Unedited Session Transcript
Native Hand Talkers
John Sargent, Julie Clay, & Mark Azure
>>: Can people see me all right? Can everyone see me? Do we need more light up here, do you think?
>>: Is there a way to boost the lights just a bit? Can somebody kick letter lights up a little bit, the overhead lights? Are they on a dimmer or something? Let's give it a try, see what it looks like.
>>: I'll present from-where would you like me? Over here somewhere? Okay. All right. Thanks. Thanks, Kathy. So I guess we should go ahead and get started, shall we? Good morning. That's in Indian sign language, that's how this is signed. Everyone else knows how to sign in ASL, of course, right? We would say good morning. Well, welcome to our presentation, native hand talkers, indigenous deaf culture in the United States. That's how we would sign this. Indigenous meaning those from here, North America. You see this sign represents north and South America so we're talking about indigenous people from both continents. My name is Mark Azure. Julie Clay is sitting over here off to my left. And John Sargent is this fellow here. They will talk more about their own backgrounds and their own programs, and I'll explain more about who I am.
I'm a deaf person. I was not born deaf. I became deaf when I was three years old, because of German measles. And I grew up on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. I was near the town of rows bud. It was rows bud reservation. Some of you may have seen the movie dances with wolves. That's where I'm from. Near pine ridge. It's right next to that. That's-so that's where I'm from, rose bud. I spent a lot of time as a youth living in Indian country, until I was about five or six years old, and I went to the city and I felt like I was in the European white world. There was just-I felt like I was on a different planet, and I really felt like I wanted to go back home to Indian country. I was very upset. I would tell my parents I really want to go back, but the problem was I really didn't understand what was happening. I didn't sign back then, I had very little communication.
What we did was we went to the audiologist for a hearing test, and that's sort of where I became involved in the deaf world. So at that point I put my Indian culture aside, until about 1995, at the I DC, inter tribal defense counsel sill group was established. I think the first was Oklahoma in '94 and then it was in New Mexico in '95, in Albuquerque, and I was thrilled to go there. At the same time I was kind of apprehensive. Because I'd, you know, left the reservation and joined the white world, and since then I'd drawn all these parallels between the two and I hadn't had much contact with that and I was nervous to go back. Why should I feel that way? I should have been proud to reappear but I didn't feel that way inside. I had to really overcome these fears and go ahead and get involved in the Indian deaf world, and I felt like I had so much time to make up for, and it was just very exciting. I felt like a part of my life that was missing was reunited and I was whole again, and my identity was whole.
I teach sign language classes at Portland Community College now, and I also do-work with the interpreter training program, as well. And I have been teaching at Portland Community College since 1979, so it's been quite a while. I'm also involved in the NMIP, the national multicultural interpreting project, and that's based in El Paso, at El Paso Community College. And I've been involved in that project I think for four or five years. We had a grant and the grant money has run out, and we're still continuing to focus on primarily Indian sign language and interpreters. Inter tribal defense counsel sill, we're doing some recruiting for our mentoring program. We're looking for hearing Indians who would like to be involved in the deaf Indian community and to develop those kinds of ties. So that would be a- that's an excellent bridge for people who are in Indian country both on and off the reservation. I'll talk more about that as time permits. And so we'll have a presentation on that after a while, we'll be opening it up for questions. John?
>>: I'm going to voice help Julie get her voice out there.
>>: Good morning. I'm Julie Clay. I'm with the American Indian rehabilitation research and training center. Good morning, I'm Julie Clay. I'm with American Indian rehabilitation research and training center at northern Arizona University. We discovered-well, we didn't discover, we became aware of a underserved Indian population of deaf American Indian population so we wrote a treaty packet to increase the cultural understanding of sign language interpreters who work with American Indians and Alaskan natives who are deaf. And that's why I'm here with Mark and John, to present cultural knowledge that came from (inaudible).
