Talk to the Stick

Yesterday, picking up my nearly-8-year-old daughter from summer day camp, she shows me this:

Talking-stick_July2013“This is my talking stick, daddy. We made them today,” the little goddess tells me.

Not much of a surprise there. The YMCA does a lot of craft stuff, and each age group of kids is named after a Native American tribe, so doing something tribal-related isn’t anything new. They don’t do it all the time, and I’m never sure how to feel about it and how much is educational vs. cultural appropriation…but then again, Native Americans out here don’t seem to have the kinds of problems or tensions with non-natives as I’m used to in other places I’ve lived.

“I see,” I say. “It’s very nice.”

“When a person is holding the stick, they get to talk,” she tells me, and I don’t have to be looking at her to know there’s a mischievous glint in her eye.

“I’m familiar with the concept,” I tell her.

“And no one else can talk,” she emphasizes, “when I’m holding the stick.”

I know how much she likes to talk…endlessly at times, it seems.

“That’s for tribal meetings,” I tell her, just a little bit smugly, to make sure she knows I’m on to her. “It’s meant to keep people from interrupting until it’s their turn.”

“I know,” she says. “But I’m holding the stick right now. Only I can talk.”

“And we’re not Native American and this isn’t a meeting and I’m your daddy and I will talk when I think I need to, whether you’re holding that stick or not.”

She pauses mentally as we walk.

“It was worth a shot,” the little goddess says.


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