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Study Notes on Social Welfare (PDF)
April 9, 87.
Study notes on Social Welfare. I.
Note I. On Sensuality of Human Relations.
Ref: Gil/Gil Toward Social and Economic Justice (Conference M. 23-25, ’84. Brandeis U.) Schenkman Pub.Co. 1985. HN65 T683.
R.H. Tawney Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Hazell, Watson & Viney, 1926
Karl Polanyi The Great Transformation, Beacon, 1944.
Morris Bermann The Reenchantment of the World, Cornell U press, 1982.
Golo Mann The History of Germany Since 1789, Penguin, 1974 (1968)
That contradictions move the history
“The forced Choice: Making Change vs. Helping People” by Ann Withorn (in Gil/Gil p 3) talks of the history of social welfare in the U.S. The history is a series of struggles among “humanitarians”, “social reformers”, and “bureaucrats”. The struggle shaped what Social Welfare is. As such the “social welfare” is a bundle of contradictions. But one could ask what ever moved in the history without contradictions. Only the lifeless and immobile can be in a perfectly unified harmony and static equilibrium. Motion needs non-equilibrium, which is contradiction in a political language.
Social welfare, in the form we have today, started under Bismarck in the 1880’s (Golo Mann p 375) [The reason for Bismarck to initiate the “Social Insurance” is said to be an election gimick to appease workers and lure them out of the camp of the Social Democrat Party.] And the history of Germany is a bundle of contradictions, in which the history of Socialism is a part. Marx was there with Bismark. And the emergence of Nazi—National Socialist Party—under Hitler was not unrelated to the history of Social Welfare there.
Before that time, European peasants and workers had “communal” mutual-help networks. It was destroyed as a part of “the ancient regime” in the bourgeoise revolution. The term “Fraternity” in the three word slogan of French Revolution disappeared from the Declaration of Human Right 1792. The revolutionaries kept only “Liberty” and “Equality”, and only in individualistic senses.
The Socialism, of both “Utopian” and “Scientific” inclinations, was a response of the dying “community” to the Bourgeoise Modernization which breeded both “Socialization” and “Individualization”. And the modern “Nation-State” emerged with centralized ruling power, atop huge bureaucracy, military, industry, nationwide monetary system, and mass-education. If we count those huge organizations in the side of the “Socialization” process, then the “Individualization” is a retreat of people into small “fox holes” for each under the heavy bombardments by the Socialization Process. This is another contradiction that moved the modern history.
2. Social Welfare as a ruin of communal life
Social Welfare try to regain some aspects of the “commune” of the “ancient regime”. In the “good old days” of the “primitive commune life, people took care of neighbours in troubles. They looked after children in communal co-operation. Foods were shared in many occasions. Enjoyments in life were by and large in the form of communal celebration. Even disputes between man and wife were often “appealed” to the community and settled on street.
We do still use the public forum for marriage ceremony and funeral rite. But we lost the sense of “community” even in them. We think of them as “Private” matter, despite their public display. Whether or not we believe in humanism, liberalism, socialism, or capitalism in our intellectual life, our “feeling” is deeply “individualistic”. That is to say, we lost our roots to the “community”.
People, not too long ago, used to do things for each other on the basis of “human relationship”. Their relationship was “Sensual”. Today, we have replaced it by Money or Power. Although “Humanitarian” sentiments emerged with the Bourgeoise Revolution, with the “rationalism”, and “materialism”, — note that the “humanism” as we know is a new phenomenon in the Modern Age—, it stayed outside the “distance” considered to be “Sensual”. We literally lost “Human Touch”. Even the articles in Gil’s volume keep the cold bourgeoise “distance” from Human Sensuality. Except Pamela Colorado’s article, none of the authors collected in the volume come close enough to talk about the need of “Human touch” in Social Welfare. [see E.T. Hall The Hidden Dimension, for the “distance”]
Human beings are “sensual”. And the very basis of our relationships of any kind is sensuality of ours. Yet, in our social interactions, we do not consider it “rational”, nor “decent” to admit that, in other than “private” contexts. We use the Power of Command, or Exchange of Money for the social transactions.
Even the essay from Feminist point of view (Feminist Thought Structure; by Ruth A. Brandwein) does not touch the “Sensuality” of humans. Nor the article titled “Humans, Nations, and Nature” (by Elise Boulding) touches on what is it that makes “Human Relations”; i.e. Sensuality. Of course, in an academic conference in North America today it is hardly expected any way. [I do sense that Elise Boulding would gladly discuss Sensuality in informal small group discussion. She could even be passionate about it. But in formal academic conferences, it is not “respectable” nor “intellectual” enough to talk about Sensuality.]
But, the existence of a taboo does tell us about the “cultural” context in which thinking and practices in Social Welfare are carried.
3. Sensuality as Hypothesis.
I imagine that good academics would challenge me to demonstrate that the Sensuality is fundamental to human relations. I shall have to attempt that elsewhere. In the meantimes, I mention Reich’s theory of Sensuality (metaphysics of “Orgon”) explained by Morris Bermann in The Reenchantment of the World. [Cornell U. Press 1982] Bermann’s exposition is highly recommended for its reference to the historical dynamics in which “return to sensuality” has become significant and urgent. Also, there are literatures on this subject from Freudian Psychoanalysis — Freud, Fromm, Marcuse, Foucault, et al.
But, once recognized as a “hypothesis” (metaphysics) or even as a “suspicion”, the consideration of Sensuality would have changed the “perspective” and hence the course of the whole discussion. Both issues of “Making Change” (of socio-political-economic-cultural structure) and “Helping People” can be seen as problems of how much Sensuality our society is able to handle and in what forms (ritual formats). We are asked of our competence to handle our need of Sensual touches, in what extent, in what contexts.
Abstract notions like “Social and Economic Justice” are not only more obscure than sensuality but also a means to “rationalization”, i.e. concealment of, the fundamental issue/problem.
Also, I equated “forms” and “ritual formats”. That is, for itself, a deviation from the “rationalistic” rhetoric of the article by Withorn and others. I imagine that many of Social Welfare Experts, Professionals and Researchers are familiar with Social Psychology, Psychoanalysis etc., if not theoreticians in those fields. Many of them read Freud, Marcuse, Foucault, et al., or they themselves have written texts on Sex, Sexuality, Sensuality, etc. Yet, there is no sign in Withorn’s lecture that their knowledge on Human Sensuality is their “working knowledge”.
To be sure, display of knowledge is not the purpose of the conference. Rather, they were discussing serious problems in the field of Social Welfare Works (Ideology, Philosophy, Theory, Strategies, etc.). Hence, the question is; What help considerations of Sensuality would have brought in the discussions?
I shall have to answer that question.
That means no less than a total reconstruction of social theories on the basis of Sensuality—describing political-economical systems and their dynamics in references to Sensuality—. It would be re-animation or reenchantment of political economy. It also has to touch upon phenomena such as Alienation and to articulate on what “Culture” is. [For I am insinuating that “Cultures” are ways of accommodating and controlling Sensuality.]
[An immediate suggestion following from consideration of Sensuality is a strategy of shifting the “agency centered-ness” to “community centered-ness”. That implies a shift to “cultural approach”, from the German style political, economic approach. This require discussions.]
That is my “home work”. In what follows below, I shall give a sketch of a study program.
4. Economy viewed from the need of sensual relations.
Sensuality manifests in various forms. And many of its “symptoms” are disguised and distorted. We also see “pathological” cases, due to lack thereof.
But let us start with a common sense meaning. In our street language, we say “Human Touch” etc., referring to the Sensuality.
In shopping markets, people expect a “smile” from the sales person to whom they come in contact with. They come to a close distance to the sales person. They may exchange a few words incidental to the business transaction. The “human touch” is not considered to be a “necessary” requirement for the transaction, but it is there. And in terms of the business, manipulation of such an “irrational” factor is, in fact very important for the commercial success. The “smile” may well be “professional” and a deception, but nonetheless employed for the effect (affect).
Psychotherapists noted that people in stress or under depression go to shopping as a self-therapy. People seek “human touch”, though their motive may be concealed and the form (ritual) is a disguise. Some of us go to bars and pay for a drink, but the business transaction in fact buy the context in which we can talk with bartender or the other customers there. The drink is rather incidental to our main purpose.
[Question: What significance Sensuality has in Alcoholism? Any Therapeutic significance?]
5. Ambivalence in Sensuality.
That people seek Sensual Relations and at the same time hide the need of Sensual Relation is an important aspect of the Sensuality for itself.
What E.T. Hall talked about in terms of “Space that people keep around them” [in The Hidden Dimension] is one example of “Sensuality Management”. Hall did not explicitly mention Sensuality, but the “Touch” implied in interpersonal space is a neutral way of describing Sensuality allowed within the “ethical standard” in our science-scholarship as a sub-culture.
There is something that make people “Fear”, “Anxious”, while they are drawn to it. They would give all sorts of excuses to disguise their need of Sensual Relations, particularly between and among “macho” men. One can suspect that physical fights and even combats in wars are “disguises” and excuses for them to “touch” each other.
[In this respect, the modern warfares, particularly Nuclear War, are unsatisfactory. They can be fought in “rationalized abstraction”. “Intellectualizations” which represses “physical” aspects of human life leads to such an atrocity. This is an important issue to discuss.]
6. The Capitalism and Sensuality.
The Capitalist system, on one hand, inhibit our Sensual Relations—the “alienated work” is not sensual—. On the other hand, it exploits our need of Sensual Relations in the market. [see Freud. If we read Polany, Tawney, et al, with awareness of Sensuality, we can see that they have touched upon the problems. Max Weber (The Rise of Capitalism and the Spirit of Protestant Ethics) avoided Sensuality. Weber was, perhaps, privately aware of Sensual nature of religions, but refrained saying anything about it. Talk on Sensuality was a taboo.]
The Capitalists may not buy and sell commodities for their Sensual Needs. [As to the Sensual meaning of their sense of “Power”, we shall come to discuss later.] But, outside goods for our physiological survival, we as consumers, buy things for our “psychological” needs, by and large. Of course, the distinction between what are “physical” and what are “psychological” is not clear to us—for we like to disguise, and the commercial interests like us to be as unclear as possible. But, asides academic arguments, such as “psychology” is nothing other than “physiology”, the distinction can be made practical enough for our considerations.
From that, in the sense of Gedanken Experiment, we can imagine to be natives standing at a shore buying beads and trinkets from the European traders. We do not really need the beads and trinkets. We came there by our “curiosity” more than anything else. And the “curiosity” is one of manifestation of our Sensuality. We might make analogy of it to “a girl looking at a boy” and vice versa. The “Trade” is an act of intimacy disguised. We have started “Trade” as “Exchanges of Gifts” which are expressions of affections.
Here, I point out a political ideology of the Classical Economics which talks of “Trade” in terms of “Scarcity”. That is patently false. Trade start with “Surplus”, not from “Scarcity”. In this, even Marx was in the Classical Economics. The ghost of Scarcity came in there because the intellectualization required the “logic of necessity” to go with the “logical necessity” of their stories (theory). In the Age of Rationality, or more precisely in a desire to emulate Newtonian Mechanics, the scholars-scientists-intellectuals, wanted Determinism. And the Determinism was a mirror image of their desire to make “Compelling arguments”. Marx could not escape from this.
[Here comes an entanglement of Sensuality and Power sensation. But I shall have to discuss this later.]
Today, we are not trading like the natives on the shore did. We have introduced a technology called “Money”. Money insulate our Sensuality and brings us to the side of Power relations. Otherwise, we would have difficulties in trading with total strangers, and sometimes even those whom we consider enemies. [Americans can sell wheat to Russians, because of the technology of Money. But on the other hand, the trade may very well be an expression of a repressed “affinity” between two group of people. At least it keep one channel of communication open amidst the intense hostility.]
7. Why cannot admit our Sensuality? Question of Power.
If our “economy” is mainly for Sensual Relations, then why we are having troubles like “unemployment”, “poverty” which required Social Welfare?
Why cannot we just “share” things for the satisfaction of our Sensual needs?
The point is that we do not admit that we are seeking for Sensual Relations. If we did, our Economic System would collapse. We are dependent on the system—welfare profession and welfare researchers would be unemployed, if the system that creates the problems is desolved—. I would not have had an intellectual satisfaction in writing this, if the problem does not exist. [If I wish to be “immortal” in making a theory of Sensual Economy, the problem have to last forever!]
This brings us to the problem of Power.
Power is a substitute for Sensual satisfaction. And it is “safer” in that Power is one-way”, whereas Sensual Relation is “two-way” (mutual) or worse “loss of control”. Relations brings “entanglements”, which we “individualists” do not wish to have. Business transactions are simpler and we feel confident in them to keep a sense of control. But even in businesses, we cannot shut our sensuality off completely, and hence we go into Power channel (“Power Trip”).
So if we wish satisfaction our own without others, we choose Power. Henry Kissinger once remarked that Power is the best Aphrodisiac. And , the Power structures allow us to be “affectionate” with each other without “shame”. We call it “Loyalty”, “Togetherness”, “Team Work”, “Patriotism”, “Fellowship”, “Class Consciousness”, etc.
The way the US marines stick together and care for each other is far more close and emotionally “intense” than that between homosexual men. But, US marines would be very much offended if someone suggest them the “Sensuality” of their relations. Our loyalty to “Profession” is also one example of those. We have internal “Love-Hate”relationship among us, but looked from outsiders we are very “close” in covering for each other. It is well known that people have a great difficulty obtaining a medical doctor to take a stand against another doctor, and it is the same about lawyers, policemen, etc.