>>: So that's Julie Clay. She's the training coordinator at one of 40 research and training centers across the United States, funded by the national institute on disability rehabilitation research. Under the U.S. department of education. My name is John Sargent. I've worked there for two years. Julie is my supervisor. So I came into the program after the training was done to help write the reports, edit the reports, and I was involved in year 3, where they kind of debriefed the whole training, what did we learn, how did it go, what happened, how are we going to disseminate this information and get it out to the public, so that's how I got involved. And one of the exciting experiences for me, I don't know sign language, I've never been around deaf people, until I just went on assignment from Julie, go to this inter tribal deaf council and represent the organization. Now I've been around Indians and Eskimos in Alaska, I lived in Alaska seven years, my best friends were Eskimos, still are to this day. I've spent some time with them in Fairbanks, I've met them in Union, but I've never been in the deaf Indian culture and all of a sudden I show up at this conference, I set up this board and I got to figure out how to communicate. So that was a challenge, and I was using everything I could think of to-and certain people I think- even Mark at times, when you start writing you see the scowl on his face. He doesn't want to write. That's a slow way to communicate. Come on. Speed it up. So I learned there's got to be another way. I could act it, I could sign, I could think of some creative way, I can point. Just like little kids do. I have a two-year-old daughter, she's doing the same thing to me. It's interesting. I'm very interested in signs, I want to learn more about it, but that's how I'm involved. Julie and I write the grants, do a lot of the editing, and Mark was involved in that original project as one of the five trainers to train the interpreters. So I'm going to turn it back over to Mark now and he's going to start a slide show.
>>: Could we just dim the lights for a second, let people take a look at this, maybe these overhead lights? Beautiful. Let's see how many faces you can find in this picture. Okay. Time's up. Now, how many did you find? You found 10? Good for you. 10. Six. Seven, nine, seven, four, 10. All right. John, would you mind operating the PowerPoint for me? Go ahead, hit the next one. See, here's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11. You can see here is the scale. Some people had 10, so that means you are very observant. I mean, for those of you who found four or five, that means you're very observant. You tend to are more auditorily focused rather than visually focused. The reason I showed you this slide in the first place was the Native American culture is a very observant of the landscape, the forest, the rain, animals. It's a really important aspect of Indian culture is to observe what's going on in the environment. People explain things in a naturalistic way. They follow the changes of the earth, changes in the weather, the changes in the clouds. And that's how they express themselves, by studying what's going on. And they're able to gather some information by observation of what's going on in nature. That's the Indian way of being.
Now, when I say that- I'm not talking about the hearing way or the deaf way, I'm just talking about human nature in general. Native Americans feel more of a connection to the natural world. So that's the reason I showed you this particular slide. And of course it takes time. It's not the kind of thing you can do in a hurry. If you hurry through, then you'll observe much less, clearly. In my experience as a trainer working with hearing people and VR regarding Indian business, I really try to emphasize to all these folks that things take time. Be observant. Especially with deaf Indians. They perhaps will need more time to get an understanding of the situation and figure out what's going on. Where do I stand? Over here? How's that? My. Great. Okay, good.
The reason that being observant is important for Indian culture and also for deaf culture, so deaf natives get to be doubly observant. Deaf people of course know what's going on in their environment, so if you add the whole aspect of being an Indian, it just increases it quite a bit. I've met some deaf Indians who still live on the reservation and I would go and visit them and they would tell me to look at something and I would look and look and I really didn't see what they were talking about. I just couldn't get what they were talking about, and they would say, no, look at it. Look. Take your time, and I'd get so aggravated, I couldn't see it. I was stressing myself out, and that's sort of the white world, the aspect of the white deaf community. Getting me aggravated, so I had to put that out of my thoughts and just really go ahead and take the time to notice what was really going on. So that is one key to the Indian way as being observant. So I wanted to give you an example of that with this slide. I'm going to contrast two different perspectives here. The European American values and native values. You can see the list. Here are the columns. We have taken a lot of European values historically that have been carried through the years as part of the current American culture. You'll notice more and more diversity of culture and sensitivity to culture, African-Americans, Asians, natives, in this area more and more, so we can do some comparisons here. Go ahead and take a look at that. If you'll look at this specifically, the whole time element is very important for Indians.
And the I DC conference in Canada, it was in Ontario, I believe that's the sign, Ontario-Ontario. Okay. There's a tribe called the 0 need a, and they are so different from the tribe that I grew up with. The whole I DC process takes time to thank each member of who came and each member involved, and we knew that the log house dance was coming up, and so during this whole period I kept thinking, is it almost done, is it almost done? And of course we went past eight o'clock time. It was 9:00, it was 10 o'clock. Finally the particular ceremony was done and I knew that the 0 need a had that in mind already. They just decided not to do the dancing. And so we assumed that that would happen, but in fact the 0 need a folks waited for us to really finish, even though we didn't finish until 10 o'clock. They said of course we'll wait for you. It's not a problem. We're not following the clock, and people thought- people were getting ready to go back to the hotel and loading into vans, and we announced, no, no, no, even though it's 10:00, 10:30, we're still going to go and have this ceremony that we had planned on. I mean, people were very tired, it had been a long day, but the 0 need a folks just said, well, we'll wait till you finish all of the things you need to do to open your conference and then come over when you're ready.
