Saturday, July 12, 2014

531: American Indian Philosophy again...

Frank Gouldsmith Speck (1881-1950), the American anthropologist I mentioned in the previous lecture,  found his work was in part a "salvage operation" to try to capture ethnological material about the American Indians.

This is a difficult operation because there are no written sources from the Indians themselves. All is based on oral tradition.

Then In the first place, there is no one thing that can be called the American Indian belief system. The aboriginal peoples of the North American continent lived in environments quite different from one another and culturally adapted to these environments in quite different ways. 

For each tribe there were a cycle of myths and a set of ceremonies, and from these materials one might abstract for each a particular view of nature.

Secondly it may be easier for us to reconstruct the material life of American indians than the cognitive culture of the American Indians prior to their contacts with Europeans.

The American Indian’s philosophy is embedded in an oral tradition, which makes it quite vulnerable to changes through time.

Yet attempts have been made. In 2004 for instance Anne Waters (ed.) published “American Thought: Philosophical Essays.

As Anne Waters notes, her volume is the first published collection of essays on American Indian philosophy written by American Indians with PhDs in philosophy. As such, it is a landmark, a significant juncture in the continual evolution of Native intellectual life.

On the other hand we have the accounts of the North American "savages" by sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century Europeans.

They are, however, invariably distorted by ethnocentrism, which today appears so hopelessly benighted as to be more entertaining than illuminating. 

Because the Indians were no christians they had to be true servants of the devil and the spirits they talked about could come from no other place, according to Jesuit observers.

Yet the reconstruction doesn’t need to be a hopeless enterprise. The oral tradition and conceptual heritage still exists.

Among the best of these nostalgic memoirs is John G. Neihardt's classic, Black Elk Speaks, one of the most important and authentic sources available for the reconstruction of an American Indian attitude toward nature.

“… in the 1930s as the nation was roaring into a new form of industrialism a Nebraska poet named Neihardt traveled northward to the reservation of the Oglala Sioux in search of materials for his classic epic work on the history of the West. 

That their conversations and companionship should produce a religious classic, perhaps the only religious classic of this century, is a testimony indeed to the continuing strength of our species.

“Black Elk Speaks” was originally published in 1932, when people still believed that progress and the assembly line were identical 

and that the Depression was but a temporary interlude in an inevitable march toward the millennium.”, as Vine Deloria Jr. writes in the Foreword of the PDF on the Net.

Vine Victor Deloria, Jr. (March 26, 1933 – November 13, 2005) was an American Indian author, theologian, historian, and activist.

"When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, 'Ours.'"'  

For those of you who are interested in “Black Elk Speaks”, you can find the book at
It is really worth reading…nice homework….

