Magoulick and Oogima Ikwe
Oogima Ikwe, an Ojibwe/Nishnaabe woman from
the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, broke into performance mode during
our tape-recorded interview session while I was doing fieldwork in her
community in the mid-1990’s. Her speech reflects themes and styles of her
ancestors, even while offering a very contemporary message and feel. Today,
as in the past, acceptance in a Native community and identity as a Native
American are complicated by outside influences and pressures. Many
contemporary Native Americans are worried about losing either their identity
(through too much sharing or assimilation) or their control over their
identity (as in the case of outsider appropriation of ceremonies). That
these concerns are legitimate is demonstrated partly by parallel concerns in
earlier generations, for whom assimilation was very immediate and real,
manifesting itself in boarding schools, missionary activities, and laws
prohibiting traditional ceremonies, religions, and languages.
her ancestors’ struggles to maintain culture, Oogima Ikwe ponders here how
to revive culture, to remember what was forgotten, to find what was once
considered “lost.” In spite of disconnection from ancestral ways (even
for generations), a renewed, revived culture, along with related attitudes
about cultural authenticity and tradition, emerge here. Many
Native American people today partake in vital and dynamic cultural renewal,
refashioning their perspectives, values, and lifestyles after centuries of
oppression and attempted assimilation. In places like the Eastern Upper
Peninsula of Michigan, such rejuvenation occurs in English, the dominant
language spoken by most Nishnaabeg there.
and speaking words or phrases in Ojibwe (Nishnaabemowin) often marks one’s
involvement in the cultural renaissance, yet few residents of the region
have acquired sufficient communicative competency to make Ojibwe a viable
primary means of cultural transmission. Although English predominates, many
Ojibwe manipulate or transform it when transmitting cultural values or
messages. Oogima Ikwe’s discussion
of the outward trappings and inner life of being Native today, through a
traditionally modeled oratorical performance (in English), projects an
intuitive understanding of the transitory and fluid nature of all cultural
knowledge and symbols. This performance during our discussions
reflects traditional oratory when tradition is realized as a dynamic
the most poignant and artful performances in English among Native people
today, like this one, revolve around events and feelings connected to issues
of identity and cultural renewal, such as sobriety, powwows, spiritual
ceremonies, or teaching circles. Native People in the Eastern Upper
Peninsula of Michigan today connect to the past and try to focus on “that
good way of life” while living in the present and facing the future. They
are re-shaping traditions to change their lives for the better. Many speak
of the power of Native spiritual and cultural renewal in changing lives,
staying sober, and feeling hopeful.
Oogima Ikwe’s passionate performance bears witness to the success and significance of the renewal of culture in which she participates. Her speech emphasizes that people are all “those things” that are really important to culture. Oogima Ikwe understands that culture is a matter of worldview, internal knowledge, lifestyle, and not outward trappings (all viewpoints embraced by contemporary scholars of culture and folklore as well). She feels very strongly that the spirits will provide whatever the people will need for culture to continue. She portrays metaphorically a view of culture as emergent and dynamic, teaching her ways of living, thinking, and communicating. Culture, she affirms, is a way of living and being, not a catalogue of outward trappings or props. She avoids the trap of reifying culture to which even some scholars succumb.
Ikwe, like many Native people, learns about and connects to her culture from
community events like powwows or spiritual ceremonies, through seeking out
“elders” or knowledgeable members of the community who practice culture,
through structured learning environments like the tribal college, or through
personal dreams, visions, and other experiences. The most valued and widely
acknowledged way of connecting to tradition remains elders. Additionally,
however, some younger members of Native communities in the U.P. find
themselves relying upon personal visions and dreams as means of learning and
reviving culture. For instance Oogima Ikwe discusses and practices receiving
teachings from dreams/visions as means of learning and growing.
