Sometimes I can get lost in the world of Facebook, reading other people’s comments as I explore their mental landscape often with only a crappy, half-working lighter to guide my way.
In a Facebook group that discusses “Shamanism” (editor’s note, I don’t use this title and I think that most people don’t understand the context behind it) and a lady named Nicky (her last name is irrelevant other than to note that it is Hungarian) posted to the group about native spirit names.
In her Facebook post, Nicky asks the group if anyone could translate,
“’walks with me’, into a native tribal name?” She then goes on to request that the person translating should kindly include the name of the language, though she admitted she knew very little about First Nations culture (and yet she seems to know the stereotype that there is some sort of Pan-Indian, native pool that everyone drinks from). The name was apparently for her spirit guide which she said was a wolf.
I see a lot of this stuff on Facebook, and I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of such people in hundreds of such groups and they can be a real grab bag of people with a lot of people yearning to learn and very few willing to teach over such a medium.
Anyway, the response to Nicky’s question was a mixed bag before I decided to pipe in, most asking her why the English name “walks with me” wasn’t good enough. I actually liked that answer, if she was not going to give her wold a Central European name.
But frustrated by the fact that – now I admit this is all of my opinion – the group was not getting the point, I posted on the wall under her comment.
“You do realize that there are hundreds of different Native American nations, right?
And I’m gonna be hard on you so you’ll learn, it’s pretty insulting to just walk up and say you want your name translated into any native language you can get.
Indigenous languages across the globe are sacred – and also disappearing – and cannot be approached like a buffet dinner where you can pick and choose at will.
You yourself admit that you know little about First Nations culture.
That’s the problem. And it shows in the complete disrespect you show here.
You Nicky need to start – and this is the bottom of the barrel at the very least – to pick up a history textbook and start learning about the native nations (cuz they are nations) and how they were subjected to genocide in North, Central and South America.
And then you need to learn a little about the vastly different languages between the hundreds of different nation – to learn it is very difficult to translate from English to “native” as it doesn’t have Latin or Germanic roots.
In Ojibwe, every word is a concept within itself, not just a noun or a verb, but a living expression of something. So direct translation is very difficult.
So now you know. Stick with the English name.
And I’m going to smudge cuz damn I need it after your question.
If you’re wondering why I am so hard on you, it’s because I want you to learn these lessons good early on, so you can approach First Nations culture with respect, not something you can make demands on.
And for fellow posters who think I’m being harsh, I do so out of love. I want Nicky to learn well and learn out of respect.”
Of course, I got the response from Nicky that I was pretty certain I was going to get, I could literally feel her hot tears strike her keyboard as she complained I was being hard on her and not in the spirit of the “Rainbow Tribe”.
For those of you happy unfamiliar with the Rainbow Tribe concept, it’s supposed to be a group of people who have white skin and yet red hearts, and by ‘red’ they mean ‘Native’. I have yet to see this Rainbow Tribe (not South Africa’s concent of Rainbow Nation) used in any other context.
There are apparently no white skinned people who feel Greek or even European in their hearts. Nobody I have yet seen waxes poetically about being Jewish in their past life or that they are descendants of Chinese Princesses.
To Nicky I replied again,
“Among other coming together prophecies, there is the 8th fire (some consider we are in the 7th fire now) and yes it talks about the coming together of the four colours of the medicine wheel.
Here is what it also says, that many Indigenous people who were “sleeping” (colonized, scared into silence, killed, had inter generational trauma so they didn’t learn the teachings) would wake up to once again lead the people into the 8th fire – Mino Bimaadiziwin!
This of course points to the people of the Rainbow Tribe being humble enough to take direction – which is what I gave you, Nicky – to help you make it along the hard road to the 8th.
While you’re doing you’re thing, please understand that Indigenous communties are still bleeding and suffering from the continuing effects of genocide and the rape of their women and their culture, trying to re-stitch memory and ceremony together and get back on their feet, all while at the same time fighting to save the land and water and air and life itself.
So those communities have a lot on their plate, too. I’m adding this for people who say: why aren’t native ceremonies always open to everyone?
Maybe they will be one day.
But right now, the keepers of those ceremonies are just trying to get back to their feet and remember the old ways while praying for their own people and their own healing so they have their own work to do.”
*I want to give credit to Rebekah who pointed out in my first post that I stated that the genocide of First Nations people was in the past. Hopefully, I was able to correct that mis-information in my second post. Not only do we have an epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women, there are also high rates of violent deaths for Indigenous men.
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