Fucking Farm and Wilderness! Stupid “liberal” morons!

14 May

        I got this email from Chris Lord, who is the director of Camp Timberlake, where I went for more than a decade:

Timberlake Families:

I wanted to send you all a quick email to let you know of a significant change that has been made for this upcoming summer at Timberlake. As I may have mentioned in a previous email, the campers are arranged into three separate Lodges based on their general ages: First, Big and Senior. Within each Lodge cabins are given a name that has something in common with the others within that Lodge. Historically First Lodge were Native American dwellings: Wickiup, Wigwam, Tipi and Hogan…Big Lodge, mammals: Foxes, Wolves, Bears, Catamount, Otters…and Senior Lodge, wilderness “professions”: Foresters, Rivermen, Lumberjacks, Trappers and Rangers. Many of these names go far back into TL history and even my own memories begin with my arrival as an 8 year old in Tipi cabin in 1982. But over the last several years there has been much discussion about the use of Native dwellings as names for our youngest cabins and a greater discussion about the appropriation of culture. Farm and Wilderness has always been dedicated to the respect and celebration of diversity of culture and within the last few years has taken steps to fully engage in the work of Anti-Racism. For those of us at Timberlake, this decision was not a simple or easy one to make, but we felt it was the right one and so we have retired the former names and after a thorough process that involved new and former staff have renamed out First Lodge cabins using constellations/stars. The new names are Phoenix, Orion, Polaris and Vega. While their legacy is only beginning, there are so many wonderful opportunities for story telling, sky gazing, learning and creating in connection to these names. This change will be difficult for some campers who have made these cabins their home over the last few summer and may also spark curiosity in new campers who will certainly noticed old cabin plaques the names of the former cabins. This is a discussion that we are prepared to have, but please feel free to mention this to your children. We have not yet assigned the names to specific cabins as of yet. Because of a desire to retain some of the traditions of First Lodge, we have kept the name Tipi Stadium (the small clearing that we gather in for Afternoon Activities announcements) for now. If you have any questions please ask.

        You want questions? Why is naming the cabins after constellations not “appropriation” of the ancient Roman culture? Why is “Tipi Stadium” ok but “Tipi Cabin” not? Why is naming cabins in the woods after Native American dwellings “appropriation” (definition: The action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without permission)? Do Native Americans own the names of their dwellings? Why isn’t naming cabins in the woods after Native American dwellings an important homage (definition: special honor, or respect, shown publicly) to a culture that respected nature? Why isn’t that an important message to give to young boys?

        But those are just arguments. The more important thing here than cabin names is what Farm and Wilderness is now standing for. Anti-Racism? Excuse me? In order to be against a THING the THING has to exist. Also, if you are going to be against something, or anti-something, at least clearly define what that something is. Has anyone from Farm and Wilderness clearly defined racism? I have yet to see or hear it, and, as I said, I’ve been going there since 1990 (before they were “anti-racist”).
        And why not be for something? Why not be Pro-Peace (and then clearly define “peace”)? Why not be Pro-diversity (and then clearly define diversity)? Why not be Pro-Unity (with definition)? Or Pro-Individuality (and clearly define…)?

        Who is the Native American (or group of Native Americans) who spoke to Farm and Wilderness about this? (By the way, the “Native Americans” that I know, that I have spoken to, say they use the word “Indian.” One of them said that “Native American” is a “white construct.”)
        Because, if Farm and Wilderness wasn’t spoken to first by an Indian, or a group of Indians, then what’s happening is that Farm and Wilderness has decided, has made the assumption, that the generalized group of “Native Americans” feel like F & W is stealing something from them, or are offended by their use of the names “Tipi,” “Wickiup,” “Wigwam,” etc. Then Farm and Wilderness decided, made the assumption, that changing the names of these cabins to something from a different culture, the ancient Romans, would be ok with the “Native Americans.”
        Racism is a large amorphous “ism” which, in my experience, is tricky to define but often comes down to making uninformed assumptions about another group of people based on their “race” (which may include skin color, culture, surroundings, etc.)

        Appropriation involves two parties: Party A which is doing the stealing, and Party B, which is being stolen from. I would hope that Farm and Wilderness, devoted to “the respect and celebration of diversity of culture” as they are, involved both parties in the “greater discussion” about appropriation of culture. Otherwise, they’re just making blind assumptions… based on race.

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5 Responses to “Fucking Farm and Wilderness! Stupid “liberal” morons!”

  1. darksun2 May 15, 2006 at 9:25 pm #

    white guilt strikes again?

    • junorhane May 15, 2006 at 9:50 pm #

      Perhaps. But I’m sure that they being so Anti-Racist (with capital letters) would never call it “white guilt.” I wonder what they do call it? Privilege? Superiority?

      • darksun2 May 15, 2006 at 10:23 pm #

        “While their legacy is only beginning, there are so many wonderful opportunities for story telling, sky gazing, learning and creating in connection to these names.”
        Whereas with the old names they couldn’t tell stories, learn or create. Because Native Americans suck.
        Hee hee.

      • historyoflosers May 17, 2006 at 2:24 pm #

        Hee!
        And this is why I miss the both of you.

      • junorhane May 18, 2006 at 3:59 am #

        It’s so true.

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