spite of her expression of faith in the spirits to provide for her people,
and of people to maintain a meaningful ethnicity through visions and a good
relationship with the spirits, Oogima Ikwe’s speech reveals that she
sometimes longs for the symbols and trappings of her ancestors, like many of
her cohort. Her moment of insight in this speech was spurred by her longing
to find a feather to enhance beautiful regalia to wear at powwows. She
participates in ceremonies, sweat lodges, and powwows, but in realizing that
outward trappings and ceremonies are not the equivalent of culture, she
negotiates acceptance of culture as a process and anticipates satisfaction
with whatever manifestations of culture her generation can stimulate,
imagine, and maintain. She may want, enjoy, and learn from ceremonies and
other concrete expressions culture, “But, we don’t need them. . . . We
won’t need those things, / Cause we’ll be those things.” She affirms
culture as an ongoing, emergent process involving people and ways of living,
thinking, and being, a matter of consciousness or spirit rather than biology
or material goods.
this utterance is eloquent, passionate, interpretable, and intentionally
delivered in a measured rhythm, I transcribe it according to the performance
theory (or “ethnography of speaking”) insights of Dell Hymes, Dennis
Tedlock, Barre Toelken, and Richard Bauman. This attention to textuality
emphasizes it as a poetic speech event. Performance theory requires greater
focus upon both the artfulness of oral performances (in terms of how they
are represented as written text) and attention to context, particularly in
terms of the local culture. I break lines according to the rhythm of her
speech and indicate relevant gestures or other vocalizations, intonation and
emphases. To better understand the speech, we will also examine contextual
information from Oogima Ikwe’s own explanations of her philosophy and
you know, people are too ritualistic.
said to a friend one day,
said, “What happens if all the pipes were gone?
just took all the pipes away?
more eagle feathers,
aside] What the hell is that anyway, regalia?
don’t even know what that word means.
have to look it up someday.
God!” [in mock worried tone]
we not Indian anymore, Maanii?!” [laughing].
my identity lie?” you know.
then, oh, I was sitting by the water one day,
the water says,
this was a teaching from the water I got,
I’ve heard it from other people since, though,
at that time I was looking for an eagle feather,
I was looking for that medicine
I was looking for that pretty regalia,
I was like,
help me get some buckskin so I can have a nice buckskin outfit,
oh, me, me, me, me, me, me!”
put my tobacco in the water and stirred it up like that
the water took it and said,
have a problem here” [she laughs more].
so they told me,
what would happen if everything went away?”
I was sad.
was thinking, “God, that would be a real drag!”
the water said,
are the pipe,
are the drum,
are the feather,
are the buckskin,
are the Earth,
are all these things.
these things are is a reminder,
there are many tools.
mean nothing really.”
[intake of breath]
don’t say that in a circle either!
[in a mock serious tone]
they really do mean nothing [sincerely]
spirit of that eagle
limited to that feather,
we would never dream about ‘em.
spirit of that pipe
not limited to that pipe
else that pipe wouldn’t be able to talk to you from fifty miles away
the thing behind that.
spirit is not limited to this body,
we are all those things,
don’t need those things
someday we won’t have those things.
You believe that?
believe someday we won’t have those things,
won’t need ‘em.
never needed them before.
is the legend of how the pipe came to the people,
the sweat lodge came to the people,
the eagle feather fell to the people,
the drum came to the people,
we had gotten away
where we were over here,
needed to see something,
we had lost our faith.
the drum had to come to us,
BOOM, heartbeat of Mother Earth.
we can hear it again.
the pipe came to us
stone from that earth,
balance with that wood,
we can see it,
know what it does.
so those eagle feathers came to us,
they could remind us about what that eagle is there for,
those warriors that died,
did they fight for?
we never needed these things.
all came to us.
sweat lodge –
people were sick.
never used to be sick!
we didn’t need any healing,
now we do,
brought that down for us.
they’re all good things
get me wrong,
they serve a good purpose,
we don’t need them.
we were really walking in that way we’re supposed to be walking,
should be walking,
hopefully will get to that point again walking,
won’t need those things,
we’ll be those things.
