For Original Instructions book group: do the assigned readings before you come to class on the date listed; enter your reading homework for these three questions here (be sure to add useful comments on your topic page).

2/28 3/14 3/28 4/11 4/25
Read Preface, Intro & Ch 1-6 (p. 52) Read Ch 7-12 (p. 115) Read Ch 13, 14, 15  & 17and post responses for Preface, Intro & Ch 1-17 (16: optional)(p. 167) Ch 18, 19 , 21,  23, 24, 25, 26, 27 (20&22: optional) (p. 250) Ch 28, 29, 30, 31 & 33  (32: optional) and post responses for Ch 18-33
  1. Explain how one idea in the reading relates to other topics already covered in class or something you learned elsewhere (another class or life experience).
  2. List what you think are the three to five most important points made in the reading.
  3. Write a question to provoke discussion among others who read the same passage.
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40 Responses to “Original Instructions

  1. kirsd Says:

    Explain how one idea in the reading relates to other topics already covered in class or something you learned elsewhere (another class or life experience).
    The idea of re-indigenization in the end of the book is what struck me hard and close to home. Growing up Hawaiian in Hawaii has been the biggest blessing that I have received in my life. Being able to know my culture, know the history of my people, and be constantly reminded by my family to be proud to call myself Hawaiian. But for many, infact most of the people that I have come in contact with in my journeys away from my island home can not and sometimes do not tell you where they come from. This is because they either do not know the culture tied to their ancestors or because they have lost a connection with the land, the land they grow up on and the land from which their ancestors came. This is something that I have always known and have learned through living away from home that it is something that I would have never expected to be so seldom in this world.
    In the section called “defining re-indigenization,” Greg Cajete of the Pueblo people, John Mohawk of the Seneca, and Julio Valladolid Rivera of the Andies of Peru speak on education, disconnection, and intellectual property rights. They spoke of the plight of their people and in doing so spoke to the “unintentional” effects of normalizing the human desires that have taken shunned the relationship we have with the earth.
    Greg Cajete spoke of recovering traditions vs preservation of culture and finding new respect for the things that we’ve always had. He said that there is a difference in many native peoples approach and understanding of re-indigenization, whether it is having total language loss and have been forbidden from cultural practice or know all of this and must focus of insuring the longevity of this knowledge. For my people, exemplified in another reading about the Kalo plant and the integral connection between food and people, we have had many hurdles to overcome. From our lands being stolen, to being forbidden to practice our culture, to our lands being used for commercial sugarcane, to the disintegration of the agriculture industry and our states modern dependance on tourism, the Hawaiian people have been fed through globalizations machine. Our land has been taken, our food is no longer traditional, and yet out culture is still very alive in the love that Hawaiians have for their culture. Most Hawaiians want to know about the old ways but do not have access to this information and the ones who do may be so swept up in trying to insure that land is available for their family to live on that they become dependent on service/tourist industry jobs that is almost impossible to escape and manifest the duties our kupuna(ancestors) left us.
    I am one of the very lucky Hawaiians that is able to study social sciences in higher education. Most people I know stayed home and now work in restaurants serving tourist or in hotels doing the same. They work all day to sell some form of “indigenous” that people come to Hawaii to see. They come for Aloha but not real Aloha. Real Aloha is the love that comes from your heart in the purest and truest form. Real Aloha is the connection that people have to one another, to the land that they rely on to nourish them, and the land which they steward. Hawaiians know that we are not the owners of the land, but rather stewards sent to watch over the land until a time when our lives are no longer ours and the land then goes to the next generation for them to respect and care for the aina.
    In Hawaii today most kids no longer want to eat the traditional foods. Kalo in the Hawaii creation myth was created when Papa and Wakea had their first child, a still born, whom they planted in the earth and who turned into the Kalo. When they had their other children, humans, they told them to give thanks, praise, and protection to their older brother because it was he that would nourish them. Kalo is the staff of life for the Hawaiian people, but the commodification of intellectual property rights (an attempt to GM the Kalo) and the effects of globalization are clouding the minds of the young Hawaiians.
    Poi, a paste made from the Kalo, is kind of bitter. I didn’t really like it when I was a kid but growing up in a family where everyone ate poi I grew to love it. But most kids do not have the access to poi, fresh food being expensive, and have would rather have twinkies or some other stuff they see on the TV. Everything is a commodity.
    As up and down as it may seem, in my lifetime I have already seen more revival programs for language, native agriculture, and push for land rights. Although it seems rough, I know that even me sharing and typing this right now is an important part of the process of education and decemination of knowledge. Sharing to try and foster more understanding and give light to the realities of my paradise home. Hawaii has its poor, its problems, and its indigenous people trying to find a larger voice. But in the words of John Mohawk, re-indigenization is not just about native people of a certain place, its about re-indigenizing the people of the planet to the planet. Until we can all recognize that we are all human and deserve respect then there will continue to be misunderstanding, misguidance and mistreatment. We must have the courage to find the respect that we have lost for the earth because it is something that we have always had and believe will be ours forever. We are of the earth and we belong to her, all that we are will eventually become earth again and the same was true for our ancestors and the generations to come. Respect is key.

