How Takoda Taught Tacu: Learning Through Observation, Experience & Practice

 

American Indians have always had many ways of passing skills, knowledge and wisdom about life to their children. America’s First People knew that observation, experience and practice were essential in preparing young tribe members to participate in tribal life and excel in their skills.

One of the most interesting and effective ways was to take each child out into the plains, the mountains and the forests to observe. Anything could be observed – an animal, its tracks, the clouds over the mountains, birds, rodents, game, deer – anything could be watched until the child attained certain knowledge of the way that that thing or animal behaved. A child came to see for himself how things in nature worked, and he or she discovered how to apply that knowledge to their lives. 

In my book, The Way of the Eagle, the young brave Tacu has been instructed to stay out on a grassy hill all day until he learns the lesson waiting there to be grasped. His teacher, Takoda, has challenged him further by withholding from Tacu what sort of lesson he is supposed to learn. So Tacu must use all his powers of observation as he lies there, to try to discern what Takoda wishes him to learn. Eventually, as he attunes himself to his surroundings, he learns something quite important and realizes what the lesson was about. Even better is the fact that he had to discover it all himself, requiring him to exercise his powers of observation and his mind, both of which allowed him to heighten his awareness.

When American Indians learned a physical skill such as hunting with a knife or bow, or preparing slain animals for eating and other uses, practice was the key. Relatives or someone skilled in that art showed the child how to do it, and the child spent many hours and days practicing that skill until he was adept at it. As soon as he was good enough, the child began participating in that activity for real, and was able to continue learning and improving through direct experience.

These methods of teaching were natural, arising out of experience and common sense—they worked and they were so innate that they were simply a part of everyone’s early life. We can look back and realize how essential they were, because it is obvious how well these methods enabled them to survive and flourish in their environment.

Education was not compartmented away from daily life or any other aspect of life in the same way that modern Americans and Europeans separate education from work from recreation from religion. In the current U.S. system of public education, the greatest amount of teaching time in most subjects is spent having children read textbooks to get information and/or having them listen to a teacher verbally pass along information. While these methods are effective for some subjects, only in a few areas of study is the students’ time devoted to actual observation, handling and operation of the physical objects concerned with the subject being taught, such as the American Indians did. 

When children are kept away from the real objects of life though they are being expected to learn about them, they can give up in frustration. They aren’t allowed to relate the subjects they are studying directly to the real world they will eventually have to use them in. While trying to study, they may experience all kinds of uncomfortable physical or mental symptoms simply as a result of being denied the real objects and actions of the subject they are learning about, at the time that they need them. They often give up in frustration.

These difficulties and others are called the “Barriers to Study” and are explained in the work of educator and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard in his educational development, “Study Technology.” This is an easy, workable method for locating and resolving problems students encounter in study. Study Technology describes three primary barriers to study, and the one we’re talking about here is the “First Barrier to Study: Absence of Mass.” Mr. Hubbard explains this barrier in this way:

“In Study Technology, we refer to the mass and the significance of a subject. By mass we mean the actual physical objects, the things of life. The significance of a subject is the meaning or ideas or theory of it.

“Education attempted in the absence of the mass in which the technology will be involved is hard on a student. 

“If you were studying about tractors, the mass would be a tractor.  You could study a textbook all about tractors, how to operate the controls, the different types of attachments that can be used – in other words, all the significance – but can you imagine how little you would understand if you had never actually seen a tractor?

“Such an absence of mass can actually make a student feel squashed. It can make him feel bent, sort of dizzy, sort of dead, bored and exasperated.”*

I think you can see why it’s likely that the First Barrier to Study, “Absence of Mass,” was rarely if ever experienced by early American Indian youth— and also see that this learning concept explains how my character, Tacu, was finally able to work out and understand the lesson Takoda had given him. He was surrounded by and immersed in the objects, plants, animals and overall environment of his world, and had a strong desire to discover what it was that Takoda wished him to learn. 

You can find out what the other two barriers to study are, and how to deal with them, here. They apply to anyone of any age attempting to learn any subject. 
_______________

*Excerpted from “Barriers to Study,” by L. Ron Hubbard, from the website Scientology Handbook, located at http://www.scientologyhandbook.org/study/SH1_2.HTM

Review and Interview of The Way of the Eagle

November 26, 2012

Laurie, a well known book blogger, recently reviewed The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening and interviewed me on her site, “Laurie’s Paranormal Features.”  I was honored to be selected for a review on this busy and interesting blogsite.