And so their value was that it didn't matter that we got there two, three, four hours late. Their value was to respect what we needed to do. Part of that is related to when they would wait for the salmon to come and they would catch the salmon with nets. So they just knew that everything would happen in its own time. And so when the salmon came, that was the right time to go fishing. So that is another example of kind of the Indian perspective. And it gives you a good example about the time concept. As opposed to here in America, everything has to happen on time, on time, what tight time is it? Where got to go. What time is it? If you have a watch you'll never know when the salmon get here. The salmon don't have a watch, they don't know what time they're supposed to be in the river. So that's just sort of an-encapsulates some of the differences. Hey, John, would you hit the PowerPoint for me?
Now, this is-I really-this has been quite an experience for me. When you look at the jokes of European Americans and, you know, spontaneous laughter, with American jokes you kind of-it's sort of seems like it comes from your brain. It's like just sort of some little kind of funny reaction. I mean, you feel like you're laughing but it just feels like it's located much more cerebrally, as opposed to native humor, which just comes from your center. It's much less cerebral, much more spontaneous. Get a huge belly laugh. It just feels so different, the two types of humor. So I thought that was fascinating. It feels like you have to turn off the-sort of the cerebral part and let your whole body laugh. But it feels like the laugh comes from your soul, something is that your soul really enjoys. And that really feels terrific, that kind of humor. It's such a different experience, than something that's so superficial. Let me try to think of an example here. There was a picture that showed a white deaf woman, she was showing a picture. She had a tattoo here, on her lower back. She wasn't-she was showing a picture of a tattoo. She wasn't actually showing the tattoo on herself. And the deaf Indian looked at that, and said there's something wrong with this. There's a crack here in the tattoo. And now it killed me. I couldn't believe it. I thought that was so funny. I mean, it wasn't kind of an-it wasn't funny on an intellectual level, it was funny right in my soul. And I had a very hard time explaining it to the other person, what are you talking about? She just didn't see the humor in it at all. You know, that's sort of- that term crack must have been-I tried to explain it to her and, you know, she couldn't-she just couldn't quite get it, and I said look, the picture of the tattoo is on your butt, you know, you see the crack right there above your pants line, and this white deaf woman was so humiliated. And then a couple of minutes later finally she got it, and she-it finally penetrated from the cerebral level right to her soul, and she got the joke, but-so that's just an example of humor. How the brain works and how decisions are made. It's sort of the whole-everything is made on- all decisions are made on an intellectual level, and actual feelings are locked away. That seems to be the European American perspective. I think that the native perspective is much more agreement, much more harmony between mind and body and soul. It's sort of like there's two minds going on and once they get to agreement, then a decision can be made. That's more the Indian way.
The Greeks and the Romans, they had-their symbol for medicine was sort of snakes around a pole. You may have seen that in your-like on your health insurance card, you know, in their logo, you'll see that kind of-that pole with snakes going around. It's kind of a very old-fashioned medical symbol. The goal was to look for the disease and cure it. Overcome it, whatever it was. That's kind of the European perspective. Whatever the problem is, get rid of it, cure it. As opposed to the native perspective, that in order to cure disease all spirits must be aligned. If your spirit is healthy, then your body will be healthy and you need to achieve a balance. And harmony. For example, here with Europeans and their perspective on health, if someone is sick, then they don't consider the fact that something could be wrong with the spirit. We just focus exclusively on the health of the body and don't even consider the other aspects of the entire person's health. Do people see what I'm talking about? Does that make sense? Go ahead, John. Go ahead, take a look at this. Go ahead, John. Okay.
Let me explain this graph here. You have your office, where you work, and perhaps there is a cross hanging on the wall because you're a Christian person or there's pictures of a person, for example, that you admire, an eye dole of yours, Martin Luther King or someone like that, for example. So that would be your cultural setting. And so when an Indian comes into your setting, the question is will that person feel comfortable entering your cultural milieu in your office, and the answer is it really depends. And their cultural setting is respect for the feather, it's usually a staff with a feather. That's an object of respect. Or a pipe or a celebration purposes, what might be hung on the wall. So when you enter that cultural setting perhaps you would feel uncomfortable, as well. And the problem is where is the middle ground. I'm not talking about a stark empty room, just plain white walls. Would that be comfortable for anybody? Again, that depends. There would have to be some kind of a compromise between both parties.