Ikwe’s speech harkens back to Ojibwe oratory of times past. Scholars and
the general public in the past often appreciated Native oratory, but it was
principally appreciated as evidence of social stratification. David Murray
asserts that discussions of oratory are most often used to promote a
particular view of Native Americans as noble savages who fit a historical
scenario of the disappearing Indian (Murray, 1991). In such cases, the
speech as a fragment, relic, or translation, in other words a “pale
imitation,” only heightens its appeal. The arrogance and ignorance of the
dominant culture in its praise of speeches emerges in that, “What Indians
say in private, or to each other, is seen as less expressive of their true
selves than what they say in public to whites” (Murray, 1991, 42).
and Richard Dauenhauer have worked among Tlingit people to correct what they
see as a lack of sufficient scholarship on oratory. They demonstrate that
for Tlingits oratory ties the community together and draws out and
actualizes major values of the culture (1990). They also note more
generally, in regard to Native American oratory and poetry: “Songs are
often the revelations, if not the manifestations, of the spirits themselves,
and they evoke the spirits when sung. Oratory employs the spirits in
ceremonial use, especially for healing, removal of grief, and prevention of
harm” (1990, 146). Thus oratory served a crucial purpose traditionally and
continues to do so in some communities.
his discussion of Native American Verbal Art, William Clements notes
that Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Indian agent in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan
(the very community where Oogima Ikwe grew up) during the first half of the
19th century, and collector of Ojibwe folklore, was surprised by
the richness of Indians’ verbal art (Clements, 1996, 116). Schoolcraft,
like many others, often saw this oratory as evidence of the primitive nature
of the Indian. Clements notes that he grudgingly admitted that it had poetic
qualities. Schoolcraft nonetheless notes some interesting characteristics in
regard to this verbal art. Clements discusses Schoolcraft’s presentation
of qualities in Ojibwe oratory such as “great simplicity,” “occasional
strength of an Indian’s thoughts,” “figures and epithets of beauty,”
“[being] surrounded by all the elements of poetry and eloquence B
tempests, woods, waters, skies.” He also shows Schoolcraft’s romantic
bias: “His very position—a race falling before civilization, and obliged
to give up the bow and arrow for the plough—is poetic and artistic”
(Schoolcraft, 1851 in Clements, 1996, 121). This attitude that the Indian
was a child of nature who thereby had access to fundamental elements of
poetry, along with the perspective that the Indian was “falling before
civilization,” adds a hint of melancholy. Thus Schoolcraft concludes, we
might understand the Indian’s propensity for basing his figurative imagery
upon nature and for including elements of mystery and a hint of melancholy
(Clements, 1996, 121). Such an attitude underscores Murray’s message that
speeches were typically praised only as part of the larger ethnocentric
perspective of seeing this as a primitive, vanishing race.
Beyond recognizing their skills in creating imagery, Schoolcraft also notes of Ojibwe orators:
appear to have an accurate ear for the rythm [sic] of a sentence, and a
delight in rounding off a period: the language affords great facilities for
this purpose, by its long and stately words, and multiform inflections
(1857) . . . no unity of theme, or plot, unless it be that the subject, war
for instance, is kept in the singer’s mind . . . both the narration and
description, when introduced is [sic] very imperfect, broken, or disjointed
(1848).” (quoted in Clements,
of this apparent praise is diminished when we realize Schoolcraft also
considered Indian verbal art a “shapeless mass” until worked on by
Schoolcraft’s poetic aesthetic (Clements, 1996, 122). Both Clements and
Dell Hymes have demonstrated well that Schoolcraft’s translations and
refashionings are not improvements from a contemporary perspective (see
Hymes 1981, esp. “Some North Pacific Coast Poems”).