Here is the link!

Laurie’s Paranormal Features

All the best,
D.E. Lamont

The Way of the Eagle Named Medal-winning Finalist in 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards!

I’m proud to announce that The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening was named a Medal-Winning Finalist in the Novella category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

Meet Our Release Experts

The competition is the largest not-for-profit awards program for independent publishers and is presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group (www.IBPPG.com) in cooperation with the Allen O’Shea Literary Agency.

The 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the second national award for The Way of the Eagle. In November 2011 the book was honored as a Finalist in USA Book News’s “Best Books 2011,” Visionary Fiction category. The Way of the Eagle has also been nominated for a 2012 Global Ebook Award.

The original peoples of the entire Los Angeles area, from the San Fernando Valley on the north to Orange County on the south, were a culturally rich tribe called the Gabrielino-Tongva (after their close association with the San Gabriel Mission during the Spanish Mission Era), or simply the Tongva, which means “People of the Earth” Their indigenous Southern California heritage outstrips the Spanish period by thousands of years, as it has been their homeland for at least 2500 years, and some sources say 5000.

Various Tongva tribal groups have organized and been recognized by local governments. More than 300 enrolled members of the Gabrielino-Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, and an estimated 2,000 or more descendants of the tribe, live throughout the Los Angeles-Orange County area. Individual bands of the Tongva have different names, such as the Fernandeño, and the Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

Relatively few people are aware of this tribe because they were nearly exterminated in the period between the Spanish Mission Era and the nineteenth century. It was so close, in fact, and their numbers and culture were so decimated by missionization, disease and persecution, that some historians mistakenly believed they were extinct.

While there is no tribally owned land or reservation and the Tongva Nation has yet to be federally recognized, the tribe still exists and its families do work to preserve and restore their culture and important sites. An interesting place to visit is the Rancho Los Encinos Adobe. Stepping onto its grounds is like stepping back several centuries in time. It is not a Tongva village, but the buildings and artifacts show what the site looked like in the Spanish mission era. Its website states:

     “The site that is now known as Los Encinos was a “rancheria” (the Spanish term for an Indian village) of the tribe now called “Fernandeño”, “Gabrielino” or “Tongva,” for several thousand years. In 1797, when the San Fernando Mission was completed, the site was largely evacuated” (Los Encinos State Historic Park website).

D.E. Lamont’s book, The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening, is set in the pre-1542 San Fernando Valley – that is to say, before any Europeans or Spanish explorers arrived and the indigenous inhabitants’ culture was still undisturbed. A historical fantasy, the book portrays a young Tongva brave’s misadventures in surviving the baffling and dangerous tasks assigned him by his mysterious spiritual mentor. Through these adventures and encounters, he gradually comes to know his own capabilities and spiritual identity.

While the story is a historical fantasy with much of the action from the author’s imagination, the settings as well as tools and implements of daily existence in this early period give readers the feel for what life for the Tongva in pre-European Southern California could have been like.

Reviews have been very complimentary. Kirkus, which selected the book as a Weekly Pick, wrote in its review:

     “There is hardly a word out of place … what is most commendable is the precision and unpretentiousness of the prose while still managing to invoke the intense quality of Tacu’s visionary quest and moving nature of his movement.”

Earlier in 2012, a judge in the 19th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, commented:

     “I found this ‘journey’ easy to follow, easy to enter into with Tacu, easy to rejoice, hurt, and cry with him on his path to maturity. … This book is nearly flawless and I found few areas, if any, that I could comment on in the area of improvements. It was very inspirational.”

The author, D.E. Lamont, was raised in several different towns in the booming San Fernando Valley during the 50s and 60s, including Encino, but was never taught that Native Americans had lived there originally. When she and her brothers found arrowheads, an ancient cave, and the vestiges of a native village site in the wild chaparral-covered hills and canyons surrounding the Valley, she wasn’t sure if these artifacts were real indications of original Native American inhabitants.

Later, as an adult, Ms. Lamont felt that it was ironic that thousands of years before the Hollywood film colony took root, a creative, resourceful and fun-loving people lived a rich, bountiful life in the same location.