    Main Points of the Reading:
    Humans have gone through many cycles of struggle and revitalization. After the fall comes a chance for rebirth.
    Ordinary everyday humans have enormous power. We have the power to destroy, kill, behave unconsciously, or be enraged at the treatment of the earth and our fellow humans. Our every action creates a never ending cycle of reactions whose causes can mean the loss of anothers life. We are all connected.
    All things Native peoples practiced had to do with seeking life and reaffirming life. Seeking the life of crops, of water, of animal and plant to reaffirm that our own lives could and would survive because we are all intertwined.
    Unless we learn to respect and love all humans, then the distruction of the world will continue to happen because we will continue to criminalize and exploit the people who do the dirty work of a systemic problem.

    One Question:
    Would you go without all of your privileges (homes, food, water, education, access to healthcare) to work to feed those who now feed you? We need to have the compassion and readiness to start to understand and heal the devastating degradation of our planet and human race.

  2. mayapuhpaya Says:

    1.The idea that most fits with class lecture is the concept of looking back in order to look forward. Recognize balanced systems, most are indigenous systems…we have lost the ability to create balanced systems because we have forgotten what things and who needs to be nourished.
    2. The first most important point is that colonization has not only negatively affected native peoples but also descendants of the colonizers themselves!(Gonzalez 299). The second important point, though it may seem obvious is that globalization, capitalism, imperialism…you name it is causing crisis. The book however offers that turning to Indigenous Knowledge will give us fore site. A third important idea is the “ecopoetic balance” presented by Alarcon who himself had to relearn his traditional ways. One other concept that stood out for me was that most westerners live lives full of things, chores, work and devices that keep us from thinking like humans (Trudell)

    3.If we (as westerners-descendants of European colonizers, African Slaves, Native Peoples, Modern Slaves and Refugees) chose to reclaim some of our own traditional cultural practices, would we (like the native voices from this book) realize that our ancestral cultures hold the solutions to our problems? Would we be willing to adopt practices that are conscious of place, because there is no place on earth or within our galaxy that could support an imbalanced system?

  3. mtcaldwell Says:

    4/25 Assignment

    1. Plant varieties currently used in industrialized agriculture are frequently poor in nutrition. The problem is often compounded by preparing the foods in ways
    to make them more convenient to market rather than food quality.

    Reasons for growing a particular plant variety are almost always based on profit, vary seldom on their dietary merit. A vegetable or fruit that can survive mechanized cultivation, harvest, processing, and shipping is valued most. Shelf life and a blemish free consistant appeearance count for more than vitamin content.

    2. Quality native nutrition was based on a wide variety of LOCAL plants. Almost every plant was used for something, food, medicine, fiber, fuel…

    Moving basic bulk foods (calaries) to distant markets is not a good solution. Large corporations destroying local farming to create a larger market for themselves does great damage to local agriculture and welfare.

    Local foods help to create and sustain local cultures as well as diets.

    Cultural and dietary diversity provide a built-in “seed bank” ti preserve plant varieties and genetic diversity.

    In order to respond well to climate change we need to provide as wide a base of plant genetics as possible to adapt to changing growing conditions.

