No Child’s Red Behind Left

Imagine an education concerned with students, instead of with the corporations that only want docile drones, or with (Wannabe-)Suburbanites who want quiet, dead neighborhoods and conforming, boring, ‘vanilla’ neighbors.  They do tell us the word education comes from two Latin words meaning to lead out … not to repress and conform and restrain….

Anti-abortion, but Pro-Obama at Notre Dame

As per tradition, the University of Notre Dame has slated America’s President (of the Federal Executive Branch, anyway…) to speak at graduation.  Right-wingers, conservative/Republican Catholics, and some self-appointed anti-abortion spokespeople are piling-on this great school and American tradition, and even trying to get the local Catholic bishop to apply the (thumb)screws.

The U. is clear they don’t agree with Obama on everything … as I’m sure they haven’t agreed with ANY speaker on EVERYTHING.  Sign a semi-official online petition in support of the school, academic freedom, and civil dialogue.

As a great(?) man once said, I ain’t never heard of anything so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about!

IQ and Thanksgiving

I just read here about Inuit (Canada Eskimo) traditional knowledge being called (in the Inuit language, Inuktitut) Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or IQ.  LOL!  That’s so cool!  I know *I* couldn’t pass this IQ test!!!  Hell, if what we laughably call civilization collapsed tomorrow, I’d probably unknowingly eat some noxious weed growing out of the ground and croak!  That’s right, we’ve all been “taught” how to survive in a supermarket – or worse yet, McDonald’s – and Heaven forbid we should ever find ourselves without one!  Seriously, we should all learn some Native knowledge about wherever we live, in case we need it someday;* we probably need it NOW!  It might help us more to “walk lightly over the earth.”

(*–Interestingly, it took the Peanuts gang to remind many of us that when Squanto, one of the last Patuxet Indians after a British smallpox epidemic devastated “New England” and the Maritimes, taught the Plymouth “Pilgrims” and Co. how to survive in their accidental new home in Massachusetts [vs. New York], he was passing on to them the traditional knowledge of his by-then-dead village nation, something not done lightly by Indigenous Peoples today because they usually end up regretting it.  Had he not done so, the colonists might have died, or abandoned the colony.)

Indigenous liberation through language-immersion?

That’s the premise of this essay from Andrea Bear Nicholas.  I can certainly say how “neat” it felt taking a weekend ‘semi-immersion’ course in Irish Gaelic in the ’90s, I who previously “studied” Spanish, Latin, Biblical Greek and Hebrew.  (Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams once commented how he “loved to talk Irish in front of the White House!”)

I might even extend the usefulness of the idea a little more, such as one time when I was involved in discussing labor union business in Spanish right in the lunchroom, in an Anglophone workplace that subsequently sought to ban this behavior.  I guess there’s more than one kind of community-identity that can be facilitated by “minority” language!

Indigenous genocide

Andrea Bear Nicholas teaches and works in Native Studies at/from St. Thomas University in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.  Read through this brief talk transcript at least twice for an inside sense/feel of the genocide that’s still going on against Indigenous people and peoples around the world, including the U.S., as well as “kinder, gentler” Canada.  Against children as well as adults.  Even now, after the closure of the Residential Schools, even now, in “politically correct” government schools.

I think if there’s even ‘one drop’ of ‘Red blood’ left in you, it’ll “cry out to Heaven for” redress.

Professor Bear Nicholas’ talk also raises the question for me, as an Irish / Native American convert in the Greek Orthodox Church, of, What about more-recent immigrants and their languages and cultures?  (UPDATE: Also see FURTHER, below.)  Well, bilingualism, English-French, remains the federal ideal in Canada, although as we are told, there are probably more Chinese speakers than French in British Columbia!  (Tho BC is perfectly entitled to adopt Chinese as an official language … and Manitoba, Ukrainian … and Nova Scotia, Gaelic … etc.  How about Mohawk in Quebec?!  Send Gilles Duceppe back to school! 😉 )  As Bear Nicholas points out, when even school is a “cross-cultural experience” for an oppressed minority child, it’s alot harder: Look at how some majority adults need to receive special training in cross-cultural this and that!  So the alternative is not necessarily two – or more – “solitudes” in a country; she also points to so many Europeans who are multilingual.  (As British “executive transvestite” comedian and actor Eddie Izzard reminds us, “The Dutch speak four languages and smoke marijuana!”)  But it also reminds me how unnatural and perhaps unnecessarily difficult, such humongous and “diverse” conquest / immigrant countries are … maybe frees us to think of better, time-tested ways, tolerant rather than physical-force- or other-force-genocidal.  Can you imagine the Romans trying to impose Latin on the Greeks or the Jews?!  (Tho that scene has more to do with latter-day English schools than 2,000-years-ago Mideastern politics!)

