please rethink using the term Blessingway to describe your baby shower*new info* - Page 9 - Mothering Forums

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#241 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by JacquelineR View Post
Basically, it's not "just a name" or "just a word". In Native American beliefs, the name *is* the thing. This is why Natives who follow a traditional path will not name their children for a living relative. By naming their child *for* that person, they take some of that person's life power.
But as I said, I will talk to my mom asap to make sure I'm giving accurate information.
yeah, i think a lot of the difficulty non-NA people are having with this is related to the huge cultural differences. things that may seem inconsequential to you might be hugely important to NA's. which is kind of my point on why you shouldn't do it, because you can't really get it,because the culture is so different.

i agree that mama's are searching for a more meaningful celebration outside of the "traditional" shower. that is wonderful, as i have said many times in this thread. but to create a meaningful new tradition you need to put more thought into it...more than just, well this tradition that this cultural group does looks neat, so i'll just do it.
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#242 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by grniys View Post
Interesting info. I've heard about a few Blessingways online, but never in real life. When I have babyshowers we just call them baby showers.

I'm not really sure what to think. And in advance, please know I'm not trying to be argumentative when I post this. I'm honestly just curious.

How would someone taking the word Blessingway and using it to call their babyshower or whatever be any different than say, non-Christians celebrating Christmas?

I admit, I haven't read through the whole thread, I've just browsed posts. I can understand if the people throwing the shower are mocking or in some way disgracing the word or event, but what if they just think "hmm... what a pretty word! I think I'll use that!" ? I mean, before reading this thread, I would have thought "What a wonderful term. A WAY to BLESS the mother."

I'm sure I probably come off as very uninformed in this post, but I'm honestly just a bit... hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this, I suppose.
well, unfortunately for Christians, christmas has become pretty secularized in this country. but i agree that to truly understand the spiritual meaning of christmas, one would need to be a christian.
my dad was born in the Azores (islands in the middle of the Atlantic that belong to Portugal). they had no santa claus. at christmas, they were told that the baby jesus came and gave them a gift (usually one, very small toy...they were pretty much peasants). so there are a lot of ways people celebrate christmas.
i think that at this point, it's almost two different things, Christmas/Santa and Christmas/Christ...which is probably extremely upsetting to very devout Christians. and i would support a Christian saying that it sucks that their tradition celebrating the birth of their religions center piece has become something completely unrelated.

and i agree and have said many times that in no way to i think that any woman who has chosen to have a blessingway has done so to be a jerk, or to intentionally "steal" from someone. it's a lack of knowledge. which i why i want to spread correct information, so that women can see that it's not "just a pretty word".
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#243 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 02:22 PM
 
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I'm not really sure what to think. And in advance, please know I'm not trying to be argumentative when I post this. I'm honestly just curious.
How would someone taking the word Blessingway and using it to call their babyshower or whatever be any different than say, non-Christians celebrating Christmas?
I understand you're not trying to be argumentative and it's perfectly acceptable to question things you don't understand. That's how we learn, right?
I'm not entirely sure how to explain this. Firstly, it's not the tradition of my people so I may be entirely wrong with what I tell you. There may be a similar term in my people's traditions, but I haven't managed to contact my foster mother yet to consult her wisdom.
The first thing you need to know about Blessingways, which most everyone seems to be missing in this thread (and it has been mentioned, but very few seem to have actually read that post or something) is that a Blessingway isn't simply a mother blessing. It is a ceremony performed during/before any major change of life: a new house, a new marriage, a new baby, the beginning of menstruation (new womanhood), when a boy becomes a man, when someone dies, going to war. Major life transitions.
The second thing you need to realize is that despite the fact that it would *seem* it is "commonplace", it is a very sacred and spiritual ceremony. I can't think of a single term or ceremony/ritual in any other culture which encompasses *all of those things*, so I can't even *begin* to equate it to something. All of my explanations fall short.

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#244 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 02:42 PM
 
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Okay, maybe this will help somewhat.
Let's say you move to, I don't know... Africa. While you're in Africa, you have a baby. You invite your African friends to join you in celebrating "Life" by holding a baby shower. But you just say "Join me in celebrating Life."
Your African friends, not knowing your traditions or your language or your culture, think "That's a really nice word. Life. I'm going to have a Life when I have my baby."
Pretty soon, everyone is having a Life. You try to explain to them that what you had isn't all that Life is. They say "I don't care. Life is a cool word and I'm going to use it to mean a baby shower."
Next thing you know, the meaning of "Life" to your African friends is a baby shower. You have just succeeded in reducing the meaning of Life. heh.

