The "Bones"


Tamálwit - "the law" -  Hnkhwelkhwlnet - "our ways of life in the world" - the ontological principles, and include:


Amotqn - “the one who sits at the head mountain”

Titwa-tityá-ya - “Animal-First Peoples” (Spirit Peoples)

Snq-hepi-wes - “where the spirit lives, from horizon to horizon”

Chnis-teem-ilqwes - “I am part of all”

Unshat-qn - “eye to eye”


Landscape embedded with "gifts", that include:

Súumesh - Wéyekin “medicine” - spiritual power and vitality


Miyp - “teachings from all things”, including:

 ·k’e - “to give and share [food with others]” - ethic of sharing (exemplified in Rabbit and Jack Rabbit and in Crane)

 'Iceyéeye - Coyote (dual orientations relative to the "family" - as guide of what not to do; as guide what to do) - ethic of competition (exemplified in Coyote and Woman, and in Coyote and Swallow Sisters and Coyote and the Rock)







Story Texts: Viet Cong and Bar Fight



In contrast with Cartesian Dualism and Aristotelian Materialism, i.e., Head Knowledge, and given that the Indigenous ontology entails a reality in which:


1. the landscape is given its design by certain ontological principles and embedded with "gifts" of roots, berries, fish, meat, hides, tule, stone, along with Miyp (teachings, meanings and archetypes),  and Súumesh - Wéyekin, derived from the Creator and Animal Peoples, all embedded in the landscape prior to the coming of Human Peoples,  and passed down each generation through the oral traditions (narrative, song, dance, regalia, architecture, language, etc.), 

it is a landscape constructed and given its design with certain "bones":

2. the material world is ultimately derived from the spiritual - Snq-hepi-wes - “where the spirit lives, from horizon to horizon,”

3. there is a unity and interconnectedness of all participants - Chnis-teem-ilqwes - “I am part of all,”

4. there is an equality among and between all participants - Unshat-qn - “eye to eye,”

5. there is the dynamic of empathy and sharing among and between all these participants - Snukwnkhwtskhwts'mi'ls - "fellow sufferer"  and ek'e - “to give and share [food with others],"

= focus on dynamics of relationships, and not on objects fixed in time and space



In every human act of re-aligning the cherished oral traditions and their symbols/stories, songs, ritual acts, i.e., in the acts of re-telling the stories, re-singing the songs, re-dancing the dance, re-wearing the regalia, re-digging the roots, re-fishing the salmon, re-hunting the deer, re-enacting the "gifts" and miyp, with the perennial Tamálwit / Hnkhwelkhwlnet "bones":


A. the Human Peoples have a active, co-creative role and responsibility in the world.   Can not be estranged from the world; can not be a passive observer of the world.


B. and the world is renewed, perpetuated and in essence "made" - "stories that make the world."   In the acts of re-telling Coyote's story, the world is made and rendered meaningful.  The Animal Peoples come alive and swirl around you, and talk to you, alive as at the moment of Creation.  The world, through "true-heat talk," though the spirit in prayer, in song, in dance, is spoken and danced into existence.


Cliff SiJohn's  - "swirling


Eliade's "shinning through of the sacred" - "hierophany"


Example of the "Blue" of Lake Coeur d'Alene upon re-telling the oral tradition of Coyote and the Rock.


Phenomena Reality is ultimately experienced as the immediate, transitory intersection of those participating (be they human, animal, plant, spirit, ancestor), an event of converging relations, always in the making, anchored to the perennial teachings embedded in the landscape (place-based).      It is never an object, to be viewed as if behind a great impermeable glass pane.


Consider the example of a "Rainbow" and its many participants, or consider the transitory acts of storytelling, of singing, of dancing, of speaking an Indian name, of camas digging, of dip net fishing  and their many participants.


Any implications?



In this non-Cartesian ontology, the vital act is the act of participation.  There is no estrangement and no separation from the world, no mediation of a "Mind" (ideas-thought) from a "Body" (material-physical), no duality (in which each is autonomous, exclusive and not reducible to the other), no "subject" and "object" dichotomy. 

And hence there are no analytical constructs such as "beliefs," "values," "culture," "history," "worldview" that mediate and separate between you and the world.   The constructs such as "belief" or even "culture" (so dear and essential in anthropology), for example, entail a psychological/philosophical state in which an individual holds a cluster of propositions or premises (ideas-thoughts) about the truth or existence something else (be it material objects, or other ideas-thoughts).   Such a state presuppose Cartesian Dualism and in not possible in an Indigenous cosmology.

"We don't have beliefs about religion, we experience it directly," Vine Deloria, Jr.

"We don't talk about the Creator, we talk with the Creator," Quanah Parker


Re-consider Head Knowledge and Heart Knowledge, and "true-heart talk"


Re-consider Symbols and Spiritual Efficacy


Re-consider Orality






Re-consider Hnkhwelkhwlnet - "our ways of life in the world"



"our ways of life in the world" - integrated throughout social, ecological, religious aspects of life (no compartmentalization, these constructed categories, e.g., "social" not relavant)

"ways of life in the world" - participatory, experiential, facilitatory, means (not "our ways of knowledge," not dogma, creed)

"ways of life" - snukwnkhwtskhwts’mi’ls ł stsee’nidmsh “empathetic adaptability”  - inclusivity (not exclusivity "may way or the highway')     consider the "Medicine Wheel




Consider what it means to be human?



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