If there is not for the Power Structure—which function as “exclusive clubs” for limited membership for each—we would have troubles satisfying our Sensual needs. To be sure, the Power Structures come with Rituals which limit and control the forms and the extent of Sensualness allowed. Orgy parties like wars are allowed in disguises to deny Sensuality. As the white collar workers themselves allude often, business offices of corporations are like “Harems” consisting of intellectual “Prostitutes” . Expressions like “kissing ass” are in part expressions of revulsion, but they are in part accurate descriptions of the Sensuality. The power provides for the excuses and disguises. And in turn, the Power positions satisfy their perverted Sensuality.
8. Sensual Utopia, The “Primitive Commune”.
Let us try another gedanken experiment. Suppose we devised some way of accommodating the human need for Sensual Relations without the disguises. Then, we would not need much of Economic Inequality. We would not need too much concentration of Political Power. Social Welfare would lose much of its case loads, though human relations are complex enough to leave enough problems.
We can concentrate on the tasks of constructing and maintaining “communes”. We would have networks of “soul mates” to replace institutions like churches, universities, professional associations, etc.
Of course, this is an Utopia. Marx would ask us how in a hell we get there without Power Struggles. Sensuality is good and dandy—Marx did not deny it, but being merely contemptious of it—but how anyone can “manage” it? How is it “controlled” and “distributed? It does not involve “money”, but just the same, it does take time and place, energy expenditure, physcial facilities and above all some “mental” engagements.
Or one might worry, if an open acknowledgement of our Sensuality might break the flood gate checking homosexual orgy in social scales. The result might be worse than wars—save all-out Nuclear war. What are we going to do about AIDS? Who is going to do “production works” Material needs may be less and consequently environmental damage may be less, but what would limit the “hedonistic orgy”? Can human body take all that “pleasures”, without going into insanity?
I do not know answers to those questions. Except for the “primitive” small communities that anthropologists wrote about, I do not know of practices of “Sensual Society”. In Freudian sense “Society” and “Sensuality” are polar opposites, and cannot be put in the same quotation marks.
H. Marcuse (Eros and Civilization), E. Fromm (The Art of Loving), M. Foucault (The History of Sexuality), Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex) et al. have been talking about these problems.
9. Religions as Controllers of Sensuality
[home work. Jesus and Mary Magdalenas (p.). Kazanzakis Last Temptation of Jesus Christ.]
10. Sensuality in Physical Sciences.
It is, perhaps, a common notion that Physical Sciences are “cut and dry”, having no trace of human feelings, except “pride” and “righteousness”. In such images, “science” is the furthest, among all human engagements, from Sensuality.
people may have read about in newspapers that there are fights among scientists about a plan of constructing a big atom smasher which costs some 6 billion dollars. Some scientists argue that the money can better be spent on other areas of science which does not cost one tenth as much, etc. Then they would have seen that the issue is essentially “political” one, concerning choice among “value feelings” of various group of scientists engaged in different areas.
Today, “science” as such is impossible without a huge money. So the fight is a matter of Life and Death for the scientists involved. And the basis of the fight is their “Subjective Feeling”—firstly about their job security and secondly about the worth of what they are specialized in.
But, perhaps, that is not the public image of “Science”. The majority today might think of Einstein in association with the word “science”. Since the case of Einstein has been well advertised, its popularity is not surprising. However, the worshipers of Einstein may not realize that Einstein is “special”. Not too many scientists are like Einstein, though they might like to pretend so.
Ninety-nine percent of some half million scientists in the world earn their living, just like factory workers, by carrying on routines. Some do computational routines. Some do teaching routines. There are very little opportunity for them to be creative and original like Einstein. In fact, his school record shows that Einstein was a failure in carrying on “scientific routines”.
Nonetheless, Einstein does represent an “Ideal” of what science “should be”. I do not underestimate the importance of Ideals in social psyche. Even if they may be illusions, they do affect the way a society collectively thinks and behaves. The “affect” may be like “betrayal” and worse than if they were not there—say in the case of Jesus, or Marx. They are “Powerful”, good or bad.
Do let me talk about the ideals of “science”, disregarding the majority practices which are quite different, if not shams. And one of well praised characteristics of the Ideal Science is the “Curiosity”.
Of course, pure curiosity like that of boys about female anatomy does not qualify to be “scientific”. We do have certain prejudices, taboos, value sensations, and artificial discriminations about this. But, let us be charitable and say that “The Pure Curiosity” is the well spring of the genuine science.
Now, what about this curiosity? Is it not a part of “Emotion”? Is it not a part of our Irrationality? Why should anyone be curious about the existence of the Fifth Dimension, any more (or any less) than “If God Exist?”, or “What makes Dick ticks?” And what those seekers are doing?
If the seeker is indeed free of our ordinary greed and power thirst, then we might describe the seeker to be “trying to communicate” with the Nature, Universe, etc. And if they description is apt, the motive of the seeker is Sensual Relations with the Mother Nature, Universe, etc. The curiosity that we praise in our ideal is an attempt to have an Intimate Relation with the Nature. It is a form of Sensuality.
Of course, the alienated scientists in the profession do not attempt such a thing. They lost curiosity, if they have not “burned out” already and hardly interested in “science” other than as the means to their incomes. Anyone who examine science texts in schools and universities, would find them to be nothing more than texts for “obedience training”, not fostering “curiosity”. Teachers who encourage children to be curious know that they are handling a delicate matter with Sensuality which requires an acute sensitivity and warm understanding. There is nothing short of “Love of it” does the job. Only because they are aware of the Taboo against saying it “Sensual”, they skirt around saying so. And the regulations, rules, etc. imposed by the “Education System” restricts what they can do in the contexts of “school works”. The likelihood is that the Potential Einsteins are exterminated in the system.
[To be sure, there are practical considerations as to How Many Einstein (or Jesus) our society could possibly stand for. Probably one in a century is already more than it can take. For the case of Jesus, one per two thousand years is already too much. The question is the same as How Much Sensual Relations one can take, without blowing oneself up. One can also say this perhaps for “Spirituality”, “Truth” etc. Just because one was good, the more may not be better. We ought to think about this.]
April 11, 87. p. 12.
Study notes on Social Welfare II.
Note II. Culture Based Networking.
11. Does the awareness of Sensuality make any difference in practices?
We have not done theoretical articulation on Human Sensuality. But, if there would not be practical differences, there is no point in articulating the theory.
Most anybody knows the importance of “Human Touch” and if that is all in the “Sensuality Paradigm”, we are back to where we started. Namely, we started discussion on Social Welfare, because we are unable to provide Human Touch in sufficient scale, due to structural constraints, economic reality, prevalent political ideology, etc. Perceiving humans to be sensual does not help, unless there are practical consequences from the perception. Does the perception suggest any new strategy?
We have one suggestion for a practical strategy stated (made by Colorado) in the section 3. above [p.4]. That was “Cultural Approach”. We shall do a follow-up consideration here to test our idea. Also by discussing practical strategy, we hope to shape a “theory”. This is our way of articulating a theory (idea)—the method of thinking experiment.
In a sense, “Social welfare” was a response to an emergency situation created by the Modernization of “community to society”. The major paradigm of the Modernization was “progress” concerning with technological advances which are collectively called “Civilization”. “Culture” was a forgotten entity, misidentified with and subsumed under “Civilization”. And worse, European prejudice made it “Uniformitarian Ideology”. Modern minds could not see Cultures in other peoples than the one perceived through European Civilization/Technology.
And even if the “modern mind” sensed something “cultural” in a romantic fancy, it was thought of something extra like jewels, perfumes, silk dresses and top hats, pomps and ceremony—that which royalties, aristocrats had and did. “Culture” is perceived as a “luxury”, not essential to practical daily life. It was not a part of the “necessity”. Hence, the “modern mind” could not see peasants, workers having a “culture”, let alone the “primitive natives” in colonies. It used to be said that those poor people were “Deprived of Culture”. Until very recently, the “modern mind” could not recognize “cultures” of various peoples. We today talk even of “sub-cultures”— “drug culture”, “bourgeoise culture”, “peasant culture”. And some of us belatedly became enlightened enough to acknowledge “Native Cultures”, which is a recent phenomenon since 1980.
If “Culture” is not in the working vocabulary of Social Welfare officers and scholars, perhaps it is forgiven. Social Welfare is for “deprived people”, not for “people with culture” which implies luxury.
And for that matter, “Human Touch” etc. were also considered to be luxury. Even philanthropists could not imagine that those “poor wretched people” in deprived life could afford to have “feelings”. Feelings and Emotions were for privileged well-to-do people, such as the Queen in story books who says “We are not amused”. Suppose the “poor wretched” have said “We are not having fun in being poor”, what would have been the reaction of the philanthropists? I would imagine neither Social Welfare workers out there are having fun. We are not amused with the situation. But the feeling of displeasure of the Queen counts. Whereas the feeling of the Poor does not count.
The recipients of the Social Benefits are, by the “definition”, must be in such a deprived state that they cannot possibly have any feeling let alone “Culture”. This is an Axiom.
Besides, in our Money Transaction Ritual, we have a peculiar Myth that those who receive money shall shame themselves to be without human dignity. The ritual of Money Transaction is the evidence for “Prostitution”. During the paid hours, workers are Slaves—ones who sold their souls to the Devil. Giving Money degrades, hence, it is not a Gift but an Insult. Yet, we live by the ritual of Money Transaction. This brings further complications to our situation. Giving Money does not solve the problem.
The “Culture Based Networking” attempts to reinstate human touch in the social dynamics. That have to start by declaring “Humans are Sensual” for a “shock value”. We have to wake up our minds by the shock to see it. And, once recognized, it has to become a declaration of a Human Right. To say “Humans are Sensual” is a declaration the “Every Human being has unalienable Right to be Sensual”. And a “Culture” is the way of accommodating sensual needs of the people in a community. [I acknowledge the above sounds like “Social Engineering for sensual needs”, and hence inadequate. But hopefully the discussions following will correct some of its deficiency.]
Now, how we do the Culture Based Networking?
We cannot dictate what people “ought to feel”. We cannot “design” sensuality of people, as if we design a car or computer. To begin with “being sensual” means not only be aware of one’s own needs, but it means “to feel other’s needs”. One cannot be “sensual” without recognizing other “sensual beings”. It is essential that we go beyond the “being nice to” (charitable) sense of Human touch to the recognition of Sensual Beings, who are capable of their own thinking-feelings. It is a dignified right of their to have their sensual needs. And for that reason, we respect them as worthy companions of Sensual Relationships. By this we transcend the level of “charity”—the level that one might have in “loving pets”.
However, even the children caring for pets, they are sensual to the degree they entertain a feeling that the pets have the very same sort of feelings as they do. This is the Principle of Sensuality; that it is a mutual relationship between “sovereign beings” equally capable of the dignity comparable to the one which can say “we are amused, or not amused” and it has to matter and it does matter. If one deny this respect, the sensuality is killed. We then have a relation with “Objects”.
Another useful example for us is the way poets “feel” (perceive) the Universe. Sensuality is essential in poetry. Call it “metaphor”, “emotional projection”, etc. But without the unity shared in deep feelings, or hurts stem from injuries to that, poetry cannot exist.
[There apparently are some linguistic philosophers who deny the possible existence of “Other Minds”. I suppose from Cartesian Metaphysics, nobody but “I” has the “Mind” and others are moving “Objects”. We shall have to discuss this later.]
And Pam Colorado means a lot deeper root than what I so far discussed in terms of the Dignity and Respect. She talks of Cultures in which people find a natural right of dignity. And she even goes to the Spiritual Realm where all humans may be “soul brother and spiritual sisters”. It came from the Origin of Life in the Universe. I am not capable of addressing to such a depth, I shall have to wait for her to speak.
[She might object this term “sensual”, and insist “Spiritual”. That is too heavy for me to touch from my science background, though I can sense that the Spirituality is at the the base of what I called “sensual”.
My “scientific” objection to her “Spirituality” is that if human race has reached a level of being in which the Spirituality can meaningfully be talked about, there is no need to discuss about mundane things like Social Welfare.
In a sense , we are in a Hell, that is why we talk of sensuality.]
At any rate, Sensual Relations cannot be forced, commanded, nor demanded. It can only be Respected and admired.
Thus, dictatorship is out. We have to “let it happen”.
However, we can take two actions.
Provide better Environment.
We shall have to discuss these actions in the situation and condition we have now and here.
[ED: These notes have been transcribed from two original documents and edited for clarity.]
Haines Respiritualization Meeting, May 17, 18, 19, 1985 (PDF)
Haines Respiritualization Meeting
May 17, 18, 19, 1985
Persons attending: Donald Peter, Anchorage; Dr. Pam Colorado-Morrison, Juneau; Eber Hampton, Boston; Bella and Simon Francis, Ft. Yukon; Jonathan Solomon, Ft. Yukon; Howard Luke, Fairbanks; Paul Olin, Galena; Blake Jones, Hydaburg; Matilda Lewis, Haines; Austin Hammond, Haines; Helen Andon, Anchorage
Guests: Doug Patterson, Juneau; Tommie Jimmie Jr., Haines; Mr. and Mrs. Peter Charles Johnson Sr., Haines; Dr. James Matthews, Fairbanks
May 17, 1985
Meeting begins with prayer by Austin Hammond
Our Father we are looking up to you this morning as we gather here as a family. We need your help, what we will say and what we need, we are asking you to give it to us. The word we use for each other that we could learn from each other, so we are here together. So pour thy blessing upon us and be with us. That I ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Pam: This is our third meeting, and final meeting of the task force. We have some nice things planned for this meeting. Austin is going to see to it that we can get out to the Chilkoot camp site while we are here. It is a really nice day, so it would be good if we could try to get out there this afternoon. Blake Jones is here from Massett, B.C. and he has brought a really good tape with him. He has helped set up and run the ReDiscovery program down there. It is a survival camp and it has been going since 1978. He is here to offer his help in any way that he can for those of us who are trying to get camps going and also to share his tape with us. It is really well made. I think we have (Ha-sha-goon) here too. It is Austin Hammond’s tape. It gives us the background on what happened before this camp got set up. We probably want to spend some time talking about where everybody is with their camps, how far along we are, and what the plans are for the future. We are supposed to have a guest drop in today, Dr. Matthews who is with the University of Alaska, Cooperative Extension. He is the director of the whole thing. He has been hearing a lot about these task force meetings and a lot about the spirit camps. So he should be by sometime today. The final thing before we break up, Don and I would like to talk with everyone here about a meeting we are getting ready to go to next week regarding the future of these camps, and maybe some funding and support. That’s about it, what I have taht needs to be discussed. Do you have anything else, Don?