ETA: Now remember that in the NA traditional ways, the word *is* the thing. Not only have you reduced the word but also the the thing itself. So you have just reduced Life, not just it's meaning.:

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#245 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 04:41 PM
 
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I'm not a Christian, but Christianity is still my cultural background, and it is the dominant culture in the US. So it's not really the same thing. It would be more like if people of a completely different religion and cultural background, who had traditions of their own that went with their culture, came to the US and planned a bunch of Christmas celebrations that were a little like Christmas but were mainly a distortion based on their own background and culture, but still called it Christmas and said they were celebrating your holiday with you. But then imagine that this culture were not the dominant culture in the US and that the culture were getting overshadowed.
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#246 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 05:13 PM
 
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It would be more like if people of a completely different religion and cultural background, who had traditions of their own that went with their culture, came to the US and planned a bunch of Christmas celebrations that were a little like Christmas but were mainly a distortion based on their own background and culture, but still called it Christmas and said they were celebrating your holiday with you. But then imagine that this culture were not the dominant culture in the US and that the culture were getting overshadowed.
I can understand what you're trying to say but I don't agree. The dominant culture is the one doing the distorting, first of all. Secondly, it would be more like the dominant people doing something similar to Mass and calling it Christmas... This was the original analogy I came up with in my head but it still doesn't convey it all which is why I didn't use it.

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#247 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 06:32 PM
 
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I asked my foster mom about this, how to explain it and such. She told me that I would need to talk to a Navajo Elder about it. So I have called the Navajo Nation. Unfortunately, the person to whom I need to speak is out of the office today, so I will have to call them again on Monday.
ETA: Although it occurs to me that bellymama is *already* in contact with a Navajo (Dine) Elder who has simply said "Please don't do this."
It reminds me of something my foster mom once said, "We don't invite outsiders to our ceremonies because they don't understand and don't respect us nor our wishes."

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#248 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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the Dine woman i spoke with was unable to go into detail about certain aspects of the Blessingway, but she was happy to share with me that she wished people wouldn't do it.
i actually think it's a really good idea to contact the Navajo Nation. i am going to call the SPIRIT network and talk with them about maybe working on a clear statement to send out to these websites, authors and even magazines like Mothering so that they can begin rectifying the situation.
there is not a lot of info on it that can be found, so i can understand a lot of people's reluctance simply to take a few people's word for it. so i am hoping to start getting some more information out there, so that when people google blessingway they will see that information up with the other information, and then be able to make an informed decision.i simply want people to be aware of this. i don't want to force anybody to do anything. i just want all the information to be there when people decide.
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#249 of 274 Old 05-30-2008, 09:25 PM
 
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From this site:
http://www.ausbcomp.com/Redman/navajo.htm

Quote:
Blessingway, Hozhoogi, is life to the Navajo. From birth onward this is the center and foundation of all ceremonies.
So my analogy earlier about taking away meaning from Life was (shockingly to me) dead on.

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#250 of 274 Old 07-13-2008, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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bumping because i have been reading this collection of essays, Becoming Part of It and there have been some really insightful pieces of information in some of the essays, that are helping me understand more of why using the word blessingway is distressing to the Dineh.
from the essay, Become Part of It, by Joseph Eppes Brown:
a little more on explaining the cultural differences in the importance and use of words and names...and why that it makes sense that some people are having a hard time grasping what the big deal is about using the name.

