Saturday, July 26, 2008

Real Native myths and legends, #1

Some conversations lately have led me to begin a series on "real Native myths and legends." I don't mean the kind of "myths" that are actually historical and spiritual stories. I mean the common misunderstandings, fictions, or just plain ignorance about Native people and culture. Some of the misunderstandings Native people believe.

For instance, what is the real situation of the "Native alcoholism problem?" Do Natives really get free health care? What makes a Native person "traditional?" Why is subsistence such a big deal? Does every Native person get a bunch of money from the corporations? For that matter, do they all get a bunch from the government?

Some of them are really just questions of cross-cultural communication. I was speaking with a friend recently, about a coworker of hers that was upset over something a Native man had said, she felt it was extremely rude. When we heard about it, it was easy for us to see he was actually being very formally polite, it was a total cultural difference.

In any case, beginning tommorrow, I would like to begin addressing many of these issues. Now, I don't mean all of what I say is what "all Native people think" - that's an unrealistic spot to put anyone in. But many of these issues just aren't addressed in print, and many times they can make it uncomfortable to ask about.

All that being said, I hope people will post or e-mail their questions, comments and opinions.

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