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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Traditional Knowledge


I first heard the term Traditional Knowledge when I lived up in the Northwest Territories. I lived in a small community of about 500 people called Fort Good Hope. The majority of people are Dene, and probably about a third of them speak their traditional language, Slavey.
Elders are keepers of much Traditional Knowledge
Elders are keepers of much Traditional Knowledge

A friend of mine, who worked for a land use planning board, told me about Traditional Knowledge and gave me some literature to read when I asked her for more information. While I was reading I became frustrated because I still couldn’t really figure out what it was. This is mostly because, as I came to learn, it is not something that is easy to specify or categorize. Yet, in today’s world most people like things to be definable. Modern influences compel us to put labels on everything. But reading about Traditional Knowledge, this wasn’t the case and I ended up with many more questions.
I was very lucky to be actually living in a place where I could ask people about Traditional Knowledge, people who lived it in their day-to-day lives. So I didn’t really need a dictionary definition to further understand it, I could just walk down the road. I visited with community members who were living off the land. One Elder took me on many boat rides down the Mackenzie River and hikes in the nearby rocks to teach and tell me stories about the history and geography of the area. Another friend, the Chief of Fort Good Hope at the time, was a very gracious man who was so willing to share much information with me – particularly regarding the seasons of the river, and the importance of the drum. He was also a residential school survivor who practiced compassion and took part in ceremonies in order to heal, and was not afraid to speak about it to those who were eager to listen. Through these different experiences and interactions I came to learn that Traditional Knowledge is something one does, rather than simply something one knows. It is a process, and a way of living that is deeply connected with the land. It is a personal relationship with Creation and the natural world. It isn’t linear, but should be viewed as a circle.

As Deborah McGregor says in her 2015 article from American Indian Quarterly entitled “Coming Full Circle”:
Traditional Knowledge cannot be separated from the land

Building on prior learning and traditions is never a direct or linear path. Instead, Indigenous science pursues a rather meandering path around things and over obstacles, a roundabout way. In the Western mindset, getting from point A to B is a linear process, and in the Indigenous mindset, arrival at B occurs through fields of relationships and establishment of meaning, a sense of territory, a sense of breadth of the context.

Relationships are key when it comes to Traditional Knowledge, relationships with the Creator, the land, and other people. For those who are interested in learning more about it, the question should not be, What is Traditional Knowledge? It should be, Am I ready to receive Traditional Knowledge?

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Coming to Manitoba

(Courtesy of bandwidth digital releasing ltd.) Movies! Movies! Movies! Created by Hollywood actor Adam Beach, bandwidth is a mobile movie house releasing Aboriginal and mainstream ‘first-run’ Hollywood feature films in Canada and the United States. And three communities in Manitoba will soon be experiencing bandwidth first hand: Norway House, Brokenhead and Sandy Bay First Nations.

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Takeaway Podcast ICWA

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!
Survivors, write your stories. Write your parents stories. Write the elders stories. Do not be swayed by the colonizers to keep quiet. Tribal Nations have their own way of keeping stories alive.... Trace

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.