Instructor: Michael Calvert
June 12, 2018
What values are important to the traditional “Indyun way” as related through Keeper’n me.
There are many First Nations people who rely on their traditional ways to reclaim and maintain the identity that was taken away from them. Sadly, in the constantly changing world, the pressure to embrace new ways to do old things cause some Indigenous to forget their values. In his book, Keeper’n me, Richard Wagamese highlights the values that are important to his people, the Ojibways. The main character, Garnet, in his journey to discover who he is, relies on Keeper to find out and learn about the traditional “Indyun way”. Wagamese storytelling style helps to understand “that old tribal way” and that the important values of the traditional “Indyun ways” are, “things like respect, honesty, kindness and sharin'” (Pg 54).
Respect is the one of the foundation of the traditional “Indyun ways”. When sharing with Garnet, Keeper states that “That’s why I help the boy understand. He learned ’bout respect before he ever learned to sing or dance.” (Pg. 56). In other words, Keeper believes that respect is a value that keeps balance in one’s life. By respecting himself and others, Garnet can then show consideration for what is sacred to his traditions. In Seven Grandfather Teachings shared by Elder John Rice and Hector Copegog, respect is represented by the buffalo who “…gives every part of his being to sustain the human way living. He respects the balance and needs of others.” Basically, respect for the traditional “Indyun way” is the core value to the harmony with self, others and nature. Garnet will discover that important value through his learning, when he had to get up and walk over to Keeper’s to pray and make him breakfast (Pg 114). For Wagamese, respect is one of the biggest parts of being Indian.
“Learned to be honest before I let him be a storyteller, … That way he’ll survive anything”, (page 57), said Keeper to Garnet. What the old Ojibway teacher is saying is if Indians’ value is a tree, honesty is the root, and it must be engrained through “TRA-DISH-UNN” (Pg. 2-3). Honesty is when one speaks and acts truthfully. Through storytelling, Indians express the truth about their experience, teach about their traditions and way of life. It is therefore crucial that one remains morally upright, loyal to that will be transmitted. In addition, Indians being used to the broken promises from the government, and those Indians acting around like white folks (Pg. 128), honesty became an important virtue to carry. Tillman Huett-Lassman, Associate Director of Academic Operations says, “Honesty is about knowing what you’d like to be told in a situation and relaying that information as effectively and quickly as possible to the other person.” Obviously, an honest person knows how to use a gift he is been given and uses it to help others survive and thrive. For the Ojibways, it means having an Indian heart, otherwise, your words are kinda fooh-fah (Pg.129).
Among many values Wagamese exposes in his story, kindness and sharing englobe all the teachings about self-balance and the balance of life. Keeper claims that singing and dancing are not enough to be a real traditional Indian. One needs to practice the tradition “day by day” by being kind and sharing with other unconditionally. He confirms that by saying that the very last time someone handed you some food and you show gratitude through prayer and use the strength from the food to help someone else, then that is an Indyun way. Further, Keeper insists that by doing something for someone without being asked, thanked, or praised about it, this is being a real Indian (Pg. 55). In other words, by living life selflessly and finding balance in within self and all living things (7 Grandfather Teachings) is the tradition that makes one Indyun. Wagamese illustrates that well through Garnet canoe trip on the lake, alone, to discover himself. Keeper offered Garnet tobacco, white pieces of cloth and a string and reminds the young traveler to make an offering of gratitude to the land, pray for others and be thankful for everything.
HYPERLINK “https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328703000491” l “!” D.Groenfeldt The future of indigenous values: cultural relativism in the face of economic development. Volume 35, Issue 9, Pages 917-929, Elsevier, November 2003 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328703000491#!
BIBLIOGRAPHY AuthorLastName, FirstName. Title of the Book Being Referenced. City Name: Name of Publisher, Year. Type of Medium (e.g. Print).
LastName, First, Middle. “Article Title.” Journal Title (Year): Pages From – To. Print.
Tillman Huett-Lassman, Associate Director of Academic Operations at Sunrise International (2017-present)