Saturday, February 07, 2004

I had a discussion today about the Haisla Totem Pole Repatriation Project.

For some reason this led to talking about governing a homogeneous population and the onset of Globalisation. I was thinking about the toll "imperial industrialisation" is having on world cultures. Literally thousands of the world's languages are dying. And quickly. Our generation is witnessing a disturbing rate of homogenisation. These languages will be dead in our lifetime.

I guess one of the things that really bothers me about this is the fact that a language represents a whole cultural mindset, a unique way of looking at the world. Indigenous peoples around the world have words for plants and animals whose existence we in the industrialized world aren't even aware exist. The possible benefits of this kind of knowledge becomes permanently lost to us. I remember about eleven years ago being told of a tribe in Africa whose term for rainbow translated to "Mother Mist". A language is like a cipher into a whole different perspective on life and reality, and dreams. As the languages disappear, so too vanishes the wealth of human inheritance we pass on to our children. And what is the exchange? Pollution. Depletion. Homogenisation.

I guess one of the reasons I feel so strongly about this is the fact that I don't speak any language but English and some halting French. I know maybe ten words of Cree and nothing of my Cherokee heritage. I am a walking example of how languages can pass away.

But there is hope. I am quite serious about taking some courses and spending some time at the Native Friendship Centre here in town. If the history of my people is going to be forgotten, I will not stand by and watch. I'm going to fight in the best way I know: I am going to study and learn and share all the knowledge I can accumulate.

Of course, since this fits in with what I am already doing, I guess it's not a big stretch! But it is a decision I am happy about.

I have just started reading "Reflections of a Siamese Twin" by John Ralston Saul and I can already sense that may open a few cans of worms in itself. Stay tuned for some ranting!

So...what's on my easel today?

I am struggling with a piece. I thought it was finished a week ago, but then, as can happen, I realised that it was way off the mark. It is deceptively simple. A woman is the central focus and she is surrounded by and wrapped in flames that take the shape of a Thunderbird. Something is missing, though, and I am having a very difficult time seeing what the missing thing is. Does that even make sense? Anyway, I think I am obsessing a bit with this one, so I'm going to have to put it aside for now which is something I hate to do. It's probably a good thing however, as I have a commission that needs finishing fairly quickly.

Well, that's more than my fair share of typing today, and if you've stayed with me this long, then by the gods! I salute your fortitude!



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