I had a debate one time with a fellow Cree about sharing one’s culture, particularly ours. We were debating whether the “Cree culture” gets “lessened” when other cultures adopt it. Will it be any less if “they” start adopting some of our ways and practices?
It depends on which ones. Now you can’t have everyone living in a teepee out on the land. But certain aspects can be, I believe, freely shared.
Things we take for granted are looked upon in awe by people who haven’t seen our culture. We walked into a chaiyuu’s (elder’s) antique shop one time and I walked toward him. I extended my arm and our hands met. I greeted him with “Hi, how are ya?” He had a surprised, partly embarrassed look because he thought he should know me.
He finally asked me if I did know him. I told him no and he was relieved. Whenever I show “normal” respect to elders “down south,” I know they don’t normally receive that kind of “respect” because I can see it in their faces.
A baby swing which a typical Cree household has, is unknown “down south. ” Whenever friends drop over and see ours, they appreciate its usefulness, especially the ones who have had children. They definitely will have a swing for the next one.
Even words and concepts. How do you translate “anjabwa,” people ask me. I really can’t so they start using it (it’s a term of endearment). There’s now a bunch of people in Montreal using “anjabwa” in their vocabulary.
Actions toward the land, traditional ways say one must think of the consequences before acting. People are now starting to realize that but it hasn’t really caught on yet with “big business.”
Even we adopted certain aspects of our visitors’ culture. So if sharing between two cultures means there will be respect towards mother earth, more respect for elders, happier children and people with a sense of community and an adoption of concepts that make sense, then I’m all for it.