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

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#61 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 06:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
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?
Actually, it was more the utter lack of any explanation of where this comes from in the OP or any follow-up. I turned to Google as the library was closed when I was posting. If you don't give me the information, I gotta get it somewhere, right?

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
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.
Thanks for telling me all about the personalities of people I already explained I grew up around.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
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.
And there are those who will tell you its not. Who is right? Is it possible there are uses which are disrespectful, and uses which are not?

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
again, i was sharing this information because i felt that it was very important.
You've shared very little information. The information you've shared is, "This is where the term comes from." Other than that, you've passed on a message that some people would like other people to change their behavior. You are not, apparently, any of those people; you're just a go-between.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
i can not make people do or feel anything and i can not change anyone. that is not my goal. its not my job.
If it's not your goal, then why did you come here and specifically ask people to change their behavior?

There are ways to enlighten people that don't involve telling them what to do. "For those planning to use the term Blessingway..." as a subject line. "You might be interested to know that the term Blessingway is used by the Dineh (also known as Navajo) peoples to describe a sacred ritual that involves the birth of a child. The ritual is far more involved, and is deeply personal to these people. Before using the term, you may wish to find out more about the important role this plays in Dineh culture, and consider whether the term is appropriate for the ceremony you're planning. Many people have chosen the terms "mother blessing" or "baby blessing" as an alternative." Then post the links for people to find out more about how serious and sacred this ritual is. I think you'd probably convert a LOT more people than by telling them to just not use the word because someone said it offends them.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
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.
I'm sure you can. I'd love it if you did. You haven't yet.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
if what i have shared with you doesn't move you to make a change, i understand. to each their own.
As I've said before, I'd never have used the term anyway, because using "blessing" doesn't suit me. So this isn't even a personal issue to me any more than it is to you... we're both discussing it only because we do care about how traditions and cultures are respected and kept, though we seem to have very different views on how this is to be accomplished.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
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.
My very *existence* hurts people. There are a thousand things each of us does every single day that someone else does or would find hurtful. We CANNOT tiptoe through life trying not to ever step on anyone's wounded pride. It just doesn't work that way. We do our best, but there's reasonable and unreasonable. I can't take responsibility for how the entire world feels.

As I mentioned in another post, if this were about someone using the term "baby shower" to describe a true Dineh Blessingway, wow would I get how offensive that would be. But I don't get why it's offensive to adopt the term, even though it may be, as I said before, dismaying to see people do it without knowing where it comes from. I think the message about where it comes from is IMPORTANT, and I think it gets lost when it's secondary to the "request" to "reconsider" using the term.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
I'm sorry, it was 404 Not Found.

Please understand my quandary: you are a person who speaks of the Dineh in the third person, therefore not representative of the tribe yourself. You come and tell us all that doing X offends these other people. Well, we can't just ask them what the deal is, what about it is offensive, and so on. You don't seem to be able to tell us that, either. So it's hearsay. I'm not saying you're unreliable, but what I am saying is that there could be ONE Dineh person out there who is bugged by this and happened to confide it to you, so you're passing on her own personal message as representative of an entire culture, which isn't respectful or appropriate.

Now, I don't think that that's what actually *happened*, but the lack of further information does make me wonder just what *did* happen. I do wish I could find someone from the Dineh to ask "What up?" because I'm curious. I doubt it's as clear-cut as you make it out to be. Nothing about feelings is, in my experience.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
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".
Ok, yeah, that's a good way to put it.

Talking about "stealing" from other people is not a particularly good way to put it.

Now, there are all kinds of things that people believe, that change the import of others' actions to them. I remember when I first traveled to the interior of Mexico with my father, he advised me that, if a woman asked me to touch her baby, I should just do it. No one did, probably because my eyes are green, not blue like my father's... but some of the indios believe that a blue-eyed person can steal a baby's soul by looking at them, but they can give it back with a touch. Without knowing that, it's really, really strange to be asked to touch someone's baby because you have blue eyes, though.