Quote:
One must mention the special nature of NA languages, which contrasts with our understanding of language and our use of words. In Native languages the understanding is that the meaning is in the sounds,it is in the word; the word is not a symbol for a meaning that has been abstracted out, word and meaning are together in one experience. Thus, to name a being, for example, and animal, is actually to conjure up the power latent in that animal. Added to this is the fact that when we create words, we use our breath, and for these people, in these traditions breath is associated with the principle of life; breath is life itself. And so if a word is born from this sacred principle of breath, this lends an added sacred dimension to the spoken words. It's because this special feeling about words that people avoid using sacred personal names, because they contain the power of the beings named, and if you use them too much, the power becomes dissipated.
from The Man Made of Words, by M.Scott Momaday:
Quote:
(The Native American) locates the center of his being within the element of language...It is the dimension in him in which his existence is most fully accomplished. He does not create language but is himself created within it. In a real sensem his language is both the object and the instrument of his religious experience.
and then there are these:
from The Trees Stand Deep Rooted by Sam Gill:
Quote:
The Navajo ceremonial, the Blessingway, demonstrates how the Navajo envision the way thought and speech become manifest in the creation of the word and the sustenance of life. Of the 25-30 major ceremonial ways known to the Navajo, Blessingway is generally recognized as fundamental to all others; it is an indivisible body of story and ritual and a whole religious ideology.
Quote:
The occasion for the first Blessingway ceremonial was the creation of the Navajo world; consequently, the ways of creation are the model for all versions and all performances of the blessingway It is because the Blessingway is the way of creation that it is called the backbone of Navajo religion and is recognized as the source, and pattern for the Navajo way of life and thought.
Quote:
"A prevalent non-native attitude is to associate ritual and tradition with lack of innovation and creativity. This may be the biggest contrast between Native and Non-native views of life. This view is alien to the native american because they have accepted the charge of responsibilities for performing the acts upon which life and reality depend.
basically, the Dineh perform the Blessingway almost as a way to keep the world turning. if they weren't to perform it, or if it is performed incorrectly, it sends out some bad medicine, and basically messes up their whole world and religious view. so for them, it's like the greatest act of blasphemy for people to be using this powerful term and participating in a bastardized version of what they do (because as i have found, every.last.one of the New Age Blessingway websites or books i have looked at says that the new Blessingway is directly "borrowed" from "native american traditions".)
anyway, i just found those articles to shed more light on the subject for me, so i wanted to share them.
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#251 of 274 Old 07-25-2008, 04:30 PM
 
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Mother's Blessing Celebration
I like this one if you are having a celebration for the mother, either for a first, second or so on child. It's really nice to be celebrated as a Mother. I think our culture can really benefit from this sort of focus on Mothers and Motherhood.

I agree that "Blessingway" is not the way to go in describing or titling your celebration unless you are having an authentic Blessingway in the Dine tradition and the ones giving the celebration/ceremony are Dine.

I admittedly had a Mother's Blessing party/shower, however it was called a Blessingway incorrectly by me since I didn't really think past the name at the time. I wanted to do something for my second child and someone online suggested a Blessingway. I didn't do any research until afterwards.

I then thought it would have been better to have called it a Mother's Blessing Celebration. People were very confused, most didn't attend or participate since they were not NDN and thought that it was only for NDNs. I was quite embarrassed when I did look into what one actually was and then realized why most people didn't show up. It didn't mirror a Blessingway at all which is good looking back. The name was the only thing used. None of the ceremony which would have been wrong since we are not Dine and don't have an understanding of the culture/spirituality.

Really unless you and your guests are in understanding of what one really is, you should call something else.

A real Blessingway is a spiritual ceremony. I wouldn't have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah for my son if we were not Jewish. Nor would I have a Baptism for a child if we weren't Christian.

I think that anyone having an actual Blessingway that isn't Dine/Navajo is just as disrespectful to the true meaning of one and the culture to which it is belongs as it would be for someone doing any of the above mentioned ceremonies and not being a part of that spiritual community.
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#252 of 274 Old 07-25-2008, 11:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for sharing that, MommyHawk!
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#253 of 274 Old 08-08-2008, 03:07 PM
 
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I've only read the first 10 pages or so.

One of the pillars of Islam is to go on a journey to Mecca. It is called a Haj. The (rather poor) English translation of this word is Pilgrimage. Now say I were to go on a journey of religious significance. I would call it a pilgrimage and not a haj. Should Muslims be offended because I used the word Pilgrim? I would expect them to be offended if I called myself a Haji after I had gone. That would be inaapropriate of me to do so. But the word pilgrim is kind of generic and not related to their journey.

Now relating to a blessingway. I understand the original name is a Hózhójí. I really don't understand why the (rather poor) English translation to this word is more offensive than calling it a Mother blessing ceremony. I have never used the word blessingway, I would probably use the Mother blessing ceremony, because nobody I know would understand what a blessingway was. But I really don't see how it would be offensive to anyone what I would call my ceremony. Neither Mother Blessing nor Blessingway convey the original meaning of Hózhójí.