    My family maintains a perpetual yield timber farm in the Sierras. Rainfall and
    temperature patterns are already affecting our timber and other plant varieties. Depending on the pace of change, we will select well adapting trees of our base species for replanting. But if the pace of change is fast, we will be forced to select new species to replace what we have. The large the selection we have to chose from, the better our chances of maintaining production. Our farm is meant to last for generations. We will not be able to simply pick up and relocate to a new forest site.

    Likewise, large populations around the world will not be able to migrate to new
    “greener pastures” when they can no longer grow their traditional crops.

    Without the ability to remain in their current cultural areas, many local populations will be faced with choices of starvation or war with their neighbors.
    “The Shoes of the Fisherman” was a movie that had as a subtheme a looming war due
    to crop failures and populations forced to try to take their neigbors crop land.
    At the time I thought the idea far fetched. Today it seems very possible.

    3. How can we have higher variety and nutrient quality in our food? Are large farms more productive/efficient. Large multinational corporations the best source of our food?

    1. mayapuhpaya Says:

      I love the connections you have drawn. It makes me think about the degradation of indigenous diet through colonialism. In the end we have really shot ourselves in the foot. The “old way” had knowledge of placed based diet–early colonizers were quick to bring the southwest wheat…whose subsidies became the model for our current food system.
      Yuk.

  4. abellac Says:

    1. I recently went on a surf trip to Kauai. While I was there I noticed the very small taro crops and the overwhelmingly large coffee and sugarcane crops. Taro, (or Kalo) the native food of the Hawaiian people, is mentioned by Mark Paikuli-Stride as a dying native food along with its native people’s connection their natural earth.
    2.Important points:
    1.We all came from the sea.
    2.Re-indigenization of plants and eating.
    3.The food value is weighed in life force, not dollars.
    3. Where do you buy your food from, where is that food from? What is that food wrapped with? Does it live somewhere where you can live?

  5. megmem04 Says:

    I really enjoyed the second section of Original Instructions. I loved how they focused on the repercussions of our diet. John Mohawk had an article that spoke a lot about the change in what health means in between our current culture and that of indigenous peoples. “Every single possibility that they have at their fingertips can be tried; they are motivated to watch and see whcih foods help people the most. Not which foods help people make money, which foods foods have the best biological impact, especially on young people, and old people.”(174) This quote is very indicative of our current motives within the health care industry. It is based upon profits, not upon what is truly healthy for our bodies. The whole book speaks of a distinct interconnectedness we all share, and this book is no exception. The ending articles all come full circle with the first half of the book. This interconnectedness provides motivation to protect it. Tom Goldtooth brings up the perspective that most indigenous people share, we are all two legged creatures and with this fact, we all have a mind that gives us the ability to reason and figure things out, but this ability is a gift from the creator and must be used to find ways to live in harmony with our Mother Earth as well as all creatures we share our world with. “The relationship to the sacredness of our Mother Earth and all her children defines our spiritual, our cultural, our social, our economic, and even the political relationships that we have with each other in all life.”(221) This statement, comes back to meet with the principal in the beginning of the book that relationships we share between each other are the best indication of how we, as a society and culture, will survive for future generations to come. Overall, This book has cemented so many feelings within myself. There are many, very simple answers to the issues we face today. Although simple, they will take work in implement. If everyone took the time to treat one another with respect, it may be the beginning of our shift towards a more loving way of life. A way of life in which we don’t decimate our Mother Earth with every decision.

  6. mtcaldwell Says:

    1. Idea(s) – Working with (living in tune with) nature gives better results than trying to control nature.

    I live in a very rural wildland and have experienced storms, floods, fires, quakes, draught, pestilance, and destructive wildlife.

    As the old saying goes, its easier to swim with the current. I have spent much money and effort trying to “control” nature. It’s a lot easier and yields better results when you try to understand nature and work with it. This means “don’t build your house in a natural water course”, “don’t leave your free range chickens unattended”, “don’t plant non native plants just because they’re pretty.

