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He discovered a culture that had deep roots in the land, and a way of living that was far from insane. The Apache culture also had entrances to other realms. Many places on their land had names, and many of these named places were associated with stories, and many of these stories had ancient roots. Everyone in Cibecue knew the named places, and their stories.

The voices of the wild ancestors could be heard whenever the stories were told, and their words were always conveyed in the present tense. The stories were a treasure of time-proven wisdom. They often provided moral messages that taught the virtues of honorable living, and the unpleasant rewards of poor choices. When people wandered off the good path, stories reminded them of where this would lead.

They helped people to live well. These experts would study languages, ceremonies, food production, clothing, spirituality, and so on — but they paid too little attention to the relationship between culture and place, because this notion was absent in their way of knowing. Often, the reports they published were missing essential components.

Wisdom Sits In Places by Stephanie Sywensky on Prezi

From to , Basso worked on a project that blew his mind. The Anglo world had zero respect for sacred places when there was big money to be made. Elders took Basso to see these places, and record their stories. He created a map that covered 45 square miles, and had locations with Apache place names. Ruth Patterson told Basso about her childhood in the s and s. In those days, families spent much time on the land, away from the village. They herded cattle, tended crops, roasted agave, and hunted. As they moved about, parents taught their children about the land.

They pointed out places, spoke their names, and told the stories of those places. They wanted their children to be properly educated. Apaches used historic stories for healing purposes. Nothing could be more impolite than directly criticizing another person, expressing anger, or providing unrequested advice. During a conversation, they would mention the names of places having stories that would be good for the wayward person to remember.

Then, hopefully, he or she would reflect on the stories, understand their relevance, and make the changes needed to return to balance. One time, three wise women sat with a woman who was too sad. The first wise woman spoke a sentence that mentioned a place name. Then the second mentioned another place. So did the third. She reflected on their meanings, and the clouds lifted.

This was a gentle, effective, and brilliant act of healing. Wisdom sits in places. Some are smart, some are half-smart, but only a few achieve wisdom. Wisdom is acquired via a long dedicated quest; no one is born with it. When elders become wise, people can see them change. They are calm and confident. They are not fearful, selfish, or angry. They pay careful attention, always listening for the voices of the ancestors. Well, you also need to drink from places.

You must remember everything about them. You must learn their names. You must remember what happened at them long ago. You must think about it and keep on thinking about it. Then your mind will become smoother and smoother. Then you will see danger before it happens. You will walk a long way and live a long time. You will be wise. People will respect you. The road to the village had been paved, and there was a school, supermarket, medical clinic, and many new houses. Big screen televisions were a new source of stories, sent from the spirit world of corporations, not ancestors.

People were spending far less time wandering about, old trails had grown over, and the younger generations were losing their connection to the land and its old-fashioned stories. They preferred the new and useful information provided at school. So, the book invites us to contemplate a society far different from our own. It calls up ancient memories. The people from nowhere are paying a terrible price for the frivolous wonders of modernity, and the wreckage it leaves behind.

But all hurricanes die. Our Dark Age will pass. May 27, Ai Miller rated it it was amazing Recommended to Ai by: Honestly this book or at least excerpts of it should be required reading for all historians, the end, thank you, good bye. The opening essay "Quoting the Ancestors" introduces this idea of "place-making" and is really incredible and guys I cannot stress to you how much you should read this just for that, honestly.

Basso notes in his introduction that some of the essays overlap in their content, and that is true in some ways--the further you get into the book, the more perhaps it becomes rig Honestly this book or at least excerpts of it should be required reading for all historians, the end, thank you, good bye.

Basso notes in his introduction that some of the essays overlap in their content, and that is true in some ways--the further you get into the book, the more perhaps it becomes rightfully so! Dec 03, Aaron rated it it was ok.

Indigenous Knowledge Commons

This Academic work was a challenging read and has been sitting next to my bed for months inexcusable for a book less than pages. Interesting premise of how Western Apache culture ties location names to instructional tales correct behavior, less interesting in execution unless you're into Academic lit but I should have known that going in so that's on me. Feb 05, Sam rated it it was amazing. This is one of the greatest non-fiction books I've read. Basso's book is a wonderful exploration of the language of the Western Apache.

