By David Walks-As-Bear
Traditional Indians view philanthropy pretty much as it is derived from the original Latin philanthro-pia. The word is from the Greek, philanthro-pos, which means, literally, "loving people." Um-hmm, and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines it as:
1: goodwill to fellow men; especially: active effort to promote human welfare.
Right. And this kind'a fits with the modern version of philanthropy. It's akin to some rich dude, or dudette, donating a smidgen of their coin, and thereby being a benefactor to those in the community. Sure, and maybe the philanthropist donates a new wing to a hospital. Usually, they get a little something back for this gift, too. It's the trade or exchange, the completing of the circle, as it were. Boy … that sounds kind of Indian to me, eh. Yes'um, it does, because in this case, often the new hospital wing will be named for him or her–the said philanthropist–see what I'm saying? And they did this … of their own free will, eh–nobody forced them to do it. In return, they got a good feeling and helped those around them. And, Indian giving is very much the same, in a different venue.
Below: Dancers at a potlatch ceremony.