Don: I appreciate you all coming down here. Some of you came a long ways. I’m kinda excited, and not excited about going to Paris next week, but I think we need to set down some facts about how to deal with those people. Maybe we can do that this afternoon like Pam said. Dr. Matthews, who sits on my policy board for my office, is coming down this afternoon. We are saying this will be our last and final task force meeting, but I doubt it. I see us getting together 2-3 times a year. I think this group gives us a lot of strength and setting down our objectives and goals for the respiritualization project. I keep telling Pam that we keep getting calls all the time from people who are interested in this project. I feel that something will come out of it. I look at 1991 as a last chance for Alaska Native people. I think we need to work with our own people to set their minds on who they are so they can deal with these different issues that are coming up, to determine their destination. In 1991, we will be the same as anybody in the State, hopefully. The resolution that AFN is taking to Washington D.C. to get some amendments on the land claims act, that will open the land claim act up to everybody. Anybody that wants something to do with Alaska, the different societies, organizations, they all want to put their two cents in there. It is possible, if they open up the land claim act that it might go on for another 10-20 years, but we don’t know that. I guess you don’t know at the AFN special convention, Ft. Yukon was probably the only one that voted against all the amendments. The people had a meeting up there and they said they want to take their chances and leave it like that. They are trying to get some education to deal with those 1991 issues. To deal with the issues, we need education. A lot of our people are getting that, becoming attorneys, and entering different fields where we need them at. We also need something from down here to work on these different issues and I think that is what we are getting at with these spirit camps. A lot of things are falling into place, like Pam said. There are probably some monies available from BIA and we have some monies available too. This is a start. It will be interesting to see what happens in Paris next week when we meet with UNESCO. Maybe they will have their checkbooks open, I don’t know. Also, I was talking to Gary King, from the Kellogg Foundation. They have been pretty good to us. They have been supporting our project for the past 2-3 years, with 2-3 million dollars. He told me that if we go to Paris and it really doesn’t work out, he actually said they have an open checkbook for us. They give out about 450 million dollars a year in grants and funds to especially to projects like this. I think the last thing, like Pam said, the weather is pretty nice so maybe we can go to the Chilkoot camp. We have a couple of hours to get some of our feeling across and talk about what we need to talk about.
Matilda: At our last meeting in Ft. Yukon, we talked about a helping hand, and the times we have mentioned that you might be able to help us. I think right now our main concern is our building. Next month our cultural program starts and we still haven’t move our building. We just never seemed to get the money from somewhere to help us move it. It will be the quarters for the young people.
Don: Well, Pam and I have been talking about that and we think we will be able to come up with some things. We will work on it.
Pam: Woody was saying today he was going (we wrote a proposal for subsistence and one of the items was to cover that for sure) to add two additions to Raven———-, with luck we should know about that in a couple days. If not, then Don will see what he can do, but it has to be done fast.
Don: That was Dr. Matthews who just drove up. His wife is with him, he will bring her in and introduce her and then she is going out shopping. But he wants to sit in and see what is going on. He makes a lot of the monetary decisions for my office so he is pretty vital.
You know, the Cooperative Extension Service, for the last couple years has spent more in the State of Alaska than they have ever done in their existence. I give credit to few organizations for doing that. They work with everything in the villages from gardening to tanning to developing educational curriculum. The legislature is looking at them as a vital entity in the State and it is developing the whole State. That’s why Dr. Matthews is here, he is interested, he is not a nosy white man.
Introduction of Dr. Matthews and Barbara Matthews, and the task force members.
Don: Dr. Matthews is interested in things like this with Alaska Natives and that is the reason I asked him to come down.
Pam: I wanted this morning to look at Blake’s tape.
Blake: The equipment is still coming down. Tome went to get it. The paper I have here is about the program in B.C. on the ReDiscovery project, so we will have a copy for each of you take back with you. After we see the video, you can read up on this. It is good to have this paper, if you are going to get a copy of the video. It tells what our camp is all about.
We started this camp in 78, in Massett because we found that we were having a lot of trouble with juvenile delinquents in the court house. We started off with, every two weeks we would have six kids out with three guides. Now our camp has expanded and we have six guides, two cooks, and maybe 3 or 4 volunteers every two weeks and we have 14 kids out there. Plus we have about 3 or 4 elders fly out to our camp and spend 4 or 5 days with the kids. They talk about the old villages around where our camp is set up. They teach them basket weaving and some of the old guys would talk about the carvings and old petroglyphs that we have around the old village sites. Since we started this program, like I said, our court rate, 40% of the list was juveniles. But since we started our program our court rate went from 40% to 18%. So we dropped it to half for juvenile delinquents in our village. Besides having this summer program, we have a follow-up program in the winter in the youth center. That includes all the elders of the village teaching them button blanket making, carving, there are some wood carvers and some of the guys carve in argillite, and basketweaving. We also use the elder’s homes when we get fish and stuff, we show them how to preserve the food. The way that works is, what our kids do in the village is, half of what we can up or preserve for winter, half will stay with the ReDiscovery program and the other half will be distributed in the village to the elders that can’t go out and get the stuff themselves. We have a big list in the office of the elders and we will distribute it out. It is hard to describe the program until after we see the tape, but out at the camp it is a wilderness survival camp and cultural heritage. What we are trying to do is bring back the heritage that the elders used to have. We are getting it back slowly into our village now. We teach kids how to survive. We tell them when the tides out, your table is set. When we first talk about it, they don’t understand but after 3-4 days with us they finally get to see what we mean the tides out, your table is set, because there is so much food out there. Plus in the forest there is so much stuff that they can pick and use for food, and build shelter out of driftwood on the beach. A couple of you read this article yesterday. The camp we have has a few simple basic rules that we use. We tell the kids what you kill, you have to eat. At our camp, we tell them that if you need any building materials, don’t cut any live trees down. Go down the beach and take the driftwood up and start building your campsite out of that. Instead of cutting live trees, even cutting the branches down, we don’t cut anything up. We try to keep our camp as natural as possible. On this program, we have a 35-mile hike down the west coast. The funny thing about this hike is that, our Armed Forces people did this hike one way, 17 miles for them. They were carrying a small day pack, a canteen of water and trail mix. It took them 3 days to do that hike. When they got back into Massett they wrote up a report for the government and they said this hike is not recommended for amateurs. Since we started doing that hike, we have 4 hikes down the coast every year, on the whole thing we have never had an accident on the hike. In our camp the only thing we had was a twisted knee in the 7 years we have been operating out there. The Attorney General and Social Service agency has given us a number one rating for summer camp and for helping out with the younger people. The social services use us in the summer. If they are going to put someone in a foster home and they don’t have a home right away, they refer the to our program and the kid will come with us for two weeks. It give the social service time to find a new home for them. If they can’t find a home, they ask us if we can keep them for another session, and we say —Sure, no problem, we will keep them for another session. It is for both Native and non-Native, this camp we have. Since the Armed Forces moved in we have a lot of their kids come out. When the Armed Forces first moved to Massett, we had a lot of trouble trying to adjust to them and them trying to adjust to us. We could feel the prejudice between the Armed Forces and the Natives in the community. But now that we have this program, we go up to the Armed Forces when they get new people into the village and we talk to them about our summer camp and about the people in the village, orientate them to living in a small town, how to act around us. If we say “Hi” to them, to stop and talk or something. Before we started doing that, when we used to say “Hi” to them they would just walk away with their nose up in the air. We finally started getting mad at them and told them—We’re here, and we have been here longer than you so don’t try to pull that high and mighty stuff on us. For awhile there were a lot of fights between the Armed Forces and the Natives. But now that we started orientating them, some of the people have been coming to our camp as volunteers.
Don: I think one good point that Blake was talking about is that the spirit camps have to include everybody. You know we have to work with groups here in Alaska, it doesn’t matter if they are white, blue, green or yellow. When 1991 gets here, they will work with us. We even have a couple Outside Indians here to work with!!, or Dr. Matthews!
Paul: Ever since I went to the meeting in Ft. Yukon, I have been thinking about how can we start one over there in Galena or Ruby. Yesterday when I was getting on the plane, I heard one of my friends tried to shoot himself, and he shot his arm off. Two weeks before that I had another friend who shot himself. It is a problem, to me it is a problem. To the elderly people, it just tears the hell our of them, the suicide. I am very much interested in Blake’s tape. There has to be a way to help these troubled individuals.
Don: It is good to hear about different aspects of camps around the state and around the country. The good thing about it is we can use it for our own camps. We have to realize when 1991 comes, those kids will be 21-25 years old, leaders.
Blake: What we found in our program is that for the staff and participant ratio is 2 participants for 1 staff member. You find with that ratio that you have more personal contact with the kids. We divide them up in groups, there will be a junior guide and a senior guide with four kids. When we do it that way, by the end of the two week session, there is such an attachment between the youth and yourself as a guide. They will come to you and talk about problems they have in town. You have been out in camp, but you also know what has been going on in town. You can take them aside and talk to them. There is one part in our program. We call it the Wanagun Spot, what we do is, every morning after breakfast, we give the kids pen and paper and tell them to go out there and find a nice quiet spot and stay there for 15-20 minutes by yourself. Write down your thoughts or even make a drawing of the spot you picked. We make them do that every day and then we look at it and get some of their stuff written down and use it in newspaper articles and magazine articles. On the last day we make them do it, we give them a pen and paper and an envelope. We say—Write down your thoughts or make a drawing, seal it in the envelope and put your name and address on there, figure out where you will be two years from now. In two years we will mail you what you wrote. What we try to do is not have too many kids come back every summer. There are so many different youths on the islands, we try to get them to go one year and take one or two years off and then come back. We found that it seems to work real good. We get new kids every summer. I have seen some of our staff, senior guides, that big macho ones in camp who are looking after them all, but when it is time to leave, I have seen those big macho senior guides with tears in their eyes because the kids are leaving. They grow so attached to each other in the camp. After that, when you get back into Massett, we’re out all summer, an d the mail is stacked in the office from kids who have been in the program.
Austin: Since I came from Ft. Yukon, I have been going to that elders meetings that we have in Juneau. The time when I came back I went to the Governor’s Mansion. I think you all know that they gave me the honor for what I am doing. We had it the Governor’s Mansion and then the ANB Hall, same thing. All this what we try to do for the children, I tried to explain, not only for this camp I am working for. I work in Juneau at the school with Julie Folta. She is teaching the small children. This is what I was talking about. Something we have to think about for the children. They need to learn what we know. The paper on the wall, my grandfather’s name on it: Jim David and Joe Whiskers. They are the ones who told me stories. They talk to me about the time coming, when they call on me. Grandson, sit by me. The story we been telling you since you were 9 years old, I want you to pass it on to your children and your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, they have to know it. If you don’t tell that story with the children, when you die, everything is going to die, what we are telling you. So pass it on, so they could learn it. This is what I am doing in Juneau, when I am talking to the teachers over there in a meeting. I told them, I need your help, you are teaching my grandchildren. What I have to say. I told them how the Tlingit work together. When I was sitting there, like what Don has here (tape recorder) put it down. And I don’t have nothing. I am just talking. How they train me through my grandfathers when they teach me what to do. That’s when they tell me about the little baby, you are going to have children. You have to talk to them. I got all girls. So what they tell me, I talk to them. When you talking to the newborn baby, just leave it in your arm and talk to them, before you drink water, before you wash your mouth, just talk—You are going to be a girl, you will become a woman, a married woman, you will have children. You have to listen to whoever is talking to you. This is what they tell me, even the boys side—You will be a man when you grow up. You will learn how to work for your children. All this, what they tell me, it is inside of our heads, it is stuck like glue. When that little baby listen, it stays there, everything what we say. Anytime when you start talking, everything is going to come out in front of you, like the tape when it starts talking. That’s the way it is. That is the reason why we have to talk to our baby, newborn baby, so it will stay inside the brain, what we try to teach. So this is what they do with me. I didn’t write it down. I didn’t go to school. I am just learning from what we are doing with each other. I never used to talk English. When I am working, I am learning. It stays with me, what they tell me. This is what I am doing with the children. The way I put it out in front of the teacher. These trees we see all around us, the roots are together. Spruce, hemlock, pine tree, birch, everything. What is growing under, some berries, salmonberries, raspberries, everything that is growing has roots. All the roots stays together. Then the grass grows and the flower grows. Right now you see the trees that are coming out now, just like a newborn baby they start growing and coming out. Our grandchildren now, they are just like a flower growing under the trees. Anyplace where you look there are different colors. When I opened the camp here, they asked me—What are you going to do, just the Tlingit, you are going to teach them? I told the—No, that is for everybody. From Hoonah, they told me I am crazy. I told them maybe I am crazy. We used to be crazy ourselves. We used to fight with our white brothers. Now we adopt them, different colors. My son was married with white girl. My daughter was married with a white. Some of them are married with the Filipinos. They are all different colors. This is what the flower is. All different colors, what is growing. This is the children, they are growing as the grass and the flower. They are newborn babies, they have to learn.
