miércoles, 10 de julio de 2013

"Respect" in traditional environmental knowledge

In most of the Polynesian cultures that I work with, and I know many other indigenous languages, nature is conceived as kin. The respect for one's elders that you point out and the respect for nature are therefore indistinguishable. In the creation story for the Hawaiian people he kalo (taro) plant is literally the still-born elder brother of the first man, and therefore the same relationship that would exist between a kaikuaana (elder of the same generation, not an elder of a elder generation) needs to be applied to every interaction with the kalo plant. Interestingly in the oral traditions different plants and animals are arranged into different generations of relationship and therefore demand different levels of respect. In Hawaiian culture again there is elders of your generation, elders of an upper generation (makua), elders of the grandparent generation (kupuna) and elders of older generations whom are often deceased but embodied into spirits that are respected (aumakua). The level of respect for the generations grows the older the generation is, and that aspects of the natural world are related to people using the same generational concept to me is very telling. 

Aloha 'aina is often the term today that is used to denote the overall concept of respecting the land and nature in Hawaii.  While most people would interpret this as "love the land" today, the first interpretation of aloha is actually "mercy," and includes a broad range of definitions including sympathy, kindness, affection, and to venerate. 

Malama 'aina is the other term often used to capture this relationship with nature, and again today most people would translate it as "to care for the land." But again the varied uses of the word include definitions such as to serve, to honor, to support, loyalty, to preserve or protect, to keep or observe, to adopt. 

I think this speaks a little bit to what you were after.


I also wanted to say I loved the comment that TEK gets you ostracized from any indigenous culture.  Very true!  And understandably so...I find it a derogatory and reductionist term.  "Traditional" in the term implies to a degree that it is no longer applicable or actively practiced, and minimizes the knowledge itself.  And I agree that "ecological" in the term reduces the knowledge from a broad, holistic knowledge that encompasses the people, nature, and a preferred way of living to simple little facts about the environment.  





Noa Kekuewa Lincoln
-------------------------
PhD Candidate, E-IPER
Stanford University
808.217.7710

~We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children~



On Jul 8, 2013, at 6:42 AM, Eugene N Anderson wrote:

I'm looking for ethnographic help.  I have found that quite a few Indigenous languages in Asia and North America use words that translate "respect" to refer to caring for the environment, respecting it, and specifically for not taking too much--not overhunting, not overfishing, not overcollecting plants, and generally taking good care and leaving some for others.  Usually the word is the one used more commonly for respect for one's elders.   In Mongol the word is "shutekh."  in Akha (south Chinese/northern Southeast Asian minority group) it's taqheeq-e (this from recent extremely good and extremely valuable PhD thesis by my student Jianhua Wang; the q marks low tone rather than being pronounced).  In Nuu-chah-nulth it's iis'ak'.  There are equivalents in other Northwest Coast languages.
Now, it seems to me that this is a pretty general thing, and worth exploring.  My question is:  have any of you out there run into this usage?  Do other languages do this?  
best wishes all, Gene Anderson


In most of the Polynesian cultures that I work with, and I know many other
indigenous languages, nature is conceived as kin. The respect for one's elders that
you point out and the respect for nature are therefore indistinguishable. In the
creation story for the Hawaiian people he kalo (taro) plant is literally the
still-born elder brother of the first man, and therefore the same relationship that
would exist between a kaikuaana (elder of the same generation, not an elder of a
elder generation) needs to be applied to every interaction with the kalo plant.
Interestingly in the oral traditions different plants and animals are arranged into
different generations of relationship and therefore demand different levels of
respect. In Hawaiian culture again there is elders of your generation, elders of an
upper generation (makua), elders of the grandparent generation (kupuna) and elders
of older generations whom are often deceased but embodied into spirits that are
respected (aumakua). The level of respect for the generations grows the older the
generation is, and that aspects of the natural world are related to people using the
same generational concept to me is very telling. 

Aloha 'aina is often the term today that is used to denote the overall concept of
respecting the land and nature in Hawaii.  While most people would interpret this as
"love the land" today, the first interpretation of aloha is actually "mercy," and
includes a broad range of definitions including sympathy, kindness, affection, and
to venerate. 

Malama 'aina is the other term often used to capture this relationship with nature,
and again today most people would translate it as "to care for the land." But again
the varied uses of the word include definitions such as to serve, to honor, to
support, loyalty, to preserve or protect, to keep or observe, to adopt. 

I think this speaks a little bit to what you were after.


I also wanted to say I loved the comment that TEK gets you ostracized from any
indigenous culture.  Very true!  And understandably so...I find it a derogatory and
reductionist term.  "Traditional" in the term implies to a degree that it is no
longer applicable or actively practiced, and minimizes the knowledge itself.  And I
agree that "ecological" in the term reduces the knowledge from a broad, holistic
knowledge that encompasses the people, nature, and a preferred way of living to
simple little facts about the environment.  





Noa Kekuewa Lincoln
-------------------------
PhD Candidate, E-IPER
Stanford University
808.217.7710
nlincoln @ stanford.edu

~We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children~





On Jul 8, 2013, at 6:42 AM, Eugene N Anderson wrote:

> I'm looking for ethnographic help.  I have found that quite a few Indigenous
languages in Asia and North America use words that translate "respect" to refer to
caring for the environment, respecting it, and specifically for not taking too
much--not overhunting, not overfishing, not overcollecting plants, and generally
taking good care and leaving some for others.  Usually the word is the one used
more commonly for respect for one's elders.   In Mongol the word is "shutekh."  in
Akha (south Chinese/northern Southeast Asian minority group) it's taqheeq-e (this
from recent extremely good and extremely valuable PhD thesis by my student Jianhua
Wang; the q marks low tone rather than being pronounced).  In Nuu-chah-nulth it's
iis'ak'.  There are equivalents in other Northwest Coast languages.
> Now, it seems to me that this is a pretty general thing, and worth exploring.  My
question is:  have any of you out there run into this usage?  Do other languages
do this?  
> best wishes all, Gene Anderson

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