“Fragile Human Nature”; Germany Trip

A bit on Heidelberg, some Blackfoot comparisons

It was truly a spectacular experience. It was really great to be back in a European town or space where you could go up to the old brick walls and think about or wonder what the Creator or the everyday passer-byer might have thought when they looked or felt this brick in the past 500 years. That’s not to say that the Blackfoot don’t have an amazing assortment of ancient history here at home, almost every year we are on earthing traditional items that the Blackfoot ones used hundreds of years back. This experience has made me think more about human nature than anything else.


Something my professor said when we were going through a tour of the Heidelberg Castle was that humans have really created in order to adapt to their environment. She talked about how Europeans needed to build these castles in order to protect themselves from each other. In political science they call this realism, where your military might determines your power. the stronger you are to your allies and enemies alike, the more safe you are. Say what you will about liberalism, I’m quite happy with our level of cooperation throughout the world in our modern times where I don’t have to worry about making a moat.

It was interesting during the tour, they showed us how they would Preserve wild meat, They would capture their four-legged (like deer) and put them into an enclosure within the castle barrier. The animals would be captured there until they would be killed and butchered for the chef. For indigenous people, although there were wars I’m sure, it would have appeared to have been that food scarcity and techniques to manage that would be in the higher interest of indigenous peoples than having to learn how to build large infrastructure for protecting their people.

The Blackfoot people and I’m sure many other communities had very sophisticated means of preserving meat that they would have secured during the fall time during peak times to engage the Buffalo. The Blackfoot had means of preserving their inventory during the harsh Winters and had ceremonial and traditional means of honoring their wealth of food prosperity. Quite different from German efficiency Circa 1300.

Other quick interesting things:

  • Seen a Germany doctor due to a inner ear rash, they’re pretty advanced for clinics!
  • Lost my wallet and my student bus pass D;
  • explored the Heidelberg Castle as night

The Conference, awarded “Best Paper”

The conference (Bridging Social and Business Innovation) was absolutely wonderful. They fed really well, nothing was too overwhelming or too simple. In 2015 I took a German language course and learned a lot about how much Germans love their food and the course is absolutely right because I did not go hungry during my week stay. What was particularly interesting was the Abundant supply of sparkling water, potatoes and sausages. Besides the food the conference was very enlightening, very consolidating for my own research, and just an overall friendly experience. I was particularly honoured to have received best paper award for my paper.

My paper is basically seeking to understand the more abstract barriers that indigenous people’s face that prevents many of us from finding opportunity, success and happiness. Just call my a modern Piikani philosopher. I’ve grown up witnessing and participating in the Civil disorders that are rampant within indigenous communities. I see the addiction, the violence, the aggression, the Eating Disorders, the suicides, Etc. And I know that all of it is not a fundamental aspect of being an indigenous person. Indigenous people are not just inherently meant to experience this kind of pain, suffering and powerlessness. Truly what I have taken on with my paper is a wicked problem. In social Innovation, Wicked problems are problems that are, well, Wicked, or difficult to solve for a multiple of reasons.

I’m not in Social Worker, my perspective comes and a policy perspective. Without boring half of you to sleep, basically when I try to prove in my paper is that there are two ways of learning the English language. Through the residential school system and other assimilation systems like the 60s group, indigenous people have learned a destructive version of the English language. A version of English that breeds inferiority in the minds of its carriers. It’s really not that hard to conceptualize if you really think about it: indigenous people have been overwhelmed with white supremacy, and a deep sense that we are unworthy purely based on the color and culture of our people. The residential schools and the other systems of assimilation instilled within us an English that is destructive to it carriers. In the literature it is called Shame proneness.

When you are learning English and being socialized in English, you either learn shame proneness or guilt proneness. When you make a mistake or hurt someone, guilt-prone folks will separate themselves from their behaviours and fix the behaviours with ease because their version of English is saying “I made a mistake”, whereas with shame-prone folks, they will not seperate themselves with their behaviours and so they believe they are the mistake. It’s simply the difference between saying “I made a mistake”-guilt, and “I am the mistake”-shame. Watch the brilliant mind that helped me understand this concept, Brene Brown, or if you’re an academic or research-nerd, go check out Shame and Guilt by June Price Tangney and Rhonda L. Dearing (links at the end).

So I basically talked about how that has affected indigenous peoples culture and how we interact with each other, how that has affected our economic development, how it prevents us from being more courageous and more capable of loving one another and ourselves. In the end the biggest casualty during colonization was our sense of love. it’s just about conceptualising this for policy so we can move forward somehow. I’m just touching up my paper now. I’m hoping to find a way of publishing this paper one day soon.

I’ve learned a lot researching for this paper. It initially started with wanting to connect how Otahpiaaki can actually help increase the productivity within Indigenous communities through the introduction of training around sewing machines and business into reserves–a system that has been used in impoverished communities all over the world. The civil disorders I grew up around discouraged me but also empowered me to research and search a way to fill in these obvious holes in the literature on how to improve life for Indigenous peoples.

I’ve come out of this experience kinder and gentler to myself and the people around me, and I’ve realized that human nature is fragile and requires compassion–something we’re not seeing a lot in our world today.

Thanks for reading.


Listening to shame | Brene Brown

Shame and Guilt by June Price Tangney and Rhonda L. Dearing

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