When I was talking there, the teachers were listening. This is what I want my grandchildren to learn, everyone of them. Like what I mention, all these different trees; we are all in the family. The trees have a life like we are, anything that is growing has a life, even the grass. My grandfather used to tell me—This grass growing, it is nothing to you, but to us, there is something in there that will help us. Any sickness that we get we will pick it out what will help us. So you have to respect it, just like you respect the one sitting next to you. All the flowers, the trees, you have to respect. Before you drop, you have to talk to that tree. Where you are going to drop it, you have to put something there, so it won’t break. Then you talk to the tree—I have a bed for you now, to lay down on it. Just to help us out, lay down on it. We need you. When it drops, it don’t break. Some people don’t do it, they just drop it. If they drop it on a rock, it will break. They have a spirit just like we do. This is what I am teaching at the school. All the salmon, all the seal, all the animal on the mountains, they are like us. So I told them—God create us in this world. Different place where we stay, we have to work to take care of it. If we go someplace, like I went to Arizona, they have the flat country. They have all different kinds of animals to take care of. This is the reason why I really started this place, I have to tell my grandchildren all what we have on the mountain.
There is a story about mountain goats. He (a man) got stuck on the mountain. He was chasing the mountain goat. Where it went there was a little trail. He followed it. There were a thousand feet to fall and that man got stuck. He just start shaking. He said the mountain goat has to go back. The mountain goat is eating it and he picked it out and give it to that man who was stuck there. So he start eating it. The man was stuck there. To him where he got stuck, it just flattened out for him. He has to stand up and the mountain goat has to go back with him until they get in a safe place. The mountain goat walked, and he didn’t kill it. So this is the story we have to learn together with our white brothers, whoever they are. We have to respect everything, like that tree when you are going to drop it. After you kill the bear, you can’t just take the knife out and skin it there where the sand is or the mud. The spirit is always watching you. This is what they are telling me. Stand behind you from that bear. If you fix it, put the branches and roll it and put another on the other place. When you are cutting the meat, you have to put something there again. When the spirit goes back, like us sitting here if somebody comes through the door—How did they treat you. Well, they treat me nice, the way I was laying down. They put some bed under me. The way they put everything there. Then they tell it, now you hear that, you go to that man. But if we don’t take care of it, if he tells we don’t take care of it right, then they will tell it—don’t go there. This is the reason why we got lots of killing from hunting, if we don’t take care of it. So this is what I have been teaching to the children, even our village. Tell the story about where you are born, what you know about the village, let them know it. I hear brothers talking about 1991, what they are going to do. Now the ones growing, if we don’t tell the story, like what I am saying now, if the time comes, if they need it, what they going to bring it up if we don’t tell the story about our land. I got a box there, there is a Chilkoot blanket in there. It is not writing like this. The Raven show us how to put it on. That is our history that I have there. We learn it from the Raven. This is what we have to teach the children. Our land, now that blanket I was talking about. That is a Chilkoot story on it. If I bring it out, if you see it. I don’t know if you can tell me the story on it. But we know it. Because we don’t tell you the story you can’t learn it until I tell the story with you, then you know it. I got quite a few of them in there.
So it is good to talk about the camp, about where he is teaching. Now this mountain I was talking about, the mountain goat. Some man is going to come up to teach the kids how to go up on the mountain. This is what we need in Alaska. You can see how high the mountains are, with the snow. This is what I was talking about, the mountain goat. Mountain goat they call them, but they don’t stay in the mountain in the winter time. They have to come down to the shelter, under the tree. I went hunting over there. That is when I see a place where the mountain goat gets together like we are. There is a lake there. They could see the sign of the mountain goat, the way they have been sitting around the lake. They get together, they are learning what we are learning.
tape 1, side 2
Austin: Brown bear, big ears. They could hear when we are talking about them. If I say something bad about the brown bear, I am not going to go very far. They will get after me. All these things what I try to tell. They know it. They are learning more. Even the fish. A long time ago, we used to use linen driftnet. Now we use nylon, all different colors. Now if I put linen in there, I wouldn’t catch any fish. They already know it. Our people used to live with the fish for one year under water. How many white people live with fish for one year? This young man, when he came back to his hometown, he became a Shaman. He is the one who told us how the salmon live. We know all the animals, all the fish, how they live. So this is what I was telling the white people when I go to the meetings. So they listen to me. We were talking about our subsistence. Right now, today, I was supposed to be with the Governor, but for this meeting, I have to come over. But I told Woody Morrison about it, my feeling, and he will be there. What we need to learn together, like what I said, there are all different kinds of flowers growing. Our people, our children, grandchildren, they are going to grow together. They have to know the feeling with each other when they are growing together. My grandfather used to tell me that story, I know it. They call me all in Juneau—Grandpa, even here in town. A little girl came to me, a white girl—Grandpa, you have to sit by me. This is what I am doing. I don’t want to push anybody out. I want them to be in, to work together. So we are here, and we have to learn from each other. That is what I want to talk about. Thank you.
Simon: I never been to school. I was raised out in the woods. At that time there was no school. But today I have a carpentry job, a good job. I like to learn at this meeting. I like to help people from other villages. We need help, a lot of people need help. A lot of teachers need help. We do things that look hard, it’s hard for us, because we don’ t know, but not hard because we find a lot of good things. From this meeting, a lot of things are going on stronger. We need peace. Maybe, someday someone will come in and thank you for helping. That way we learn. Since the Ft. Yukon meeting, I think about it. I like to help my people. My wife feels the same way too. When I was raised out in the woods, a lot of times my father went fishing and hunting every day. What my father catch we eat everyday, fish or meat or rabbit. We never see that kind of life nowadays. It is so easy. A lot of kids just don’t know, they need help today. I am glad I came on this trip. I feel good this morning. The weather is so nice. I hope God be with us. Thank you.
Howard: It is like Austin was saying. It is a good thing. That is what I am doing too. There is a story behind everything. Like the birds. Just like the dance, you know the twist. Everybody figure the twist came from the white people, but it didn’t. That is what I tell people. I work in the schools in Fairbanks. I don’t care who they are, I am willing to teach them. Some of the kids ask if I get paid for this. Some I do get paid, some I don’t. They are honest about it too. I tell them right from the bottom, I don’t leave nothing out. I go right straight through, how I learn and what I learn from people. I learn quite a bit from you people, how you are talking. I was here last summer and I learned quite a bit. Everywhere I go, someone has my work. Everywhere I work, I leave my work. Like these things here, the fishwheel and snowshoes. I leave my work. This way they remember, and they say—Where did that come from and they say—Oh, Howard Luke made that for me. Therefore they can follow it, they can see how it is made. Now that I am trying to do now, I have one kid to teach this summer. I am going to take him all over with me and I am going to teach him how to cut birch and how to bend it. I am going to tell him stories and tape it. He is from here, he is Tlingit, but he is going to talk mine. That is what I want. He wants to learn. A lot of people want to learn, but they just don’t know how to go right. It’s just like the drinking problem. I had my problem. I go around too, and tell people and talk to them about how it was done. I go over to the University once in awhile and talk to people about how it was done. What I say, I say—Nobody can help you, it is just on your own. You got to take it on your own. that is what I did. I just went out on my own. I was losing my friends. The only time I had friends was when I had money. My mother told me—Now is the time you better step forward. I won’t be living with you all the time. What I taught you, you got to pass it on. Pass it on to your nephew, to everybody. So that is what I would like to do. I work mostly around Fairbanks, but next winter, I will be travelling around to most of the schools. Whoever wants me to work in the schools, I will work there. That is what I will be doing. I would like to take that kid with me, but he has to go to school. In 1991 these kids, the younger generation, some of them won’t be able to speak for themselves. So I want to try to tell them to teach the young generation. Where I work, they listen. Last year there was a Spirit Days in Anchorage. I talked, I made everybody make speech. Nobody said nothing. I talk everywhere I go. So I said—Everywhere I go, I always talk to young people. People said—Oh, the young generation, they don’t listen. It’s not what I’m saying—they are listening. After I got through talking a young girl got up and said we are listening. We will use what you are telling us. It is a good thing too. These things you got to carry on. I tell a lot of my people that too. In Minto and Nenana, that is practically my hometown. I try to tell them that. I told one old man down there. He said—I try to, but they don’t listen to me. I tell him they are listening, but they aren’t going to tell you right away. He said—I learned the hard way so they have to learn the way I learned. I said, It’s not the way to look at it. I was brought up poor. My mother was the one that taught me all this stuff. How to cut birch, and all of that. I hunt for old people and they teach me how to do these things—when the moose is going to lay down. I tell the young kids that too. It is a good thing, so these things will carry on just like the dances and stuff like that. Some of them up there, it seems like they don’t want to carry it on. This year is the first year I am going to miss that meeting in Holy Cross. I wanted to go down there, but I don’t think I can make it. That is what I bring up at the meetings. I talk about these things. Some of them say they are going to start one down in Minto, last spring. They have a school everynight, but they don’t have a survival camp or nothing. If I start my camp around there, I don’t know where I am going to get, I guess most of the kids will come from Fairbanks, but I want to get them from all over. That way they will learn. I want to get a kid who knows how to do these things, so they could carry on. This kid that I am going to teach, that is what he will be doing too. Seems like he is going to catch on right away, the way he act. I know it will be good for them. That’s about all I got to say.
Dr. Matthews: I have listened and read the report of your earlier meetings and talked to a lot of people over the years and you have a very eloquent statement of concerns and trying to figure out how best to do something about it and striking on some way that makes a lot of sense such as the camp ideas where people can learn things and pass on traditions. It is a way of doing it that makes a lot of sense. It is one way and there needs to be, I think, lots of other ways like Austin was saying, getting more into the schools so that different settings for the stories so that young people could be exposed to different ways to do things. Not only in the schools, but university settings too so that there will be a broad understanding of some of the concerns. I think trying to figure out how best to put an educational setting together, I think the way you are doing it here is a good start. How to bring it about and extend into other structures is a real challenge. I’m interested in seeing how that will all come together. I think the next step is to bring people from those kind of structures into the sessions. I know, Don, we have talked about that. It is very, very important to move slowly and steadily I guess. I like the idea you had for camp, the results you have with young people by giving them positive experiences.
Don: The information we can talk about, what we need for our trip.
Pam: This afternoon, or tonight, I want to talk to you folks and get your ideas. When we go to Paris, one of the things they want to discuss with us is how do we know that what we are doing is working, how can we tell other people, in other parts of the globe, who are indigenous people trying to face the same situation with forced rapid change and problems with alcohol and drug abuse. They want to know what we are doing, and how we know what we are doing is working. I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. I have some ideas, but I would really like to have a discussion about it. That is the main thing on my mind for this evening as far as getting us ready to go overseas. Two years ago, two women from Ketchikan went over the United Nations office. They were from the Health Systems Agency in Ketchikan I had worked with them on other projects. It sort of threw them the way I got to know Don and how we came to form this support team and task force. Well, the women went to Paris and met with people at UNESCO and started talking about the idea of a cultural spirit camp. At that time, there were two officers within UNESCO who were really interested in this idea. They said they would like us to submit a proposal last fall. Of course, we weren’t even a task at that time, it was too soon for us. Now we are a task force, we are pulled together, but in the meantime something happened. The President of the United States pulled the United States out of UNESCO. So the meeting that we are having in Paris is called a informal meeting because that is political protocol. In reality we are meeting with a fairly high-level person there. They moved us up one level from last year in who we are talking with. Instead of calling it a formal meeting it is called an informal meeting. Maybe we just break even on that, I don’t really understand.
I think it will be good after we see this tape, we can get an idea of how after seven years a camp operation looks. tomorrow, we need to hit hard on what people are doing and what the status of all the camps are.
Dr. Matthews: One of the things I was thinking about while you were talking, and also listening to Howard is that camp is a real learning setting for Indian people, traditionally. In another perspective a camp is more of a recreation activity. How can we best describe camp as a very high potential learning kind of a situation so it means what we are trying to do with it. What I have heard from listening to Don talk about it, it seemed like a very interesting idea, but I didn’t really appreciate the significance of it.
Jonathan: Nobody does. You are learning by just being there. It doesn’t have to be an organized camp. Even if you go on the Yukon River and go to any fish camp it becomes a spiritual camp when three people speak their own language. Of course, when three people speak their own language, the Indian spirit is there.
Pam: It occurred to me last night that when we have been talking about camp, we have talked as though they all have to look the same way. Originally, when we were discussing this, we never imagined that every place that had a spirit camp would all be the same. Howard, when we were in Ft. Yukon, you talked about taking 2 or 3 young people as apprentices. That i a kind of a camp too. And what Jonathan was saying about dropping people off at fish camp, they don’t have to be formal, organized camps. It seems that the conversations we have been having are carrying us this way. I don’t want to close the door to other ideas especially since each community will have to come up with what will work best. That is the only thing I was thinking we have to cover in the next day and a half. Do you have anything that you would like to see added into our discussion?
Don: I would like Eber to speak about some of the the things we heard this morning from Austin and Howard and Simon and Blake.
Eber: I was telling Don when I was listening to people talk this morning it seemed like I heard different strengths and different approaches in different places that are all necessary and valuable. When I was listening to Austin, I heard that the stories are strong teaching stories. They teach values, identity, the basics of teaching a person how to live. Because our ethics or our values or the choices we make—whether to sell the land or not to sell the land, or to fish in one way or to fish in a different way—those things are not just in our minds, but also with our feelings. How we feel about the animal stories, or the land. So I heard that coming through on the stories and then when I was listening to Blake, I heard a different way of teaching. He was talking about the experiences, and the students writing a letter to themselves to read two years late. It seems like there was a different kind of survival skills that he was talking about. They were survival skills not just for wilderness, but survival skills for living in non-native society as well. When Howard was talking, I heard the Native technology, Native skills, Native arts and crafts—how we actually do these things. It seemed like for a cultural camp that all of those three were a necessary part of that for the learning. That is what I was thinking about when various people were talking. I was also remembering something about how do you get the camp manager. Or how do you find the right manager for the camp, how do you get the teachers, and the right staff. That seems very important. What Dr. Matthews was saying—how do you teach the teachers, or how do you get into the school. There needs to be some way of, maybe in the places where there is a camp going now and it is working well, maybe to bring in a few people to be teacher trainees or camp manager trainees. They could have the experience of actually seeing how it is done in a way that works.