The Discussion

[13:14] herman Bergson: Next lecture I'll present to you is about the contrasting world views of Indians and Europeans....Thank you
[13:14] herman Bergson: .
[13:14] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:15] Chantal: Thank you Herman
[13:15] Gemma Allen: it is a sad situation what has happened to nations here
[13:15] herman Bergson: yes.....
[13:15] Gemma Allen: we took their land which they traveled to live
[13:15] Chantal: cultures you mean Gemma?
[13:15] Gemma Allen: and left little to them
[13:15] Gemma Allen: both
[13:15] herman Bergson: Most painful is how whole cultures aere just wiped out
[13:16] Gemma Allen: their cuture tried to survive even now
[13:16] Gemma Allen: tries
[13:16] Gemma Allen: but is not easy
[13:16] Bejiita Imako: hmm hope it does
[13:16] Gemma Allen: either on the so called reservations we created for them
[13:16] Areyn Laurasia: smallpox wiped out a bit portion of the population..
[13:16] Kip Roffo: The tribes are trying to recruit members of ever-diminishing blood lines ...
[13:16] Gemma Allen: or off these reservations
[13:16] Areyn Laurasia: *big
[13:16] Chantal: really Kip
[13:17] Kip Roffo: Even my mostly Dutch and Irish blood ... is 1/16th Cherokee ...
[13:17] Gemma Allen: well i dont fault that disease problems were not known to either
[13:17] Kip Roffo: enough to qualify for tribal benefits!
[13:17] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:17] Gemma Allen: benefits
[13:17] Kip Roffo: Tho I'd feel like pretender ...
[13:17] Paolo Rousselot: me smiles w/ Kip
[13:17] Chantal:
[13:17] Gemma Allen: and when a group that can trace itself back tries to get recognition is very difficult
[13:17] herman Bergson: It isn’t the most beautiful part of history....:-(
[13:18] Gemma Allen: no is not
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: indeed not
[13:18] herman Bergson: and the main concept.....being part of nature was completely lost on the incoming europeans....
[13:18] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:18] Gemma Allen: oh
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: i guess these wars between natives and immigrants is what we call the wild west
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: that period
[13:18] Areyn Laurasia: do you speak cherokee?
[13:18] herman Bergson: ANd today with all kinds of environmental problems we begin to realize something
[13:18] Chantal: but look at it from a wider view... isn't this just evolution? thinks Neanderthals...
[13:18] Guestboook van tipjar stand: ZANICIA Chau donated L$100. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:18] Gemma Allen: not really the wild west was really among the white men
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:19] Paolo Rousselot: no Chantal - afraid not
[13:19] Gemma Allen: who went looking for gold
[13:19] Gemma Allen: no these were not neanderthals or anything like it
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: when i think of it i mostly think about saloon fights gambling and duels
[13:19] herman Bergson: The indians didn’t care at all about gold
[13:19] Zanicia: no, Paolo?
[13:19] Chantal: I didn't mean that Gemma
[13:19] Gemma Allen: ah ok
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: i ve read too much lucky Luke i guess
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:20] Chantal: and Neanderthal was intelligent
[13:20] Kip Roffo: Now it's cool to have indian blood ... my earlier family used to think it akin to beastiality and a shameful secret
[13:20] Areyn Laurasia: smiles at Chantal :)
[13:20] Daruma Hermine Boa: rofl bejita
[13:20] Gemma Allen: the south american indians were great nations
[13:20] Gemma Allen: inca
[13:20] Paolo Rousselot: no - not when it was an orchestrated effort at the extinction of an entire race - that hopefully can *never* be called "evolution"
[13:20] Zanicia: good point
[13:20] Chantal: I didn't know that Paolo...
[13:21] Paolo Rousselot: :-(
[13:21] herman Bergson: No this is not a matter of evolution, I would say....
[13:21] Gemma Allen: i am not sure that was a goal
[13:21] Gemma Allen: but it happened
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:21] Paolo Rousselot: I was privileged and honored to know Tatonka Ska, Fourht Kepper of Sitting Bull's Pipe
[13:21] Kip Roffo: *social* evolution? (what a horrible misuse of the word 'social')
[13:21] herman Bergson: While evolution has no goal the Europeans who came to America had.....MONEY
[13:21] Paolo Rousselot: *Fourth
[13:22] Kip Roffo: Paolo -- that is a special honor!
[13:22] Paolo Rousselot: Yes Kip
