Tag Archives: indigenous

Native American Books: Reading List

Books about indigenous culture, religion and history. These are definitely worth checking out, for natives and non-natives. This will be an ongoing list, because I am always sniffing out new books and I read a lot.

If You Only Read a Few, Read These

  • Do All Indians Live in Tipis? Questions and Answers from the National Museum of the American Indian by the Smithsonian
  • An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  • Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder by Kent Nerburn
  • Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria Jr.

 

Generally Awesome-Religion, Culture and History of Indigenous Peoples

(Not specific to any one tribe)

  • 100 Native Americans Who Shaped History by Bonnie Juettner
  • God is Red: A Native View on Religion by Vine Deloria Jr.
  • The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder’s Journey Through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows by Kent Nerburn
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
  • The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men by Vine Deloria Jr.
  • Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future by Melissa K. Nelson
  • 100+ Native American Women Who Changed the World by K.B. Schaller
  • The Circle is Sacred: A Medicine Book for Women by Scout Cloud Lee
  • The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions by Paula Gunn Allen
  • Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman’s Sourcebook by Paula Gunn Allen
  • Two Spirit People: American Indian Lesbian Women and Gay Men by Lester Brown
  • American Indians in WWI: At Home and at War by Thomas Britton
  • Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law by David Wilkins
  • National Geographic on Indians of the Americas by Matthew Stirling
  • First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History by Colin Calloway
  • Indian Herbology of North America by Alma Hutchens
  • Sacred Plant Medicine: The Wisdom in Native American Herbalism by Stephen Harrod Buhner
  • How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts by Frances Densmore
  • Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians by John Swanton
  • Native American Stories by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac

Specifically Awesome

(Focuses on a Particular Tribe)

  • A Sacred Path: The Way of the Muscogee Creeks by Jean and Joyotpaul Chaudhuri (Mvskoke)
  • Creation Myths and Legends of the Creek Indians by Bill Grantham (Mvskoke)
  • Creek Religion and Medicine by John Swanton (Mvskoke)
  • Creek Indian Medicine Ways: The Enduring Power of Mvskoke Religion by David Lewis Jr. (Mvskoke)
  • The Wind is My Mother: The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman by Bear Heart (Mvskoke)
  • Native Plants Native Healing: Traditional Muskogee Way by Tis Mal Crow (Mvskoke)
  • Totkv Mocvse/New Fire: Creek Folktales by Earnest Gouge (Mvskoke)
  • The Creeks by Michael Green (Mvskoke)
  • The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from the Four Directions by J. T. Garrett (Tsalagi)
  • The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing by Lori Arviso Alvord (Dine)
  • Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth Fenn (Nueta)
  • Dreams and Thunder: Stories, Poems and the Sun Dance Opera by Zitkala-Sa (Yankton Sioux)
  • Uprising: The Pueblo Indians and the First American War for Religious Freedom by Jake Pace (Pueblo)
  • Black Elk Speaks: The Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (Oglala Sioux)

You are not "Honoring" us. You are Hurting us. 

Today I heard that the Coweta public schools made a horrificly racist homecoming float. I didn’t believe just how racist it was until I saw it myself on the news.


I was so disgusted that I nearly vomited.

My hometown is the ‘Catoosa Indians’. And in Tulsa, the Union Public schools is the ‘R*dskins’. Both are racial slurs.

Now I’ve openly displayed my disgust of these mascots because they reinforce racist stereotypes, contribute to further cultural genocide, and teach children that racism, hatred, appropriation and annihilation of a race is acceptable, along with telling kids it’s okay to objectify and fetishize an entire group of unique cultures and peoples. 

It’s not okay. It’s unacceptable. But as a young adult in a world of middle aged white people who refuse to listen to me, an actual native person, it’s really hard to make a change. But this recent development sent me over the edge. I did what little thing I could to try to make a difference.

So, I’ve created a petition to ban all Native American mascots in Oklahoma. Other states have done it successfully and good things have come out of it. One would think that ‘Indian Territory’ would have been one of those states. And while Oklahoma City has passed legislations and ordinances to make changes, and have made positive changes, the rest of Oklahoma sits on its racism with an extreme amount of appropriative ignorance.

These racist mascots do not promote peace, they promote hatred and violence towards indigenous peoples. You are not honoring our cultures, you are mocking them and offending us. 

It’s time to change the mascots, guys.

If you are reading this, thank you so much for reading my blog. Please consider offering your support to the indigenous people of Oklahoma who are so desperately trying to preserve our traditions and cultures and sign the petition here.

A Cultural Appropriation Masterpost

This will be an ongoing list of informative and educational posts by not only myself, but other members of the POC community. They are all properly credited and when you click on the link, it will take you to their post and their blog. Please support POC bloggers and give them a follow!

Also, if you have made posts or know of really good cultural appropriation posts that you would like for me to include in this post (because my search skills can only extend so far haha), please shoot me a message with a link! Since I make posts only on ndn issues (since I am ndn), there might be a few more posts on that subject until I can find more posts to even it out! Thank you for reading!

 

The Basics//

 

First Nations and Native American Cultures//

Central and South American Cultures//

Pasifika Cultures//

Black and African Cultures//

Asian Cultures//

Roma Culture//

 

 

 

The Mvskoke and the Boarding Schools

As recounted by Mvskoke author, Bear Heart,

“Even after we were settled, that was not the end of our problems. Our children were taken from their parents and forced to go to boarding school, where they were not allowed to speak their native tongues–they had to speak English. They boarding school was a government school, so they had to march to and from class, make up their beds, do everything as if it were a military camp. This was forced upon our young children. Back then Native people took pride in their long hair, but the children had to have their hair cut short. Sometimes the administrators would just put a bowl over a child’s head and cut around it, then they would laugh at the child.