quotes the significant passages in which Schoolcraft describes the salient
aspects and elements of Ojibwe oratory:
“He excels in that rapid, continuous flow of utterance, in which it
seems to be the object of the speaker to go on, without a pause, as long and
as vehemently as possible. In listening to this kind of outpouring of words,
it seems as if a thousand syllables and words were amalgamated into one, and
as if to pause in the middle, or at any intermediate point, would be to
break the harmony, or to mar the sense.” (Schoolcraft, 1828 in Clements,
“Nothing is more characteristic of their harangues and public
speeches, than the vehement, yet broken and continued stream of utterance,
which would be subject to the charge of monotony, were it not varied by an
extraordinary compass in the stress of voice, broken by the repetition of
high and low accent, and often terminated with an explanatory vigor, which
is sometimes startling. It is not the less in accordance with these traits
that nearly every initial syllable of the measure chosen is under accent.
This at least may be affirmed, that it imparts a movement to the narrative,
which, at the same time that it obviates languor, favors that repetitious
rhythm, or pseudo-parallelism, which strongly marks their highly complex
lexicography.” (Schoolcraft 1837 in Clements, 125-6)
Schoolcraft finds the rhythm of Ojibwe oratory particularly fascinating, and he characterizes it as “pacing.” He notes the rapid flow, the vehemence, and the length of speeches, which he finds marked by unusual accentuation, repetition and parallelism. Realizing the tradition of long, heartfelt, rhythmic “outpourings of words” helps us appreciate Oogima Ikwe’s speech as continuing a long-standing tradition among her people, albeit within a very new framework and to a new audience – English speakers with a different attention span and expectation for oratory.
Ikwe’s speech is distinctive from traditional Ojibwe oratory in some obvious
respects. It is composed in English (her language), and she is a woman.
Typically orators were men according to Murray (1991), though this may be our
perception because collectors ignored women’s verbal art. Oogima Ikwe’s
speech is innovative as well in its forward-thinking emphasis; in other words
she doesn’t dwell on a culture dying (a typical subject of 19th
century speeches), but is inspired instead by the image of cultural rebirth or
renaissance. Yet overall, her rhythm, length (albeit relatively short but in a
modern conversational context its length is noticeable), parallelism,
continuous flow, vehemence, and harmony (all qualities Schoolcraft noted among
her people 150 or more years ago), suggest that she has indeed revived a
traditional form of expression of her ancestors.
qualities of her speech that inspire its transcription as poetry flow from a
general cultivation and understanding of the poetic mode; Oogima Ikwe enjoys
writing poetry. She explained to me that she typically composes her poetry in
dreams or reveries, and she quickly records them upon regaining consciousness.
Cultivating her dream-life and her sense of poetry establish her connection to
her culture’s traditions. She explains:
Sometimes I write stuff down so, cause my mind is so full. If I didn’t have to think about everything else, like rent and this and that and the other thing, I think I’d be able to remember more things. But they say you remember what you’re supposed to remember anyway. But some of the best teachings, just from the water talking to me, you know, have come during those times I sat down by the water, long before I thought you know, I thought I was picking up this path and then come to understand I’ve already, I’ve always had it, you know. I’ve always walked it. I just didn’t know that.
One of the most interesting aspects of Oogima Ikwe’s oratorical
message is its forward-thinking hopefulness. But in subsequent discussion,
Oogima Ikwe makes it clear she nonetheless tries to honor the past and
traditional ways of learning from elders. In most Native cultures elders today
hold much authority and it is their words that usually hold rhetorical power
to teach, remember, or shape culture. But Oogima Ikwe asserts and affirms the
possibility of learning directly from the spirits as an equally authentic and
significant means of learning and participating in culture, thereby empowering
her generation, as she explained to me during our conversation. Her vision
involves what she calls “a new hoop” coming:
the new hoop is the young people, it’s gotta be that eighth fire, you know.