The Way of the Eagle is available in quality softcover at Amazon.com, in illustrated ebook format at Smashwords.com and in the Kindle store at Amazon.com. The book contains five beautiful original black and white illustrations by J.H. Soeder, a California artist and environmentalist.

D.E. Lamont’s author website is located here. She can also be followed at Facebook, and at Twitter @DELamont1.

# # #

Global Ebook Award Nomination Honors L.A.’s Original People, The Tongva

If
you asked a person on the street who the original inhabitants of Los
Angeles were, many would say the Spanish, and others the Mexicans. And
some might say the film companies! None of these would be correct.

The original peoples of Los Angeles were a culturally rich tribe called
the Gabrielino-Tongva, or just the Tongva, which means “People of the
Earth.” The name “Gabrielino” was used because so many Tongva lived and
worked in association with the San Gabriel Mission after its
establishment. But their native heritage outstrips the Spanish Mission
era by thousands of years: Southern California has been their homeland
for at least 2500 years, and some sources say 5000.

Relatively few people are aware of this tribe because they were nearly
exterminated in the period between the Spanish Mission Era and the
nineteenth century. It was so close, in fact, and their numbers and
culture were so decimated by missionization, disease and persecution
that some historians mistakenly believed they were extinct.

The good news is that the Tongva community is still here in its
homeland. More than 300 enrolled members of the Gabrielino-Tongva San
Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, and an estimated 2,000 or more
descendants of the tribe, live throughout the Los Angeles-Orange County
area. There is no tribally owned land or reservation and the Tongva
Nation has yet to be federally recognized, but various Tongva tribal
groups and bands are organized and have been recognized by local
governments.

The Tongva community works hard to recover and
preserve their culture, language, and native identity. The Tongva
community gathers for meetings and celebrations, to dedicate cultural
sites, and to participate in other community events. They also work to
prevent the destruction of sacred burial sites by developers.

An increasing number of Tongva historical sites, village sites and
markers have been formally dedicated. The story of how a peak in the
Verdugo Mountains came to be dedicated as Tongva Peak is linked here: articles.latimes.com/2001/aug/13/local/me-33740

As of February, 2012, the illegal and secret excavation by Los Angeles County of the remains of
Tongva tribe members and other early inhabitants of the original site of the city’s founding during the construction of the downtown LA
Plaza de Cultura y Artes project was still unresolved. Federal grant
money was still being withheld. See article: “Concerns over Indian
remains stall LA museum grant” indiancountrynews.net/index.phpblog.theautry.org/2011/05/05/george-harwood-phillips-on-stitching-together-the-story-of-a-people/

Author D.E. Lamont wished to honor the Tongva and let more people know
about them by writing a story about them set in the period before the
arrival of the Spanish in 1542. Her ebook novella, The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening,
is a historical fantasy. It portrays a young Tongva brave’s adventures
in surviving the dangerous lessons given him by his mysterious spiritual
mentor and finally coming to know who he really is. Its well-researched
details can give readers a taste of what life for the Tongva might have
been like.

The Way of the Eagle has been well received. The softcover edition was designated a Weekly Pick by Kirkus, which wrote in its review,

“There is hardly a word out of place … what is most commendable is
the precision and unpretentiousness of the prose while still managing to
invoke the intense quality of Tacu’s visionary quest and moving nature
of his movement.”

The book was honored as an
Award-winning Finalist in USA Book News’s “Best Books 2011” in the
category of Visionary Fiction. A judge in another competition stated:


“I found this ‘journey’ easy to follow, easy to enter into with
Tacu, easy to rejoice, hurt, and cry with him on his path to maturity.
… This book is nearly flawless and I found few areas, if any, that I
could comment on in the area of improvements. It was very
inspirational.”

– Judge’s Commentary, 19th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, Jan. 2012

Lamont was raised in the rapidly developing San Fernando Valley during
the 50s and 60s, but was never taught that Native Americans were the original inhabitants. When she and her brothers found arrowheads, an ancient
cave, and the vestiges of a native village site in the wild
chaparral-covered hills and canyons surrounding the Valley, she wasn’t
sure if these artifacts were real. Later, as an adult, Lamont felt that
it was ironic that thousands of years before Hollywood, a creative,
resourceful and fun-loving people lived a rich, bountiful life in the
same locations.

