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

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#1 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.we can be influenced, inspired etc. by traditions and cultures outside our own, but i think we have a responsibility to be respectful of the original tradition and culture that we are influenced and inspired by.



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

scroll down to see the added footnote
Quote:
"1. In 2004, Native feminists wrote us to request that the term 'Blessingway' no longer be used to describe non-Navajo prenatal ceremonies such as the one described in this article. They explained that the term 'Blessingway' refers to a sacred spiritual ceremony performed by the Navajo people to celebrate rites of passage that occur throughout the entire life cycle, and not only the passage into motherhood. They suggested the term 'Mother Blessing' was a more appropriate term for a ceremony that was influenced, and respectful, of this tradition, but not practiced in accordance with the Navajo faith and culture. We completely agree.

Out of repect for the great history and importance of the Blessingway to Navajo people, many doulas, midwives and mothers now use the term 'Mother Blessing' to denote the celebration outlined in this article -- a practice we have also adopted."



Edited on 11/11/07 to add new information:
many people have said that their blessingway's are NOT based on the Dine's...well i have been looking around at all the many many many Blessingway website's and EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY one says that the "new blessingway" is based on the Dine's Blessingway.

http://www.mother-care.ca/blessing.htm http://www.preggiepeggy.com/blessingway.htm
http://www.mothering.com/articles/pr...blessings.html
http://www.naturaltouchdoula.com/blessingway.php
http://www.alternamoms.com/blessingway.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessingway
http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/blessingway.html
http://thebirthsource.homestead.com/blessingway.html
http://www.doubletongued.org/index.p.../blessing_way/
http://www.timelessspirit.com/SEPT04/grace.shtml
http://www.castingcreationsbellycasts.com/gpage4.html
http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=667
it's not even arguable that the "new blessing ways" are not directly influenced from the Dine'
Blessing Way.

also, i have been communicating with a Dine Medicine Woman for the last week or so, and i have shared with her the link to this thread and also the many website's describing exactly what the "new blessingway" entails. she has given me permission to share this with you:
Quote:
I am a Dine' Medicine Woman who is infuriated by what I have heard! These women have NO idea what they are doing! The Blessing Way is an ancient Ritual that, yes is used to welcome children into the world, but by far, that is NOT it's only use, but just one of many of it's functions. I am not permitted to explain the many times we use Blessing way in ritual, but some of the rituals would be surprising for those not of the Dine'. Anyone not of the Dine' people should not be using our Sacred rituals bastardized in such a way for their own idealized mentality - it is more dangerous then they could possibly realize. We have certain "spiritual safeguards" on protecting our Old Ways & what is misused or misappropriated would have dire consequences for those who try to take what is sacred to us & is not of their people, but of the Dine'. To place this upon innocent babies is an anathema With much thanks, Firewolf
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#2 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 03:14 PM
 
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Interesting post, bellymama! I hadn't actually heard "blessingway" - but I certainly wouldn't use it now, having read this! Thanks for sharing the information - you're right, I'm sure many mamas just don't know of the Navajo tradition.
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#3 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by steph117 View Post
Interesting post, bellymama! I hadn't actually heard "blessingway" - but I certainly wouldn't use it now, having read this! Thanks for sharing the information - you're right, I'm sure many mamas just don't know of the Navajo tradition.
absolutely! its a matter of just not realizing, i think.
the women i have talked about this with that live by me had no idea that the term had been adopted from the Dineh tradition. most of them were very willing to rethink the term they used to describe their baby shower.
i think that it is an awesome idea to go beyond the "baby shower" and make it a celebration/blessing for the mother and her unborn child...borrowing certain concepts and ideas are not bad in themselves...cultures are not static, and many things are the result of two different traditions melding together...
as a dancer, i do a lot of "world fusion" dancing...i borrow what i like from many styles of dance, ranging from bellydance, flamenco, indian classical, african etc etc...but i make sure i know about the individual dance form before i fuse it with something else...i make sure that i am not being disrespectful. you have to know about the original subject before you can respectfully create a new fusion.
so someone who learns about the Blessingway tradition and thinks "wow, this is an amazing way to view a womans life transformations, i would really like to incorporate this into my baby shower" isn't wrong to think that...its more that simply calling it a Blessingway is unnacceptable. because the only Blessingway there is, is the ACTUAL Blessingway done by the Dineh...the songs they sing, the people involved, the spiritual meaning all must be included for it to TRULY be a Blessingway.
otherwise it is a Baby or Mother Blessing. no less important to the person performing it or having it bestowed on them...just different.
just like you can't simply call pouring water on a baby's head a Catholic Baptism...you need the Catholic priest, the water blessed by the priest, the words that are said over the baby etc etc. a person could bless their baby with water and it would be no less meaninful or spiritual, it just WOULDN"T BE A CATHOLIC BAPTISM...so calling it that would be ridiculous.
i hope this makes sense.
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#4 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 03:51 PM
 
