Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Is there such a thing as "Indian Time"?

This is kind of a neat, thought-provoking article from Indian Country Today.

It's about "Indian time" - a time I've heard about since... always. I usually actually hear about it when everyone shows up late (and I do mean everyone!) I've had friends who travel a bit say that it's not something particular to Natives, that many cultures (or just people) have this sense. I liked what one of the women in the article said:

''More and more, I am convinced Indian time is just 'human time,''' said Native
poet Sondra Ball of New Jersey. ''Humans were not meant to keep exact times. We
were meant to live within the confines of seasons, light and dark, and our own
body's rhythms, which are not the same from day to day or from year to year.''

"Human Time". I like it.

When I asked my dad if he thought there was Indian time, he said there was, but he hated when it was used in a negative context (like to simply describe being late all the time). That Indian time just means not early, not late - it's the time when everything is ready. It's when everything is just right.

That's more a concept I can gel with. I always thought it was kind of funny that whenever I had a party, my roommates and I could determine when everyone was going to show up within 15 minutes of when they would. We named the times for when people showed up - from "Joe time" at 15 minutes early to "J.R." time at three hours in. But it all worked.

This has been true for nearly every Native cultural event I've attended, and it does not mean everyone is late. In fact, you have to plan for coffee being there an hour or so early, for those that show up then. You don't neccessarily start when it's supposed to start. Well, pretty much never. But within an hour or so. In fact, I went to a potlatch a few months back that began three hours after the scheduled time (and had already been rescheduled just the day before to begin three hours before that!) But nobody really expected it to be starting much earlier than when it did.

The point is (I suppose), the time was right. If people showed up at the potlatch (which was a memorial/honor potlatch) expecting it to start much earlier, there was no stress about it beginning so late. When the time was right is when we began. Human time.

So - how many of you are on "Indian time"?


Unknown said...

That is really funny! I have always heard of "gay time!" It runs the exact same way you describe "Indian time!" And folks run on their own time schedules. I am one of those arrive early and leave early types ... I like things on the quiet side, myself. Others, I know, will always, but always arrive two hours after the announced starting time ... it is just expected of them. It is "gay time" after all. Interesting to me how much I am finding in comman between our two cultures! LOL


CelticDiva said...

When I sang in the gospel choir, I always heard it as "CP (colored people) time". If that's all true, then my white skin is just a costume because I must be a person of color underneath!

I personally think it's a right brain/left brain thing. Us right-brainers can't watch a clock to save our lives!

Anonymous said...

I've heard of Queer Standard Time & Pagan Standard Time too, so I like the idea that it's just Human Time.