The Way of the Eagle has been
nominated for a 2012 Global Ebook Award. Now in its second year, the
Global Ebook Awards honor and bring attention to the future of book
publishing—Ebooks. The Awards are presented in 72 specific categories.
They are open to all publishers large and small so that a winner is the
best in its category, not just the best of small or regionally-published
ebooks. globalebookawards.com/

Native American Life and Spirituality Tightly Interwoven

Inseparability of Native American Spirituality and Everyday Life

I’m reposting this original article because I think it says best what I wanted to express on this subject. I did recently write a second article on this subject and you’re welcome to check it out as well.  (See list of blogs on the left.)

I recently learned about this aspect of Native American life through the writing of Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman), a part Santee Sioux raised in a traditional Native American home, who later was educated as a doctor in American colleges. He wrote eloquently about Native American life in the early 20th century. He wrote that daily life and spirituality, as lived purely by original peoples, were not really even two elements tightly interwoven. Rather, the people viewed their existence and lived their lives AS a manifestation of spirituality and spiritual creation. To them, there was no difference; they were inseparable.

As I understand it, and according to Ohiyesa, every activity and element of life was recognized as a participation in the spiritual world.  All aspects of living were felt to be a manifestation of the spiritual world, and all the objects in the natural world were viewed as having Spirit – humans, animals, plants, birds, even stones and other inanimate objects. All creations were recognized to come from, or BE extensions of the spirit world. In other words, there was no abrupt division between the living of daily life and the people’s practice of spirituality, because being alive and going about daily living in the way that their elders taught them was spiritual existence and expression.   

Even religious rituals and ceremonies, at their root, were always understood in their proper perspective as symbols of, and recognition and acknowledgment of spiritual realities and the Great Spirit, without being mistaken for the only, or most important part of spiritual practice or expression.  A symbol for something is not the thing itself. To the American Indian, it was just as much a spiritual observation to take a few moments to appreciate the majesty and beauty of the (natural) world, or a colorful sunset in the wilderness.

I find this idea of the inseparability of Native American life and spirituality to be remarkable and admirable.

Unlike much of our modern society and humanity, to the original peoples, spirit was life, and alive, and very real. Many had an inner knowledge and conviction that spirit and the spiritual world were more real than “this dream called life” (in the physical universe).  While that may be difficult for many to grasp or agree with, I feel that it shows that Native American peoples had a firmer and deeper grasp of existence than many in the current age. 

The original peoples had a tradition of wisdom about every aspect of life passed down in oral traditions for eons. Young children were taught these truths and wisdom.  They were taught how to become competent members of the tribe, able to survive and defend their people, and how to make decisions about every aspect of living. 

Perhaps that knowledge passed down that has so often branded as “primitive” by supposedly modern scientists was really “advanced” knowledge. I believe it was.  This can partially be evidenced by the stories of advanced spiritual abilities demonstrated by shamans and spiritual initiates through the ages. These are not all just legend. Stories of shapeshifters and wise men who could instantly transport themselves from one place to another have their roots in actual spiritual ability.

This is where the past meets the future – as in science fiction and fantasy – head-on. It is also probably the connection point between far Eastern religions and the Native American traditions.  In my life I have been privileged to meet people with advanced spiritual abilities and awareness. What they can do is truly amazing and awe-inspiring.

My own belief is that all people contain within themselves the potential for virtually all the advanced abilities that anyone can imagine. These abilities are Divine, meaning that they do not come from “demons” or the devil, they spring from the limitless potential within each of us.  And they do not originate in our brains, but in ourselves as knowing, sentient spiritual beings. A very wise man once observed that the evil do not retain such abilities very long, if they ever have them. But the good can, and may. 

My wish is that the wisdom and traditions of the various Native tribes who lived in North America for thousands of years before the Europeans came are not lost, but are preserved and will become more accessible to those who wish to learn.

Check out my short novel written about the Tongva, the original, almost forgotten people of Los Angeles – a story about one young Tongva brave’s own spiritual journey in the days before the Spanish came.

The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening 

Very best and all for now!
D.E. Lamont

__________________
*Note that I refer to American original peoples in general, while acknowledging that there were certainly differences from one tribe and nation to another, and what I say here may not be true for all American Indian tribes. Part of what I say here has its source in the writings of Ohiyesa (Charles Eastman).