Re: Fact or Fantasy
Gerald Demontgny (gdemontg@CCS.CARLETON.CA)
Fri, 18 Nov 1994 17:22:02 EST
Mike D Tester writes:
> Most of us, I'm sure have seen the picture on the front cover
> of the first edition of the weeky news paper "Scouting of Boys",
> the picture shows a small boy lying on a hill over looking a bay,
> with his hat and staff lying by his side.
> In the distance a boat can be seen.
> To find this out, I showed the picture to some members of my Scout.
> The most popular answer being " well its some kid looking over a hill
> at boat on the sea. And know imagination was used to describe
> the image, just fact.
Mike I would not be so quick to jump to a conclusion that no
imagination was used. Perhaps the issue is what questions might have
followed about what the boy is doing on the hill? What is the boat
doing? What does the boy feel? As a cub leader I encounter the
lively imaginations of the youth in my pack all the time. A walk down
the hallway of the school where we meet will reveal very active
imaginations. I do recognize that the play of kids is different today
then when I was a kid, but then so too is the world. We might have
played at cowboys and indians, but then today I don't know how many
parents would feel comfortable with such play by their own children.
Not wanting to put a politically correct judgment of such play, over
the past twenty years Aboriginal peoples have been much more outspoken
and have helped non-Aboriginal peoples to understand the effects of
white men's governments and laws on their culture. I guess, this
brings me to another issues which has been niggling at me for a long
time, indeed when I first joined the network there were a series of
postings about using various Indian regalia, and this is the difficult
issue of appropriating the sacred symbols from a people whose culture
has been colonized, repressed, or trivialized by the members of a dominant culture. For example, through my association with
Aboriginal people I have some sense of the sacred meanings invested in
an eagle feather, in fact my students in Thompson where I taught
presented me with one. This eagle feather represents more than a toy
or plaything and item for display as a trophy. I suppose that a
similar attitude of respect is demanded when using any number of other
Aboriginal symbols, e.g., a talking stick, a rattle, a ceremonial
mask, or even a totem. So what does this mean? Does this mean that
as scouts we should not use any Aboriginal regalia? I don't know the
answer to that one. I don't think that there is an easy answer,
however, it is clear to me that before talking about, referencing or
building activities around an "Indian" theme, that we would be well
advised to contact the leadership at a local Indian Band or reserve.
We would be well advised to approach this culture and these peoples
with a deep sense of respect for their historical accomplishments,
and for the rich legacy which we inherit.
I appreciate that even as I say this that our founder B.P. borrowed
from all sorts of other traditions, a good example is the use of the
Gilwell beads which were scavenged from the necklace of poor ole chief
Dinzulu. Yet, those were days when the appropriations of the empire
caused not even a moment's pause of reflection. At best these
appropriations were justified as part of the "white man's burden".
Yet, in our own much more self-critical time, when imperialism is no
longer a virtue but an evil, we do need to be more careful concerning
the appropriation or representation of another culture. Of course,
this care, can become a dogmatic repudiation, such as the controversy
in Canada regarding the writings by W.P. Kinsella --a white man who
writes stories about Native people-- which results in a condemnation
of any representation of others different from one's own cultural,
sexual, gender group. I am not arguing for this approach. But, I
just feel that we need to be sensitive to what symbols we choose to
use. Trust me, I don't have a clear answer on this one, only a gut
I suppose what is key is an attitude of respect for Aboriginal
cultures and Aboriginal peoples and this respect demands that we move
beyond stereotypes towards dialogue. So, by way of wandering back to
the point, I don't miss the fact that children no longer play cowboys
and indians. It was a game that only proved that good guys don't win.
Sorry for the soap box, but I just had to get off my chest.
During this last weekend I observed a number
> of groups of children playing. All of them were playing the same
> game, football.
> Not Cops and Robbers, or Cowboys and Indians. Just football which
> needs little or no imagination to play.
I'll let this be responded to by someone who loves football. Having
played a lot of touch as kid, some of the plays we thought we could do
proved to be pretty imaginative.
> This is having an effect on Scouting, and I have noticed just how
> hard it is to organise and play games or activities which needs a
> child to use a bit of imagination.
Sorry to disagree, but I know that when we play medic, during a first
aid night, the kids did a fine job of dying and being wounded.
> How do we stop the rot ?
My kids are too fresh to rot. Really Mike, I seem to recal a story
that Aristotle's dad thought that he didn't have a proper respect for
tradition and that his generation were talking a lot of rot.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City