He doesn't delve into the culture so much as the language, of which the historical narrative takes precedence in this book. If you have any interest in other cultures and languages, want to learn just how much one's language shapes the way one thinks, want to learn how the Apache "speak with names", how to "stalk with stories", and how wisdom can sit in places, This is one of the greatest non-fiction books I've read. If you have any interest in other cultures and languages, want to learn just how much one's language shapes the way one thinks, want to learn how the Apache "speak with names", how to "stalk with stories", and how wisdom can sit in places, then read this.

Learn how a people's culture and language are intimately linked to their land by reading Basso's book. Feb 07, Alanood Burhaima rated it it was amazing Shelves: And the stories are so much part of these places that it is almost impossible for future generations to lose the stories because there are so many imposing geographic elements And there is always a story. Aug 19, S rated it it was amazing.

A beautifully written, insightful book on the relationships between language and landscape, space and time, among the Western Apache people of Cibecue. The stories here articulate how histories are lived in the present and how the land itself carries many voices full of the knowledge, context, and wisdom of generations building on and revisiting one another.

The relationship between language and landscape is rarely discussed with such care and nuance, and the work between Basso and his mentors s A beautifully written, insightful book on the relationships between language and landscape, space and time, among the Western Apache people of Cibecue. The relationship between language and landscape is rarely discussed with such care and nuance, and the work between Basso and his mentors show how important and eye-opening it can be to pay attention to it.

Charles Henry, Nick Thompson, Lola Machuse, and Dudley Patterson are the primary voices in each of the four chapters, and their stories and relationships to the land and to their communities lingered in my mind after I had set down the book. In the context of academia, one of the applications of the book is that it is effectively a guidebook for aspiring linguistic anthropologists and anthropological linguists. Although it is not written for that purpose, Basso points out difficulties and false assumptions along his way and demonstrates how respectful, collaborative research allows for a work that all people involved can feel well represented by.

Basso is very open about both his stumbles and his influences as he contextualizes this research in a broader academic discourse. He openly acknowledges the crucial mentorship of the individuals who helped him understand their culture and who very much wrote this book with him. All in all, this was a joy to read. Aug 29, Ronald Kelland rated it it was amazing. I am giving this book a five star rating because it is one that will force me to think very hard in the future, and likely after multiple readings, in order to understand it.

I believe that it will be a very, very handy case-study type of reference in my professional work as I attempt to navigate the processes bureaucratic, philosophical and ethical around understanding the role of place names in indigenous societies and potentially recognizing indigenous toponomy at an official level.

Basso's I am giving this book a five star rating because it is one that will force me to think very hard in the future, and likely after multiple readings, in order to understand it. Basso's lifetime of experience working with the Apache and trying to understand the role of place names in their world view and order is truly fascinating.

This slim, but dense, volume shows his professional, academic and personal journey through that process. Although the book is surprisingly readable at a surface level, there is a weight to it that will require many readings to gain a true understanding of what Basso is putting forward. While I by no means believe that understanding Bass's experiences with the Apache will be directly relatable to working with other indigenous communities, I do believe that there are likely many parallels and commonalities that may at least help in beginning the process.

A rewarding and thought-provoking read. Nov 27, Nina rated it it was amazing Shelves: I put this book down for a while near the end of the last essay, and so it's probably a book I'll have to refer to again. If you are fascinated about what people make of their surroundings, and how placenames evoke mental images and maps, then I highly recommend this book.

As an ethnography it's respectful of the people and relationships forged over the course of his time in Cibeque, is insightful, and offers plenty of food for thought. There are plenty of other books cited as well, for further I put this book down for a while near the end of the last essay, and so it's probably a book I'll have to refer to again. There are plenty of other books cited as well, for further reading, which I'm looking forward to exploring later. Nov 17, Mike Dettinger rated it liked it. Very interesting and illuminating a word w several meanings that apply here book about Apache place names, speaking in places, and how wisdom is accumulated over a lifetime.