I'd like to share a story with you. I met an Indian father who brought his deaf Indian son who was four or five years old, and he wanted-he was wondering if I could go to a meeting and act as a role model at a speech and hearing center in Seattle, and I felt kind of unsure. I mean, my-right away I felt unsure. I'm not sure if that was the-is that the right place for this hearing father of a deaf boy who is native. I didn't feel like that would be a good place to meet. I to the best thing would be to go to his home and that would be more comfortable there, and then they could see me in action so they could observe me first rather than coming to the speech and hearing center and then trying to do it there in an uncomfortable environment and make them feel as though they were under the microscope. So we needed to agree on a place that would be mutually comfortable. He said why can't we meet there? Why are we supposed to meet there? And I said, well, that is our policy. So I asked the father if I could have his phone number-I asked H DC if I could of the father's phone number, and they gave it to me, and I called the hearing father and I asked him, could we meet at your house or somewhere else? Not necessarily at the center. Maybe at a powwow or during some kind of Indian event. And we could maybe meet there. And he was very agreeable to that right away, I didn't have to convince him at all. There was no resistance, it just felt right for us to meet at a powwow.
And then I asked about bringing an interpreter. I said, you know, how are we going to work together, and he said, fine, we'll get an interpreter. So we met at the powwow, and I saw him there, and we had a chance to talk for a while, and I told him who I was and let him see who I was and let him see me speaking with a few other deaf friends who were there, and so I gave the hearing father a chance to see me in action and observe me first, to see what our identity looks like and who we as deaf Indians are within Indian atmosphere. And he felt comfortable right away. And he finally asked me a lot of questions. Some of the questions at first really didn't have much to do with what we were there for but finally he worked his way down to the meat of the questions, and he finally asked, well, what should I do with my deaf Indian son, and I talked about my experience, first I had to tell him my story rather than saying, look, I suggest you do this, do that, put him at the school for the deaf. I think the best way for me to get the point across was what we would do is go together to the deaf school and take a look at it. I mean, on an intellectual level I could have said do that, do that, do this, but that would have left him without any context to make a decision. So that's just an example. This is the sign for medicine wheel. We're not talking about pharmaceuticals. This is just the native sign medicine. Regarding the higher spirit, the creator. So this is the sign for medicine wheel. It functions like a compass, north, south, east and west, with bounds in all directions. I'll give you a demonstration of Eugene-we'll give an example of a smudge at-we'll give you an example of an Evergreen smudge. Go ahead, John.
So it's important that there's balance in all aspects. Go ahead. Go ahead. Whether we're talking about the Indian community or the deaf community events, services, all of that is included at what I'm labeling community. And that means service- your services provided to the deaf people. And also that the person feels centered within all these aspects of the medicine wheel. For example, a father, did the father feel centered to go to the powwow, which is part of his community. So there's a link there between the Native American culture. We're not talking about deaf culture and we're not talking about services. First we had to actually meet and make sure that we could have a rapport and then we could go ahead and-he could go ahead and ask questions and I could tell him about my Native American culture, my deaf cultural aspects, and the services came at the end. And I think that he really appreciated that. So let him make all those-have all that information and decide what to do with his deaf Indian son. He'll need to consult with his family, he needs to maintain that link with his family. It's important that they need to be able to communicate, it's important that he receive a good education. We need to bridge all of those gaps between all these very cultural aspects rather than just building two bridges that would certainly be overtaxed, there needs to be enough bridges between all the areas so that everything can work well together and be balanced.
For example, at AA meetings I notice two Indian deaf folks there, dressed in sort of typical European clothes, and I was explaining about AA and 12 steps and what all that meant to them and like climbing the stairs, and I felt like I wasn't getting my point across. The concept was-the concept of 12 steps was very difficult to deliver. So I went in and explained it not as 12 steps up the stairs but as a circle with 12 sections. I put three in each of these four areas, so there were steps in a circle, and right away it was clear. This fellow had been to many powwows, the circle was a meaningful symbol in his life. So we could take advantage of what he had as a cultural framework and provide new information. I feel like occasionally things are missing, some of the values. When I went to I DC, the inter tribal defense counsel sill, during part of the information sharing we have workshops and education and talk about different things, traditional dances, fancy dancing, what does that mean, and I just was-it helped my attention because my Indian family growing up, I mean, I just watched what was going on, but I had no names for anything. I didn't know the reason behind things. Once I had a label for everything it helped me arrange the concepts, and again, it gave me a balance that I was missing. And this person luckily has been doing well in his sobriety because the bridge- the gap between the two aspects were bridged, and that person has maintained sobriety and feels very positive.
