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  The Written Word or Not

The Written Word or Not.

Many people have inquired as to why they can not find very much written information about Native Americans. That probably is because: 1) we place so much value in oral tradition and 2) there has been no need for the written word for thousands of years.

The best example why oral tradition takes on so much importance can be seen in the writings of the first Europeans who met and decided to profess their knowledge about the Native Americans. Let me pose this scenario: suppose you were traveling abroad and met a very likeable people but they spoke in another tongue. You were very interested in learning about them and their land. So you both tried to communicate, using sign language, jestures, and what ever you could. One day you both happened upon some very succulent looking berry bushes. You asked this person, by pointing, what was this (meaning what do you call this succulent bush). The person pointed back and said in his tongue, not the name of this bush, but that "it was not good to eat". You thought he meant that "it was not good to eat" was the name of the bush. So you wrote down that the bushes name was "it was not good to eat".

You had this same scenario played out across North America with the people, who have met Native Americans, even to this day. We pass down our oral tradition verbatim...our prayers...our songs...our ceremonies...our history...to our children. So that they will know what it has been like for generations and so should be for further generations.

We may be considered selfish because we choose to keep these teachings to ourselves. In doing so we keep them pure...uncontaminated. We have seen that most Europeans are not satisfied in keeping things pure. They seem to always think they can make a better mousetrap and maybe for them they can. Although, as far as we are concerned, we see that what we have is very good as it is. Or else why would people be searching us out to find out our "secrets" to a better spiritual life?

I guess that the written word is fine for people that need it...rely on it. We are not such people. My ancestors were shown that a long time ago, with the Treaties that were written.

So be very careful of what you read in print, who the author or source is. The information may not be pure or written in a good way.

One of the teachings that I will always remember, was from an elder that was passing on some old stories...he interrupted the beginning of the first story...leaned over to me and said..."these stories are for the people...not for you to make money with or change in any way"...he mentioned this because one of our people abused his trust...we are there to help all people that ask our help, not use them to further ourselves in any way.