Monday, July 20, 2009

Cultural Prostitutes

You know what a cultural prostitute does? He or she will sell themselves as Medicine people, Traditional Teacher or Elders. Cultural prostitution is not a new phenomenon. People have been doing it forever, and it's not just the Indian. Every Japanese Karate Association is guilty of prostituting themselves. The famous Guru for the Beatles back in their day. Even the Dali Lama is guilty of selling his culture beliefs. Everyone does it. I may not be a big fan of the cultural prostitute but I can understand it. After all, zhooniyaake! He makes money.
It is a complex thing these days. People get upset that some Medicine people expect to be compensated for their time and effort. People expect that an offering of tobacco is sufficient payment for a Medicine person to help them. This is because you are gifted with Medicine and it is not to be your lively-hood. Tobacco is sacred and it's worth should not be quantified. People should use their Medicine to help because they have been asked. I get that! However, (no one ever likes to hear the however word) there should be weight on both sides of the equation. There should be some worth in what the Medicine person does for you. If you want a Medicine person to pray for your sick child and perform a miracle with the Creators gift, shouldn't it be worth anything you could possible think of? You are asking someone to cure your child but yet you only give them a cigarette. Of course tobacco is sacred but what does that say of what you think of the person's gift and what you think it is worth. You are seeking help with Life, and there should be no river you would not cross, no mountain you wouldn't climb and no cost you would not pay for that help. So why is it okay to pay a pharmacist for Tylenol and yet you wouldn't consider giving something to a Medicine person?
I say it is complex, because there are those that benefit financially from the promise to help with their "gifts" (I like those quotation marks) and those that benefit physically, mentally and emotionally from receiving those gifts. Yet there are those that don't benefit from sharing those gifts and those that don't benefit from paying for those gifts.
How do you go about reconciling what to offer and what you can ask for?
Here is a story from our Reserve. We have Thirst Dance or Sun Dance in our community. If you were not from the Reserve you wouldn't know the ceremony was taking place. It is not like a Powwow where you advertise. People just know to come. There is a lot of Church presence in the Reserve. It has been like that for years. It has come to the point that there are those in the community that don't like the Traditionalist. Ever year the Sundance ceremony leaves behind the Dance arbor with the Tree of Life. One person for whatever reason went to the Tree and took a dump at the base. Can you imagine that! One of our own. What has happened here is that we are literally shitting on ourselves.

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