So, if there were some particular belief of the Dineh that involves the use of the names of sacred ceremonies, such as they are not to be spoken except in certain contexts, or they lose their power if used for other things, this would make a bit more sense. There are probably other types contextual clues that would make it make sense, too. Since you're the messenger, maybe you have a way to find out, but since you (seem to) have no respect for my viewpoint or questions, you're not inclined to help me find out. Which is too bad, because I might have understood this culture better for your assistance.
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#62 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 06:58 PM
 
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Thank you for posting this!
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#63 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i can't multi quote, so Ironica, i put your quotes in bold to make it easy to see when i am answering your question.

Actually, it was more the utter lack of any explanation of where this comes from in the OP or any follow-up. I turned to Google as the library was closed when I was posting. If you don't give me the information, I gotta get it somewhere, right?
i left a direct quote backing it. i have also left a link...i will go and find it again because it seems it isn't working.
it has been told to me by many native people that the co-opting of their traditions and rituals are very disrespectful and that they wish people would stop doing so.
i am a native so i feel like i can say that i feel it is disrespectful and that i wish people would stop doing so.


Thanks for telling me all about the personalities of people I already explained I grew up around.
your welcome?
why are you so angry mama? you were saying you couldn't find any info. i was sharing why i thought that it was difficult to find it via google. i meant nothing but to explain my thoughts.


And there are those who will tell you its not. Who is right? Is it possible there are uses which are disrespectful, and uses which are not?
i don't claim to know who is right. i know that the Dineh have requested we not use it. i know that because it isn't my ceremony or tribe, the word doesn't mean very much to me, so why not just not use it since it means so much to them.


You've shared very little information. The information you've shared is, "This is where the term comes from." Other than that, you've passed on a message that some people would like other people to change their behavior. You are not, apparently, any of those people; you're just a go-between.

i am a native. i feel like i can say as a native to non natives that this sort of appropriation is inappropriate. i have discussed it with other native mamas both in real life and on this board. i feel confident saying that the Dineh would rather it not be used.


If it's not your goal, then why did you come here and specifically ask people to change their behavior?


i didn't ask them to. i specifically said "please rethink" and "reconsider"...i presented information for them to think about. i never said that i insisted they do so.

There are ways to enlighten people that don't involve telling them what to do. "For those planning to use the term Blessingway..." as a subject line. "You might be interested to know that the term Blessingway is used by the Dineh (also known as Navajo) peoples to describe a sacred ritual that involves the birth of a child. The ritual is far more involved, and is deeply personal to these people. Before using the term, you may wish to find out more about the important role this plays in Dineh culture, and consider whether the term is appropriate for the ceremony you're planning. Many people have chosen the terms "mother blessing" or "baby blessing" as an alternative." Then post the links for people to find out more about how serious and sacred this ritual is. I think you'd probably convert a LOT more people than by telling them to just not use the word because someone said it offends them.
i didn't tell anyone what to do. again, i requested them to reconsider. almost everone else who has posted in this thread seems to agree that i have not been pushy or rude about it. i am not sure why you feel i am. i am sorry that you feel that way.
the blessingway for the navajo is not a blessing for an expecting mother. that is ONE aspect of it. it is included but not the only part of it, which is why using the term to describe a baby shower or mother blessing is incorrect.
what you describe above is nearly word for word my OP. so i am at a loss on why you are rewriting it to tell me i SHOULD write it that way. mama, i DID write it that way.
my OP says "please rethink using the term blessingway to describe your baby shower"...the intro says "with all due respect, please consider not doing so" here is a link describing the ritual...here are some alternatives...here is a direct quote saying that the Navajo have asked us not too...
i am at a loss at what you are even talking about

I'm sure you can. I'd love it if you did. You haven't yet.
you are being rude here. thats really unneccesary.



As I've said before, I'd never have used the term anyway, because using "blessing" doesn't suit me. So this isn't even a personal issue to me any more than it is to you... we're both discussing it only because we do care about how traditions and cultures are respected and kept, though we seem to have very different views on how this is to be accomplished.

as a native, it IS PERSONAL TO ME that non natives are appropriating our traditions.


My very *existence* hurts people. There are a thousand things each of us does every single day that someone else does or would find hurtful. We CANNOT tiptoe through life trying not to ever step on anyone's wounded pride. It just doesn't work that way. We do our best, but there's reasonable and unreasonable. I can't take responsibility for how the entire world feels.


no one wants you to take responsibility. i just asked you to RECONSIDER. that is ALL I ASKED.