Makes historical and coming displacements of this and other tribes more frightening and intelligible. Because this spring is here, we can live wisely. Apr 27, A. It's wonderful how something mundane to me can be of such powerful meanings to others. It is more than an ethnography, it is about something we can have, but somehow lost on the way here.

Further Reading

It is about how socialization should be and what we are missing. It is about what we trade for. Feb 19, Msrobot0 rated it it was amazing. One of my favorite books. May 02, Alexis rated it liked it. Read for Intro to Cultural Anthropology class. Very interesting, but a little too dry for 4 stars. Feb 04, Eliot Fiend rated it it was amazing Shelves: Jun 08, Stephen rated it it was amazing Shelves: Wisdom Sits in Places is the name of a remarkable little book of linguistic ethnography about "landscape and language among the Western Apache.

Basso, who had spent decades working with this group of Apache before composing this opus, the book is easy to overlook: For anyone interested in gaining a greater appreciation for the diverse ways we humans think and act, both in and about this world, doing so is a certa Wisdom Sits in Places is the name of a remarkable little book of linguistic ethnography about "landscape and language among the Western Apache. For anyone interested in gaining a greater appreciation for the diverse ways we humans think and act, both in and about this world, doing so is a certain mistake.

The "sense" that this reader got: This power is imparted on them perhaps from the grandeur of nature itself, but more directly from the stories, whether mythological or modern, describing what has happened at these places. Now the language comes in -- in talk amongst those who know the story, the name of the place alone is sufficient to evoke the necessary reaction and consideration in the hearers. There is no need to repeat the story, or draw out its implications for current-day affairs.

These are understood to follow directly from the morality-story, from the name of the place. And if you yourself have done something wrong, then this place name and its story will haunt you. Each time your actions conform to the same improper manner as before, you will remember that place. Each time you pass by it in your daily activities, it will loom mighty in your mind, reminding you how to behave and how to act as a proper member of Western Apache society.

One need not wait to have the story "shot" at them like an arrow which digs deep, biting into flesh, relentlessly working its way inside you. One can also deliberately inculcate wisdom through practices of "drinking in" from these stories, learning to apply them each day to all the problems that confront us. Through these practices, one builds up "smoothness of mind", and unobstructed state that keeps the mind vigilantly focused and skeptical.

This in turn is dependent on "resilience of mind" in the face of external pressures and "steadiness of mind" with respect to internal maundering. The author weaves narrative and story in a lively manner, always coupling academic analysis with practical and meaningful examples. His respect for the people described is evident, including the care taken in using people's names and remaining vague about the specific locations of the various places described.

Daily Lessons for Teaching Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache

His is a humble approach, recognizing that even after much time spent with these people, his grasp of what it means to be Apache, to see as Apache see, to feel as Apache feel, is rudimentary at best. But it is worth the effort nevertheless. I recall stories of how it once was at that mountain. The stories told to me were like arrows. Elsewhere, hearing that mountain's name, I see it. Its name is like a picture.

Stories go to work on you like arrows. Stories make you live right. Stories make you replace yourself.


  • Lesson 1 (from Preface)!
  • Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache.
  • Out of the Night;
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Benson Lewis, age 64, ", p. For unless Apache listeners are able to picture a physical setting for narrated events -- unless, as one of my consultants said, 'your mind can travel to that place and really see it" -- the events themselves will be difficult to imagine. This is because events in the narrative will seem to happen nowhere, and such an idea, Apaches assert, is preposterous and disquieting. Placeless events are an impossibility; everything that happens must happen somewhere. The location of an event is an integral aspect of the event itself, and identifying the event's location is therefore essential to properly depicting -- effectively picturing -- the event's occurrence.

For these reasons, placeless stories simply do not get told. Instead, all Apache narratives are verbally anchored to points upon the land with precise depictions of specific locations. And what these depictions are accomplished with -- what the primary spatial anchors of Apache narratives almost always turn out to be -- are place-names. Was his explicitness illuminating the simple? What do you make of that? Feb 18, Kristen Lindquist rated it really liked it. Makes one think, and look with new eyes at the landscapes one calls "home" and what deeper meanings they may hold.

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