And I think you'll see the same thing with other minority cultures, for example, African-Americans, they're brainwashed by the white way of thinking that, you know, they're inferior, blah, blah, blah, blah, and they just are stymied by their skin color, and the environment they live in, and as they learn they can build a bridge across the gap of what Africa was like and their history in America, and they really are able to do better. I think this is a very similar concept here. You can go to this one down here, John, at the bottom of the slide projector.
>>: Wait. I'll do it fast.
>>: John and Julie are going to show a videotape next, so I think I'll turn it over to John. And then after they're done we'll go ahead and open up the floor for questions before we close, before Eugene gives us a smudge blessing.
>>: This videotape that Julie and I put together, we had 21 videotapes made of a week-long interpreter training that we were talking about, in which Mark was part of the training, so five days in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the New Mexico school for the deaf. What was great about this training was it was dormitory style. The participants stayed in the dorms together. So training did not just go 8:00 to 5:00.
>>: We can't see.
>>: Oh. So this is a clip from the training. You're going to see James wooden legs, who is the spiritual advisor for the inter tribal council. He's northern Cheyenne. You'll see him talking about specific items. This is more detail on some of the Indian cultural things. And also it's very important when he talks about medicine bags and things that a deaf person that ends up in the hospital can't communicate to the doctor, don't touch, don't do this, so these are some important things that we need to get out there. Okay. So people have asked me to talk a little bit about some of these things. These things are very important. Am I hearing medicine for IDC. They've given me a job. We have hereditary chieftainship which is in my family line, and this has been handed down to me. This side, the color represents night and the other side of the color represents day. And the two represent balance and harmony. Blue is for balance and harmony and red is for protection. For 24 hours a day I have to be there for those who need my help. If they need my prayers, if they need any help in the ceremony.
Here. This turtle. You know how long turtles live? A long time. Turtles can be a hundred, 150 years old and keep living. Some people complain. Why do deaf people stay on the res? And so we go through and people just don't understand. I've found out some things, I try to put that out there. You know, not to abuse or to pick on those people who are deaf. Let them make their choices. Get the elders to take responsibility for them. And maybe the elders have told them that you can go to the urban life to do something or they need to stay home and take care of other responsibilities and we can't impose on that. Okay, I can't spell this too good. The umbilical cord. When a child is born, this is in our history. They always say that umbilical cord. And as mine is put into the little turtle pouch and then another portion is put into the fire, and-put into the fire, in an area-and that never leaves the reservation. And the part that's here, I remember beforehand, now, I used to get in trouble in school, and then I graduated and I got these gifts when I graduated, and I looked at that and I said, what is this? They had a piece of my umbilical cord. They put it in here. I tried to get in trouble in college and I couldn't do it. They called me down and I had to use some wisdom instead of my old ways, and so historically this umbilical cord is an important part. I've asked around different tribes and they've told me similar stories. This is an important part of their culture to honor.
And there are some people, they say if they don't have a cord that person will go crazy. So . . . These feathers from the eagle, Hawks. Hawks are for certain ceremonies and powwows and so forth, but these are important for prayers. These eagle feathers, they always have 13 tail feathers, and if you see them with 12, then that's not real. This portion here. To do this without the handle is inappropriate because the handle represents mother earth and the other father sky, the connection between the two. Now, you know there are different tribes out there that we're not allowed the same so they all have their own ways, and everyone's ways should be respected. Who carries these feathers? So that they're very, very close to Jesus in my way. The message was taken to Jesus. And there are things here that can't be touched. This cedar has gathered and washed, and very pure and very clean. And it's for spiritual cleansing. When these things are opened I take off all pieces of metal, because this deflects spirit, and so this helps cleanse your body and spirit. Okay. The sweet grass braids. Sweet grass. This comes from Canada and Montana. You see the tall grass there, and then people really like to save this, and they braid it just like you braid your hair. Red is the color of protection. Tie this in a circle.