[13:22] Gemma Allen: and Europe's desire to convert all to christianity too
[13:22] Paolo Rousselot: he was a good friend and wonderful, gentle soul
[13:22] Gemma Allen: ah nice
[13:22] Chantal: :( Gemma horror from Europe
[13:22] Gemma Allen: thre are some nice Native american sites in sl
[13:22] Kip Roffo: So much wisdom is still kept and cherished and passed on ...
[13:22] herman Bergson: That pipe is described in "Black Elk Speaks"......
[13:23] Gemma Allen: where you can visit and learn
[13:23] herman Bergson: what it meant
[13:23] Paolo Rousselot: now even his Pipe, one of the few remaining, has nealry been lost to the wasichu - the white man
[13:23] Daruma Hermine Boa: °°
[13:23] herman Bergson: I guess they want it in a museum Paolo?
[13:23] Paolo Rousselot: and so it is with the Lakota culture
[13:24] Paolo Rousselot: no - his wasichu son has it
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: aaa ok
[13:24] Gemma Allen: the story telling culture is alive here too i think still
[13:24] Paolo Rousselot: and doesn't realize or honor it's tradition and value
[13:24] herman Bergson: that is a sad thing.....
[13:24] Chantal: :(
[13:24] Zanicia: what a shame
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: aaaw yes
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: sitting bull is a legend
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: very well known
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: remember the young man in Dances with Wolves?
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: aaa
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: the one who found the diary in the river?
[13:25] herman Bergson: Read Black Elk about the pipe...he begins his story with describing its meaning
[13:25] Kip Roffo: Yes -- and gave it as a gift at the end ...
[13:25] .: Beertje :.: i already downloaded the book
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: me too
[13:25] Paolo Rousselot: Smiles a Lot was his name in the film
[13:25] Kip Roffo: Yes -- do you know him?
[13:25] Zanicia: lovely film...very moving
[13:26] Paolo Rousselot: the Pipe was intended for him - he now has a drug & alcohol treatment center in LA
[13:26] herman Bergson: Never saw the movie.....
[13:26] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: aaa ok
[13:26] Zanicia: please do
[13:26] Kip Roffo: That's an interesting story, Paolo -- do you stay in touch?
[13:26] Gemma Allen: did not know that
[13:26] .: Beertje :.: ah you missed a wonderful movie herman
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: long since i did but have seen it
[13:26] Gemma Allen: you can find it
[13:27] Paolo Rousselot: no - once "Jim" passed much of the family tradition went with him
[13:27] Zanicia: Not like that ghastly Rashomon!!!!
[13:27] Paolo Rousselot: :-(
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: aaw
[13:28] Zanicia: Chalk & cheese, Herman. You see 'Dances with Wolves'!
[13:28] herman Bergson: Nice to have such knowledge here present
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: inded
[13:28] Bejiita Imako:
[13:28] Paolo Rousselot: but yes Herman, it is precisely their view of the natural world that we need now
[13:28] herman Bergson whispers: I will ZANICIA
[13:28] Gemma Allen: is a good one
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Paolo.....
[13:28] .: Beertje :.: true Paolo
[13:28] Kip Roffo: It's our (my) nation's original 'sin' ... that and slavery. Some things can never be undone ...
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:28] Gemma Allen: I have two native american friends in sl
[13:28] herman Bergson: When you contrast both world views......that really is something....
[13:29] Gemma Allen: on in chicago
[13:29] Paolo Rousselot: but we *can* apologize Kip
[13:29] Gemma Allen: one in western Washington
[13:29] herman Bergson: "ours" and "theirs"
[13:29] Zanicia: Kip and Paolo have made all this come alive!
[13:29] herman Bergson: Hello Qwark :-)
[13:29] Kip Roffo: Yes. Bill Clinton apologized ..
[13:29] Qwark Allen: Hey! hey
[13:29] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°•   Helloooooo!  •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜  
[13:29] Qwark Allen: :-)))
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: Qwarkieee
[13:29] Bejiita Imako:
[13:29] Daruma Hermine Boa: hey q
[13:29] Paolo Rousselot: Hi Qwark
[13:29] Kip Roffo: It may have helped some
[13:29] Zanicia: Hi there Q
[13:29] Gemma Allen: a bit late
[13:29] .: Beertje :.: hello Qwark
[13:29] Qwark Allen: omg nice to see you all
[13:29] Daruma Hermine Boa: lol
[13:29] herman Bergson: But the damage is already done.....:-(