Those are the things that we endued. And yet today in our ceremonies, many of our people still pray for all mankind, whether they be black, yellow, red, or white. How is it possible, with a background like that among our people, to put out such love

On Totems/Spirit Animals//

What are Totems and Spirit Animals?

The terms ‘Totem’ and ‘Spirit Animal’ refer specifically to those beliefs and traditional practices held by various Indigenous, Native and First Nation cultures. Some people are born into their totem, some are chosen, some go through a rigorous time of cleansing, facing obstacles, fasting, and vision seeking to earn their ‘spirit animal’. The animal chooses the native in this instance. These totems are seen as not the spirit of an individual animal, but instead the collective or ‘head’ spirit of that species. It is not an ‘animal’ representation of the person’s own personality, like some new age white girl hippie zodiac shit might say it is. A native’s totem or spirit animal is a collective soul of a species of animal that has chosen that native person specifically in order to teach them lessons and offer their guidance for the rest of the person’s life.

Do you have one?

I do. I am Mvskoke Creek and Western Cherokee. I earned my spirit animal after a period of 5 years, starting when I was about 17. The obstacles and trials I faced nearly killed me, on multiple occasions. It was not until I was about 19 that I realized what was going on and when I was 20, my animal appeared to me and chose me. I have been learning diligently from them and their people ever since. I am constantly grateful and appreciative that they chose me.

Okay, so, how can I get a Spirit Animal?

You can’t. Unless you are a member of an Indigenous tribe that practices a tradition of Totems or Spirit Animals, you cannot have one. The process of receiving or being chosen by one varies from tribe to tribe, and native to native, and it is a very personal and private matter.

But, other cultures have Spirit Animals???

Actually, no. No other cultures have totems/spirit animals in the exact same sense as Indigenous peoples do. However, many other cultures do have traditions that refer to ‘clan animals’ and ‘animal guides’ (such as the Nordic Fylgja, which is a guardian spirit that takes the form of an animal that best represents their human’s personality.) but these are more closely related to the idea of a witch’s familiar.  A person can relate to an animal, connect with a specific spirit of an individual animal and learn from that animal. An animal can represent a family’s lineage and their characteristics throughout the bloodline’s history. That does not make it your totem or spirit animal. These phrases, ‘spirit animal’ and ‘totem’, are tied directly to the colonizer’s ideas of  those practices in Indigenous religions. Because of centuries of having our cultures ripped from us and beaten out of us, we have lost our original terms for many rituals and important spiritual aspects of our cultures. So we are reclaiming the English words used for them, much like the terms ‘two spirit’ and ‘smudging’.

So, why exactly is it so bad if someone says they have a Spirit Animal?

It’s usage in modern new age culture is a mockery and insult of its original form. It’s just another piece of our culture that was violently taken from us. We weren’t allowed to speak our own languages, or practice our own religions, under penalty of torture, for hundreds of years (Yes. Hundreds. Colonization began nearly 500 years ago and we are STILL being persecuted. See the NODAPL and Standing Rock situation going on right now for example). While white children jokingly say, ‘omg Johnny depp is totally my spirit animal!’, we are still struggling to reclaim the pieces of our culture that were stolen and held from us at gunpoint. Totems and spirit animals are an important part of many tribe’s religious beliefs, and are seen as a right of passage for many. I, for one, never considered myself an adult until after my animal chose me. I had to EARN their guidance. It’s not something you can just take an online quiz for, or joke about. Bottom line is, if you aren’t native, you cannot have a spirit or totem animal. You can have individual spirits of animals that you befriend and learn from, sure. But not spirit animals or totems. They are part of native cultures and native religions. Not native? Then it’s not something you can have.

Please do not send me any hate over this post. I am neurodivergent and very prone to panic attacks. I will not hesitate to block and delete anything that may threaten my mental health. Thank you so much for reading. Mvto!

On Smudging//

//What is Smudging?//

Smudging is a traditional religious ceremony practiced by a majority of First Nations, Native American and Indigenous peoples. Smudging is done to prepare a space or a person for a spiritual ritual or ceremony, or the arrival of spiritual leaders and elders into a sacred space. The burning of herbs is often accompanied by chanting, singing, fervent prayer and sometimes musical instruments. The particular herbs and techniques will vary from tribe to tribe and clan to clan, which is why the method is often past down from family members and tribal elders.
//How can I Smudge?//

Unless you are Native and have been taught by family/clan/tribe members, you cannot smudge. Native religions and cultures are closed to outsiders/non-natives.
//But other cultures smudging!!!??//

Actually, they use smoke cleansing. Smoke cleansing is the burning of purifying herbs to cleanse an area. It is a very basic procedure. The term for it is ‘Cense’. If you are Celtic, it is ‘Saining’. This process is completely different and unlike Smudging. Many cultures all over the world smoke cleanse, and have their own techniques and specific herbs they prefer. However, Smudging is a term that refers specifically to a religious ritual practiced in nearly all Indigenous tribal cultures. Because of centuries of having our cultures ripped from us and beaten out of us, we have lost our original terms for many of our religious rituals and important spiritual aspects of our cultures. So we are reclaiming the English words used for them, much like the terms ‘two spirit’ and ‘spirit animals’.
(I had originally posted a section here about the specific beliefs of my tribe, but I decided to take it down as this post usually gets a lot of discourse and I do not want my tribe’s beliefs exposed to negativity.)

I do not speak for all Indigenous peoples. I am Mvskoke Creek and Western Cherokee. I am what my people consider a Kerrv, a medicine person who has learned their practice through various sources and with experience. Please do not send me hate about this post. I am neurodivergent and prone to panic attacks. I will not hesitate to delete and block anything that could threaten my mental health. Thank you for reading. Mvto!