April 17, 2007

Learning shamanism in college?

Shamanic classes for nurses? Not yet

Sensitivity, scam or sacrilege? Advocates and critics have suggested a shamanism diploma may be any of these, leading a Twin Cities college to delay the program.A local college hoped to be the first in the nation to offer a diploma in shamanic studies--where students would "learn and practice core knowledge and skills in shamanism."

Officials at Minneapolis Community and Technical College said the courses, co-designed and taught by a shaman, would bridge "shamanism and bio-medicine in modern health-care settings" and could appeal especially to nurses. School leaders said repeatedly they wouldn't be training students to be shamans.

10 comments:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
There is a problem -- 'shaman' and 'shamanism' come from the Manchu-Tangu dialects that originated in south-central Siberia, and thus have no application in Native American contexts. Do we call the Mojave a 'Sahara'? Are the spring storms of North America called a 'Simoon', though they now are called a 'Monsoon'? Thus it is that words and terms alien to the Americas are being applied where they have no Native application at all. Obviously then, whatever they are teaching in that college cannot be 'shamanism' because it came from another world and people entirely. Just another visitation of EuroMan's attempt to mongrelize the New World into factors that he understands...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Right. But some tribes, especially along the West Coast, seem to call their healers "shamans."

I wrote about this subject back in Shamans, Medicine Men, or Priests?

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Then, they are mistaken, but it isn't difficult to find Native tribes adopting tenets of the mainstream culture because they don't know any better. Or else, they are Pequot, Lumbee, Kickapoo, Chickahominy, or even Chickasaw. That would explain a lot, eh?
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Tribes are mistaken about what they call their own people? Just like they're mistaken about the efficacy of their shaming poles? I don't think so.

Adapting a word from another culture isn't a "mistake." It's an adaptation--a legitimate cultural practice. It happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Grauds is just another blatant culture vulture selling ceremonies. Her attempts to legitimize her nuage mumble jumble has no basis in academia and should not be encourage.

As for her calling herself a shaman, this is where she supposedly received her education and I quote "She spent more than a decade in Peru as a shamanic apprentice" as far as I know Peruvians don't call themselves shamans.


Anonymouse

russell said...

Writerfella here --
As writerfella said above...
It's the Borg Principle all over again: "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." Accept a given culture's tenets and then you must accept whatever words they use to define or to delineate it. Unh-unh! Oh, I'm sorry, but that's Beulah The Buzzer, and you're a Borg just because we say you are!
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

greggie said...

If you haven't seen "Century of the Self"...I highly recommend the 3rd installment. Available for free on Google video. Why do we go to college? Most people go to learn an applicable and marketable skill. I wouldn't imagine this course covers how to spot and reel in potential customers. That notwithstanding, this is still offensive on so many levels beyond what has been said so far.

Putting aside the issue of nomenclature for a minute (not to downplay the importance of this issue--lumping all north and south american cultures into a single "religion" as it were, and then labeling it with a word that isn't from either continent is testament to the calloused nature of so-called "cultural studies" that persists in universities even today)...

This is all conjecture on my part, but treat it as a thought experiment:

I would geuss most people who would sign up for this class maybe are looking into it as a path to "inner healing." Or maybe they seek "self realization." No doubt probably have some exposure to and are interested in theology in some respect. I would guess that these classes may be aimed at teaching students some system of self-help shrouded in the trappings and pagentry of arguably authentic customs. The main point I am trying to make here is that it may be focused on "the self" as opposed to a vital community--previous plastic shaman are focused on this, so I feel it is probably a safe assumption to make about these courses.

So, in that regard, this may be regarded as a criticism of new age movement as a whole. When so-called spirituality becomes centered on the self rather than on a community, one might even be able to see it as a form of self-hypnosis--not unlike scientology (no offense if you are a scientologist anyone)--the teachings are a commodity designed to entrance you towards buying more teachings. Therefore since it plays on that type of dynamic, it is immediately stripped of any remnants of authenticity. This then, in effect, destroys any type of meaningful cross cultural dialogue because it is reduced to yet another commodity. Like Writerfella said--"mongrelized into factors (EuroMan) can understand"--commodity.

Second, picking back up on the self-hypnosis thing, I'll just quote this from Brainstubator.com:

"If my stance of utter contempt for movies the "The Secret", or "What the F*** Do We Know?", and all this 2012 fantasyland bullshit, are mystifying or offensive to you, please take the time to read through or watch at least some of this material ('Century of the Self 'et al). All of these fairy tales are being fed to us by wealthy elites to keep us self-obsessed. When you’re working on your own personal evolution and getting in touch with your inner spiritual power, they’re continuing their campaign of genocide and global control, not to mention collecting profits off the DVDs and books you’re buying.

The worst part is, these memes aren’t even lies—you really will be happier if you ignore all the evil shit going on in the world. You’ll also be acting like a damn child, and I have no respect for the New Age, sorry."

To sum it up; culturally, racially, politically, ethically, financially and etymologically I tend to find this type of thing offensive.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you want to do something positive, start in your own community and above all else, try to avoid even honorary titles like minister, shaman, healer etc. Just do what needs to be done. Damn shame that they would have to teach that in a college course.

Still, I can't help but find the mental image of one of these classes rather amusing. The chalkboard, the flourescent light. The epoxy-painted cinder block walls. The desks all pushed to opposite sides of the room. Then, like an apparition a woman in her mid fifties appears wearing a mustard yellow turtle neck beneath a brown burlap smock (this is an image of an actual art teacher I had--I refer to her in my blog on cultural misappropriation--the one that gave me Sun Bear's book). Around her neck, a made-in-taiwan "rossette" that she probably picked up in the santa-fe airport 15 years prior. Silently, at first, they all begin to drum in unison on fischer-price "tom-toms."

BRENT MICHAEL DAVIDS said...

not a good thing, never heard of this and I'm living in MN! Indians have uncritically adopted much borrowed language but its adoption may not support the same meaning crosscultural however.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Wow, a perceived 'fad' somehow is taking on more meaning than ordinarily would be allowed in any given civilized context. Can no one see that applying words that have nothing to do with the process reduces it into insignificance or near-insignificance? Look at it this way: when EuroMan came to what is now New England (see how words change existences?), Powhatan was seen as a 'king' by EuroMan. Therefore, his daughter must be a 'princess', and so the term 'Indian Princess' comes all the way through time from then to now. The words that are applied then must be of a certain level of choice, and that does not mean the Native words will survive. Rather, EuroMan will use the words he wishes to use and thus is the subject so described reduced from what it once might have meant, until it becomes something he finds useful. *sigh*
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I think we can all agree that the class won't do much good and may cause some harm.

I'll check out The Century of the Self when it becomes available on Netflix.