Reaction to Basso’s Speaking with Names
I recently visited my brother at Fort Sill in Oklahoma where he is stationed. He has been in the Army for a few years. I had the opportunity to visit the grave of Geronimo, which is located on the base. It was a very moving experience to be there among not just Geronimo but many other Native Americans that have been buried there. It reminded me of all the suffering the Native Americans have been subjected to. It made me think of the importance of being a human rights activist. The article brought me back to that gravesite and rekindled my conviction as an activist. This returning or revisiting a place in my mind to remember a lesson, idea, or story is discussed in Bassos article.
This is because for the Western Apache the landscape embraces sacred names, the stories of ancestors and connects to everyday life. It is interesting that they will carry on a conversation by 'speaking with names' because place-names are strong. 'Speaking with names' isn’t exactly telling stories but is used as a kind of shorthand, using only names that remind a person about a place, and therefore the story involved. In the article Lola talks about a conversation she had like this, she explained: "We didn't speak too much to her... that way she could travel in her mind... we gave her clear pictures with place-names. So her mind went to those places, standing in front of them as our ancestors did long ago. That way she could see what happened there long ago... perhaps (she could) hear our ancestors speaking.
Another theme that struck me is how rude it is in the Western Apache culture to talk too much. It made me think of political conversations that I have had trying to convince people to mobilize and take action against the war or for immigrant rights. I can remember now that I might have turned people off because of my persistence to have them take action. Now I know that the issues are serious enough on their own and if I chose my words...