like oh well, we are handing over money so it's just fine, really. 

 

I don't use yoni either though. :)

 

To get back to the original question, if you want to have something hip and cool I'd actually go the other way - I'd do a totally retro baby shower with 50s and 60s inspired hors d'oeuvres straight out a vintage cookbook, collect some hillarious baby advice from old baby books, and for entertainment see if you can score some more classic PSAs like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kRUEV8we2w or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiwjtyQjP8M

 

Clips of pregnant smoking and drinking women (from Mad Men or elsewhere) might be funny too.

 

This movie maybe isnt' so funny but might give you some ideas: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/01/14/to-cure-a-fat-child-is-not-a-simple-matter-1967-psa/



I'm not upset.  More like exasperated by the PC police.   Unless every single Navajo agree on how the term may be used, I'm not interested in even considering what (are mostly) middle class white women on a natural parenting board have to say.  I was just lending support to anyone who chooses to use the term :)  We'll have to agree to disagree.

 

HAve a great day, everyone.  I mean that sincerely. 

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lalaland42 View Post



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Originally Posted by ambersrose View Post

I am sure the original poster meant no harm in using the term blessingway.  Provide information not nasty comments if YOU think she should not use the term for her party.  We are lucky enough to have free speech so she can call the party what ever she wants.  Telling someone they can not say a certain word is silly and reminds me of a bunch of children trying to hold power over each other with mind games. 


Two things. First, go read the first amendment to the Constitution. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

 

Since no one here AFAIK are congresspeople attempting to make any laws, free speech has nothing to do with any posts here. Not to mention some of us are not in the US. 

 

Second, no one here has called the OP names or made nasty comments. People are trying to gently inform her of the implications of using the term and the consequences thereof. 


What are the consequences, exactly, other than offending some women on the internet?  Unless she runs in NAvajo circles, at which point, she can get some meaningful input on the term...

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:43 AM
 
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Here's an older thread about it:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/778097/please-rethink-using-the-term-blessingway-to-describe-your-baby-shower-new-info

 

The Navajo themselves want you not to use it. It's a little like calling your child's 13th birthday party a bar mitzvah.



I am pretty sure not all Navajo feel this way.  You can't speak for an entire group.



True.  But we can be curious why some people care so little about the members of the group who have been both very clear and vocal about the fact that they find this offensive.

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