Monday, September 12, 2005

Rolland Nadjiwon Replies

[Rolland had a few things to set straight about the blog I posted yesterday about "The Backbone of the World." So, with his permission, here you go...]

Just a couple of things Mary...I think it is great, but, my last name is spelled "Nadjiwon". I emphasize this because there is a dispute in our family if the spelling is 'Nadjiwon' or 'Nadjiwan'. We just tell everyone the ones who use the 'a' never got past the first letter of the English alphabet.
Also, I am potowatomi. I have been a trapper but not for a number of years now. Educator...yes. I teach University Courses in English Composition and Rhetoric, Indigenous Literature, Native Literature, Culture Studies, Cross-Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Literary Theory (I enjoy this the best) and Creative Writing (this is my second).
Potowatomi:  I am a part of the potowatomi from the Western Indiana, Illinois, N. Missouri and E. Idaho. We are prairie potowatomi and lived peacefully in the designated Indian Territories until gold was discovered in the Black Hills. In the 1840's we were invited to relocate to Kansas and Oklahoma. What we called the 'mission indians' accepted relocation and were marched in what we call 'The Trail of Death' to Kansas and Oklahoma.
There were those of us who refused to relocate and stayed in our homelands until the United States sent the cavalry to issue a re-invitation. We managed to elude them for some time but we were quite a large group. Some of the kickapoo were with us also. We made the decision to split into two groups and one would move North into Canada and the other would move South into Mexico. We are the ones who came into Canada. We consider ourselves political refugees and our homeland as occupied territories. We are still trying to repatriate our lands or, at least, some part of them. Notre Dame University is on unsurrendered lands. They do, in recognition, give special considerations and scholarship waivers to potowatomi.
We still keep in touch with the potowatomi and kickapoo in Mexico. Some years ago, we had a large potowatomi gathering and a couple of potowatomi were sent from Mexico to bring us fire from the original fire in our homelands to build the fire for our gathering. I was not able to attend but a friend of mine took a charcoal from the fire, mounted it for me and gave it to me as a gift. Why the fire? Our name, potowatomi, means 'keepers of the sacred fire'. We kept the sacred fire for the 'council of the three fires', the Odawa, Ojibwa and Potowatomi. They had kept this original fire going in Mexico for now nigh onto 165 years now.
I thought I should explain all this so my alternate information would not offend and you would understand how important this is in the lives of our people and my own life personally, also.
I am not with my potowatomi community but with my mother's people, Ojibway, here at the head of the Great Lakes in Sault Ste. Marie. My Dad moved here when I was a child because the potowatomi, when they came into Canada, were in Ojibway territory and they did not appreciate that we would not become christians, go to school, or settle in permanent homes. We brought our tepees and horses with us. Must have been one 'hell' of a struggle to do that with all the lakes and rivers in this territory. I don't think we were ready for that. In response to these factors, the ojibway communities that did take us in put us on those lands the least conducive to survival. Survival:  That is how I ended up here in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
After 165 years, we are still not happy with the arrangement, individually or collectively. There are funds held in trust by the US gov't for the potowatomi in Canada but we refuse to take it. We want our lands. All they are offering us is 2.5 million dollars which in over 100 years has not increased or collected any king of interest. Strange eh.
So...that is a bit of who I am. Kind of a long response...hope it is worth it.
rolland nadjiwon
"The prospect in a few hundred years of just one language per nation, and then just one language for the whole world ... is indeed real."

[Then I asked Rolland whether he uses “that French stuff” I can’t understand when he teaches Literary Theory. All that "post" and "de" stuff like postcolonial and deconstruction. Made him laugh. Then he had recommendations.]
Actually there is a lot of the postcolonial theory that is not french but out of india. If you think the french are convoluted try reading some of Homi Baba :) Two that I find quite good are Gomez - Moriana, Antonio. Discourse Analysis as Sociocriticism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1993. In particular his ninth chapter: The Emerging of a Discourse Instance: Columbus and the Invention of the "Indian". Also, the works of Ong. Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the World. Methuen: New York. 1982. All of the works of Walter J. Ong are, for my purposes, excellent and also exciting. I also use works and references from the writings of Joseph Campbell.
Usually, my theories do not follow the western pedagogical or canonical highways. I prefer "the path[s] not taken"... :)


[What Rolland and I have in common is this preference for paths not taken -- oh, and Joe Campbell. I keep calling him Ol' Joe Campbell, but people rebuke me for being disrespectful. I thought being called "old" was a term of respect.]


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Anonymous said...

i have read only a few blogs and am compelled to read them all and savor them.i can not scroll and read leisurely at a computor so i hope permissible to copy,compile and cherish all of them.thank you for making them accessible.

Randa Nadjiwon-Cancade said...

I just wanted to say a Miigwech to Rolland for the long explanation of our family. I am on of many grand- daughters of Wilmer Nadjiwon, the great Indian Carver from Cape Croker. My long story tells the tale of how I ended up here in Metis country in Brandon,Manitoba. Still on a journey of self- discovery, I was just recently given my spirit name. Interestingly enough when you recieve teh answers you thought you were looking for, you are left with more questions. Anyway it is always nice to stumble along another relative on the great Web.