Just thinking…!  Not advocating the violent overthrow of the government or anything.  (I need my driver’s license!)

She also shows how we *all* need Aboriginal education, not just Indians.

Finally, what kind of mental health can be expected from what imperialists have put the rest of the world through?  What blowback?  Suicide, schizophrenia, substance abuse, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, desperation, “unreasonableness,” dangerous romanticism, ideology, demagoguery, fragmentation, civil strife, sectarianism, overdependence, “fundamentalism,” “radicalism”…?

FURTHER

The difference between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is just that, indigeneity.  In nearly every land there have been Indigenous peoples compromised by non-Indigenous settlers, conquerors, invaders, exploiters, overwhelmers, displacers, etc.  Sometimes their ancestors may not have relocated voluntarily, as with Slaves in the Americas from Europe and Africa.  But non-Indigenous peoples in one land are indigenous to other lands, or their families, their family cultures, languages or dialects, surnames, physical appearance, etc., are.  In theory – I say in theory – if they decided they didn’t like it in the new land, they would in some sense have a home … land … to “return” to, one where they might not stick out as much as if the Indigenous of their new land moved there, one where, if many Irish-Americans are typical, they might even feel an instant ‘mystical’ connection to, even before the plane lands there.  For Indigenous, where they are IS their home … land.  As hospitable as folks in other lands might be, it wouldn’t be the same, especially if the Indigenous in question have managed to retain some Indigenous sense of connection to their home … land … soil … etc.  In the ’90s I thought a little about emigrating to Ireland, but since I’ve learned more about my American Indian background, I wouldn’t dream of leaving the Americas permanently!  I’ve realized as never before in my life a relationship to this soil that goes back literally eons; it’s part of me.

All this may be one good way to understand the special status Indigenous peoples have in international politics, often in domestic law, treaties, countries’ customary law, social ethics or morality or social justice, racial or ethnic justice, etc.  Or should, or aspire to.  Indigenous peoples have been victimized in ways that prove to be fundamental to the very existence of the modern countries in which they now find themselves encapsulated, ways that in doing so fundamentally compromise Indigenous peoples’ way of life, spirituality, economy, language and self-expression, freedom and rights, homes and habits and customs, etc etc etc.  In former times often Indigenous peoples would simply be “terminated with extreme prejudice,” forcibly assimilated, exiled – all things we now consider criminally genocidal, or aspire increasingly so to do.

Orthodox vision of human rights?

Last week the quadrennial Council of all Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church from throughout the world promulgated a statement, The Basic Principles of the Russian Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights, discussed here by Interfax’ religion service.  It’s been a topic of discussion and continuing work since the release of the year 2000 Council’s The Basis* of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as of course ongoing human rights criticism of Russia, Serbia, and some other Orthodox and neighboring countries, the spread of the U.S./NATO/EU eastward into the former Warsaw Pact and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Western-backed ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, and threatening in Belarus and Mongolia, as well as notable contradictions in Western human rights and election practices itself.  It doesn’t seem available on the Web in English yet, but Interfax emphasizes its confrontation with what some Russians, using a term echoing the “militant atheism” reference to Communism, are now calling “militant secularism”:

According to the authors of the Orthodox vision of human rights released Thursday, “blasphemy shall not be justified by the rights of artist, writer or journalist.” Under the pretence of human rights protection, civilizations “should not impose their lifestyle patterns on other civilization{s}” and the human rights protection “should not {be used cynically to} serve interests of certain countries.”

The right to education provides for gaining knowledge with a view to cultural traditions and visions of a family and a person. Most world {cultures} are based on religion, therefore, any comprehensive education and upbringing should include the basics of religion which created the culture where such person lives,” the Basics read.

The document also states that private life, vision and people’s will should not be subject to “total control”. “Manipulation of people’s conscience and choice by government agencies, political powers, economic and information elites is dangerous for the society. It is also unacceptable to collect, concentrate and use information on any aspects of person’s life without his/her consent,” the Basics’ authors believe.  {Corrections, emphases, and clarifications Tiernan’s.}

Of course, most Russians living today well remember the abuses alluded to in the last paragraph!  I can’t endorse it without seeing it in detail, but I commend its reading, at least, to all of us who seek to deal rightly with Eastern Europe, the Orthodox World, and ultimately the whole Two-Thirds World.

(*–Sometimes translated as Bases, the plural of Basis.)

Complex math among ancient indigenous

So complex I can barely follow this 16-minute talk (blog post linking to video with pictures; maximize video if possible to see the pictures), maybe since I only got to Algebra II, junior year of high school!  But fascinating!  Even roots of computer science.

The guy says informing young minorities in the U.S. of this fact improves their performance in math and science.  Very cool!

(I just hope he got that African Native priest’s permission to share with the whole world what he was reluctant to share with him at first on account of its cultural / religious sacredness….)