And it’s coming strong. It’s also a shifting of powers where mostly it was
men who had a lot of power in some tribes. Um, it’s been a shift to the
women and children. The women and children are going to be the seers and the
people who go out and find the answers during that third shaking of the earth
or after or before or whenever. It’ll be all around that kind of time zone
and ah, the new hoop is kind of like, it’s going to be kind of like this
[twining her two fingers together], like two fingers locked together, you
know. And back here on the left side of your one finger is the old hoop, the
old, old, old way, long time ago. And then over in this way is the evolution
from that old way. And it’s all the things in history and time when the pipe
and everything were just talked about, and then right here, is total chaos and
confusion [light laugh] cause it’s right where the new and the old
meet, and there’s going be a lot of head butting. . . . but when we get over
here, we’ll be almost back like where we were here. But only, lot of people,
they understand the new hoop, but they really haven’t come to that
understanding yet either. The new hoop is really the old hoop, see. It’s
just different. And it’ll be different, but it’ll be the same.
Where did you come across this idea?
Ikwe: In my own mind, and then I started um, picking up on things. I didn’t
call it the new hoop, but I perceived it like that, and ah, from Creation, and
I didn’t understand things, so I, I talked to the Creator, said, I
recognized that something was flowing, something was happening, you know, that
young people were coming up with more wisdom than old people. And old people
were acting like children without any wisdom, without any focus or
understanding or compassion or tolerance, and it was the young people coming
up who were having the dreams. It seemed like the old people never dreamt
anymore. But the young people were dreaming and they were seeing the future
which was like the past. . . .
They won’t have the elders to go seek things out, you know, and ah, to get guidance or understanding. It’ll be part of who they are, already, they’ll have that within themselves, even as very young people. You can see that, but it’s got, it’s kind of not in its pure enough state yet, but you’ll see, you can see that in young people. They act older, they have, uh, in, a wisdom about themselves, you know that they never had when they were younger. They were very naive and innocent of things, and now they’re very much thinking of grander things, the earth, the environment, their future, you know. And these are very young people, Native, non-Native, spiritual, non-spiritual, because that’s, that’s given to them by the Creator now, you know. That was something that was given to the elders through experience and through teachings, a lifetime of teachings, then they gained that wisdom. But we can’t afford that luxury any more. So now it’s just been handed to them, from the Creator to the young people as a gift. (taped interview)
times during our discussions Oogima Ikwe confirmed the importance of elders,
stating she wants to learn from them whenever possible, but she also looks to
the spirits for guidance, as here where she discusses the new hoop envisioned
by her son and confirmed, as she says, “in my own mind.”
Oogima Ikwe details an apocalyptic vision of fire and change that seems
dramatic (only partly revealed above). Yet her overall philosophy (as her
speech emphasizes) concerns the idea of cultural change and adaptation more
than a specific physical apocalypse. Her philosophy is that young people can
carry on the culture. They are “a new hoop,” a new way of living and
organizing the world, as seen when she says they are “almost mirroring”
the old ways; but the reflection also shows a new world. So the hope comes not
only from elders, from whom Oogima Ikwe continues to seek knowledge and
guidance, but also from the younger culture members. With all ages working
together, there is indeed a possibility for real change, metaphorical if not
actual fire, and cultural rebirth, whether through more peaceful means or
actual revolution. Regardless of whether the prophecy comes true, the mind-set
that change can come and traditions can be maintained at the same time is
exciting and bodes well for the cultural revitalization underway.