As I mentioned in another post, if this were about someone using the term "baby shower" to describe a true Dineh Blessingway, wow would I get how offensive that would be. But I don't get why it's offensive to adopt the term, even though it may be, as I said before, dismaying to see people do it without knowing where it comes from. I think the message about where it comes from is IMPORTANT, and I think it gets lost when it's secondary to the "request" to "reconsider" using the term.

because calling a baby shower a Blessingway is offensive. it is NOT A BABY SHOWER. it is a life long ceremony. the "mother blessing" aspect is but one dimension of it. so its the same thing as calling a Blessingway a baby shower. you are not making any sense.

I'm sorry, it was 404 Not Found.


i will go search for the correct link.
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#64 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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for the 3rd time, here is a link that discusses the blessingway as a alternate name for a baby shower.
if you scroll down and read the footnotes, you will see that the people have added this:

[B]
Quote:
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." [/B
]

http://pregnancy.about.com/gi/dynami...%2F4-1pg2.html
if they can be respectful...why can't you? why do you care so much? why are you so angry about it?
i'm not angry, i just.wanted.people.to.know.
now i finally understand why people put others on their ignore list.
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#65 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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* double post
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#66 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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reposting my OP. after reading Ironica's post i was wondering:'hmmm...wonder if maybe my OP does sound like i am being mean and rude". i gotta say now after rereading it several times, and receiving a very nice pm from a mama thanking me for my OP, i am pretty confident that i phrased this topic in the best way i could.
Quote:
OP:
with all due respect and kindess, i would like to ask anyone considering using the term Blessingway to describe their baby shower to reconsider this.in my town, lots of women choose to use this term because they wish to create a more spiritual celebration for their baby shower. this is a wonderful idea, and i think it should be done more. however, we need to use a more appropriate term to describe this.
the Blessingway is a very important part of the Dine (Navajo) tribes traditions. use of this word to describe anything but the actual ceremonies performed by members of this tribe is very disrespectful.
i doubt anyone who has used this term has ever intended to be offensive or disrespctful, so please don't think i am saying that. i just want to encourage you to create your own traditions rather than appropriating other traditions that already belong to other people.
Mother Blessing
Baby Blessing
Way of Blessing
Blessing the Way
any combination of these would suffice to symbolize what your intentions are without taking something from someone else.
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#67 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 08:32 PM
 
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I may have to look this up, but from what I understand (and a disclaimer here...I am not, or at least I don't think I am...Dineh, but I have spent a lot of time on a number of Dineh reservations, have studied the language and have attended a few ceremonies), the Blessingway is not a ceremony specifically related to the birth of a new baby. IIRC, it is more about restoring/healing someone.

I realize that there aren't a lot of websites with a detailed description of the Dine rituals and ceremonies, and I think that is the way that Dine people would prefer it. (Kind of like it is hard to find out what goes on at a high level Masonic event).

At least to me, calling a mother blessing a Blessingway is sort of like calling it an extreme unction.

I think it's very reasonable to request that a different term be used. First, it's the respectful thing to do, especially considering that requests have been made. Second, it isn't really an analagous ceremony. Really, if it makes people more comfortable if you use a different term, why not do it? (Now, if I could just get all those sports teams to understand that)

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#68 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 09:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
Actually, it was more the utter lack of any explanation of where this comes from in the OP or any follow-up. I turned to Google as the library was closed when I was posting. If you don't give me the information, I gotta get it somewhere, right?
i left a direct quote backing it. i have also left a link...i will go and find it again because it seems it isn't working.
it has been told to me by many native people that the co-opting of their traditions and rituals are very disrespectful and that they wish people would stop doing so.
i am a native so i feel like i can say that i feel it is disrespectful and that i wish people would stop doing so.
Ok, maybe *you* think that all Native Americans are the same, but I don't. So far, I've heard you and about.com say that you've heard from Dineh people that they find this use of the term offensive, and want it to stop. I've seen one other source that says they've heard that Dineh people do *not* find this use of the term offensive, and don't care. But so far, all I can find out is what other people tell me that Dineh people have told them. And I don't have any reason to believe one over the other... they're all very vague on just who communicated to them. At least the about.com page lists "Navajo feminists," which is *slightly* more specific.

