Yellow Bird: Respect for elders seems to be fading
"When I was a teenager, we were taught a different attitude about our Native American elders. Those teachings seem to be disappearing as we move into contemporary culture, but it wasn’t that long ago when, as young women, we tended to elders with respect and reverence. They were a precious piece of our culture, the vessels of who we were, and they were close to the Creator.

I remember my sister and me helping prepare for a ceremony. When our aunts saw that an elder had arrived, we were pointed in their direction. We then would go outside to their cars and help them into the ceremony. If they had food or a donation, which they almost always did, we would carry it in for them. Then, as the meal began, we would serve them. Usually, people sat in a big circle and food was passed to them. They balanced the meal on their knees. And elders usually were served first.

It was expected that we would listen carefully to the elders. It was easy because elders treated us kindly, told us stories and usually had good senses of humor.

I remember when I first moved to the big city. I was amazed at how fast people talked and how little they listened. Someone told me when I first started working at the Herald that I was a good listener. I didn’t say anything, but it got me thinking about how little people listened. It seemed to me that sometimes they were more interested in making their own point."

Get the Story:
Respect your elders; you’ll be one, too (The Grand Forks Herald 10/8)

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