Workforce and Diversity

Reflections on Native American Heritage Month

By Eugene Magnuson
November 22nd, 2011

Eugene Magnuson

After soul searching, I came up with a few statements, which depict my Pokagon values and the meaning behind Native American Heritage Month. Certainly it is deficient, but I wanted you to respect our own way as well as that of others.

The name’s indigenous, American Indian, and Native American imperfectly label more than 500 diverse nations, and do not recognize their names for themselves (Stuckey & Murphy, 2001) such as Bodewamik, Pikuni, and Aniyvwiyai rather than Potawatomi, Blackfeet, and Cherokee, respectively.

As a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, I feel obligated to provide you with some of the foundations of my culture. I would like to elaborate on the Seven Grandfather Teachings. These teachings are well accepted among the Great Lakes Tribes and much of Indian Country in general as follows:

 

No’ek Mishomesnanek knomagéwenen

Seven Grandfather Teachings

We have many responsibilities as human beings. These sacred Nishnabé teachings that have been passed down through the Generations can help guide us in our lives if we practice and live by them.

Wedasewen

Bravery
Having courage and strength to make good choices when faced with difficulties and challenges in life.

Edbesendowen

Humility
To recognize ourselves as humble and human.

Bwakawen

Wisdom
Using good judgment and attitude, we have the ability to teach others what we have learned.

Debanawen

Love
To show affection and feel love for all beings. To be unselfish in our relationships with one another.

Gwekwadzewen

Honesty
To be trustworthy and truthful.

Wdetanmowen

Respect
With a good heart, we share our appreciation and thoughtfulness to all.

Dewewen

Truth
To show in our character and actions a learning, knowing, and honoring of truth.

What I have done is pour through what others have written, looked at my own writings from the past and thought back to the many, many times I have listened to the Spiritual Leaders who had provided us with teachings and led by action.

 I also learned from my Native Mother who taught me the Traditional Ways; she simply demonstrated them because she was raised in an Indian home.  My mother was send away as a little girl, by the Government to a boarding school, where Native children who made the mistake of speaking in their native tongue were severely punished for doing so.

Last November, I had the honor and privilege to be invited to participate on Sodexo’s newly formed Native American and Aboriginal Council (NAAC). I was fortunate to meet Ogemaa Paul Schultz, who also spoke about native cultures at last November’s Native American Heritage Month webinar.  

Faye Cowtuckmuck W. Magnuson inscribed on the Honor Wall

The day finished with a tour of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of The American Indian.  Words escaped me to describe how I felt seeing my mother’s name Faye Cowtuckmuck W. Magnuson inscribed on the Honor Wall. Emotions and pride swelled. I was so glad to be able to be there.

Eugene Magnuson is currently the director of food and nutrition for Mount Sinai Hospital a 325-bed teaching, research, and tertiary-care facility and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital a 100-bed Rehabilitation hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Read his additional post on the Sodexo Careers blog here.

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