Since we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and since it is, for many of us, time with family, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy a leisurely trip through Native America and the “hat” that the elders of the tribe carried with them.
And in addition, since we’re coming up on a holiday season, how about a free give-away today, as well? Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered into the give-away.
Interestingly, my own grandparents weren’t a part of my upbringing. My mother’s mother died in childbirth and my grandfather on her side lived pretty far away. My father’s father had died before I was born and my grandmother on his side (where my American Indian heritage comes from) became lost of her wits in old age, and was put into a home when I was very young. When I had children, my own mother was deceased as was my father and my ex’s family never seemed very interested in our family. Although they lived only 40 minutes away, we only saw them once or twice a year — and even then, we had to go to their house on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Rarely did they ever visit us.
So until I became a grandmother myself, I didn’t realize that there is a “hat” there, until suddenly it was thust upon me and I was left gapping…oh my gosh…there’s something a grandparent is supposed to do. What a concept for me…I hadn’t realized…
The picture above by the way if of Grandfather George, who lives with my husband and myself — although of no blood relation, in Native America all elers are called Grandfather or Grandmother, and so for my husband and myself, he is a grandfather in many different respects.
Anyway, upon realizing there’s a “hat” here, I took to studying, looking and delving into the American Indian Culture to see how they historically viewed and how they treated their elders. It is said by a very wise man that only by looking at how a society manages its young, its old and its infirm (treating them kindly) can one tell the state of civilization of that culture.
So if this be the case, then one could say that the American Indian culture was well advanced. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s have a look at many of the ways in which the average American Indian treated his/her elders. The photo here is of me and my granddaughter, Lila, at her birth.
Not all tribes were the same, so much of what I’m telling you is what I know of the different tribes — mainly the Blackfeet and the Lakota. In both the Lakota and Blackfeet tribes, the elders taught the children…any elder. Often the mother or the father was so busy doing other work (like we are today) that the actual care of the children would fall to the grandmother. In Native America the grandfather was important in teaching the child about the tribe, about the wisdom he had accumulated in his life, instilling in the child a deep respect of life and of the tribe itself.
It is said that all life passes along its wisdom to the new generation — even a cell when it divides passes on all its knows as part of the genetic code of the new cell. Knowledge — important stuff. It was this “hat” that the elder in Native America possessed. In addition to taking care of the young, so as to allow the mother and father to do other work, it was the duty of the elder to pass along as much widom and knowledge and he or she could. Thus, the bond between the young and old was forged and life continued on uninterrupted. Elders were respected by all tribal members, their past energies and accomplishments carrying along with them into old age. Often the elders sat in on the tribal counsel, if only because of the wisdom which often comes as we grow older.
It’s my belief that the best that we have to offer to the next generation should not be left to sit in nursing homes as though they are no longer useful, and that unless that elder needs constant or urgent medical care, he or she is in good form when teaching the young — doing what God created them to do in sharing their knowledge of interaction, of nature and of life in general with the young. These people are natural teachers — the best perhaps…and propaganda – free… And in this day and age that’s a value that is without a price.
There are some cultures in this modern age that seem to delight in the degradation their elders — putting a price tag on them in their later years (as though their earlier years of service were for nothing) — even death “counselling.” But I think that if one looks at real history — not necessarily that sort of history that one is taught in the public schools — but real history — one will see that those cultures that degrade the elderly, the very young and the infirm are fly-by-night cultures, not flourishing and certainly not a safe place in which to live.
Well, all that said, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject — one that is dear to my heart. How were you raised? Did your grandparents have much influence in your life, or were you, like me, raised without knowing much about them?
Let me take a moment here, also, to wish you all a very happy and wonderful Thanksgiving.
From us — my mother in law, Joyce; my husband, Paul, in the background there, and me.
PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN, on sale now at: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/karen-kay-pa-1676.html?PHPSESSID=70ea05a7c5a9faf2bb09340450e61605