And this represents the Indian view the circle of life. Not straight but in a circle. Life is ongoing, like a circle. You hang these in your home or different places, you might see them in your cars. But the circle of life never stops, it keeps going. Some of you might have seen like these medicine bags, people wearing, like this, and so those have been blessed by medicine people, things have been put in there. People say they get all excited, they want to touch them, and that destroys their medicine. And there are even some items on earrings that you really should ask permission first if you're allowed to touch them or not. When Indian deaf people are in the hospital, like it could be an accident or something like that, they call an interpreter to come in, an interpreter hasn't learned about the culture or doesn't want to learn about the culture, whatever, the interpreter comes in, oh, got an Indian here, they sign to him, and they lay in the bed and the doctor says, okay, we got this bag here. Is it all right for the doctor to touch that, the interpreter to touch it? No. So those who learned of Indian culture, you know, they know that the Indians call their relatives in. Someone that they know. And that they can-that can go with them, or be left on during surgery. Indian interpreters need to inform them, that's a medicine bag. You can't touch that. You have to leave that there. And they might cover that, or sometimes they'll cover it and take it off. But you know what they don't want the doctors or any of the staff touching it. So it's really important that you don't touch these things. Unless someone-you know, if there is an adoption or some be that you know well, you know, or somebody that they want-there's only certain people they'll allow to touch that. So it can be pretty hard.
All right. I'm going to go, long ago when a baby was born they would paint the side of the face, or during the marriage they would paint across the face. During death they would paint the face. Different faces you might see white and know that they were going to war, or something like that. But today at a powwow you might see-or different ceremonies that certain things are stayed away from because there's things before that they want to bring back. But I want to show you some of the guidelines that we have for our conferences. This is very important. People need to be aware of things like this. In the tribe during our conferences we don't want them to drink, because we want to take care of their hearts first. And we put their mind and drinking first, then that goes against what we're trying to do. We don't want any kind of bad treatment there. We're trying to start a new life at our conferences.
>>: I'm going to stop it there and make sure we have time for questions. Before we get to-does anybody have any questions?
>>: How many Indian tribes are you aware of?
>>: There's over 500 --
>>: How many tribes did you use for the film?
>>: Oh. Good question. I'd say probably- how many, Julie?
>>: Probably about-
>>: Three or four?
>>: Oh, no.
>>: Eight or nine tribes represented. We had five, six trainers, so, you know, obviously every tribe's not the same but there are some common a little that go across tribes.
>>: Mark, did you want to show the Indian sign language?
>>: Julie asked Mark if he wants to show any Indian sign language, a couple Indian signs, maybe.
>>: Sure, I'll go ahead and show you a few. In ASL for work, and this is how you sign in ASL. You're working together. This is how you sign in ISL, as opposed to ASL. Thank you in ASL is signed this way, in ISL. Welcome is signed this way. Thank you and welcome. Gene? This is a very common sign. You see that all the time. What that means in general, it's a greeting, kind of like hello or how are you or-so this does the job. It also shows appreciation for something. It really depends on the context in which it's signed. I'm trying to think of a couple other examples. Let me think-can you think of any examples?
>>: One is my heart to watch me, to see you [warms my heart to see you. There's a lot of research now going on on ISL.
>>: It's different signs, brother is two fingers off of the cheek, the sign of a finger coming off of the heart meaning understand, horse, the sign for riding a horse is like being on something. Mock a sins are the sign at fingers going around your hand, moving around your fingers. Tribe-the sign again for tribe, Mark? Your sign-my sign is hand brushing across the chin, for the Dakota tribe, and mine is Cherokee, which is two fingers moving, which is like people. And also the sign for red is the back of your fingers rubbing around on your cheek. Okay.
>>: So that just gives you some examples. If you'd like to learn more you need to come to the IDC inter tribal defense counsel sill conference, which will be in Yakima at the Top enish tribal center in July of 2004. So pretty soon we'll have some publicity about that, in the various deaf communities, and you're certainly welcome to come, and I think it will do a lot of good for your deaf clients who even have the littlest bit of Indian blood. I encourage you to come. It's really open to everybody. Any more questions?
>>: All right. So you're talking about tribes and elders, and how-I'm wondering about elders. How is an elder chosen? How-is the head- are they the head of the tribe and how are they chosen? Does the tribe come together and discuss and make a decision about that? Is there-do you have a structure already in place that determines who becomes an elder or leader of the tribe? I'm wondering about that. Can you explain what the hierarchy is in the tribe and how that's determined? Do you know what I mean?