Matilda: I think it is like what I said in Ft. Yukon. We had the same questions—where do we find all these people to teach the children. In looking at our own people we found that we didn’t have to look far. We found out our own people had a talent that they could offer. We found a survival skills consultant, a silver carver, a wood carver, a drum maker, a storyteller. We got a Raven and a Eagle storyteller on a volunteer basis. All the teachers we needed we found among our own people. So we have the ability to teach the young people ourselves. After all, the idea is to pass on to them what our parents taught us. I was just trying to imagine in my mind the kind of camp that Massett, ReDiscovery camp has. I still can’t untangle it in my mind yet, but in my mind I can see a camp. It is hard for me to visualize. I would almost have to go there and spend two weeks. I am camp manager here and I am still learning. That is the only way our people can be teachers now as far as taking it upon themselves to help the young people. Everyone here has an ability that some of us don’t have. I think it has been good for us to use our own people because in turn, it helps them too because they are helping Indian people. At lot of times, most of out teachers were senior citizens. When you get that old, and they feel they have nothing to do, they are put on a shelf. Well, that is not so because their mind is so full of ideas and things that they can pass on to the young people. I sure would like to go to the ReDiscovery camp. I learn more by seeing.
Jonathan: I agree with her. You can go to any village in interior Alaska and the resources you need for a camp is walking down the street. If an Athabascan woman can’t run a camp with 12 children, she is not an Athabascan woman!
Viewing of ReDiscovery Video Tape
Austin: Story about the dream.
Come out by the table there. We will find out why you are here. He doesn’t have anything in his hand. So he let me sit on the corner like this. In the middle he put his hand. He is talking in his own words. I don’t understand what he is saying. Then he turned around. there is nothing against you, what you are doing to help the people. So there is nothing that you are doing wrong. I woke up and I told my wife. When I fall asleep again, he came to me again, that man, a second time. He told me—Now this time you go up on that big table there. For sure we will find out. So I got up there, same thing he was doing. Everything was on that big table. It was full, there were a lot of people sitting around it. He was putting his hand on it. He came to me again. For sure there is nothing against you. All that is on this table belongs to you, whatever you want to do. So I have to stand up and pass it around. This is the reason I am not afraid of doing all this here. When I woke up I told my wife again about the dreams. When I got through, the last one, when I fall asleep, the same man came to me. This time he told me to go on the platform up there. We will give you something that you could go with it. So he came with a big box, square and high. You take this and look for the manager and the coach and give it to him. So I went and I keep asking—Do you know where the manager and the coach is? He is way over there. I keep walking. All the people are around. When I keep asking, they told me—Well, they are standing there. So I bring that box to them. They told me, they sent me with this box, to give it to you. I don’t know what’s in it. I give it to them, they opened it. There was a little piece of paper in there and they read it to me. Then they turn it over to me. When they opened the box and took that out, it is a catcher’s glove. It is all gold and shiny. The man who put it on told me, anyplace we are we are going through the whole States. Your name is going to be all over the world. What you give it to us. That is what they told me. This is the reason why I am not afraid to fix this one (video tape). I talked to my dancers and song leader about what we have to do. So this is what we got on the tape. That is why I send it all around. Some people buy it. So the children could see what we are doing here. So they will show you what I am talking about. That is the Chilkoot. That is what we fix about it, we talk about the subsistence, our landmarks. When we go up there, I will show you the other one since the flood. What lies there. It is there, up on top the mountain. I could show you that one.
Viewing of Austin Hammond’s Tape
Don: Films like this is really helpful for us to understand people from around the state, how they live and what they are asking for. I appreciate something like this. It gives us a better insight while we are down here and when we go out to Chilkoot camp. It helps us to understand things like this. It’s the same way people in Elutna are doing, and people losing their land in the North Slope due to oil. I wish we could do something like this for all the different areas around the State. I know that Dr. Matthews appreciates this. Being a non-native and a outsider!
Remembrance: An Intercultural Mental Health Process (PDF)
Remembrance, An Intercultural Mental Health Process
by Pam Colorado
Mental Health is a European, western derived construct which, in the context of colonialism, has been imposed upon Native peoples. thus one could question the health of “mental Helth”. I propose that it is possible and timely to create processes and models of mental health which are intercultural and have, as their first order of business, the healing of mental health practitioners…myself included!
Issues of mental health and culture are central to my life. I am a traditional Oneida woman, married to a Hawaiian, Kuhuna Kalai Wa’a and Kii, that is, a man who has the Huna or secret knowledge of how to carve traditional ocean going canoes and images. We live on the island of Maui where I commute to California to teach in the Traditional Knowledge Program—a doctoral program for tribal people worldwide. I am also of French ancestry and travelled to France during my early twenties to make peace with the conflict I felt as a mixed blood person.
In twenty years of activism my model of mental health practice evolved from a largely clinical social work/community organizing focus (with a few cultural touches) to an almost completely cultural, spiritual practice that drew on western psychology when necessary. Although reluctant to draw on extra cultural approaches,I found psychology and its terminology to be helpful in dealing with deadly colonial wounds, notably alcoholism. Counselling methods also became a bridge to the western and professional world and to assimilated parts of my personality. In fact, western counselling helped me to decolonize and to embrace my true cultural identity.
But joining Native and western approaches to mental health has always made me uncomfortable. First of all, there are no guidelines or mutually established ethics to govern the linking. Second, the concept of mental health is inextricably bound up in relationships of domination and power. Prior to the invasion of North America there wasn’t even a concept of mental health! Native cultures sought and were an expression of grounded lives lived in balance and intimate communication with all living beings. third, western practitioners’ denial of the power dynamics between Natives and westerners emotionally charge the counselling process. Fourth, whether we like it or not, there is no part of Native life that has not been violated or desecrated. As a result, we carry enormous and undifferentiated anxieties and pain; often we swing back and forth between western and Native behavior without conscious choice. Finally, as my genetics suggest, there is no escaping the obvious fact that American Indians and Euramericans (with their mental health practices) share a land and a reality. We must address the intercultural mental health conundrum and transform it into something good.
Recently, I worked with a French American person whose wife had suffered with terminal cancer for ore than two years. I began the work in my usual way, as a cultural person who used western concepts to communicate and engage. Four months later, when the work was complete, I had been taught a way of doing Native mental health in the western world; moreover, a westerner had entered my Native paradigm and healed aspects of my life. I refer to the process as remembrance and share some of it with you now.
A stormy twilight sky holds the ocean in an indigo embrace. Moving smoothly through the cold spring ocean, I hesitate for a moment, questioning the wisdom of a swim so late in the day. Hawaiian elders warn against this. As I realise I am alone in the water, a sense of vulnerability rises; I do not recall how I got here. I want to return to shore but am powerless to move. The growing density of the night time sky is matched by a sense of growing danger in the water. Suddenly, I am aware of an enormous and awesome presence—Mano! The shark1
My reaction is instantaneous. Rolling over on my back I lie suspended in the water and I wait. Mano is one of the most powerful animal spirits in Hawaiian cosmology. The shark empowers priests, healers and intellectuals; it is an Aumakua, the head of a major clan system and it is Mano that accompanied and protected the first Polynesian voyagers to settle the Hawaiian islands. Lying motionless is the only act of reverence available to me. I can feel him approaching from my right; swift and smooth. He transverses the length of my body, as if appraising me. Death may be imminent. I am afraid. I am hopeful. The shark turns and heads directly towards me. Bright blue lines of electricity stream from either side of his head. Reaching my still body, he races beneath me, around me, wrapping me in blue lines of vivifying intelligence and power. Then he is gone.
I awake, shaking and weeping with joy. Gathering up my medicine bag, I pull on some clothes and head to Launiopoko Beach to make an offering of thanks. Pulling Indian tobacco from its pouch, I call to Mano. Laying a gift of tobacco in the water, I wait. Was it a true dream? A few moments pass, doubt begins to enter my mind. Just then a movement about fifty feet off to the left catches my eye. It is a shark fin, standing nearly one foot out of the water. This must be a great animal. As quickly as it moves towards me, it turns and disappears from sight.
As I drive home, I wonder at the beauty and power of Native ways. The feelings that went through me when I saw the shark acknowledge the offering! I wonder what the meaning of this experience is and what is expected of me. A few days later, a stranger stops by our house to look at Hawaiian art work. It is Mr. Robert Requin (Mr. R), an elderly gentleman of enormous wealth and great political repute.
It is not usual to greet someone of Mr. R’s standing, so I paid attention to what happened. As he entered our house, he went almost directly to the scale model canoe, “Lele O Ke Kolea”, the canoe that brought the first Hawaiians here. As I approached Mr. R to welcome him a spiritual presence, nearly palpable, filled the room. My traditional training enabled me to see it my western mind interpreted it as a crucial bonding. I was shocked because I had never had such a moment with a non Native person.
Any traditional Native person will tell you that ordinary reality is not real at all. This world is spiritual and beings of great power, like Mano, move through the veil of our conscious minds. Like Creator, Mano touches us. It is only an instant but in that moment we experience something timeless and real—our own truth. Truth, according to Native thought is meant to be lived. When a dream comes, work of transformative nature is sure to follow. Because the work is spiritual and difficult, it is important to interpret the direction of the dream accurately.
In the weeks that followed, I struggled for understanding and direction. I spoke to another traditional person who responded, “A strange thought just came to me—your visitor is Mano!” The truth of the message was so strong, it took my breath.
Identifying the Mano as the spiritual protector and power of my visitor, gave me a beginning point for determining how we were related. For a few days, I struggled trying to remember anything I heard or knew of the relationship between Mano and the Thunderers—my clan. The answer came in the middle of the night when I awoke thinking of a petroglyph from the Northwest Coast (where I learned the process of deciphering the ancient language).
On a large rock, located in the tideline, is a carving of the Shark and Thunderbird, held together by a huge lizard—the protector of water and change of consciousness. This 15,000-year-old carving is predictive of transformative learning—of movement into a higher integration of knowledge which will be sensory or predictive. The Lizard also implies genealogy or ancestral communication. In a western sense we might say I had determined an archetypal relationship. I understood that this was a powerful connection but I lacked a course, or even a next step of action.
One day, during a phone conversation with Mr. R, we discussed our French family histories. Realising that our ancestors had arrived in the New World about the same time, I decided to check my family tree, a lengthy document. Turning to a random page, I glanced down and discovered that a man from my family and a woman from his had married in 1560; furthermore, this couple moved to the New World and became the progenitors of both his family line and mine! This confused me. If I had found a mutual Indian ancestor, I would know what to do or who to contact. I was in for a surprise.
Mr. R had purchased a number of traditional Hawaiian art pieces of my husband’s and had asked me to bless them. I readily agreed, until I turned to do it and discovered the purchases included Lei o Mano—weapons of war constructed of sharks teeth and a wood that women do not touch! How do I, as a woman, pray over weapons of death? Is this proper? Do I have the authority? These questions took several days and the pieces were to be delivered the next day. Finally, I understood the next step.
Moving the weapons into the sunshine, I made my prayer but something didn’t feel complete. So, I meditated some more and realized that I needed to do a night ceremony as well.
That night on the lanai, the spirits spoke in unmistakable messages. Mr. R’s wife had survived because two, vainglorious physicians, eager to win the respect and approval of her wealthy husband, had used extraordinary means to keep the woman alive. She had been tortured. I knew it because for a brief moment the spirits made me feel what she had suffered; it was agony. I was told that her end would come soon and I was given several other pieces of information for Mr. R.
When I came in from my prayers, I was shaking with fear. I knew I had to tell Mr. R but I doubted myself. What if I was wrong? What if I had misinterpreted something? And I questioned my right to even tell someone such news. Nevertheless, the following morning while burning sage, I called Mr. R and shared, as gently as I could, all of what had transpired. To my amazement, he nearly wept with relief. In the next few weeks, everything happened just as I had been told. I was stunned at my self doubts and with the power of these old ways.
I was also pleased that ancient Native ways could help Mr. R—in fact, even seeming to complement his devout Catholicism. But two weeks after his wife’s death I learned that my sister was alcoholic and suicidal. Thee generations of family addiction came crashing down on me. All my work in healing did not seem to stop the destruction and death in my own family. I was terrified.
Another dream came to me. This dream revealed the origins of the family addiction problem. It rested in an event that happened in France nearly 700 years ago—an event that Mr. R’s family shared. I awoke from the dream, it was near midnight. Heading directly for the closet, I rummaged around until I found my baptism candle (although raised traditionally, I had also been baptised Catholic, perhaps to cover all the bases!) I took the candle out to my rock altar and then stopped. I didn’t know where to put it. How could I respect these two ways and still bring them together? Desperate for my sisters life, I finally placed it on the lower right hand corner. Then I began my prayer, in my Indian way, explaining what I was trying to do and why. I asked permission to proceed. It seemed okay, so I picked up the candle, stuck it in the damp tropical earth, and lit it. I wasn’t sure how to pray. I tried all the Latin prayers I could remember but nothing felt genuine. Then I tried it the Indian way, by calling to the ancestors. Suddenly, the sultry, leeward night was hit with a cold wind from the North. It came down on me so hard and fast, I had to cup the flame to keep it from going out. I was scared. I knew I had pinpointed the cause and I knew I needed help.
The next morning, I called Mr. R and asked him to help in the tradition of his French Catholic religion. He agreed and for the next three days he prayed for us.