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#254 of 274 Old 08-08-2008, 04:40 PM
 
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I think what I'm understanding is that the Dine have been so culturally seperated from their language that in order to communicate even with each other, they have to use English for many things. Blessingway is their attempt to translate the Dine word into English and avoid using English words that were already in use...so its a term they coined. Pilgramage is a word that was in frequent use and was just applied to the idea of a Haj, because it was the closest English word in use, it isn't a term that muslims coined trying to rename Haj in a language that most of them used even if it wasn't their original tongue.

People who are using Blessingway are using a term the Dine feel they coined to represent the Dine word (I don't know if the Dine really did coin that term or not) If some other group insisted they coined it too at the same time independently I guess they'd have to duke it out. If no one else does claim that than it seems like not such a big deal to just let them have that term.

Of course I'm biased because I think Blessingway sounds awkward and I prefer other terms better.
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#255 of 274 Old 08-10-2008, 02:05 AM
 
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I have read this entire thread over the past couple of hours, and my mind didn't settle until JacquelineR started posting. I think that had BellyMama explained in the beginning (not that she should have known we needed to be told) how much power a word has, *some* of the arguments may not have started.

Quote:
Basically, it's not "just a name" or "just a word". In Native American beliefs, the name *is* the thing. This is why Natives who follow a traditional path will not name their children for a living relative. By naming their child *for* that person, they take some of that person's life power.
I think the essence of the thread is that some people honour (without necessarily understanding) many aspects of the Blessingway, and feel that there is something lacking in the baby-shower culture of today. Hopefully, upon hearing that the name, in itself, has life power they will choose to find a term that is powerful for themselves.

Damn, I hope I managed to say what I mean. If not - I'll use the pregnancy-brain card too!
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#256 of 274 Old 08-10-2008, 03:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Belle View Post
Now relating to a blessingway. I understand the original name is a Hózhójí. I really don't understand why the (rather poor) English translation to this word is more offensive than calling it a Mother blessing ceremony. I have never used the word blessingway, I would probably use the Mother blessing ceremony, because nobody I know would understand what a blessingway was. But I really don't see how it would be offensive to anyone what I would call my ceremony. Neither Mother Blessing nor Blessingway convey the original meaning of Hózhójí.
Imagine I came to your country, put you on a tract of land 1/20th of what you used to live on, and told you that you could only speak my language. Then, when your children and grandchildren knew very little of your language, I said "Sure, speak your own language. Oh, and we're taking back these words you've taught your children to describe the ceremonies which are sacred to you (which you did illegally, by the way, good for you). They're ours. Sucks to be you. Hope your family learns your language in the 2 years you have left to live."
Is your opinion still the same?

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#257 of 274 Old 08-10-2008, 05:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Belle View Post
I've only read the first 10 pages or so.

One of the pillars of Islam is to go on a journey to Mecca. It is called a Haj. The (rather poor) English translation of this word is Pilgrimage. Now say I were to go on a journey of religious significance. I would call it a pilgrimage and not a haj. Should Muslims be offended because I used the word Pilgrim? I would expect them to be offended if I called myself a Haji after I had gone. That would be inaapropriate of me to do so. But the word pilgrim is kind of generic and not related to their journey.

Now relating to a blessingway. I understand the original name is a Hózhójí. I really don't understand why the (rather poor) English translation to this word is more offensive than calling it a Mother blessing ceremony. I have never used the word blessingway, I would probably use the Mother blessing ceremony, because nobody I know would understand what a blessingway was. But I really don't see how it would be offensive to anyone what I would call my ceremony. Neither Mother Blessing nor Blessingway convey the original meaning of Hózhójí.
i don't know how many times i have mentioned this in this thread but because the NA's were FORCED in most cases into using english, this point is totally moot. if you have been FORCED to take on a language then you shouldn't be blamed when you use it. i get what your point is, but this argument to me is weak sauce...it just doesn't hold.
anyway, Christmas is also known as Noel by the French, Navidad in Spanish and Grischtdaag in German...but it's the same damn holiday. you see? it doesn't matter what language you say it in, it's the same.
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#258 of 274 Old 08-10-2008, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by herins View Post
I have read this entire thread over the past couple of hours, and my mind didn't settle until JacquelineR started posting. I think that had BellyMama explained in the beginning (not that she should have known we needed to be told) how much power a word has, *some* of the arguments may not have started.