Do I need to stop cooking with maize? Do we need to change the name of Cahuenga Boulevard? How far does it go? Since you can speak for all Natives everywhere, maybe you can also straighten out the whole controversy over reservation casinos, too.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
Thanks for telling me all about the personalities of people I already explained I grew up around.
your welcome?
why are you so angry mama? you were saying you couldn't find any info. i was sharing why i thought that it was difficult to find it via google. i meant nothing but to explain my thoughts.
Unfortunately, I understood it as patronizing. Sorry if you didn't mean it that way, but since your entire attitude ("I know about native peoples because I'm native") is a bit patronizing to both natives and non-natives alike, it's hard to tell.

I'm starting to get angry because I feel I'm being intentionally misunderstood. I really need to stop reading this thread, because it seems that people have decided it's not something that is open to discussion... either you think it's perfectly reasonable to appropriate words for your group's own exclusive use, or you are a racist jerk.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
And there are those who will tell you its not. Who is right? Is it possible there are uses which are disrespectful, and uses which are not?
i don't claim to know who is right. i know that the Dineh have requested we not use it.
But, *how* do you know that? That's what I really am wondering and keep asking. Where does your knowledge come from? It doesn't come from being Dineh and finding it offensive on your own part for that reason... so it has to come from somewhere else. Does it come from about.com? From personal conversations? Can you explain to me how you know what the ENTIRE NATION feels about the use of this one term?

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
i know that because it isn't my ceremony or tribe, the word doesn't mean very much to me, so why not just not use it since it means so much to them.
I still don't know that it really means all that much to them. I have your word on it, and a website that says they got letters. And another website that says it's not a big deal. I know what people who are NOT Dineh say. I've seen too darn much of people telling other people how natives feel (and getting it wrong) to just take it at face value.

I mean, how would you feel if someone from a total other native group than yours came here talking about how YOU feel about something? Even if they got it right in one, wouldn't it seem a little weird?

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
If it's not your goal, then why did you come here and specifically ask people to change their behavior?

i didn't ask them to. i specifically said "please rethink" and "reconsider"...i presented information for them to think about. i never said that i insisted they do so.
I don't anymore know what you originally said, because you've updated your post several times subsequent to our conversation (which I find interesting, since you are adamant that I'm completely and totally WRONG about everything ;-). But you asked people to reconsider, rethink, and then provided them with alternatives, so that they might avoid "appropriating other traditions that already belong to other people." (I notice that you removed the term "stealing", but earlier you did use that to describe what people are doing when they use that particular word for their ceremony.)

But, whatever. Either you can see the difference between the example I gave, or you can't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
the blessingway for the navajo is not a blessing for an expecting mother. that is ONE aspect of it. it is included but not the only part of it, which is why using the term to describe a baby shower or mother blessing is incorrect.
I totally agree that it is incorrect, and I think that posting the links to information about the Blessingway and the Dineh communicate that fairly well. But saying that it's incorrect is not the same as saying it's offensive and disrespectful.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
what you describe above is nearly word for word my OP. so i am at a loss on why you are rewriting it to tell me i SHOULD write it that way. mama, i DID write it that way.
Ok, obviously, you can't see the difference in the language, which is a big part of the communication difficulty we're having. The difference is avoiding loaded language, and simply presenting the facts (this is what a Blessingway is; it's a sacred ritual among these people; it may not be the best term to describe what you're doing), without telling people they're offending and disrespectful and appropriating someone else's culture. You admit that you don't think anyone's *trying* to do that, so why even bring it up? If they want to avoid doing these things, then giving them the information should be enough, without trying to shame them into doing things differently.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
I'm sure you can. I'd love it if you did. You haven't yet.
you are being rude here. thats really unneccesary.
How am I being rude? I keep asking actual questions about this topic, and I'm being rude for pointing out that you haven't answered them? It's kinda rude to walk in and say "Hey, look, this is offensive and disrespecful" and when people say "Why? How so? Where can I find out more about this controversy?" to just turn your nose up and act like they're boors for even *asking* and not taking your word as gospel.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
as a native, it IS PERSONAL TO ME that non natives are appropriating our traditions.
And, as a person of mixed ancestry who was raised to strongly value cultural diversity and integrity, it's personal to me when people say that there's no respectful way to use each other's words or traditions. It means that I have NO way to do anything appropriate, unless I make it up from whole cloth (which, given the vast panoply of human cultural tradition, is nearly impossible to do without accidentally borrowing from someone else). Was it offensive when my family accomodated my 4-year-old curiosity by getting a menorah and lighting the Chaunakkah candles? Would it have been offensive (to Christians) for my Jewish friends to have put up a creche? If using another's traditions is *always* offensive and disrespectful, pray tell what is a couple to do if they come from different traditions?