    These are simple examples but the princilpe can be expanded to not blocking streams with dams where there is a high volume of silt.
    My old home of Napa had lowlands along the Napa River. These lowlands were the natural overflow for the winter floods. They provided wet lands when flooded and grassy fields when dry. Real estate developers saw it as level riverfront property. Many houses were built. The City gladly accepted the building fees and taxes on the homes. Every 10 years or so the area would flood and the people would leave. A few years later a new crop of home owners would pay to move in and the cycle would repeat. Felton Grove housing is a good local example. People should not build in a natural flood plain. Simple rule, seldom followed.

    2. Ideas, A. We are responsible for each other.
    B. We must live in tune with our world not just master it.
    C. Resources belong to all, not just the rich or human.

    3. My biggest discussion question is “Can practices used by small groups using few resources in large living areas be applied successfully to high density, high consuming, urban populations?”

  7. kirsd Says:

    The over and underlying issue that stood out to me throughout many speakers was the importance of human interaction. The ways that we treat one another as humans is a mirror of the disrespectful and negligent ways that we treat the earth. But with people waging war, exchanging hate, and supporting capitalistic ideals with the mistreatment and degradation of human life for the pleasure of a one dollar sock, cutting down the old growth and losing alignment with the earth is not only understandable, its inevitable. Human actions support the “extractive frontier” from our ideas of entitlement down to the organization of our governments and the ideals that run them. What so many of these speakers where advocating was that we must learn to live with and find unity with one another, very quickly, or fall to the same fate for our ignorance.
    Finding understanding amongst people who vary in every characteristic from physical difference to moral sets and ideologies is key in finding peace with the earth. In our current society we forget the importance and sacredness of each human life. So many of the speakers whose words we read spoke of unions that we as humans are bound. This includes our reliance upon and duty to earth as stewards and also to the responsibilities that we have to one another. Expressed in the introduction as “we must heal the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, starting with ourselves,” this quote exemplifies to me the importance of healing and being responsible for our own individual world views. What we have been taught through our lifes experience is ultimately what we as people, as molecularly bound subjects, continue to carry and proliferate. We must look into our own understanding of the importance of human life to find the living heart of every person that we meet in our every day to day and those whom we will never meet but our actions will affect. We must live in consideration for future generations, not only for the people whose blood will stand as a testament to our lives but for all species. The ability to live is dependent on the coming together of human kind and the preservation of the earth, whom without nothing would be possible.

  8. megmem04 Says:

    This book has opened my eyes to so many beautiful indigenous practices. I’ve concluded that the beauty of their livelihood lies in acceptance and simplicity of existence. There is a understanding that we are part of the earth, and the earth is part of us. If we do not take care of her, we will not be taken care of. The indigenous peoples around the world understand that every inch of our land is a holy land and without our land, we will not survive. In lecture, Michelle talked about how there must be a transformation of thinking from our current beliefs, in which the environment is many times of lesser importance that the profits and/or production of materials, to a thinking in which we understand our livelihood is dependent upon the land. This is the essence of the compiled literature; we must transform our perspective of our relationship to the earth.
    Important points:
    1) In the second passage there is discussion of the roots of the eco-spiritual values of indigenous peoples. “We all know that we can kill all human kind with a single bomb. We can destroy the ozone layer. We can blow up the planet. This means the current rules of the game must change. These are not win or lose, power and control scenarios any longer. With the current circumstances, we all lose. (p.33)” This quote encapsulates the insanity of our western influenced thought process.
    2) Another wonderful point is the focus on peace within democracies of indigenous peoples. Their communities are centered around relationships and maintaining peace. There are many kinds of relationships. We have a relationship to our family, the land, and the animals we coexist with. In some democracies there are appointed leaders to bring forth the discussions to protect all; when making a decision about any issue the community is facing, their is a question of the impact it will have on the elders, children, mothers, working peoples’, animals, and of course the land. There is a realization that decisions made today will impact what tomorrow looks like for future generations. The whole community is invited to participate in the discussions that take place between the leaders. This inclusive process provides a foundation of equality.

    My final thought and question…What would a world of equality and peace look like? Minority populations and poverty is created, it’s not a “natural” occurrence. How can we create a more peaceful and accepting world beginning in our own lives?

    1. mayapuhpaya Says:

      These are great points, I also took this quote form page 33 to be almost a challenge. A call to action, it is easier and more comfertable in the short term to destroy are planet and species, however it would be a great feat to turn around our current trajectory- our culture, and our values.

