Sunday, April 4, 2010
Roles of Indians: women & men
My wife told me to get my own tea when we were at her Mom's house. I said which pot is it? She said after 20 years you still don't know which pot is tea and which is for coffee?!? I said I never got my own tea in this house before. You see I was always sitting at the table and someone would pour me a cup of tea or serve me a cup of tea. I guess I just got used to it.
In our house my Wife still serves me tea and serves me meals. Yeah I know not very good. Not very politically correct. Not very equal.
It's weird and out of date, I know. My Mom was like that too. She had the girls wash the dishes as we grew up. She cooked and served the food. My wife and her sister are still like that. They get up and do the dishes at their Mom's house.
You know gender roles can make people really upset in today's world. I have no issue with not being served food, I have no problem cooking if I knew how. I am spoiled like that, by my Mom and my Wife. I should be helping with the food, but I am comfortable in the role I have.
That's the thing, people have roles but those roles are evolving, changing everyday. In the Traditional Indian world the roles of men and women were defined by what they did. Women carried power. Power because they have the power of life. Men were suppose to protect the life givers. There are many Teachings of the roles and Women and Men. It is the Women who give Teachings around Women. The Women carry the Water and they Bless the Water. Women give life that has how it has always been.
There is this Woman's Traditional camp out in the interlake region of Manitoba. Men are not allowed. It is how the roles in Traditions are changing. Women are singing on the Big Drum these days. I was at a Traditional Teaching Gathering a number of years ago in Pipe Stone Minnesota. My buddy said to me ask the head Elder about women on the Drum. He is well known and respected Midiwewin Leader.
I knew not to ask, but I am stupid like that, I asked him anyway about the Woman on the Big Drum. He answered me with this question, "did you see the women take back the stick?" I said, no. "Well? What do you think?", he said. He is this big wheel in the Traditional circle, so getting shot down from him, stung a bit. The thing is Women gave men the sticks to hit the Drum with. The men hit the Drum and make the beat of the Heart. The Drum, the Sticks, (Woman and Man) create that life. In some views it is men and women that create life, not women and women. That is one reason that some Traditional Dancers won't dance to Women on the Drum. Some of the Teachings are like that, references to male and female and the answer meaning life. Like the Pipe. The Bowl and the Stem of the Pipe apart don't or won't work, but put them together, the male and female, it's significant. You can use this life to Pray with. To seek answers.
I guess in some cases the Women have taken back the drum sticks. I have mixed feelings about the significance of them taking back the stick, but that's only me. If Women want to sing on the Big Drum then that's up to them. Roles change. Teachings have to change along with it. It used to be that in order to be Midewiwin you had to speak Ojibway, Anishinabe. I guess there are people in the Mide' that don't speak the language. Roles change.
One role that I do not feel comfortable being is the Care-giver of the family. It was the role of my Mom and Dad. That is no longer the situation. My Mom is gone and my Dad, well, he has changed. He is no longer the same person he was when my Mom was here. So roles change.
I like the role right now of being a husband, a dad, a grand-pa. That is the role I have. I wasn't a grand-pa until two and half years ago. Roles change.
I hope your role is one that you are comfortable with no matter what society thinks. I had tea poured for me this morning and had breakfast made for me. That is one role that I am glad is still in our home.