The Navajo prior to Spanish colonization were a stone age nomadic people.
At what point in their absorbtion of the greater cultures technology do you
think we should protect their folk ways?  45 years ago when I lived on the
Navajo reservation,  the reservation Navajo was just beginning to adopt the
truck as a mode of transportation.  Most Navajo women walked or rode in
horse drawn wagons.  The men walked or rode horseback.  Horse/wagon
technology  came  from the Spanish.  They were semi-nomadic using 3 homes in
a cycle throughout the year as they grazed their sheep.  A technology and
folk way that they also got from the Spanish.  The cradle board was an
essential technology to that economy but was carried over from the ancient
culture.  The point is that the Navajo that I remember with fondness and
nostalgia as "The Real Navajo" was a corrupted culture that had been
corrupted in the 16th and 17th century by Spanish colonialism and it is the
most ancient of technologies that you would like to abolish.  The young
Navajo woman I spoke of has Aunts who live in Denetah (the reservation) but
she is uncomfortable around them.  They do not approve of much of what she
believes concerning a woman's role and since she speaks no Navajo find it
difficult to express their folkways to her.  Navajo does not translate well
into English.  The time sense is totally wrong.   The folkways she is
learning is of another mostly artifical culture,  that of the cigar strore
Indian, the Indian of Hollywood and AIM (the American Indian Movement).  She
is a Christian,  her Aunts are not.  She has used a Christian medicine man
(her words)  for counselling and feels uncomfortable with her Aunts who
practice the Rainbow Bridge religion.  I would hazard a guess that her Aunts
would be ecstatic to teach her Navajo and no one from the greater culture
ever interfered with that happening.  It is her choice and continues to be
her choice.  She could even attend classes at UNM, her alma mata, and learn
it without moral lectures from her Aunts.

What points of this culture do you propose to capture?   The ancient Navajo
was a warlike raider of sedentary people.  They were every bit as violent as
the Apache and were feared more than the Apache by the Pueblos.  That Navajo
was not a sedentary agriculturalist.  As part of their economy they would
plant a crop and then leave it returning only for harvest if there was one.
They were hunter/gatherers who basically might gathered a crop of their own
or Puebloan.  The Puebloans were their favorite prey for food and slaves.
Since the greater American culture is one of law and order I don't think the
ancient Navajo folkways would fare well

BTW,  instead of a cradle board the young Navajo woman would use a modern
portable carseat.  If she wanted to carry her child herself she would use a
modern belly pack instead of a blanket wrapped into a tote.   A further BTW,
the beautiful Navajo jewelry which is so valuable today was a technology
given to the Navajo by the Spanish in an attempt to provide the Navajo with
some other economy beside war raiding of the Puebloans who the Spanish (dare
I say Hispanics or Latinos)  were trying to exploit in a much different way.

Rick Seddon
McIntosh, NM, USA
-----Original Message-----
From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2001 9:51 PM
Subject: Re: Dans le Restaurant and the Commedia

Dear Rick,

I agree with your main conclusion, which was, I think, my main point
originally.  And although I have not at all studied the situation of the
Acadians in the same way, I live in Maine, where the largest minority
except native Americans is Franco-American.  Many of my students grew
up in French speaking homes and were forced to give it up.  I had one who
told me in deep distress that she knew no French anymore but her dreams
were in French, and asleep, she could understand.  I was not saying
everyone else was angelic, only that the glorious triumphalism of the
English language was pretty problematic.  So the fact that others also did
horrible things is not at odds with what I said.  I also do not think that
elimination of fleas and cradle boards logically entails the concomitant
elimination of identity, language, culture, etc.,etc.  They really might be

Unfortunately I don't think lack of sensitivity is limited to the 17th and
century.  The 20th was about as brutal and insensitive as one could get
and had better guns.

Date sent:      Wed, 21 Mar 2001 12:03:49 EST Send reply to:
[log in to unmask] From:           [log in to unmask] To:
[log in to unmask] Subject:        Re: Dans le Restaurant and the

In a message dated 3/21/01 9:31:42 AM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

> "The Story of English" was extremely well done, and I assume the facts
> were pretty accurate, but the thesis it promoted was, in my view, very
> problematic.  The only section I could really evaluate was on Scots (and
> to some extent Gaelic), and I found it infuriating in its assumptions
> about the wonderful way English supplanted them.  It simply did not
> happen that way nor was its priviliging welcomed.
The world seems to be moving towards an "international" culture or
monoculture, which is good in some ways and bad in others. I hope we'll be
able to do this and still retain the best of each "minority" culture being
supplanted. I think, however, that it might be misleading to politicize
this or paint it as a form of oppression.

One has to allow people in any part of the world to live their individual
lives in the way they want. If a Mayan Indian wants to go to Bahrain and
become a petrochemical engineer, that's the person's right, even though it
might remove him or her from the mainstream of Mayan culture. If people in
Russia or China like fast food, and are willing to stand in line at a
McDonald's restaurant, that's their right, even though I'm sure there are
other people in China and Russia (and plenty of Americans) who hate the
idea of fast food.

There's no alternative to this kind of dissemination that isn't oppressive
in itself, besides being completely unworkable. The UN can't just order
everyone in the world to live in the "traditional" way their ancestors
did, and speak the ancestral language. A significant number of people want
to make other choices, and it's been quite a while since most people in
the West seriously followed the ancestral ways. Sure there are peasants in
Turkey still baking bread in stone ovens. But there are also people in
Istanbul living much as one might live in any large city anywhere.  And we
don't need to necessarily see the city dwellers as traitors to any
nationalist or ethnic cause.

English seems to be becoming, so to speak, the lingua franca of the
Internet. The advantage of a worldwide language (remember Esperanto!) is
that it fosters communication. Certainly one can find unfairness in
whatever language it happens to be, just as one can find unfairness in
modern businesses all over the world having to use such untraditional
tools as computers, telephones, and cash registers. But I do think it's an
unstoppable trend, and the world in the end forgets the unfairness. The
trend is judged by its results. I'm not saying this is right or wrong.
Just that I don't see any way of addressing what you perceive as
oppression without instituting a greater oppression--the tyranny of the
group.  That's the "stay with your own kind" (and preserve the culture)
theory which has already been tried, and not everyone liked the results.