Since there must be appropriate ways to borrow or adapt the traditions of others, I wish we could have a discussion on just what is stepping over the line if a non-Dineh has a Blessingway, but you don't seem interested in that conversation.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
My very *existence* hurts people. There are a thousand things each of us does every single day that someone else does or would find hurtful. We CANNOT tiptoe through life trying not to ever step on anyone's wounded pride. It just doesn't work that way. We do our best, but there's reasonable and unreasonable. I can't take responsibility for how the entire world feels.

no one wants you to take responsibility. i just asked you to RECONSIDER. that is ALL I ASKED.
You said "The use of this word hurts people." I said, "We can't all take responsibility for how everyone feels." IOW... sometimes, things hurt people, but that is something that they need to deal with. It hurts my Mom when I don't drop EVERYTHING important in my life to try to attend to her emotional needs, but that doesn't mean I need to change my behavior. People need to make judgments about whether or not a request like this is reasonable. I'm suggesting that, maybe, as stated, it's not reasonable. I'm *also* asking for further information that might make it reasonable. That's the part that isn't happening at all.

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Originally Posted by bellymama View Post
because calling a baby shower a Blessingway is offensive. it is NOT A BABY SHOWER.
This is backwards.

Calling a (real) Blessingway a baby shower would be offensive, because a Blessingway is not a baby shower. That I've granted many times. But you're using false causality here. Calling a baby shower a Blessingway doesn't suddenly change reality. It's not the same as calling a (real) Blessingway a baby shower.

Is naming a child Jesus offensive, because he's not the Christ? Is calling a section of Los Angeles "Little Tokyo" offensive, because it's not the capital city of Japan? Naming one thing after another is not typically seen to diminish the importance of the original; rather, it normally is seen to honor and increase it.

Of course, there are specific circumstances where naming someone or something after someone or something else might be offensive; some traditions find it unconscionable to name a child after a living person, for example. The popularity of the name "Adolf" took a nosedive after the rise of Hitler. And perhaps there's something else to this whole Blessingway thing that would make it click into place, but I have no way of finding out what that is. You might, but you refuse to share it, I guess... so I'll be unable to learn anything further from this thread, unfortunately.
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Originally Posted by Ironica View Post
Is naming a child Jesus offensive, because he's not the Christ? Is calling a section of Los Angeles "Little Tokyo" offensive, because it's not the capital city of Japan? Naming one thing after another is not typically seen to diminish the importance of the original; rather, it normally is seen to honor and increase it.

Of course, there are specific circumstances where naming someone or something after someone or something else might be offensive; some traditions find it unconscionable to name a child after a living person, for example. The popularity of the name "Adolf" took a nosedive after the rise of Hitler. And perhaps there's something else to this whole Blessingway thing that would make it click into place, but I have no way of finding out what that is. You might, but you refuse to share it, I guess... so I'll be unable to learn anything further from this thread, unfortunately.
Popping in to say this is how I would see it.

People using the term 'blessingway' who aren't Navajo aren't doing it to offend, they are doing it to honour. Why there needs to be a bruhaha about something that is intended to be goodhearted is just picking the wrong battle. Seriously, there are much worse things going on in this world that need the attention.
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#70 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 09:32 PM
 
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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.
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#71 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 09:44 PM
 
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Although I'm not well researched, I was under the impressions that a blessingway can be used for many passages. Having a new baby, losing a baby, helping to prepare someone who is dying for their death, etc. The only blessingway I went to was NOTHING Like a baby shower. The only "gifts" if you want to call them that, were handmade items, maybe we should call these offerings. I offered a painting of a baby crowning with words of laboring encouragement painted throughout. A poem was read, a frames photo of her passed father was given. It was truly beautiful. There were no pink and blue frilly new price tagged items to be seen. The whole thing from beginning to end was a ritual focused on the mother and the passage of the babies into our world. It was beautiful, and I think any Navajo who witnessed it would not be offended.