About a week later, Mr. R and I spoke. I thanked him and told him the astonishing news. My huge French-Indian family had finally acknowledged the problem of addiction in our family and was preparing for a family intervention for my sister. He was not surprised because he had felt a peace come over him the first night of his prayers. We both wept and laughed on the phone. Who would ever have guessed the combined power of a Pagan and a Catholic!
I used to think that darkness was evil but an Elder once told me, that darkness is safety, security, like the womb. In the darkness we are all one; separations cannot be seen. Perhaps this is the Huna, or inner secret Hawaiians know. For Mr. R and I to heal required great risks and trust. We both stepped into our shadow many times but we were not alone. At night, in a dream, the shark spirit came to give me the power to do the healing work. Although I doubted myself, I still went to the beach and made a thanksgiving offer. A real shark came proving the truth of the dream as well as the value of facing self doubt.
Mr. R knew of the terrible things his culture has done and continues to do to Native people, but he stepped through that history when he asked for my help.
I entered the shadow again when I turned to my French genealogy; used my candle and asked Mr. R for his help. It was difficult to do. Yet, the evil visited on my family—the multigenerational alcoholism derived from and depended upon the continuing hatred and divisiveness of Catholic and tribal people.
Most likely I will never see Mr. R again, but in the dark moment we shared, a beautiful healing emanated. Two people—from vastly different political, socioeconomic backgrounds, one traditional Indian, the other Catholic—joined using western psychological language and simple loving prayers particular to our own cultures. We healed. Nothing happened, yet everything changed.
First Reading, Vol. 13, No. 3, Sept 95 ESPC
Respiritualization Project-Fairbanks,AK (PDF)
Respiritualization Project (Fairbanks)
January 22, 1985
Persons attending: Don Peter of Anchorage; Eber Hampton of Boston; austin Hammond of Haines; Matilda Lewis of Haines; Pam Morrison of Juneau; Bella Francis of Ft. Yukon.
Background of project:
DONALD: Last year, Pam and I got together and we talked about 1991 and the restrictions which would be lifted off the land claims act and the land. we thought about it and realized Alaska Natives don’t really know who they are right now, the younger people. They are the ones getting into the leadership positions and running the corporations and city governments, even the legislature. Since they don’t know who they are, we need to put some kind of a project together like the NANA Corporation up i the Kotzebue area put together a Spirit Movement camp. People go in there and learn about the Inupiat culture and values. There is no way to get out of it. The elders teach the younger people how it used to be 100 years ago. Before 1971 and the land claims, we were content, we survived even without money-we had the land. Well, the land claims was one to make us fail. We knew that a long time ago. What we need to do is put these Spirit camps around the state-in places like Haines or Bethel. We wrote up a proposal and gave it to the Kellog Foundation. I think we got $45,000 and we have until April to put this thing together into a proposal so we can get it funded by UNESCO or one of the funding sources. What we want to do is get our thoughts down on tape and reach our people through here and getting to find out who they are. There are a lot of things that deter us from thinking the way we use to do. There is alcoholism, white man’s way. Some of it is good and some of it is bad. We want to know why all this is happening. We are calling this whole thing a Respiritualization Process. When we spend summers in Ft. Yukon, my son learns a lot. I think other kids can learn too, from the elders.
I put together a proposal and submitted it to the legislature for a state-wide youth program. It’ for a half million dollars. Senator Sackett reviewed the proposal and he feels it is right down the line of the Governor’s speech—alcoholism, drug abuse, sex abuse. If the money goes through, it will be distributed around the state to different agencies with the youth camps. Along the same line, we get the Spirit camps going together with the youth camps, maybe we will get something tout of it. Maybe we will save something spiritual, since there is a Higher Power somewhere. Like the Outside Native people who lost almost everything, but they didn’t lose their spirituality.
PAM: We have two or three proposals to try to get money and so far it is working out pretty good. Five different people from different parts of the state feel that we could just make plans for people. Some of you know how I got interested in this. I grew up in a white way, except for my Grandfather who passed away when I was 12. When I was younger, he told me to be sure to get a college education. Just before he passed away, he talked to me and said I should be sure to follow the pipe, and for my people that means the traditional Oneida spiritual way. I really didn’t know what that meant. I was a young woman, and I already had my first child. My life was getting confused, I was getting involved with drugs and couldn’t seem to get relationships with people to work right. At that time I was living in Milwaukee because my folks moved down there when I was in high school. There were a lot of Oneida people and people from different tribes in the city. We found out that a lot of us were lost. I was working in an alcohol treatment program and it was when the American Indian Movement was strong. We organized and met with the bureaucrats and demanded money to treat our people with traditional Indian methods. They funded our alcohol program. It was one of the first funded in the country, in 1970. It took a year or two before we had to face the fact that we didn’t know what traditional Indian treatment was. We did not have any people who were practicing traditional healing ways. We didn’t know a lot of songs or dances. We started looking for what it meant to be Oneida in 1971-72. We went to Canada to find traditional Oneida people. They didn’t know what to do with us. They never encountered people like us before, people who were lost. They tried to be helpful, but there were many problems. In the next ten years we got help from other tribes. The ( ) people who lived next to us in Wisconsin came and helped us. We started using different ways in the alcohol treatment program. We still used western ways like the counseling and hospitals. Then we started using the sweat lodges which were a part of our culture a long time ago, but we had forgotten it. We began to see changes. I began to see changes in my life and I started to learn how an Oneida woman does things, how to relate with the land, how to sing songs and do dances. The people started to change. There still weren’t a lot of jobs there and we can’t promise people a very good life. It was not like Alaska where people could hunt or fish, they just had to do without a lot of the time. But it pulled us together somehow, pulled my own life together. Now I can look at my own children, ages 14, 7, and 4. They are so happy and comfortable when they do traditional things. It gives them a good foundation for life in the future. Whether the Oneida people lose all the land or not, my children will be prepared. I am married to a Haida. When I moved up here, I saw a lot of suffering in Hydaburg, but I understood that because I could remember how it was when I was young. That’s why I got interested in this. I thought maybe every tribe, every village, every person has to seek and find what is going to work for them. Anything that I can do to help young people up here. My children are now young people and I want them to understand when they get older. That’s why I got interested and contacted Don. Everyone is trying on their own, but if we come together and talk it through, we can come up with some ideas.
Recommendations for Education in Native Social Work at the Bachelor of Social Work Level (PDF)
Recommendations for Education in Native Social Work at the Bachelor of Social Work Level
A report submitted to Dr. Ray Thomlison, Dean
Faculty of Social Welfare, University of Calgary
Dr. Pam Colorado, Coordinator
Native Studies Development Project
November 24, 1987
Table of Contents
TERMS OF REFERENCE 1
TOWARD A NATIVE OPTIONS 1
NATIVE SOCIAL WORK PROGRAMS, DESIGN ISSUES 2
THE CONCEPT 3
HOW DO WE DEVELOP A NATIVE OPTIONS/ 4
NATIVE SOCIAL WORK COMPONENT 4
SUMMARY OF MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NATIVE SOCIAL WORK COMPONENT TO THE B.S.W. DEGREE 12
APPENDIX 1 13
Terms of Reference
The University of Calgary Native Options Program is committed to the development of scholarly and academic excellence in Native social welfare. To this end our definition of Native social work includes:
the education of Native and non-Native students who wish to work with a Native population.
the integration or infusion of Native content into the generic social work courses.
Neither the Native population nor the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Welfare want diluted course content or reduced requirements for a Native options track. Instead, Native course content, methods and field instruction will be subsumed under the generic course numbers. The goal and objectives of the Native Options Program will be to produce successfully synthesized, biculturally functioning social workers (Swenson).
2. Toward a Native Options
The University of Calgary is committed to establishing a Native Options Program. This commitment stems from six forces:
Native bands and people are a significant population in Alberta and have critical human service needs. The Faculty of Social Welfare is charged with the provincial mandate to provide social work education which would begin to address these needs;
There is no mechanism or process for eliciting or integrating Native knowledge into social work theory or practice;
Nearly ten years of fragmental intradivisional efforts have not produced the coherent, unified program hoped for;
The Collins report of 1986 recommended a Native concentration for the three Divisions, but was not funded beyond the two-year developmental phase;
Without additional or outside funding, the Faculty of Social Welfare has now hired and obligated one Native M.S.W. full-time sessional and one Native Ph.D. (one day per week) to begin meeting the needs of the Native community and to spearhead the drive for a Native Options Program;
Historically, only a few Native students have been admitted to the program. those who are admitted are unduly burdened with the lack of culture specific curriculum and the need to assume total responsibility for re-interpreting course content into a Native context. Moreover, the transition back into the Native world rests solely on the shoulders of our graduates.
3. Native Social Work Programs, Design Issues
The struggle to articulate and implement a Native Options Program is not unique to the University of Calgary. The firs decade of such efforts has produced a number of concerns. Dunbar-Ortiz, Ph.D., Sioux, catalogues these issues:
There are few Indian scholars;
Native social work programs remain unstable due to a lack of qualified Indian faculty to develop academically viable curricula and research;
The absence of Ph.D.’s, publications and research mean that programs flounder in instability. Indian faculty remain temporary, part-time and are eventually phased out in retention, promotion, and tenure procedures of the University;
Indian students are especially sensitive to the historical process of attempted acculturation — the educational system;
Native studies are essential for educating the non-Native majority and for the Nation building process of tribes;
The University is not an appropriate vehicle to learn one’s cultural values. Instead a profession is to be gained. Mastery does not mean acceptance of Non-Indian values. But the ability to analyze and assess problems and issues and date within an historical and larger socio-economic context requires substantial reading, research, writing, discussion and the acquired ability to assimilate and analyze information;
Funding and counseling should be based on the realities of Indian and non-Indian relationships, not on university realities;
Federal and foundation funding should be supplemental;
Indians should be encouraged to pursue substantial education;
Specialized programs in different universities should complement each other, not overlap; Ortiz punctuates her list of concerns with this advice: A sense of mission, despite limitations, could work miracles in transformation of Indian high education from a mechanical mass production to excellence.
This proposal follows close on the heels of Ortiz. The document that follows is a blueprint for developing a Native social work program with a mission. That mission is the creation of a program which will address and draw from the interface (relationship) between Natives and non-Natives; to create opportunities for the two cultures to cooperate, collaborate and communicate.
4. The Concept
The Ortiz analysis points to a developmental problem in Native social work efforts. This is, programs either attempt to mass produce “Native” social workers or to teach culture within the university. As Ortiz notes, both approaches are conceptually flawed and fundamentally confounded.
The University is not the appropriate locus of cultural education; such teaching requires a tribal context. Moreover, it is the right and responsibility of First Nations to provide such education. On the other hand, avoiding cultural issues adhering to the mono-cultural, European tradition also presents problems.
Reliance upon a monocultural tradition within a multicultural arena constitutes an essentially transparent form of intellectual domination, achievable only within the context of parallel forms of domination…. Churchill
The Native Options Project will learn from and move beyond this developmental conundrum. merely establishing the Project will address one critical problem – the recognition of the multicultural basis of social work and the destruction of the deadly myth of one truth in social work theory. Deloria, distinguished Sioux scholar, notes:
One of the most painful experiences for American Indian students is to come into conflict with the teachings of science which purport to explain phenomena already explained by tribal knowledge and tradition. The assumption of the western educational system is that the information dispensed by universities is always correct and the beliefs or teachings of the tribe are always wrong…
Considering the present state of things, it is important for scholars…to begin to help us break the ice of ignorance and neglect which has been thrust upon our traditions for nearly half a millennium. Without the voices of respected white scholars, there is little chance we can get sufficient attention from the scientific establishment to plead our own case. But we should remember…(that this is) a call for each of us to enter into the exchange of knowledge…(and we, Native Americans are called) to offer our knowledge to the larger benefit of our species…
Churchill offers one final piece of incentive for a biculturally-focused grounded Native Options:
By pooling knowledge, resources and effort in a broad forum such as interdisciplinary studies, perhaps we can jointly seek to expand our knowledge of the world..the signposts point to a reconciliation of the two approaches. Western science must reintegrate human emotions and intuitions into its interpretation of phenomena; Eastern peoples must confront the physical world and the effects of technology. We shall understand as these traditionally opposing views seek a unity, the world of historical experiences is far more mysterious and eventful than we had previously expected. Such and achievement would be one from which all humanity would benefit…
5. How Do We Develop a Native Options?
The Native Options Project must be seen as an ongoing transcultural process. The components or mechanisms for initiating the process include:
an integrated curriculum
a Native Advisory Committee
a Native Options Track, consisting of optional courses which have been tailored towards Native social welfare issues.
6. Native Social Work Component
The Native Social Work Program will be an integral part of the existing B.S.W. programme, offered at the University of Calgary. The B.S.W. program will integrate “Native content” to specific required courses and also offer students a concentration of courses that are critical to working with Native people. As a result, all students will be offered critical components of the N.S.W. programme specific to their choice in the B.S.W. degree programme.
The Native social work component will provide appropriate prerequisite and field of practice courses in conjunction with the existing required methods/practicum courses of the B.S.W. programme. A Native Advisory Committee will assist in the development and operation of N.S.W. through prayer, teaching and advice.
The following are core courses required by all students enrolled in the B.S.W. programme; included are students pursuing the Native concentration.
SOWK 311 Human development: Childhood and Adolescence
SOWK 315 Communication and Social Work Interaction
*SOWK 325 Ideology and Social Welfare
*SOWK 341 Social Work: Its Social Science Foundations
SOWK 411 Human Development: Adulthood
SOWK 423 Canadian Social Policy
SOWK 432 Practicum I
SOWK 434 Methods I
SOWK 435 Groups in Social Work Practice
SOWK 441 The Scientific Base of Social Work Practice
SOWK 461 Social Welfare Administration
SOWK 532 Practicum II
SOWK 534 Methods II
Those marked with an asterisk will integrate the Native component to the course content. Thus, these courses will be made relevant to the Native situation and clientele. This can be accomplished by individual instructors who have had background to the Native situation, thus applying theory and concept to the Native situation (See Appendix 1). For example, the Canadian Social Policy course should include policy directly affecting Native people.