dreams and visions should play such a key role in Oogima Ikwe’s experience
and understanding of the refashioning, or renewal, of culture, is another
marker of her connection to traditional Ojibwe values. Frances Densmore notes
the importance of dreams traditionally, which have long been cultivated and
attended to in Ojibwe culture:
An aged Chippewa said: “In the old days our people had no education. They could not learn from books nor from teachers. All their wisdom and knowledge came to them in dreams. They tested their dreams, and in that way learned their own strength.” The ability to dream was cultivated from earliest childhood. “Try to dream and to remember what you dream,” was a frequent admonition to children when they were put to bed. Thus the imagination was stimulated, and there arose a keen desire to see something extraordinary in sleep. . . . The dream thus secured was of greatest importance in the life of the individual . . . . The Chippewa say that in their dreams they often returned to a previous state of existence; also that they saw things which no Indian had seen at that time, but which they themselves saw and recognized in later years, such as sailing vessels and frame houses. (78-79)
even though Oogima Ikwe’s earlier words stress the coming of a new hoop in
which elders might not play such a significant role as young people, she is
not breaking with tradition. She still respects elders, as seen in her
frequent invocation of them to empower her own words throughout her
discussions in which she, like many others, lends authority to her words by
prefacing statements with the phrase “the elders say.” She is respectful
and mindful of tradition, but cultivates as well another traditional value
within her culture, the power of dreams to shape lives and culture itself. And
in this sense she faces the future. Shaping the future while realizing
(intentionally) continuities with the past, defines tradition conceptually.
Other Native people whom I interviewed also discussed the importance of
dreams and visions in their lives. While many people recognize the
significance of dreams and visions to the revitalization in their community,
most others seem to foster visions and dreams especially within contexts such
as fasting and ceremonies, and don’t emphasize them as a primary means of
re-building the culture (except within these ceremonies). Some elders in the
Eastern U.P. use visions to re-establish traditions like names and clans.
Among the consultants with whom I worked Oogima Ikwe most strongly emphasizes
and uses “spirit teachings” as a means to understand herself and her
culture, but her experience is only a more intense example of a widespread
faith in visions.
While visions may contain original teachings or confirmations of what
the elders say, those visions that challenge the status quo are not
unanimously welcomed. Oogima Ikwe realizes that the visions she receives might
offend elders or other culture members when she says in her speech that the
outward symbols of being Native mean nothing really. Then in an aside she
jokes: “God don’t say that in a circle either!” She knows her assertion
would not be well received by all because too many people rely on those
outward symbols of culture as measures of identity. While she fulfills the
accepted norms of valuing elders, she also believes in the potential of a
“new hoop” envisioned by a younger generation.
kinds of things Oogima Ikwe learns from her dreams include her clan, her name,
how to dress, that she can have a pipe, and so on. Such knowledge today is
typically the domain of elders (who often recover such information as a
service to tribal members, sometimes for a fee). In fact an elder gave Oogima
Ikwe her name, which she later changed (shortened) based on a vision. That
same elder only hinted at her clan, which she herself knew from dreams.
Furthermore, she has her own idea about the importance of outward symbols of
culture like pipes, drums and the language based on her visions (not based on
what the elders tell her), and she expresses herself according to spirit
messages from dreams. All this indicates her willingness to accept personal
responsibility for shaping her culture and affirming the possibility for
cultural revival, regardless of authoritative voices (of for instance elders)
in establishing authenticity.
She confirms that learning from visions is authentic and important when
she affirms that although her understanding is imperfect, it is appropriate
seems like whenever I was really distressed about things, I would always come
home and I would always come by the water. Or I’d go to the woods, camp out
in the woods. And for some reason I was always looking outside of that, cause
I thought you found religion in some kind of church or some, organization, you
know. And kind of forgetting, the teachings of my father were kind of buried.
They didn’t, they weren’t really in the forefront of my mind you know. Or
my aunts and my uncles you know.
when I came back and I was talking to [a friend who is very spiritual] and the
more she would talk to me about her Native beliefs and stuff, the more I would
think in my mind that “I already know this, I already know this, I already
know this.” So then it dawned on me like [snapping her fingers] could
have had a V-8 [louder] “I ALREADY KNOW THIS!” [laughing] you know.
