Me, First


Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse

Does the Collective Matter? When?

When you research “ways of knowing” among cultures, you find solid evidence that communities are important.

Primitive is the new modern, as we come to realize that it takes many hands to steer a child with love and care.

My favorite metaphor is our (Native) word for “father”—which is the same word for uncle.

All those fathers and uncles stand ready to help the youngin’ into adulthood.

And not just Indians.

My father’s brothers—all refugees from the outback of West Virginia—landed in Southern California after the Korean War.

And each helped raise his brother’s children.

My mother’s clan—the Native American offspring—sent kids to live with sisters and brothers and aunties and uncles, knowing their children would be safe.

My youngest sister came to live with me (I was working in California) during her high school years.

My parents moved to a country with no schools for young women, so they dispatched my sister into my care.

I welcomed the chance to teach her how to navigate life in the United States: how to manage money and how to drive a car.

Later, when my sister decided on college, she chose one close to me, and she became second mother to my babies.

Families remind us that we are not alone, and, for some of us, never alone.

When I hear a CEO or politician brag that only she (or he) can guide us through a crisis, I feel sorry for the sheer nearsightedness.

Most leaders are equipped with a bevy of educated, seasoned mavens whose expertise should be heeded.

The problem arises when confidantes are afraid to be candid, from fear of reproach.

A mature leader needs more than sycophants, brown-nosers, and “yessirs.”

Just like children, to nurture a leader—it takes a village.


Day 27: Native American Heritage Month

27 November 2018

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse (1903), in the public domain























About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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