Tribal Wisdom and modern living Prepared by: Donnie Witt University of Phoenix North Campus Prepared for: Ken Walker Ph. D. SOC 102 Third Position Paper Tribal Wisdom and Modern Living David Maybury-Lewis makes an opening statement in his article, Tribal Wisdom, asking; ” Is it to late for us to reclaim the benefits of tribal living?” (Post et al. , 2001), p. 361), and I would like to express my views on some of what he has eluded to. Maybury-Lewis seems to have made many observations during his twenty some years of studying tribal living.
One of these observations happened to be that we as a modern civilization look to the tribal people with “endless fascination” (Post et al. , 2001), p. 361).
I for one am intrigued with the history, and of the past culture of the Indian tribes, and the strong family, and community ties each tribe had. Each tribe had a code of ethics, and if any member of the tribe was to make a conscious decision not to abide by these rules, then they would have to face the wrath of not only the leaders of the tribe, but also take the chance of being alienated by their families. We don’t here of divorces, or family separation, being part of the native tribal peoples culture.
It looks as though when they had the marriage celebration it was a life long commitment to the end. The children were taught the skills of their parents and also those skills of the tribe. These tribes looked to family and community as a “valuable resource” (Post et al. , 2001), whereas in modern society we look at monetary, and leisurely things as being the “valuable” substance of daily life. Children of the tribal culture watched and imitated their parent’s actions and habits. If the father were going on a hunting trip to find meat for the family and tribe, then his son also would follow along and learn the trade of hunting.
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In today’s culture, many times the parent’s seem to want to get things done in a hurry, not wanting to spend the time teaching their “trades or vocations” to their children. So as these young people see the way they are ignored and passed over, we can only surmise that they also will in turn pass this heritage to the next generation and those to the next. In tribal living “dignity” (Post et al. , 2001) was considered to be one of the most important attributes to an individuals being. Dignity was looked upon as a very favorable part of one’s character. If a tribal member for some reason, pursued his / her own interests without considering the consequence to their family and / or tribe, then the loss of dignity would also, in many instances, cost them their place in the tribal and family community, and they would literally be expelled.
In many parts of modern society today we see dignity as only a “buzz word” and not something that is an indispensable trait of an individual, but something that can be used only when needed. The desire to look to ones on self-gratification and pursue that, which is only to their advantage, is seen as commonplace today. In past history, the tribal family instilled in their children the desire to be competitive and frugal. The competitiveness in the tribal heritage was seen in the day-to-day living, each trying to out-hunt, out-ride, out-shoot, and out-swim the other. These competitive traits were life-learning experiences that would help them in their pursuit to be providers for the tribe and their family. The children of these tribes were also taught to use all the resources the land provided, but to use only what was needed.
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They looked to the environment as a provider of shelter and food and understood that this was what sustained life. Today, the same desire to be competitive is engrained in most children both in school and at home. At school, their peers seem to be the driving force for this competitiveness, in sports and playground games, and at home it may come from their siblings. Again this is driven many times by a self-gratifying desire to be “top dog” and to be the best in the field.
This type of competitiveness in modern living will help in the “dog-eat-dog” world of business as they get into the market place. Frugalness of the environment or those things that the environment provides, many times is not of the utmost importance to many individuals in this modern day living. We seem to use what we need and have a tendency to throw away that, which is not used. There are many differences between today’s culture and the culture of the tribal heritage, but if we are to build upon our strengths and to learn from our weaknesses then what better way to do this that to take the best of what history has to offer, and combine it with the modern day technologie advantages, and build a society that respects it’s neighbors and the environment in which we live.
References Post, J. E. , Lawrence, A. T.
, & Weber, J. (2001).
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