This is inside of me, you know. This is, has always been here, it will always
be here. You know, I can’t run here and I can’t run there. I can’t run
away from it, cause it’s always here.
the more I heard the more I understood that this’s always been the way
I’ve thought but I’ve just been looking for other people who’ve thought
this way. So I had to come home and find the root of it all, more or less, you
know, I could see the tree but I didn’t know where the roots were. So the
more she talked to me the more I realized this is what I’ve been looking
for, and it’s been where I’ve gone all the time and it’s been what
I’ve done all the time, but I’ve never really understood it, you know, or
where it came from.
I had to come back by the water [laughing lightly]. I always come back to the
water. And uh, we, even when we lived in Detroit, every other weekend I was up
here fishing or swimming, had to be because of the water you know. It’s very
healing, and course I always knew that, but I, I didn’t know any teachings
with it. I always knew that when I sat by the water I felt better, you know,
or I would talk to the water, and it would feel like something would be lifted
from me, like away. But I never understood that there’s spirit associated
with the water. That the water is the life blood of Mother Earth. It’s very
cleansing and healing, you know. I never understood all that, but yet I was
I think that stuff is always, always inside of you.
receives “teachings” from spirits, in moments of reverie, or from other
moments of life. She suggests here that being Native is less a matter of
“picking up this path” than of something intrinsic to her being: “I’ve
always had it, you know. I’ve always walked it,” she says and she also
asserts, “So I think this stuff is always, always inside of you” and “I
ALREADY KNOW THIS!” Such confirmations of various teachings integrate her
experiences into a coherent and livable worldview, clarifying her identity.
Oogima Ikwe credits friends recognized as elders for encouraging her practice
and involvement in cultural renewal. Strong community relationships based on
sharing culture are common. The fact that her internal sense of knowledge
reverberates with her community makes her visions harmonious and authentic in
her own sense of those terms. Overall, Oogima Ikwe’s message is one of hope
for her generation. Being Native is positive and healing, environmentally and
emotionally sound. But she is nonetheless concerned for the burden it places
on the young generation (see her discussion of the new hoop above). Oogima
Ikwe articulates both the potential and the need for the young generation to
carry on whether or not enough elders are left to teach them, as seen when
was something that was given to the elders through experience and through
teachings, a lifetime of teachings. Then they gained that wisdom. But we
can’t afford that luxury any more. So now it’s just been handed to them,
from the Creator to the young people as a gift.
elders had uniquely was time and experience, “a lifetime of teachings.”
But times have changed. Without that “luxury” of time, people and culture
must also change. Old people “should have” the knowledge, but if they
don’t, and if young people do, that is okay.
Oogima Ikwe’s affirmative view realizes and embodies the dynamism and fluidity of all culture and tradition. Oogima Ikwe’s speech resonates with oratory in the spirit of her ancestors while reflecting the current climate of cultural rejuvenation in her community. N. Scott Momaday states: “We are all, I suppose, at the most fundamental level what we imagine ourselves to be. And this is certainly true of the American Indian” (1998, p. 4). Like the best of us in any culture, she imagines life with beauty and strength of spirit that affirms humanity in the spirit of Momaday’s words.
William. “’All We Could
Expect from Untutored Savages’: Schoolcraft as Textmaker” in Native
American Verbal Art: Texts and Contexts. Tucson: The University of Arizona
Press, 1996: 111-128.
Nora Marks and Richard Dauenhauer, eds. Haa Tuwunáagu Yís, for Healing
Our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory. Seattle: University of Washington Press,
Frances. Chippewa Customs. Minneapolis: Historical Society Press, 1979
(reprint of the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology
Bulletins, no. 86, 1929).
Dell. “Some North Coast Poems,” in “In vain I tried to tell
you”: Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics. Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1981.
N. Scott. “Native American Attitudes to the Environment” in Stars
Above, Earth Below: American Indians and Nature, ed. Marsha C. Bol. New
York: Roberts Rinehart Publishers (for Carnegie Museum of Natural History),
David. Forked Tongues: Speech, Writing and Representation in North American
Indian Texts. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.
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