[13:30] Daruma Hermine Boa: only a bit....
[13:30] Qwark Allen: taking the job of rodney!
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: unfortunately yes, since a long time
[13:30] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:30] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:30] Gemma Allen: OMG!!!
[13:30] Gemma Allen: omg
[13:30] Daruma Hermine Boa: rofl
[13:30] Gemma Allen: no
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:30] Gemma Allen: have not seen rodney in months
[13:30] Kip Roffo: Remorse only counts if it's backed up with changes of heart. I'm not so sure we wouldn't find some way of doing it all over again ...
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hmm indeed not me either
[13:30] Gemma Allen: used to pop in once in a while
[13:31] Paolo Rousselot: when I first met these wonderful people I simply *had* to apologize
[13:31] Paolo Rousselot: not that I or my ancestors played a role - they didn't
[13:31] Zanicia: aw
[13:31] Chantal: Loves you for that Paolo
[13:31] Paolo Rousselot: but I am wasichu
[13:31] Chantal: :0 yes
[13:31] Paolo Rousselot: and for that I still carry part of the responsibility
[13:32] Areyn Laurasia: a wasichu who values them
[13:32] Kip Roffo: Well, my 1/16th Cherokee blood tries to forgive the other 15/16ths :o>
[13:32] Paolo Rousselot: :-)
[13:32] Zanicia: Are we all? Is that the name from all Am Indians?
[13:32] Paolo Rousselot: very much Areyn
[13:32] herman Bergson: must be a weird feeling....when you look at history and all what has happend and then face the people themselves
[13:32] Gemma Allen: only one of many tribes
[13:32] Paolo Rousselot: :-)
[13:32] Gemma Allen: is not a good one for sure
[13:33] Gemma Allen: but i go to powwows sometimes
[13:33] Paolo Rousselot: but isn't that the template we need to be thinking of now?
[13:33] Gemma Allen: festivals held by tribes
[13:33] Paolo Rousselot: with all the peoples of the world?
[13:33] herman Bergson: With respect to nature eventually the American Indians were right and the wasichu were wrong.....
[13:33] Gemma Allen: dances and costumes
[13:33] Gemma Allen: BEAUTIFUL!!
[13:33] Paolo Rousselot: yes Herman
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: sh sounds nice Gemma
[13:34] Bejiita Imako:
[13:34] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:34] herman Bergson: and when we can get those dollar signs out of our eyes maybe all will see it
[13:34] Chantal: but isn't that just the american dream the nightmare of the rest of the world :)
[13:35] Paolo Rousselot: afraid so Chantal
[13:35] Paolo Rousselot: or all the oligarchs more likely
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes it is no longer the privilege of Americans anymore at present
[13:36] Chantal: so true
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:36] herman Bergson: Well be for we become all too gloomy and pessimistic ...:-))
[13:36] Paolo Rousselot smiles
[13:36] herman Bergson: Let me than you all for your participation.....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: there is more in the world then money
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: a lot more
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: but some don’t realize that it seems
[13:37] herman Bergson: Next lecture we'll learn what the Indians can teach us still.....
[13:37] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: aaa that can be something
[13:37] Bejiita Imako:
[[13:37] .: Beertje :.: that will be a lot i presume:)
[13:37] Gemma Allen: :-0
[13:37] Gemma Allen: :-)
[13:37] Kip Roffo: Thank you for a interesting session. Herman!
[13:37] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:37] Zanicia: Thank you Herman
[13:37] herman Bergson: My pleasure Kip......
[13:37] Chantal: Likes to thank all natives around the globe, and in this case especially the indians for appreciating and taking care of our planet! (positive enough? )
[13:38] Paolo Rousselot: good to see everyone and thanks Herman!
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again all
[13:38] Daruma Hermine Boa: yes thank u
[13:38] Bejiita Imako:
[13:38] herman Bergson: Thank you Chantal....
[13:38] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:38] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:38] Areyn Laurasia: Thanks for all the insight.
[13:38] Kip Roffo: Very sweet parting thought, Chan!
[13:38] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: bye all
[13:38] Gemma Allen: hope to make it Thursday
[13:38] Chantal: Waves

[13:38] .: Beertje :.: bye all..have a goodnight

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