I think they WOULD be offended if someone had a "blessingway" and it was more like a shower, or if within the ritual there was mocking of the ritual going on. I would totally understand that. I agree with the poster who said "would the jews be mad if we had a 15 party, etc".
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#72 of 274 Old 10-28-2007, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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again i suck at multi quote, so Ironicas post is the bold and my response is the not bold. i need to get with these technological times.

Do I need to stop cooking with maize? Do we need to change the name of Cahuenga Boulevard? How far does it go? Since you can speak for all Natives everywhere, maybe you can also straighten out the whole controversy over reservation casinos, too.


you are being so passive aggressive here its really unbelievable. i don't speak for anybody...you really have a lot of nerve insulting me like this. i didn't post this topic to piss anybody off. i posted it to share knowledge. i knew that not everyone would agree with me. that is okay. i simply wanted to put it out there.
there is not much on the topic in the world wide web, this is true. just like a pp said, most native people's don't broadcast their sacred traditions for non tribal members.
this is a reality. members of the dine tribe would like it to not be used. of course there may be members who are indifferent or even WANT people to use it. but there are some that don't. i respect that. there might be members of certain ethnic groups who don't mind if people who are not of their ethnic group use derogatory terms to describe them. but i still am not going to use those terms, because it is offense and hurtful to other members.



Unfortunately, I understood it as patronizing. Sorry if you didn't mean it that way, but since your entire attitude ("I know about native peoples because I'm native") is a bit patronizing to both natives and non-natives alike, it's hard to tell.
this is not my attitude. no one but you has said anything about my attitude as such. i seem to be upsetting you, which is not my intention. i find your attitude a bit patronizing as well. i am okay with the fact that you may not find this issue something to worry about...again, i never expected that everyone would necessarily agree with me, or even care. i simply wanted to put it out there.


I'm starting to get angry because I feel I'm being intentionally misunderstood. I really need to stop reading this thread, because it seems that people have decided it's not something that is open to discussion... either you think it's perfectly reasonable to appropriate words for your group's own exclusive use, or you are a racist jerk.

i don't think this at all. all of your points have been duly noted, and i can see your perspective completely. however you have been rude, you have scoffed and laughed at the topic and you have worded your questions and responses in a really cold and sharp way. i see no reason for us to angrily argue. i am okay with discussing this with you. but i didn't come here to have a fight.
i don't think you are a racist jerk.


But, *how* do you know that? That's what I really am wondering and keep asking. Where does your knowledge come from? It doesn't come from being Dineh and finding it offensive on your own part for that reason... so it has to come from somewhere else. Does it come from about.com? From personal conversations? Can you explain to me how you know what the ENTIRE NATION feels about the use of this one term?

i have the knowlegde from MANY tribes of natives that this occurence, the appropriation of terms, ceremonies and dress can be very upsetting. i do not speak for the entire nation. i have knowledge from discussing it here at MDC with other native mamas. i have knowledge shared with me from other mamas spreading the word that they have heard from other Dine mamas. but again, when i read my OP i don't make any claims...i just stated the facts and shared some info. i am not holding a gun to anyones head.
should i NOT say anything simply because i don't have the spokesperson for the Dine tribe here right now?


I still don't know that it really means all that much to them. I have your word on it, and a website that says they got letters. And another website that says it's not a big deal. I know what people who are NOT Dineh say. I've seen too darn much of people telling other people how natives feel (and getting it wrong) to just take it at face value.
then you are going to take that from my OP. and that is totally fine. you shouldn't just see one thing and necessarily agree with it. i hope other people see the OP and think to themselves that they should educate themselves more on the subject. maybe they will feel like me, or maybe they will feel like you. this is all okay. its simply good to have the concept introduced.




I don't anymore know what you originally said, because you've updated your post several times subsequent to our conversation (which I find interesting, since you are adamant that I'm completely and totally WRONG about everything ;-). But you asked people to reconsider, rethink, and then provided them with alternatives, so that they might avoid "appropriating other traditions that already belong to other people." (I notice that you removed the term "stealing", but earlier you did use that to describe what people are doing when they use that particular word for their ceremony.)

i updated my post to fix the link that you said wasn't working. i removed the word stealing not to be devious, but because you said it bothered you. because that word affected the way you viewed my intention, i didn't want to use it. it upset you. WORDS ARE POWERFUL(which is the whole point i am trying to make!). i am happy to evolve and change when my mistakes are pointed out. i didn't feel like i needed the rest of MDC to tell me that the word stealing was making you feel bad before i stopped using it. you told me it made you feel badly. i stopped using it.
i didn't change one other part of the OP.