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Thank you for this post. Things like this are very near and dear to my heart since my daughter has Native American heritage from her father's side of the family (although her bio father has never MET her.)

Respect for Native American peoples is a BIG BIG deal in my home and I struggle to stay informed of things like this so I am not inadvertently disrespectful and she grows up with some sense of heritage and respect for that part of her background.

I will certainly make it a point to correct this term now as I hear it.

Manda

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#5 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 03:53 PM
 
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I learn something new here every day. Thank you for posting.
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#6 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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Thank you for the reminder. It was because of outspoken MDC mamas like you that I learned to be more sensitive about blessingways, which ultimately led me to ask my co-hostess at a baby shower last summer to refer to our special ceremony as a mother blessing and not a blessingway.

may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know  - e.e. cummings
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#7 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 04:23 PM
 
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Something else I didn't even know I didn't know! Thanks for the info...I've never heard the term, but I appreciate being made aware of the world around me!
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#8 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 04:40 PM
 
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Wow, I thought this subject had been covered extensively at MDC already.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ht=blessingway
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#9 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 06:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by supakitty View Post
Wow, I thought this subject had been covered extensively at MDC already.
It certainly was (interesting thread... I'm only on page 2), but that's no reason not to post about it here, to a very specific audience.

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#10 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It certainly was (interesting thread... I'm only on page 2), but that's no reason not to post about it here, to a very specific audience.
thanks. i know it has been said before, but new people come here everyday and i think this (and the many other topics that tend to repeat as new mothers go through the stages of being a mom) are worthy of being revisited time and time again.
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#11 of 274 Old 10-26-2007, 08:57 PM
 
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#12 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 12:05 AM
 
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I've never heard of a baby shower being refered to as such, but I have to agree!
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#13 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 12:52 AM
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well said and so important.
thank you.

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#14 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 01:03 AM
 
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That's fascinating. I had no idea that the Navajo used English words to refer to their sacred rituals.
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#15 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 01:07 AM
 
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Wow, I thought this subject had been covered extensively at MDC already.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ht=blessingway
But what about guests or people who don't have enough posts to access TAO?

Body, I've been more than patient. Please make a baby. Please?
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Thank you for posting this.
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#17 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 01:40 AM
 
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That's fascinating. I had no idea that the Navajo used English words to refer to their sacred rituals.


Sorry,

I totally agree that respect for our continent's first peoples is of utmost importance, and not a laughing matter...

but Ironica, that just cracked me up 'cause it's the first thing that crossed my mind too. You certainly chose an appropriate user name.

After a quick seach, it appears that Hózhójí is the correct word? Does anyone know if this is correct, and how it is pronounced?

The little bit of reading I've done on the subject is fascinating. It seems to be a much more far reaching ceremony than that which has been adapted as a mother blessing.

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#18 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 02:10 AM
 
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I totally agree that respect for our continents first peoples' is of utmost importance, and not a lauging matter...

but Ironica, that just cracked me up 'cause it's the first thing that crossed my mind too. You certainly chose an appropriate user name.

After a quick seach, it appears that Hózhójí is the correct word? Does anyone know if this is correct, and how it is pronounced?
Thanks for the compliment ;-).

