Woody Morrison: Introducing New Technology--The Oarlock (Part 2) - P.O.W. Report

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Woody Morrison: Introducing New Technology--The Oarlock (Part 2)


Dr. Woody Morrison makes regular posts on Tlingit and Haida people of Alaska facebook page. You are encouraged to follow the page! You may read part 1 [here]

The 2nd Half of the Oarlock Story.

NOTE: In the early 1970's an acquaintance told me he spent time in the Museum in Seville, Spain doing research and learned that in the 1500’s the Spaniards made "Secret Voyages" into the north Pacific. The Village where they stopped, and other neighboring villages no longer exist nearly all inhabitants perished from the Common Cold. I do not know the dates when that happened but the gun given to Haidas at that time was the Blunderbuss, which was in use during that time period.
I further told him that one of the Old Ones said to me: “When you can see the Power that is the Wind, you will know what is true and Correct.” - Ḵáawan Sangáa.

GIINAANGW K’YUUSII
(The Oarlock) PART II

We Haida resisted using Giinaangw k’yuusii (the oarlock) until the early 1900's when due to a population crash brought about by disease and other factors, we no longer took our great (up to 90ft in length) X̱aadas Tluuwaa (Haida Traveling Canoes) to sea. Under full-sail, these magnificent ocean going could attain speeds of up to 30 mph. (Cape Muzon to Sitka – 280 miles in approximately 10 hours).

We switched to using smaller Ḵu Tluu (canoes) that could be propelled by one person with oars held in place by oarlocks. However, Haida rowers sat facing forward and “pushed” the oars. In many cases, enabled a single occupant to efficiently propel a canoe, that would normally require 2 or 4 paddlers; a lone paddler could propel a canoe . "I could do things myself; no longer needed the cooperation of other persons."

Each paddler (crew-member - relative of the "Uncle") was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the X̱aadas Tluuwaa (Canoe); it was a Family Crest enterprise. Now, with the use of oars, Ḵáagáay (the Uncle) could no longer look down the line of paddlers and evaluate each paddler in terms of lines of succession or ability. For, once the Áalaangw (oars) came out there was no need for a "crew"... family relationships began to fade.

In the Common-Mind, Haida, society the term for "Chief", Íitl’aagiid literally means "the big boss who cannot give orders". People followed that person's lead because of his proven leadership and, his caring for his people as a people. A man with Gúudangáay Hltanaa (a Soft Mind – one with empathy (a man of “depth” and “substance”).

A Haida maxim says, "Like the Forest, the roots of our people are so intertwined that the greatest troubles cannot over-come us."

Despite four Centuries of effort to destroy the cohesiveness of Haida society, and other tribal societies, there are many who still hold to the concept of Gúudangáay SG̱wáansang (Sustainable Society). However, driven by Industry, State and Church the concept of "Individual Liberty" (looking out for Number One) is slowly, but surely eating away at that cohesiveness.

This is the greatest threat to the survival of all Gúudangáay SG̱wáansang (Common-Mind or Common-Purpose) societies: "individuality" (looking out for Number One) - the focus shifts from Sustainable Societies to Sustainable Resources. No longer are we bound together by a Common Soul (all related by creation) or by Cultural Imperatives... In short, our Communities are no longer bound together by the Organic Transfer of Knowledge (the Voices and stories of the Old Ones), Church and State preached that the only valid knowledge came from their books and their teachers.

Another aspect of the Command-Structured society is its economic system is based upon "relative scarcity" - when something becomes scarce, they do not stop taking, they simply raise the price. Therefore, conservation is not possible - someone will buy the last drop of drinkable water, will buy the last salmon, will buy the last Tuna, etc. It is a system based upon Money = Power. Global Warming will run its course, the question is whether we will survive as individuals or intact societies.
In the Gúudangáay SG̱wáansang (Common-Mind) society there are ceremonies for Gyáa istlaa ("giving"), i.e., not Hlgawjuu (“taking”). It is a system based upon Wealth = The Responsibility to Share and, is Food Centered. So, the task faced by Haidas remains, to figure out how to make technology serve society, rather than serving the economic advantages offered by individual liberty. One might say it is a result of the legacy of the Oarlock (Giinaangw k’yuusii).

Áaw tláan gyaahlangáay láa g̱íidang.
That is all there is to the story.


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