Just Watch The Dancers

Quote

Amazon.com

Listen to the land, listen to one another. Slow down and reach into the uncomfortable spaces ignored for centuries. Touch the wounds in our hearts and the earth. Show up with courage. Set down dominion. Step with kindness. It’s not complicated, really. Just watch the dancers. Follow the circle.

White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir by Nora Murphy

 

Listening, Learning and Pride

Quote

Amazon.com

Often, humor was the antidote to loss. The more I listened, the more I learned. Sometimes the lessons cost me my pride.

White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir by Nora Murphy

 

Books Are Life

Quote

Amazon.com

For most Indians the only special place in front of a library might be a heating grate or a piece of sun-warmed cement but that’s an old joke and I used to sleep with my books in piles all over my bed and sometimes they were the only thing keeping me warm and always the only thing keeping me alive.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Crucial Storytelling

Quote

Amazon.com

We had been taught not to look back. We had been trained to disconnect from family and our homelands. We had swapped our stories for a dream. To survive we need to find, and then share, our interlinking stories.

White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir by Nora Murphy

 

Proper Burial

Quote

Amazon.com

Jesse WildShoe died last night and today was the funeral and usually there’s a wake but none of us had the patience or energy to mourn for days so we buried Jesse right away and dug the hole deep because Jesse could fancydance like God had touched his feet. Anyhow we dug the hole all day and since the ground was still a little frozen we kept doing the kerosene trick and melting the ice and frost and when we threw a match into the bottom of the grave it looked like I suppose hell must look and it was scary. There we were ten little Indians making a hell on earth for a fancydancer who already had enough of that shit and probably wouldn’t want to have any more of it and I kept wondering if maybe we should just take his body high up in the mountains and bury him in the snow that never goes away. Maybe we just sort of freeze him so he doesn’t have to feel anything anymore and especially not some crazy ideas of heaven or hell.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Beauty, Ants and Laughter

Quote

Amazon.com

There is something beautiful about broken glass and the tiny visions it creates. For instance, the glass from that shattered beer bottle told me there was a twenty-dollar bill hidden in the center of an ant pile. I buried my arms elbow-deep in the ants but all I found was a note that said Some people will believe in anything. And I laughed.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Just Add a Sweater

Quote

Amazon.com

The chair in which Jim Chee sat was covered with a stiff green plastic. He felt the chill of it through his uniform shirt. The house was the “summer hogan” of the Kinlicheenies. There was no heating stove in it. In a while, when the high country frost arrived full force, the family would shift its belongings into the old earth-and-stone “winter hogan” and abandon this poorly insulated structure to the cold. Until then, the problem of the chilly margin between the seasons was solved by wearing more layers of clothing. Fannie Kinlicheenie looked about eight layers deep. Chee wished he had worn his jacket in from the patrol car.

People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries Book 4) by Tony Hillerman

ReBlog: A #NoDAPL Map

Quote

This blog post about the importance of maps and the Standing Rock protests is worth a read.

When I decided to become a cartographer, I didn’t just want to make pretty and useful maps. I became a cartographer to make maps that change the world for the better. Right now, no situation …

Source: A #NoDAPL Map

Definition of a Witch

Amazon.com

The word witch has many meanings in the United States, some good and some bad. The historic usage as a slur for people who practice earth-based religions or anyone practicing herbal medicine or midwifery, has resulted in unfortunate misunderstandings and excuses for senseless violence. For more information about the Pagan community and it’s use of the term ‘Witch’ see: Witches’ Vox, Starhawk, and History of Witch Burnings.

The following quote describes a very specific cultural perspective based on a definition that falls under the ‘bad witch’ category. It is not a reference to modern Paganism or the US history of witch burnings. It’s also a quote from a novel – only members of the Navajo nation could say, definitely, how accurate this information really is.

I went back and forth on these quotes and ultimately decided to post them because they are a wonderful example of the style used by this author and an excellent segment of descriptive color in a work of fiction. Also, I do not see anything racially or culturally offensive in the quote.

If there are problems in the presentation of the Navajo culture or additional issues surrounding the use of the word witch, then they are valid concerns and worthy of further discussion. If I am blind to a problem, I invite you to open my eyes. Feel free to add comments accordingly.

Quotes:

“And finally Chee had accumulated a general impression of Windy Tsossie. It was a negative impression. His kinsmen and his clansmen, when they admitted remembering him at all, remembered him without fondness or respect. They talked of him reluctantly, vaguely, uneasily. No one put it in words. Since Chee was Navajo, no one needed to. Windy Tsossie did not “go in beauty.” Windy Tsossie was not a good man. He did not follow those rules which Changing Woman had given the People. In a word, Windy Tsossie was believed by his kinsmen to be a witch.”

“To become a witch, to cross over from Navajo to Navajo Wolf, you have to break at least one of the most serious taboos. You have to commit incest, or you have to kill a close relative. But there’s another story, very old, pretty much lost, which explains how First Man became a witch. Because he was first, he didn’t have relatives to destroy. So he figured out a magic way to violate the strongest taboo of all. He destroyed himself and recreated himself, and that’s the way he got the powers of evil.”

People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries Book 4) by Tony Hillerman

Definition and Purpose of Marriage

Quote

Amazon.com

The following quotes all occur within a few pages (or paragraphs) of each other.

Quote 1:

The territorial, state, and federal governments of the United States were built upon a particular vision of civic responsibility—that men, as heads of households, entered civic life on behalf of their dependents: wives, children, servants, and slaves. The political system of the United States was predicated upon this vision, overwhelmingly reserving suffrage, jury service, elected office, membership before the bar, and judicial appointments to white male heads of household and limiting the legal rights of all others by their degree of separation from that ideal.

Quote 2:

These ideas clashed forcibly with the conceptions of kinship and social order that existed among the Upper Midwest’s long-established Dakota, Ojibwe, and mixed-heritage communities.

Quote 3:

Marriages of all kinds, and the households that marriages created, were inextricably bound up with questions of nation and identity for the Dakota, the Ojibwe, mixed-heritage individuals, and Americans alike.

Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country by Catherine J. Denial

Article about this book: There’s never been ‘traditional marriage’ in Minnesota, says author Catherine Denial, Minn Post, Amy Goetzman | 09/27/13