I think the essence of the thread is that some people honour (without necessarily understanding) many aspects of the Blessingway, and feel that there is something lacking in the baby-shower culture of today. Hopefully, upon hearing that the name, in itself, has life power they will choose to find a term that is powerful for themselves.

Damn, I hope I managed to say what I mean. If not - I'll use the pregnancy-brain card too!
i agree that a lot of the issues have arisen because of the cultural differences that non-NA have with the NA in terms of how they use names.
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#259 of 274 Old 08-10-2008, 09:32 PM
 
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Whiel I do have the utmost respect for native american (actually more correctly termed aboriginal americans since any american born on US soil is a "native" american" - this was just pointed out to me recently by an Elder friend of mine - I am of the Cherokee Nation) I do have to raise one issue. The Dine' nation doe snto hav ethe copyright on the term "Blessingway".

I had a blessingway for my second daughter - which was performed BY a medicine woman and a Shaman. Though not in the Dine' tradtion it was nonetheless called a blessingway by those performing the Rite. And yes - friends and family WERE incorportated into the rite as well.

Educate oneself by all means but remember this. All of the tribes were originally brances of the same Nation and therfore many of their traditions, ceremonies and paths are very similar if not virtually identical.

Thatsaid - what ever celebration I have for THIS child will nto be a blessingway - the medicine woman has since crossed the Bridge and I no longer live near the Shaman that was present either.
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#260 of 274 Old 08-11-2008, 06:07 AM
 
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I think it's just as offensive to hold a Blessingway and call it your own as it would be for someone to circ and hold a Bris and call it their own. Borrowing from another culture can be a respectful thing, IF and ONLY if the exact cultural expectations are followed, and not merely refined to suit the outsider's party flavor of the month.

In short, knowing Native cultures' ceremonies are highly sacred, I find it profusely offensive and disrespectful to hold a Blessingway without either being Dine, or following exact Dine customs and receiving blessings for the ceremony AS the outsider. Otherwise, it's no different than physically taking what is not yours.
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#261 of 274 Old 02-25-2009, 03:42 PM
 
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#262 of 274 Old 02-25-2009, 04:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herins View Post
I have read this entire thread over the past couple of hours, and my mind didn't settle until JacquelineR started posting. I think that had BellyMama explained in the beginning (not that she should have known we needed to be told) how much power a word has, *some* of the arguments may not have started.
......Hopefully, upon hearing that the name, in itself, has life power they will choose to find a term that is powerful for themselves.
Still TOTALLY disagree.

The Navajo/Dine don't use the word "blessingway." They use the word "Hózhójí." Blessingway is not even a direct translation!

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#263 of 274 Old 02-26-2009, 02:16 AM
 
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Aaacckk. I posted that a reeeeeally long time ago. I can't believe how some of these threads get revived endlessly.
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#264 of 274 Old 02-26-2009, 11:16 AM
 
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Thank you VERY much for this post, I was struggling with what to call my next "shower" as I didn't want gifts...I will not be using this term.
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#265 of 274 Old 02-26-2009, 11:37 AM
 
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call it whatever you want. no one is going to know anyway.
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#266 of 274 Old 02-26-2009, 11:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post
Still TOTALLY disagree.

The Navajo/Dine don't use the word "blessingway." They use the word "Hózhójí." Blessingway is not even a direct translation!

XOXO
B
Yes, there is a specific word in the Dine language, but as Native languages and traditions are dying out (thanks to white Americans' oppression of natives) it becomes even more important that we respect what tiny things that they have held on to and ask us to leave sacred to them.

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#267 of 274 Old 02-26-2009, 12:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 3pink1blue View Post
call it whatever you want. no one is going to know anyway.
Except for the people you invite, who then think nothing of it and tell all the other people they know expecting a baby about this "cool new thing" and then they tell others . . .

And since when does others not knowing about something make it okay to do?
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#268 of 274 Old 02-27-2009, 01:01 AM
 
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Except for the people you invite, who then think nothing of it and tell all the other people they know expecting a baby about this "cool new thing" and then they tell others . . .

And since when does others not knowing about something make it okay to do?

: And this is how this whole cultural appropriation mess happened in the first place!


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#269 of 274 Old 04-18-2009, 05:55 PM
 
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bumpity bump

great thread, seeing a lot of this (having blessingways) on MDC lately.
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#270 of 274 Old 04-18-2009, 09:05 PM
 
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Thank you for sharing BellyMama.
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