>>: Well, the answer is it really depends on each tribe. Each tribe is sovereign, has SOVEREIGNTY, so that's a term that's used, and they tend to look to the elders to make sure they feel comfortable with what's going on, and that goes back to the tribal council, which is selected by the elders, and sometimes the elders are involved but sometimes they are not. It really depends on- pardon my spelling. Let's just call it sovereignty. We'll just sign it rather than spell it each time. And it's the same kind of thing with our government system. We have the ADA, Section 5043 of the rehab act. Those things are sovereign. So the Indian culture tends to look more at the elders and go by a sense of what seems right and it seems reasonable. For example, the ADA says, look, you lost your leg? Well, we have a law. You have to do this, this and this. It doesn't really take into consideration any of the cultural factors or community factors, it just looks at the physical body and the hearing loss, it really is a very kind of disjointed way of looking at things, but in the Indian culture the benefits for the entire family and the entire tribe are weighed before a decision is made. It's a different kind of process. And it does vary depending on the sovereignty system of each tribe. We don't-for example, there's not one rule that applies to all. Some tribes who happen to have deaf members may learn something from Section 504 of the ADA and then bring that back and show it to members of the tribal council or the elders and say, look, you've got to do this, you've got to do that, and the council will say, never mind, see you later, like that.
>>: Can I add something? In my experience with the Eskimos in Alaska, typically it was the oldest person in the community, whatever the activity was, if it was-the activity I'm thinking of is every winter-at the end of every summer they put up their boats on high ground because the river freezes, Bering Sea freezes a half mile out. So all the boats are stored 10 feet above the river. Well, I was there in the spring when they were putting all the boats in. This is all manual labor. They roll these big wooden heavy boats, all men. The oldest man there was in charge if he wanted to. So everybody deferred to him. And the oldest man could pass it to the next youngest. Let's say he was too old or didn't feel like leading that day, his voice wasn't strong, he didn't want 48 to, he would pass it to the next oldest, and that next oldest would be giving direction and all the way down the line. Whoever was youngest took directions from everybody older.
>>: Is it okay if I add something? It's also tradition, an elder or a grandfather, great uncle, can pick a nephew maybe when he's born as going back to the original- when he's first born he might be given that predilection that he's chosen for that, and as he goes lieu life and he does what's right, then he's picked. There's several people that are available to them to be chosen to be the elder, the medicine man or whatever position they're looking for. So it's kind of a tradition and a heritage given to some families. It can be a nephew, cousin, whatever.
>>: And then you end up developing expertise, like you said.
>>: Exactly. You're being taught as you go along as an apprentice.
>>: And also I'd like to add to your comment. The clan is very important. The clan comes from the mother. It's a system that's really important. Because it's really a maternal culture, where European culture is much more paternalistic, while with Native culture, you're right, it focuses on the mother and her family.
>>: I'm wondering about-you know, deafness is viewed as a disability. A lot of cultures, for example, Hispanic culture, Asian culture, they look at deafness as a curse on the family. Is there a similar kind of perspective with Indian culture or-as far as deafness is viewed?
>>: Can you maybe come up and add something, please?
>>: Yes. I'd like to add. In my experience socializing with the Navajo people, being part of the Navajo people, there is onepy who was born in the tribe and there was a meeting with the elder, they prayed for the parents of that child, feeling that that handicap was passed down from some relative who had long ago done something wrong and that curse or whatever has now embodied itself in this child as a punishment. That's the Navajo nation's perspective.
>>: There are several tribes that do not look at it in that way. There was one elder woman who saw deafness or a person in a wheelchair or saw Julie and didn't consider it a handicap. They just considered those people to be members. For example, there's a lot of different trees in the forest. I mean, some trees give bitter apples, some trees, despite the fact that it may look a little bit older, has delicious apples, so really you can't judge a book by its cover, and it goes back to the whole idea of being observant. You remember the key to the word observing, observant. Let me see how much time-we just have time for a few more questions, main. In the back. Bob?
>>: I think a lot of deaf people, we take a lot of pride in passing stories on to other deaf people. There's a lot of barriers and we like to pass solutions on to other deaf people. As a deaf professional working with deaf-blind, deaf hard of hearing people, what is it that I can pass on to the community or I can pass on as a service that will decrease the barriers? And that's a sense of pride for me. Often when I encounter the Native community there seems to be a higher value in we try to explain that there's certain problems caused by deafness. Yes, we see. Uh-huh. Thank you. And then I leave and I feel like perhaps I've just planted a seed and I wait for something to develop, and I wait to hear something and I never do, and we recently hired a Native woman to work with us and she feels the exact same things. She receives kind of a warm reception, and today during your presentation I was watching what you had to say, Mark, and it seems like it's not just the deafness is a challenge for a lot of tribes but also there's the concept of the education, work, and a lot of things that European culture just accepts as every day things, you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to do this, get yourself out of poverty, all these things, whatever it could be. We just think that we have got to save them, and it seems like from their perspective that is not a priority. For us, who provide services to deaf Native people, it's quite a challenge. So how do you suggest we approach them in the context of native culture and encourage them to-that it could be-it should be a priority in the mind of the elders? It seems like there's quite a clash in cultures there.
