Native American piece

Native American piece - Epistemology and American Indians...

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Epistemology and American Indians Lee Hester Halito. Chim achukma? Sa-hoschifo-ut Lee Hester. Chatah sia hoke! Which is to say "Hello. How are you? My name is Lee Hester. I am a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. I begin my talks in this way to help emphasize the differences between Native American people and others living in North America. This greeting directly exemplifies differences in language and allegiance. To those that know the law, it points toward differences in legal status and the fact that there are laws that pertain only to American Indians. To everyone, it should point toward the deeper differences in culture and with some study, it perhaps hints at basic differences in world-view, or what might from a native perspective be termed "presence-in-the- world." I do not and cannot claim any special authority on these issues, I am neither a medicine-man nor an elder. However, I am an enrolled member by blood, I prefer the term "citizen," of an Indian Nation; I grew up in Oklahoma-which in the Choctaw language means "Red People"-among Indian people, including my own relatives; my main associations are with Native American people. That, combined with a small amount of western philosophical training, may enable me to provide some observations-hopefully presented in a way which makes them meaningful. The topic "Epistemology and American Indians" is a grand one. One which I undoubtedly don't have all the "answers" to, and maybe don't have any answers to. As I said, I'll mainly present some observations, though my Euro-American philosophical training will drive me to some deductions based on the observations. Throughout this paper, I'll use terms like "Native American" or "Indian" as if my conclusions are readily applicable to the peoples of all the sovereign Indian Nations. This isn't necessarily true, though I do think there are many similarities from nation to nation. As Viola Cordova has said, any Native American has more in common with any other Native American than with any non-Indian. A short story will serve as a jumping of point for the rest of the talk. I have used this story elsewhere, so I hope I don't bore those of you that have heard it before. A few years ago I was the professor of a course called "Native American Identity." I won't say I was "teaching it" for many reasons. One of them is that I tried, as much as possible, to use members of the Native American community-particularly elders-as the real teachers. I like to think it is because I recognize that they are the ones who can truly teach it, not just that I am lazy. One of our speakers was John Proctor, the oldest living Creek medicine man. He is the uncle of Wanda Davis, a good friend of mine-so I was able to persuade him to spend a three hour session with the class one evening. Mr. Proctor is a key practitioner of the traditional Creek religion. He is the medicine man for a stomp ground. "Stomp ground" is the name given to the ceremonial grounds where the Creek practice their religion. Mostly the students asked the kinds of questions you might expect. Since they
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Native American piece - Epistemology and American Indians...

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