I also agree that it's very important to be respectful of the rituals and traditions of all cultures (heck, I was very much raised that way... my father was a professional historian specializing in early California and Los Angeles). But seriously, would I offend Jews if I told my son he was law-abiding on his 13th birthday? Or Mexicans if I threw a "fifteen party" for my daughter? I sure hope not!

It seems like it would make some sense to say "Hey, did y'all who are using this word know what it comes from? Here's more information about the ritual... much bigger than having a baby!" and then let people decide if they want to make their "blessingway" more like the Navajo ritual that the term is based on, or if they want to change the name, or if they really don't care. But I don't get why someone else using the same words for what they're doing would be *offensive,* unless the activity itself is offensive in some way. Maybe the inclusion in my best friend's wedding of an adaptation of a Native American rite involving drinking from a two-mouthed goblet with an image of Cocopelis on it was offensive, too. Sad, since she was simply trying to *honor* her American heritage.
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#19 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 03:18 AM
 
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I've never heard of a baby shower being refered to as such, but I have to agree!
actually i don't think most people use blessingway/motherblessing and baby showers interchangably--one is mother-focused and celebratory/support-building and the other is baby-centered and material-driven.

that being said, i have been aware of this before and have been trying to transition form blessingway to mother-blessing...but i am not busting a nut over it so to speak: this is only b/c i know (read somewhere) that navajos themselves have requested this and after how it went down for them, i AT LEAST owe them that, yes? i know some people think its not a huge deal...but i am not out to disrespect a group that gave us all a really great idea about how to honor a woman about to pass through into motherhood. ykwim? hope this thread doesn't get yucky like the last ones!
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It is very important to respect this about the Navajo culture and community but why do Navajo people not just use the original word from the Navajo language? Or do they, and non-Navajo people use "blessingway" because we don't know/can't pronounce the original word? It just seems odd to me. I mean we all say Bar Mitzvah and not it's English translation, "son of the commandment" and we say cinco de mayo not "5th of May" and Hannukah not "dedication" and on and on.

I'm a huge advocate of cultural appropriateness. But why use the non-cultural term for something and then ask everyone to keep it only in the culture? It doesn't make sense to me.
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#21 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:05 AM
 
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That's fascinating. I had no idea that the Navajo used English words to refer to their sacred rituals.
I couldn't have said it better myself. Really. I tried.

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#22 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry,

I totally agree that respect for our continent's first peoples is of utmost importance, and not a laughing matter...

but Ironica, that just cracked me up 'cause it's the first thing that crossed my mind too. You certainly chose an appropriate user name.

After a quick seach, it appears that Hózhójí is the correct word? Does anyone know if this is correct, and how it is pronounced?

The little bit of reading I've done on the subject is fascinating. It seems to be a much more far reaching ceremony than that which has been adapted as a mother blessing.
yes thatis the term in the Dineh language...but the Dineh themselves use the term blessingway and have asked people not to use that exact term. so we should respect that.
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#23 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by gingerbane View Post
It is very important to respect this about the Navajo culture and community but why do Navajo people not just use the original word from the Navajo language? Or do they, and non-Navajo people use "blessingway" because we don't know/can't pronounce the original word? It just seems odd to me. I mean we all say Bar Mitzvah and not it's English translation, "son of the commandment" and we say cinco de mayo not "5th of May" and Hannukah not "dedication" and on and on.

I'm a huge advocate of cultural appropriateness. But why use the non-cultural term for something and then ask everyone to keep it only in the culture? It doesn't make sense to me.

i only asked people to reconsider using it. the choice is up to you. i am not telling you to do it or not do it.
as a native, i have respect for the concept of not using native traditions because they are now trendy. the natives of this country were not so trendy in the past, and many of their traditions were stomped out, or if kept alive, done in secret...some ceremonies are still "illegal"...anyway, if its just a word to you, why worry about it. a group of people who this word means a lot to (both in their native tongue and in the language they were FORCED to take whether they like it or not) have asked if we could simply refrain from using it...i can't imagine why one would have an issue with this.
mother blessing, baby blessing, these are all similar and get the point across...so why not use them? the Blessingway of the Navajo involves more than just the mother transformation, it is an integral part of their worldview and spiritual beliefs.
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#24 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:25 AM
 
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Considering NA's are victims of genocide and forced assimilation and were virtually wiped off the face of the planet, I'm not surprised many of their languages are dying and they'd be using English words. And I don't see what's humorous about that, either. Actually, I find white people LAUGHING about it pretty offensive and disgusting.