>>: I know exactly what you're saying, Bob. I've had similar kinds of experiences. And as an Indian person, I feel like it's not my priority to provide a list of resource people, do this, do this, do that. You got to have access, got to have these things. It just doesn't feel right. I think it feels something-some disconnect. I think it's much more about the interaction and understanding where they are first and really being able to communicate on a deeper level until you finally can get to a comfort point where you can go ahead and share that information. And they'll be receptive to that. Indian father I told you about who had a deaf son and we were supposed to meet at the traditional powwow or meet somewhere else, as I told in that story, we had to do a lot of things before we got to his question and got to the resources. So you want to do something that will open up the person's receptivity before you can get to actually delivering the message.
>>: I'm sorry but I've worked many years with Natives. I'm Native. I'm a retired counselor for drug and alcohol. The first thing I want to mention is working with the Natives, my own people, there's an intrinsic investment and they ask for the help, want to make a change, then you already have a receptive client, but if you're there for the government or any social service agency, then the client is important. If the client just wants to be Native, I've had some clients say I'm happy where I'm at, and I'm happy to accept that. Even though I want more for them, I have to accept that that's where he's at. I give all the historical possibilities, all the educational possibilities. These are the things you can do.
Are you invested in your people, et cetera, et cetera, and hopefully maybe a year down the road they'll come back and say, I want to do this or I want to get involved with this, I want to improve my life, and by meeting them where they're at, I create a better working relationship. But that's what happens with western culture is we want to force them, you need to do this, you need an education, got to improve. Why? Why are we trying to force our values on them? That happened to me, as well. I got a three-world conflict when I was growing up. Thank goodness for my grandfather. I want to go back to what they started out with just to make a really big point. I don't care if you're deaf, black, Hispanic. If you don't know who you are, you don't have those traditional values of sense of family, you're not going to function very well. You can have that root is missing, that umbilical cord. You're kind of like a spirit without an anchor. But if you take the time or maybe grandfather, aunt, uncle, whoever it, lets you know who you are, you have a better sense like a ship that finally has an anchor and a direction to go. So on that concept, when you're talking and giving services, it really would behoove anybody who is doing that to get as much information as you can, present it on the table and let the client choose. I just wanted to share that little bit of experience.
>>: Thank you.
>>: I don't I wanted to add something to that too. At the silver institute there were several families that were really strong advocates for the deaf families, for the deaf children, and that was part of what their inter tribal defense counsel sill was there for, was to advocate for more services on the reservation so that the families don't have to send their children off the reservation to go to a school to learn, in order to get services. A lot of families went to services on their reservations so that their children can learn the culture and stay on their homeland so that they can learn their cultural-overall services are off the reservation so families are forced to send their children to deaf school off the reservation, and all the other kids grow up not knowing their culture because of the lack of interpreters on the reservation.
>>: Now we're going to go ahead and have Eugene- we'll do a blessing for us.
>>: Now, remember-
>>: I would ask all of you just to be a part of this and to give us your full attention. Thank you very much.
>>: I typically take off all the metal objects that I have during this part of the ceremony. Some of you may have watches. If you would go ahead and take those off. Any earrings would be great. Please stand up.
>>: Father, we thank you for all you've given with your heart. We're proud of-grand if they are, we're thankful of the sins you're giving us, and explaining and helping and feed all of our people. Thank you. We and our hearts and all of you, I want to make sure you travel safely to your homes and in your hearts remember to thank grandfather and the great spirits for taking care of us and blessing all of you, so have a safe journey. I'm just going to take a few minutes to clean up before you go.
>>: There's a good example of our vision of how deaf natives and natives can work together. Cleansing your anger and getting rid of the frustrations and starting anew, starting with a clean slate to new birth and new spirit, and moving forward. I want to thank all of you. I want to thank John and Julie. If there are any questions, please feel free to come up and talk to any of us afterwards and tomorrow. Thank you. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
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