A Native American Voice: George Fence Speaks, Part 2.

“You will find that if people want to ask a question, that waiting is a very important part of that asking.  What we are taught from an early age is that if we remain silent and observe, that sooner or later we will have this demonstrated to us.  So, there is a cautionary aspect to learning;  not to ask questions about specifics before we achieve the capacity to really understand and to practice what we have learned…

The importance of your relationship to place is the foundation upon which the individual cultures represented by the 400+ different tribes exist.  Native communities are represented by limited geographical regions and areas, although, they might extend to other areas for tribes that are more nomadic in nature.  However, even within the tribes that have migratory histories, there is still an incredible relevance to site, to feature and to landscape.  Relationships to place embody, virtually, volumes of books of learning.  And interestingly, the more you know and compare what you know against a symbol, the greater the amount of explanation of a symbol that comes to the individual.  Local examples are the Rogue River, salmon, Pilot Rock, Table Rocks, or Mt. Pitt, otherwise known as Mt. McLaughlin.  These physical places embody a tremendous amount of historical knowledge, of everything from mathematics to medicine to social discourse, to relationship and social involvement.  It takes a lifetime to learn the many volumes of information that are packed into these symbols…

The whole egalitarian perspective on economics not only assisted in the distribution of wealth or commodities, but it also played an important and figurative role in the social structure of our communities.  Those who were best possessed with the talents and capacities to accumulate were provided with the greatest opportunity to aid and assist and to provide service to others.  And thus they acquired the mantle of leadership and responsibility and were seen as providers and protectors for those around them.  So that merit was bestowed based on the actual process of support and assistance.  This egalitarian perspective on economies valued each and every contribution, and recognized that each was important in its own specific way, that without them, there would be a lack of balance in the communities.  So, rather than bestowing specific or greater honor to the person who brought back salmon than the person who brought back obsidian, the whole point was a sort of social or cultural leveling belief that all life forms were important to the balance and the harmony of the dance that this world engages in.  We are constantly reinforcing the idea and attitude that no matter how a person or other life form is represented, it has value and importance, and that even the most lowly can be counted upon to make the greatest contributions.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

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