Thank you for your post, bellymama.
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#25 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mama_nomad View Post
actually i don't think most people use blessingway/motherblessing and baby showers interchangably--one is mother-focused and celebratory/support-building and the other is baby-centered and material-driven.

that being said, i have been aware of this before and have been trying to transition form blessingway to mother-blessing...but i am not busting a nut over it so to speak: this is only b/c i know (read somewhere) that navajos themselves have requested this and after how it went down for them, i AT LEAST owe them that, yes? i know some people think its not a huge deal...but i am not out to disrespect a group that gave us all a really great idea about how to honor a woman about to pass through into motherhood. ykwim? hope this thread doesn't get yucky like the last ones!
yeah, me too. i didn't know about the last one, but someone linked me too it and i was very sad that so many people were so blatantly disrespectful, almost on purpose, almost to be hurtful to people with native blood.
this might not seem important to you. it might seem funny. maybe you aren't up to date on the NA history. its not funny.
the navajo have been through some bad times they have suffered at the hands of people who didn't care what was important to them. they are asking us not to use this word. seems like the least people could do is just think about it rather than cracking jokes and scoffing at its importance.
just because you don't understand why it is important, doesn't mean it isn't important.
again, i merely asked people to reconsider...i wouldn't dream of telling anyone what to do. the choice is yours. if you are comfortable doing something that is hurting people, then that is your choice.
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#26 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:29 AM
 
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I don't understand why it would be so offensive to use the same wording when clearly it's not the same ritual. Lot's of things have the same words but mean different things.
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#27 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
Considering NA's are victims of genocide and forced assimilation and were virtually wiped off the face of the planet, I'm not surprised many of their languages are dying and they'd be using English words. And I don't see what's humorous about that, either. Actually, I find white people LAUGHING about it pretty offensive and disgusting.

Thank you for your post, bellymama.
thank you. i am actually crying right now, because of the posts where people are cracking jokes, because of this exact reason. the lack of compassion, understanding or even WANTING to understand the feelings of natives on this subject just reminds me how our people are often forgotten and ignored in terms of their needs.
i really needed this post cherrybomb. thank you so much. i was really sitting here thinking that i couldn't believe that after all that has happened, people still can be so callous. i really appreciate your kindness.
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#28 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't understand why it would be so offensive to use the same wording when clearly it's not the same ritual. Lot's of things have the same words but mean different things.
this is true. however the origin of the word blessingway to describe a baby shower IS from the navajo tradition. it just is that the people who use it simply picked what worked for them and discarded the rest. part of the blessingway of the DIneh is a "mother blessing". its just that it is so much more than this.
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#29 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:40 AM
 
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Considering NA's are victims of genocide and forced assimilation and were virtually wiped off the face of the planet, I'm not surprised many of their languages are dying and they'd be using English words. And I don't see what's humorous about that, either. Actually, I find white people LAUGHING about it pretty offensive and disgusting.

Thank you for your post, bellymama.
: Excellent thread. There was one around here before and I tried to find it to refer someone to it, but I couldn't. I appreciate this new one, and the information is framed as gently as possible. Thank you.
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#30 of 274 Old 10-27-2007, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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: Excellent thread. There was one around here before and I tried to find it to refer someone to it, but I couldn't. I appreciate this new one, and the information is framed as gently as possible. Thank you.
thanks. i tried really hard to say it nicely. i never thought anyone used this word to be a jackass,yk? people just wanted a different word to describe the differences in their concept of a baby shower, which i think makes sense and i understand why they would want to.
i simply wanted to provide people with the facts so that they could choose a name that isn't already tied up with so much feeling and importance to a group of people who have already had so much taken from them.
i am not judging anyone. i just wanted to pass it on.
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