Ok, obviously, you can't see the difference in the language, which is a big part of the communication difficulty we're having. The difference is avoiding loaded language, and simply presenting the facts (this is what a Blessingway is; it's a sacred ritual among these people; it may not be the best term to describe what you're doing), without telling people they're offending and disrespectful and appropriating someone else's culture. You admit that you don't think anyone's *trying* to do that, so why even bring it up? If they want to avoid doing these things, then giving them the information should be enough, without trying to shame them into doing things differently.

no one seems to feel shamed but you. i have recieved now several really sweet pm's thanking me for the way i presented this. the women were planning blessingways for friends. they said that the way i said it was very kind and that they were now calling it a mother blessing. and they thanked me.
i "brought it up" because it needed to be. you have decided it didn't need to be. okay. i get it. you don't have to agree with me.







Since there must be appropriate ways to borrow or adapt the traditions of others, I wish we could have a discussion on just what is stepping over the line if a non-Dineh has a Blessingway, but you don't seem interested in that conversation.

you can be inspired by the Blessingway's aspect that deals with motherhood. you can use this to create a new and unique way to celebrate and bless the mother. there is no question that that is appropriate. creating your own new tradition. and calling it a new name.
i am more than willing to discuss this. the Dineh cited in the OP even said that they thought that was okay...to be inspired and moved. just choose a different name.

look, i honestly don't want to fight with you. i don't think you are racist or horrible. i see all of your points. everythings cool mama.
this is how i feel, and thats how you feel. no worries.
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#73 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 12:02 AM
 
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Popping in to say this is how I would see it.

People using the term 'blessingway' who aren't Navajo aren't doing it to offend, they are doing it to honour. Why there needs to be a bruhaha about something that is intended to be goodhearted is just picking the wrong battle. Seriously, there are much worse things going on in this world that need the attention.
Imitation is the sincerist form of flatery - as the saying goes.

I don't see why its offensive as its english and not their native language. If they were using their native language it would be totally different. If we are gonna get picky about it Blessing Way is actually the translation.

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#74 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 12:31 AM
 
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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.
Very astute observation there!

I keep thinking - what did I learn in "linguist school" about these things. Words mean what a group of people decide they mean. Xerox wants you to say "photocopy" cause if everyone keeps "xeroxing" they will loose their trademark. This feels a little similar to me - so I can see the fear that a sacred term might be appropriated by a dominant culture. But then I also find the argument compelling that they have the term in their native language and no body is making any pass at that, so why the hoopla? Interesting to think about...
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#75 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 02:02 AM
 
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Do I need to stop cooking with maize? Do we need to change the name of Cahuenga Boulevard? How far does it go?

Unfortunately, I understood it as patronizing. Sorry if you didn't mean it that way, but since your entire attitude ("I know about native peoples because I'm native") is a bit patronizing to both natives and non-natives alike, it's hard to tell.
I totally agree with Ironica.

Bellymama, you always come out swinging and instead of trying to inform, your posts treat people as if they haven't a clue and whatever they are doing or not doing is wrong so stop it now. When I see a post by you, my first thought is "oh boy, here we go again..." It's one thing to want to inform and say "hey, here's where this word comes from, isn't that cool?" Education is great. Telling people to not use words because of such and such is, I think, very rude. If the word is never used by anyone outside of said culture, it's going to die. I think it far more useful to let other use the word and educate them about the meaning behind it than to say "don't do that because a people group you've never heard of finds it offensive." :

You could be a very useful resource to people if you would not point fingers and be angry every time you try to educate.

Jenn
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#76 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 02:38 AM
 
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I totally agree with Ironica.