  9. mayapuhpaya Says:

    The creation of positive relationships as addressed on page 46 by Priscilla Settee, is a concept that stood out to me. She goes on to describe restorative practices in opposition of punishment for conflict. This principle is key to resolution and rehabilitation. In a country whose prison system is overflowing, and alternative education is blooming these restorative practices would be quite useful. This demonstartes the principals of restorative justice which many youth in Santa Cruz applied in a time of crisis, as they witnessed some of their peers fall victim to violence. Youth organized with tools of nonviolent communication as illustrated by Megan Biesele, Kxoa=Oma., and /’Angn!ao/’Un in reading ten.
    The five salient points in this book so far have been:
    -that the spiritual and biological connection to land is the key to feeling inspired/responsible to protect the earth
    -positive relationships will lead to responsible connections to resources (both human and non-human)
    -Indigenous knowledge offers a historical legacy with unmatched perspective
    -Growing food and consuming it is a spiritual practice of honoring the land and our bodies
    -With our growing “technology” we must cultivate a cultural and legal appreciation/honoring of indigenous knowledge, practice and technology.

    My final question would be, what is the best way to disseminate this knowledge as we, as a culture, move towards more dramatic resource wars: water, land and food?

    1. megmem04 Says:

      It seems to me like the catapult of change will come with a series of unforuntate events for the mass population. It’s a little pessimistic, but so far even in one of the most conscious communities in the world, there is only a small population of Santa Cruzians who have altered their view of their relationships to our world. It seems as if there must be a distinct and aggressive jumpstart to really change our thought patterns and actions as a whole society; maybe through government? Imagine a government who actually looks out for the best interest of their people. Looking out for our best interest would inevitably include maintaining a world in which all citizen are healthy and cared for. I just really hope this jumpstart happens before we completely decimate the beauty surrounding us.

  10. mtcaldwell Says:

    I was amazed to read the discussion of the Iroquois nation and their role in American independence, the Colonial Union, treaties, and Valley Forge. My knowledge was limited to the Indian Wars and “The Last of the Mohicans”. We were never taught about this in my history classes.

    I thought that their process for selecting a leader
    (rather than a politician) was a better way to select people to govern/lead in the people’s best interest.

    1. megmem04 Says:

      I loved this section of the book as well. The idea of shaping a community of good people and choosing someone who exemplifies a specific combination of traits, honesty included, is much more logical. It was also pointed out that people of the community are involved in the discussions that determine policies and practices used by their elected leaders.

  11. mtcaldwell Says:

    In the section by John Mohawk he talks about “Clear thinking” being required to settle disputes. I saw this as meaning logic. But not the simple mathmatical logic but “right logic”. Logic that takes into account moral/ethical principles.

    It looked to me that native religions could be thought of as evolutionary philosophies that had developed for each group to help them fit into their regional ecological niches. A natural reponse of a culture to their environment.

    In the article he concludes saying ” The knowledge of our environment is a [gift] to us as part of nature, a part of us. Applying this to my comments about the medicine woman, cures should not be patented, they should belong to all.

    1. mayapuhpaya Says:

      I was alos moved by the points he made about “clear” thinking, I see them as free from the clouds that may skew our decision making. Like greed….

  12. mtcaldwell Says:

    I attended a free lecture by a local native american medicine woman.She told us which local plant s could be used to treat various ailments. Her knowledge was freely given. There was no charge for the medicines, the plants were free to be gathered. This is very different from our culture where medicine is an expensive commodity and the knowledge of most drugs is SECRET.

    Exploitation of knowledge and control of resources seem to be the basis for economics in our society. In the medicine woman’s world, the knowleddge was precious and to be shared with all willing to listen. The plants that healed, free to all.
    This is in keeping with indigenous thinking that
    we are all a part of nature and should be aware of how to live with and use nature in our lives.

    1. megmem04 Says:

      This is such a good point to make. In our culture there is a “natural” separation between the haves and the have nots. This separation creates a society in which in order to have, you must keep the have nots in thier place. This goes along with the secrecy of pharmaceutical companies who must maintain status through the monetary gain of their medicinal knowledge; even though we are all of the earth in which the healing remedies are derived from. It is all centered around money.

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