The following core courses will be developed specifically for the Native concentration. Native Science is the basis of knowledge and practice; therefore, a course equivalent to SOWK 441 is critical to the programme. Practice must also be made available in either Native communities or in agencies with a large Native client population.
N.S.W. 432 Practicum I
N.S.W. 434 Methods II
N.S.W. 441 Native Scientific Base of Social Work Practice
The Faculty of Social Welfare, University of Calgary, will decide whether N.S.W. 441 will remain as a core course and students may be exempt for another core course, or students with the Native concentration are expected to take one extra core course.
The Native Social Work component will include the above core courses plus five social work options. These courses are pertinent to the field of Native studies and practice.
SOWK 551.01 Intergroup Relations (Native Canadians)
SOWK 551.02 Alcohol and Drug Abuse
SOWK 551.05 Child Welfare
SOWK 555.09 Community Issues
SOWK 555.15 Integrative Approaches
The above courses with the core course will make up the Native Social Work component for the B.S.W. programme.
The following courses will be options for the students and may be made relevant to the specific situation to Native people.
SOWK 551.10 Social Work and Corrections
SOWK 555.07 Child Sexual Abuse
SOWK 591 Directed Reading
SOWK 595 Conference Course
6.1 Native Advisory Committee
A Native Advisory Committee be established with one-third of the committee being elders. The elders will be able to provide guidance through prayer, teach tribal tradition and give advice on tribal policy and law. Other Committee members will be represented from the various distinct cultural communities among Native people. This committee will advise the Faculty on all aspects of the N.S.W. programme, including curriculum, recruitment, admissions, appeals, policy and planning. It is recommended that the Native Advisory Committee be a subcommittee of the Undergraduate Committee. This Committee will also assist Native Communities with joint research projects.
6.1.2 Native Studies
These are courses in other university programs such as Native American Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology and Anthropology which teach Native American history, culture and contributions. Where these courses exist, the Native social work component must utilize them in the two year prerequisite courses of the B.S.W. degree programme. Native organizations such as the Indian Association of Alberta, Metis Society of Alberta, Native Counselling of Alberta, and Nechi Institute on Alcohol and Drug Education must be involved in the developing of courses and research for viable solutions and programmes for the “myriad” of social problems facing their constituents.
The Native Social Work component is integrated into the core stream of the B.S.W. degree programme, because it is not sufficient to separate “Native content” to only those who choose Native studies, but is for those who work in the field of Social Welfare. (Recommended from Report to the Attorney General, Dec. 1984, by Assistant Chief Judge W. White, Provincial Court of Alberta).
6.1.3 Field Placements
Social work programs must have a full and direct involvement with Native communities. The practica for all students enrolled in the N.S.W. will be involved in both the non-Native and Native fields of work placements. It is critical for the students to access both practica and to integrate and synthesize their theory and methods in their respective practica. Where there isn’t a Native Community such as in an urban setting, agencies with large target populations that are Native may be the only suitable practica placements.
These practica placements are not only valuable learning experiences, but provide excellent opportunities for developing social work practicum placements in agencies that serve Native people. This can be done by demonstrating to agencies that professional Native people have the ability to perform at the same levels as professional social workers. Secondly, these agencies are a means of developing contacts and job placements for social work graduates.
6.1.4 Native Options Faculty
Native Social Work Programmes will have both Native and non-Native instructors. Non-Native instructors will be selected on the basis of their experiences and commitment to Native issues. Further these faculty will serve in the critical role of mentor for students in the Native Options component. Native instructors and elders must demonstrate a high level of knowledge, understanding and skills of Native culture. This is essential if we are to develop sensitivity to and an understanding of Native culture.
Faculty staff will include a Native Coordinator and two Native faculty members, sessional instructors, one counsellor and one clerical support. It is recommended that existing Non-Native Social Work faculty members who can be recognized as specialists in the field of Native Studeies can teach Native Social Work courses specific to their specialization.
6.1.5 Position Descriptions
The Coordinator will coordinate all activities of the Native Social Work Programme, including consultation with the university and First Nations’ communities and Native agencies, development of the curriculum, and coordinate meetings to ensure relevance in the Native concentration area.
The counsellor/tutor position will advise, support and recruit Native students and will also liaise with other faculty members, departments and practicum agencies.
Full-time professors will have full tenured positions with the Faculty and carry regular course load and research initiatives as it may take 5-10 years to develop a pool of Native Ph.D.’s. The full-time position may be entered at the M.S.W. level. Part-time sessional instructors with at least an M.S.W. will teach many of the courses in the Native Social Work Programme.
The core components of the Native Social Work Programe must be an integral part of the university budget. Provincial and federal governments special grants should be used to provide the support costs for development, remedial and support services that may not otherwise be available to the university.
6.1.6 Recruitment of Native Students and Support Services
Recruitment for Native students and their success depends largely upon the Native Social Work Programme. Active Native student recruitment must be extended to schools on reservations, Metis settlements, universities, colleges, Native agencies and other Native communities, to both public and separate off-reserve schools and to public welfare agencies.
The Native Social Work components needed to develop support services for Native students which include:
Financial security should be guaranteed for Native students;
Opportunities for individual and small group counselling and discussions. Native students, Native faculty and other qualified persons would be involved;
Socializing activities for staff and students;
Extensive tutorial assistance and remedial courses as indicated;
Special training in the use of libraries, writing papers, research, etc.; and,
Provision of Native-related library materials.
The Native Students’ Services at the University of Calgary, the Office of the Advisor on Native Affairs at the University of Alberta, and the Native American Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge successfully provide many of these services. The Native support services should be fully supported and further developed in close consultation with those programmes already established.
Funds required for these special services need to be negotiated with provincial and federal governments and foundations.
6.1.7 Admissions Criteria
The B.S.W. degree is often thought of as a four year social work programme when instead it is a two year programme completed after two years of general arts courses or after completion of a two year college Social Services diploma.
University undergraduate students planning to enter the B.S.W. degree are normally required to complete 20 university level semester courses (two years) chosen from a broad list of options. Once completed, students are eligible for admission to the B.S.W. programme, which is comprised of 20 social work semester courses (two years). Consideration will be given to N.S.W. students who speak a Native language or have taken Native Studies in these two years.
Graduates of an Alberta Community College two-year Social Services programme will receive, on admission, up to ten unassigned social work semester credits; and, in addition, credit for up to ten non-social work semester courses will be awarded on a course-for-course basis as indicated in The Provincial Transfer Guide.
Successful completion of 20 university level semester courses or a two-year college Social Services diploma does not mean automatic entry into the B.S.W. programme. Enrolment limits have been established on social work courses in relation to the number of students who can be accommodated in practicum settings. Admission decisions are based on academic standing and the extent of relevant work, volunteer and general life experience.
Appropriate methods must be developed for assessing the academic qualifications of prospective Native students whose background and grade point average might not accurately reflect their potential. These appropriate methods can be determined with the advice of the Advisory Committee. It is anticipated that giving a higher weight to life experience compared to grade point average need to be discussed.
6.1.8 Programme Networking
Programmes for Native social work students must be coordinated at all post-secondary levels to ensure that there is continuity in opportunities for Native people. Linkages between both the college and university level programmes should offer Native students a “career ladder” of opportunities since an individual may choose to enter the work force at either level.
Post-secondary levels must facilitate and support social work education. The community college here takes leadership in this role. It is felt that a two-year college social service diploma may initially be more attractive to many Native students than a four year university B.S.W. programme. All efforts should be made to enhance the credit recognition and transferability for these students. A word of caution is that many persons who may successfully complete Social Service diploma programmes at community colleges and then go onto very meaningful and successful careers in social services for whatever reason,
not able to successfully complete a university level professional programme, i.e., not all college graduates are adequately prepared or ready for university level study.
The following mechanisms and processes can be initiated to enhance the networking programme:
Better communication of the opportunities available to Native students who are interested in accessing the post-secondary system. Students should be able to enter the system at various levels according to their educational background and proficiency in basic academic skills.
More comprehensive articulation between programmes and post-secondary institutions must be initiated to ensure credit transferability or recognition, thus facilitating student educational mobility, culminating in a degree if so desired.
Intensified communication and cooperative links to be established between the post-secondary institutions and employers of social work graduates, with the intent of permitting students to leave the post-secondary system at various levels and seek employment, and yet ensuring that improved in-service training opportunities are made available for skill upgrading.
To ensure programme networking, there must be regular meetings with representatives of all the post-secondary education systems in Alberta to discuss the above programme networking issues. In the the last year, this has occurred with representatives of the community colleges and universities in Alberta. further networking meetings are planned.
6.1.9 Family and Community Involvement
Families must be encouraged to support their children in the education process. It has been observed that Native students from so-called “leadership families” continue further up the educational ladder than the vast majority of Native students. It seems that education and role-modelling are more actively supported by these leadership families.
Similar to the need for family support, it is very important that the Native community, including elders, friends and relatives support students’ efforts to obtain an education. Individual tribes and groups must be given the responsibility and opportunity to provide input into educational programmes for Native students. The Native community, students, and successful graduates need to be involved in the education process, not only for student support but also to keep the curriculum relevant to Native needs. It is stressed that Native elders need to be involved in any Native Social work education concentration developed in this faculty. Elder involvement may include representation on the Native Advisory Committee, possibly an Elder in residence and guest lectures.
7. Summary of Major Recommendations for Native Social Work Component to the B.S.W. Degree Programme
7.1.1 Programme Content
Native Curriculum developed;
Increased opportunities for Native Studies;
Increased opportunities for Native students in the field of Social Welfare.
Two full-time instructors/professors
Internal support services
7.1.4 Networking (U. of C. N.S.W.)
Between post-secondary levels
Among Native communities/agencies
Among Non-Native communities/agencies
Non-Native to Native Child Care Services: Shifting Paradigms (PDF)
Non-Native to Native Child Care Services: Shifting Paradigms
Pam Colorado & Don Collins
Faculty of Social Work
The University of Calgary
28 September 1987
Published in Journal of Child & Youth Care 1990. 4(5) pp 47-57
Native Culture and Child Welfare
…when a child was born, an old person would talk in that baby’s ear a long time. As the child would grow, that voice would be like turning the pages in a book – as the child goes through life. Now, that has stopped among the Indian people and there is confusion. It could be done again… Donawaak (Respiritualization Project, 1985)
This paper presents the need for a paradigm shift from non-Native child care services to Native child care services. A major issue addressed is that a parallel child care service for Native people does not take into account traditional Native child development practices, yet a parallel Native child care system seems to be presently supported by the government. The present child care system is mono-cultural in that it does not address clearly different cultural needs. There is a need to shift from a mono-cultural model to a bi-cultural model.
In moving from a mono-cultural paradigm to a multi-cultural paradigm a number of important questions are raised. These questions addressed in this paper include: How should this shift occur? What processes and structures are needed? What kind of relationship should exist between the non-native and native child care services? Will native child care services be embroiled in a privatization battle that diverts attention from the native child’s best interests? Under whose auspices will native child care services be: provincial or federal? What are the historical, legal and ethical issues involved in this paradigm shift?
A new child care paradigm would involve going back to traditional Native child care practices. Current native child care problems can be positively impacted if Natives and non-Natives will systematically and rigorously rely on Native Elders as a bridge between child and services. Implied in this thesis is the notion that resources-time, energy, funding, and concern will be devoted to the development of such an approach. Without this commitment, the evolution of effective tribal child care systems is imperiled. For example, the present transfer of control to tribes does not take into account the following: the historical disruption of the Native family calls for a major effort in parenting skills and the intervention of family alcoholism; young people are often unwilling and unable to listen to elders. Western trained workers must team with Elders to ease the identity crisis of the young and to help in the formation of biculturally functioning tribal people.
The figures are startling. During 1984 it was determined that between 35% and 40% of children receiving services in Alberta under the Child Welfare Act were of Native ancestry. Compared with the general non-Native population, about ten Native children to one non-Native child out of the province’s overall population required services under the Act. Thus the Native child has been strongly over-represented in child welfare programs, with an historical emphasis on the more intrusive rather than less intrusive care and services under the legislation (Alberta Social Services, 1985). Forty percent of Native children under care have been living away from their culture yet no provision is made for their reintegration or repatriation. Tribes lack residential and emergency care facilities as well as foster homes and trained child care staff. Specific allowance must be made.
A strong aspiration, encouraged by the government, on the part of Alberta’s Native people and communities to take care of their own children is being recognized. The process to move from aspiration to actualization has commenced and will continue. Throughout Alberta, Native communities and groups are developing initiatives to establish family support services to ensure that in future their children need not come into care. These initiatives are designed to progressively assume more responsibility for dealing with family problems within Native communities.
When we look at Native child care we see through a two paned window. Each view is a world, representing both Native and non Native worlds. The glass, symbolizing our professional training and values, enables us to see yet also separates us from the lives we impact. Today we stand on the threshold of a new era in Native child care work, an era which demands that the “window” be opened, that true communication occur between the community and the child care provider. Native Elders, silent for generations, are a bridge to the dialogue and direction we seek.
In the old days, prior to European intrusion, Native child care was a disciplined, structured development process involving extended family, community and Nation. This process was healed by elders so the child care system was based in love and kindness and grew from an understanding that all life is spiritual and related. Joy and living in a “Good Way” were hallmarks of a healthy Native family. Children were encouraged to “know what life is”, to “have an understanding”; each child “had a place in the community and was encouraged to find it.”
