I wanted to expand on some of the discussion from today’s leadership call regarding the intersection between Native American cultures and our work at TeachingHorse.
History shows that our practices as horse-people in the United States have absolutely been informed by different Native American cultures, though certainly sometimes without our awareness. Some of this influence may be directly taken (with or without credit) from these cultures, while others may come from racist romanticized versions of these cultures.
I am not at all surprised that someone who identifies as a member of the Native American community had some trepidation about the work we do at TeachingHorse. Even the name “TeachingHorse” very strongly elicits certain Native American traditions of naming (such as in the Lakota tribe). I am very interested in listening closely to any voice of this marginalized group about concerns and experiences related to what we do. We must prioritize these insights, even if and especially if they may be critical, as it would be a disservice to our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion if we did not.
I am not a historian or a Native American; my own research into this area is not especially organized and I am not an appropriate guide to provide a complete education on the topic. I did recently enjoy this dissertation and thought it touched on a wide variety of issues in the consideration of the relationship between Native American peoples and horses, and how that relationship is, in various ways, misconstrued, oversimplified, dismissed, misrepresented, and appropriated by the dominant (white) Western culture (I have downloaded and attached a pdf version).
Though this dissertation is primarily focused on the presence of horses in Native American communities prior to Western colonization, I still found similarities between the philosophies of TeachingHorse and the ways in which different indigenous peoples speak of their horses as represented in this dissertation. I think it is important for us to be informed of these similarities and open to feedback from Native American peoples about these similarities, particularly as we delve further into diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.
Happy to further discuss the learnings from this dissertation with anyone who chooses to read it.