Apr 19, 2016 - Experts of our own Cultures by Damon Corrie
The recent death of Joe Medicine Crow brought to mind an incident that displayed his wry sense of humor. In about 1962, during our time in Billings, the Billings Archaeological Society sponsored a symposium on buffalo jumps, the process by which Native Americans stampeded bison over cliffs, killed and butchered them. Joe Medicine Crow was the last speaker on the daylong program of talks by many academic archaeologists and historians. He prefaced his final talk by saying something to the effect of “I have enjoyed listening to this distinguished group of experts explain their various theories of how buffalo jumps worked. Now, I would just like to tell you how my daddy said we did it!” Published on April 9th 2016 in the Casper Star Tribune by the Editor
This is VERY telling, because as an indigenous person we ALWAYS hear non-indigenous ‘experts’ about US & OUR Cultures – giving lectures about US & OUR Cultures……these people have spent YEARS in Universities meticulously studying 2nd & 3rd hand accounts written by other non-indigenous peoples long ago, and they have developed very detailed THEORIES about ‘how we lived and did things’….and the many letters to their name and paper degrees convinces everyone with little to no common sense that ‘these people are experts that must never be questioned”…..and herein lies the problem that is inherent in Academic prejudice…..
It is a problem of common sense, why do people who consider themselves to be so ‘highly intelligent’ think that someone who relies on ALL their information about native peoples – from NON native sources – could ever be more of an ‘expert’ than someone who actually IS a native member of the people & culture in question – who speaks the language, practices the culture and the spirituality of their own people and lives among them?
We will know things about our own peoples that you as an outsider will NEVER know , understand fully, or ever be told.
I know cases where these non-native ‘experts’ have NEVER ONCE even set foot in a native community of the people they imagine themselves to be ‘experts’ about……yet society considers these people to be ‘experts’…..what an amazing joke!