Self discipline was normally taught through example and discussion; rarely did it involve force. A Tlingit Grandfather explains:
…Love is more important than anything. My Grandfather used to say – “Grandson, go get for me.” Even though he could walk, his work “Grandson” comes to my spirit, so I run and get it. If I say to him, “Are you lazy?” I’m going to hurt him. “Grandson” is more important than anything…
A Blood Grandmother explains self-discipline from the woman’s side”
…When we talk to our children we say, “Niyeah, my child” quietly and lovingly…
Situations that called for a firm hand meant that the Aunt or Uncle would step in:
…The Uncle is obligated to train the nephew because he is of the same clan. The Uncle, because it is the nephew, pulls him out of bed and as the Nephew is getting dressed says, “Do this for a day; this is your work day.” And you do it…(Cyrus Peck, D.D.) (Respiritualization Project, 1985)
Sadly, this traditional way of child rearing has become disarrayed.
In this forge of neo-colonial confusion and conflict, child welfare work was born. Looking at the degraded Native culture and the harsh realities of Native life, the solution seemed obvious, “remove the children and help them assimilate into majority life.” This practice continued until a full 40 percent of children under care were of Native ancestry. Thus, the gentle hand of the child welfare worker created a new problem which called for a larger definition of child abuse.
…a case of social institutions in one culture abusing whole segments or classes of persons in another society…
The results of this practice are best expressed in the words of the People:
…where I come from…I run into a lot of younger generation my age, kids just getting out of school, who go to the city or college for a little while. They can’t make it so they come back and start drinking and causing problems…They are drinking because they can’t make it in the non-Native world and they don’t know how to make it in the Native world…
…Nobody talks about it so how would we know? We have a community across the river that is inter-marrying. I see they are destroying themselves; their kids are retarded…We are ignoring it; we don’t say anything.
…We got to stop our people from fighting each other…
…It is like a tidal wave, it will come toward you. The White people are moving…
…In March two French people came to our community. They were filmmakers who wanted to make a three hour movie…They are going to focus on the elderly and the younger generation. Their title is, “Is There Survival for Natives?”
Looking at Native family life today, Elders blame themselves:
…We (Elders) talked about how our younger ones live…It’s our fault. We are not talking to our grandchildren and our sons. Our land; what we used to know before we don’t tell. How are they going to learn? We got to tell them everything so they will learn to live. In these times, we just leave our children when they say it (our ways) are old-fashioned. We are scared to talk with them.
Young people feel that they are to blame.
…We don’t know where we fi in…the older people do not know how to approach us…They’ve never seen young people drink like we’re doing…sniffing glue, gasoline, pot…it was my impression they just gave up on us…
Non-Native child care workers also feel a sense of blame. As one worker recently put it, “I feel so bad about what has happened to Natives. A lot of us do. But we don’t know what to do!” Indeed the wholesale removal of Native children did not produce the healing or integration hoped for. So, privatization and tribal takeover seem a ready made solution. But what is it we are trying to solve? Will we settle for merely altering the appearance of institutional abuse? As it now stands, the issue of “best interest” of the Native child has narrowed to one word, “control”, and this definition carries danger.
While child care agreements occur in the political context of Provincial and First Nation legal agreements, Native and non-Native social workers must see that “control” does not end with shifting the unwieldy western child care bureaucracy onto Natives. Unless the definition of “control” is expanded to include intra-cultural controls, we risk creating a parallel (and equally destructive) Native child care system on the reserves.
So what can be done? Turning to the Elders we find clear direction.
Intra-culturally, Elders want to be connected with their grandchildren as the first order of business.
“We can’t give up with our Grandchildren.”
“I am willing to teach; we don’t have to give up.”
“With our feeling, our love, we have to teach them.”
“We got to set them down to listen; there is no old fashioned.”
Elders also want change in the Native/non-Native relationship:
Look into this. There’s going to be an interaction anyway, so why not try to go into something good…Lives are at stake if we (working together) can help that life to live, I think we have accomplished something.
“We are bashful to talk to our White brother. Some of them are good; some of them are not”
“Why not work with the White people? What they learn from us will help us too.”
As these comments illustrate, the Elders’ notion of “control” is much fuller than we understand in current legal agreements. Elders advocate control through respect.
A short traditional story for children makes the point:
There was a little bird who had a nest with eggs in it. The birds flew away. The eggs were left. One broke open. The little bird came out. It started walking around. It was looking for something. My grandfather asked me – “What is the bird looking for?” Finally, he came back to get the egg shells. He found a hole and buried the egg shell. He covered it with moss and dirt. My grandfather asked – “Why is he hiding the egg shell?” That bird had respect for the egg shell. If he left it, something would step on it He don’t want something to step on it so he put it away. That is when they tell me the egg shell is his Grandfather. The little bird respects the egg shell to put it away. Our people when they have a big potlatch say in the Tlingit way – “our eggshell”, that’s our Grandfather we talk to. This is what I was explaining to the children, to respect Grandfather and Grandmother. If you don’t have respect your life will be short, because you don’t listen to anybody. But if you listen to your grandfather, your life will be longer. (Donawaak)
Between the cultures we must be cognizant of the fact that we are emerging from an era of harsh racism and stark segregation. Elders tell us to prepare ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually for the new dialogue. And they caution us to watch our words.
My grandfather used to tell me, if you are going up the river, cut a pole so they can push your boat up. Before you give it to your partner who is going to help you, you got to run your hand over the pole. If you don’t sharp ridges on it will cut your hand. Then your partner will not help you. You have to run your hand over the words before you say anything. I tell my children. They are beginning to listen, how to respect each other.
In a context of respect, “control” involves tribal takeover of programs; developments of complete cultural models of child care services and establishing critical intercultural linkages.
New Child Welfare Act
The new Child Welfare Act allows for the delegation of responsibilities for child protective services to persons outside the Alberta Social Services and Community Health department. This will enable Native communities to develop their own child welfare services. This objective is being pursued in dialogue with many Indian bands and other Native communities. Yet without understanding and incorporating traditional Native child care practices, Native communities will only be developing a parallel child care system brought with the same problems existing in the present child care system.
The Province of Alberta has led the way in encouraging Native communities to take over their child care services when the first tripartite child welfare agreement was signed in 1973 with the Blackfoot Indian Band at Gleichen. Ten years later, a similar agreement was made with the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Council; a thrust supported by federal as well as provincial governments. Band children are cared for on the reserve, by and large, and nurtured in their own cultural environment. Very few children now leave the reserve for purposes relating to the need for child welfare services, whereas when the agreement began in 1973 almost 150 children were in temporary guardianship, most of them in non-Native foster homes off the reserve.
The Lesser Slave Lake Agreement promises to have a similar impact. This Indian Regional Council is currently readying itself to assume full authority and responsibility under the new Act. To date it has been occupied with developing community resources and training its staff. Yet a major question that needs to be asked is: Are we only creating a parallel child care system that does not understand or meet the unique cultural needs of the Native community but only mimics the present child care system.
Discussion & Recommendations
Alberta Social Services and Community Health is focussing on Native families and children in its child welfare services. The need for this special attention was verified by departmental statistics and by a growing awareness that Indian and Metis people want greater involvement in the case planning for Native children as well as in the actual administration of child welfare services. The 1980s will likely form an era in Canadian and Alberta history where Native communities seek a return of functions from government to the community with a special focus on prevention and early intervention, as well as on the utilization of Native resources which allow for incorporation of India, and Metis cultural values and customs (Alberta Social Services, 1985b). In December 1984 the Minister appointed a Working Committee on Native Child Welfare, a group of Native community workers and senior civil servants assigned the task of assuring that Native issues and Native families are considered in the implementation of the new Act and the evolving new service systems. Although the Provincial Government desires Native communities to take over their own child care services a major problem now arising in the province is budget cutbacks. The Government seems unwilling to put sufficient monies into the necessary dialogue process, consulting process and education for Natives to develop effective bi-cultural child care service. Instead the Government seems only willing to allow Native communities to take over the existing mono-cultural child care services that presently service Native children, complete with their existing budget problems.
Further, the push for privatization creates both challenges and problems for Native communities. Problems in terms of competition for limit funds and people resources. Challenges in terms of taking control and development potential of a bicultural paradigm. As privatization and tribal assumption of child care services is already underway, the following recommendations will focus on the development of a new bi-cultural Native child care paradigm:
I Development of Culture Based Child Care
Family Tree: The disruption of Native family life has resulted in a loss of traditional oral histories and family lives. One way to prevent further loss of family history and to mitigate against the danger of intermarriage is by creating and writing family trees. The children must know who they are.
Extended Family/Clan Networking: It must be openly acknowledged that anonymity does not exist in closely related Native communities. The western weakness is a Native strength when key Elders, Aunts and Uncles are identified and used as critical child care resources. These traditional experts should be compensated in some form for their services.
Elder Participation and Networking: Tribal child care workers need access to key Elders in a structured way. That is, Elders must be seen and used as policy makers, educators and quality control experts. Their roles should be clearly stated in tribal child care services and they should be compensated for their work on par with non-Native experts.
Inter-tribal Networking: Tribal child care workers must have the opportunity to meet with their counterparts in the tribes. Elders must also be encouraged to travel and enter into dialogue with Elders from other reserves. Finally, more audio-visual materials must be developed on the evolving Native child care services so that geographically scattered and isolated reserves may exchange information.
II Intercultural Linkages
Climate: The atmosphere of reconciliation exemplified in Catholic churches recent apology to Native people must be continued. Sometimes the best way to begin cross-cultural communications is with an apology. Those agencies dealing with large numbers of Native children may wish to follow suite as Native people complement these efforts following traditional practices of preparation.
Communication on appropriate levels: Leading non-Native child care experts and top agency administration must have the opportunity to meet with their counterparts – Native Elders. Tribal child care administrators may be a link in this dialogue. Communication amongst these Native experts will provide direction and guidance to the transfer and development of Native services. Working through the Elders will also promote strength and renewal to the original system of child care. this process will also halt the present destructive trend of using westernized Native child care workers as the benchmark for cultured people.
Creating opportunities for inter-cultural dialogue: Native people need the chance to meet and share with good non-Native people. Gatherings like Tiospaye in South Dakota provide a model for positive cross-cultural communication. Headed by Virginia Satir and Sioux Medicine People approximately 70 people from around the globe meet with an equal number of Indian people to spend four days each year working on family , spiritual and cultural communication issues. This could be done in Canada.
II Higher Education Level
The time is propitious for the universities and colleges to commit themselves to a more concentrated effort in training Native child care and social services workers. Native groups and organizations are keenly interested; government social services agencies (federal and provincial) are anxious to hire qualified Native practitioners. We must develop academically sound programmes which take into account a variety of training needs and methods, yet maintain credible standards (Collins, 1986).
It will be no easy task to develop education programmes and support systems for Native and rural students that will adequately compensate for major deficiencies in their early education as well as compensate for deficiencies in existing programs.
The following points need to be considered to enhance education opportunities for native people:
Native people see the need and value in tailored western training.
“Successfully synthesized (biculturally functioning) Indian people must receive human services training. They must be trained to consciously ease the transitions between the Indian and the non-Indian worlds, which must no longer be left to chance.”
Professional training has merit – “as you return certified, it shows people on the reserve that even though we want to get back to our traditional ways, we do realize there’s a white world out there and we’re arguing with a white problem.”
Credentialing is important, “it’s good for funding…it gives you a sense of accomplishment…it’s some credibility and helps if you want to move on.
Curricular must be modified to include Native content, screening of admission criteria must reflect the contribution Native people offer to social work programs.
III Creating Opportunities for Communication
Trent University Native Studies discovered that it is not enough to give advice, to tell the young “go back and talk to your elders” or “your culture is valuable”. People have trouble following such advice; we need to create opportunities to learn from each other. Universities can co-organize events like Tiospaye and can research models of positive cultural communication.
IV Inter-cultural Research
The university can play a vital role in identifying and creating materials, methods and structures that will lead to emergence of positive inter-cultural infrastructure. Examples include the identification of existing integrative and appropriate social science practices. Native social scientists are working alone in fields such as reality therapy, dream analysis, ethnomethodology and community organizing. University research efforts can link these Native social scientists with their western counterparts.
Articulating a culture (Elder) based model of Native child care services brings together the secular and sacral. As a science, western social work does not include religion in its paradigm, yet spirituality is the foundation of Native science or truth seeking ways. Because of this difference it is important that the two systems remain discrete yet connected through an infrastructure that promotes understanding and unity. These considerations have been addressed in a number of Native projects. The Tlinget, Chilkoot Camp which provides a Native cultural/survival camp experience for children of all ethnicities is a good example. Chief Donawaak who established the camp concludes this paper.
“When you’re talking to the newborn baby, when that little baby listens, it stays there, everything we say. Anytime that child starts talking, its (the words you spoke to it) going to come out in front, like the tape recording when you play it. That’s the reason we talk to our babies so that what we try to teach will stay in its mind.
This is what I am doing with the children. These trees we see all around us, the roots are together. Spruce, hemlock, pine tree, birch, everything. All that is growing under some berries, salmonberries, raspberries, everything that is growing has roots. All the roots stay together. Then the grass grows and the flower grows. Right now you see the trees that are coming out, just like a newborn baby they start growing. Our grandchildren, they are just like a flower growing under the trees. Anyplace where you look there are different colors. When I opened the camp here, they asked me “What are you going to do? Are you going to teach just the Tlingit?” I told them, “No, this is for everybody.” They told me I am crazy. I told them maybe I am crazy. We used to be crazy ourselves. We used to fight with our white brothers. Now we adopt them, different colors. My son was married with white girl. My daughter was married with a white. Some of them are married with the Filipinos. They are all different colors. This is what the flower is. All different colors, what is growing. This is the children, they are growing as the grass and the flower. They are newborn babies, they have to learn.”