Bellymama, you always come out swinging and instead of trying to inform, your posts treat people as if they haven't a clue and whatever they are doing or not doing is wrong so stop it now. When I see a post by you, my first thought is "oh boy, here we go again..." It's one thing to want to inform and say "hey, here's where this word comes from, isn't that cool?" Education is great. Telling people to not use words because of such and such is, I think, very rude. If the word is never used by anyone outside of said culture, it's going to die. I think it far more useful to let other use the word and educate them about the meaning behind it than to say "don't do that because a people group you've never heard of finds it offensive." :

You could be a very useful resource to people if you would not point fingers and be angry every time you try to educate.

Jenn
:

I keep hearing about secret this, secret that.... and compairing it to the masons? Almost anyone can get into that group but it has been made clear before that you must be native to get real teaching.....

Again, why is about certain groups and not about PEOPLE of all kinds as ONE.

All these "secretish" people make it dang hard to be educated on a subject I am seeing because we are not "native" enough I guess. -shrug-

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#77 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 02:46 AM
 
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Admittedly, I haven't read many threads by Bellymama, but I thought that she was keeping her composure very well in this thread.
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#78 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 07:35 AM
 
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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 love how this gets turned around into "ooh they're keeping secrets from us, how dare they ask us to show respect for them without telling us why". This is exactly what happens to pretty much all minority groups. Minorities are accused of keeping to themselves (I can't count the times I've read on the papers here about different minorities not integrating and how horrible they are for it). If we could turn that thinking around just for a while we could maybe ask "why don't our ways attract minorities". As it is, it seems to be that if a minority group wants respect, they're going to get to work for it on their own and they better keep explaining again and again why they want it. Me, I'd call this a reasonable request and refrain from using a term that can be offensive. It's not up to others to further educate me. If I want to know more I've got the internet at my disposal, as well as libraries.

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.
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#79 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 10:30 AM
 
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Interesting thread . . . I think if someone says something offends them, we can, within reason, refrain from doing that thing especially if it really doesn't hurt us in anyway but does make another feel heard and respected.

That being said, what is the original word for "Blessingway? I would think had that word been adopted and used so casually, it would be cause for more uproar. But "Blessingway" is an English compound word and I'm pretty sure it probably doesn't denote the depth and breadth of what the original word denotes. I guess I'm not sure why native people would be fighting for a non-native word and why it would matter that much because it's not even their original word.

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#80 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I totally agree with Ironica.

Bellymama, you always come out swinging and instead of trying to inform, your posts treat people as if they haven't a clue and whatever they are doing or not doing is wrong so stop it now. When I see a post by you, my first thought is "oh boy, here we go again..." It's one thing to want to inform and say "hey, here's where this word comes from, isn't that cool?" Education is great. Telling people to not use words because of such and such is, I think, very rude. If the word is never used by anyone outside of said culture, it's going to die. I think it far more useful to let other use the word and educate them about the meaning behind it than to say "don't do that because a people group you've never heard of finds it offensive." :

You could be a very useful resource to people if you would not point fingers and be angry every time you try to educate.

Jenn
i'm sorry you feel this way. i apologize for making you feel like this. it is never my intention. i tried very hard to word this post in a kind way. i have recieved good feedback from it. but i know i can't please everyone. again, i am sorry to make you feel this way.

ETA: i just reread the whole thread to see where i am "coming out swinging"....and i just don't see it. i don't doubt that in another thread i may have behaved in a way that is innapropriate. but this is THIS thread and in this thread i have been pretty nice. i have repeatedly said that i think its okay to have a different opinion than me, i have apologized any time anyone said that something i said upset them. i changed the word "Stealing" to "taking" because ironica told me it upset her. i have gone out of my way to be peaceable and kind.
i feel like maybe you are judging me from a previous thread...which seems unfair.
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#81 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#82 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#83 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 01:04 PM
 
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Moth to a flame...

Signed, the devil's advocate
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#84 of 274 Old 10-29-2007, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!
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#85 of 274 Old 10-30-2007, 11:55 AM
 
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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.
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#86 of 274 Old 10-30-2007, 01:03 PM
 
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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...
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#87 of 274 Old 10-30-2007, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#88 of 274 Old 10-31-2007, 01:08 PM
 
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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.
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#89 of 274 Old 10-31-2007, 01:56 PM
 
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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.
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#90 of 274 Old 10-31-2007, 01:58 PM
 
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FTR, my friends and I have always done "birth blessings". It's worked well for us.
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