Your post was a difficult one to read and a difficult one to take. I confess that it shook me a little bit.
Before I respond to this, I think I should point out that I am a very small cog in the machine and I can only give my opinion. I don't represent the tracker school in any way and some of them might disagree with what I say, or perhaps even be mad at me for saying it.
Also, as as I mentioned above, Tom's books and later his classes may have saved my life. Needless to say, I have a strong fondness for him. I'm also well aware that many people consider him a liar.
OK, introduction aside, I think, in essence, this is the question:Is it OK for Tom Brown (a white man) to teach me (a white man), Native American skills, like tracking, basketmaking, primative cooking, and philosphy including the vision quest and sweet lodge and more, or is it not OK?
You say that it is the choice of the people who those traditions belong to:
It is the position of a particular Native people as a collective to decide if they wish to teach outsiders or not and how much they should be taught. Interference from outsiders backing either side of an issue creates a problem. Also Outsiders designating who is part of a community and who isn't is a problem.
When you make a claim about the teachings of Native communities belonging to greater human family you are taking yet another piece of Native culture away from the people. You are removing the right for them to decide the destiny of their culture. This type of action has been carried by outsiders since the beginning.
And this is a difficult thing to disagree with, but if I may, I'd like to point out that, if you believe the story of Stalking Wolf, he saw a vision to wander and learn as many skills from as many tribes as he could, and later, to teach what he learned, not just from his tribe, but from many tribes, to a white man, and he instructed that white man to teach others.
So, if you believe the story, then it came from within the tribes to teach those outside. If you don't believe the story, or if you believe the story was misinterpreted, then you are 100% right and I made a mistake taking the classes I have taken. It wasn't just Grandfather who chose to pass some teachings down to Tom, but Grandfather's entire tribe was behind him, and many tribes that Grandfather met in his journeys were behind him too.
Second, you say that I am an outsider "designating who is part of a community", I never said Tom was part of a community, you're putting words in my mouth.
What I actually said was this
I believe that Tom Brown is a good teacher and that he has tremendous respect for native american culture and tradition, but I'm hardly an expert.
It's perhaps a somewhat fine line, but saying "I believe somebody is a good teacher" and saying "this person is part of the community" are NOT the same thing. If you are going to correct me, you should correct my words, not different words.
Comparing how things were when the white man arrived is very problematic. For someone who is claiming to learn from Native culture with respect and understanding to make such a claim shows a great amount of ignorance. This very claim puts Native identity as being static, as you suggesting that the way to identify Native people is by the degree to which they resemble the people that the first white explorers made contact with. In addition to not allowing Native culture to be a living a culture you also put way to much trust in the people who made first contact. If you need it I can show you how problematic this is. I will supply you with several references.
I studied in a Native Studies program (now called Indigenous studies) and I it was also focused on finding a respectful and tolerant place for an outsider. Some activities were appropriate for outsiders and some were not.
All I was really trying to say that there is nothing inherantly exclusionary in their philosophy. I certainly never meant to suggest that anybody should follow a static philosphy and I most certainly don't believe that. But to me, this is a minor point and I concede it to you. I'll not use that example again.
I'm not sure it was necessary for you to say that I show a "great amount of ignorance" either, but that's your call and I'm interested in what you studied. You probably know a great many things that I do not.
There is a lot of evidence that the system of Federalism and the American Constitution was influenced by the Iroquois Great Law but credit is not given.
This is dangerous territory and not one to be traveled by people who don't know their history.
I've heard about how much Thomas Jefferson borrowed from the Native Americans in writing the constitution and declaration and I agree that credit should be given.
Whenever I speak about what little I've learned, I always give credit to Grandfather Stalking Wolf. Whenever I have heard Tom Brown speak, he does too. I agree completely with what you said here, but I'm not sure how it applies to my post, or where I suggested that anybody should not recieve deserved credit.
It's OK if you disagree with me, but please disagree with what I said, not with what I didn't say.