Section 4: Sammon (Salmon)
Reciprocity is a shared value among Indigenous Peoples, and the act of giving and receiving is an important aspect of Indigenization. To illustrate reciprocity, Janice remembered colleagues who emerged as allies. One person at the Teaching and Learning Centre provided guidance and mentorship with respect to organizational change:
She was mentoring us and listening to us, and doing the most wonderful thing that an ally could do, which is practising real reciprocity. When she was mentoring us, she also was very openly learning from us, not so that she would be wiser and smarter and have greater expertise, but because she really wanted to learn.
Reciprocity is demonstrated by acknowledging the efforts of those who take time to understand who Indigenous Peoples are, particularly allies at all levels of education. Nella Nelson added:
I really want to acknowledge our allies and champions from all different races that have been willing to risk themselves to do things and to weave content in. Scared that they might be infringing on protocol but willing to do it and to walk with us and to champion for us. There aren’t enough of us to do it alone. We need to honour that they’re taking their time to work with us and willing to share their experience with children. I think we need to hold our hands up to them and acknowledge those allies and champions who are also doing it with us.
Generosity is at the core of who Indigenous Peoples are, and it is a value that is held in high regard. Generosity is found in many stories depicting the way in which we should live our lives. Dr. Martin Brokenleg (2010, pp. 8–11) includes generosity in the Circle of Courage, noting that the spirit of generosity is thought to be the character that is cultivated by concern for others, so that the child can say, “I have a purpose for my life.” Further, Brokenleg notes that this
virtue was reflected in the pre-eminent value of generosity. The central goal in Native American child-rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish. In the words of a Lakota Elder, “You should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.” In helping others, youth create their own proof of worthiness: they make a positive contribution to another human life.
Nella’s sentiments were similar, but with the focus on service. She said:
As an Indigenous person who is seen as leader in the community or facilitating change process, you can never lose sight of the fact that you are who you are because of your family. Community leaders need to be visible in the community and they need to give back to the community. You must be of service to your community, and that means volunteering on those boards at the various organizations, to be present at the activities. It’s important to never lose sight of your roots.
John noted, “The generosity shown by Indigenous people and communities is admirable, influencing leaders to apply the same principle in their practice.”