Epistemology, or ways of knowing, is a concept that is oftentimes hard to grasp because it's hard for us to imagine ourselves outside of our current ways of knowing. Though not always, one tends to grasp it more readily if you speak two or more languages.
That said, how we know what we know is mediated by language and culture as this exquisite interview with Ojibwe scholar, David Treuer. His most recent text that is receiving significant notoriety is titled, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present.
Certain concepts, ideas, and the feelings that accompany them, particularly in the realm of identity caught up with a deeps sense of history and place, simply cannot be fully translated. Hence, the importance of language and cultural preservation and revitalization.
The interview transcript appears below. However, I encourage you to hear his interview with Krista Tippett in this On Being podcast.
featuring David Treuer
|Image by Dan Koeck, © All Rights Reserved.|
Writer David Treuer’s work tells a story that is richer and more multi-dimensional than the American history most of us learned in school. Treuer, who grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, helped compile the first practical grammar of the Ojibwe people. He says the recovery of tribal languages and names is part of a fuller recovery of our national story — and the human story. And it holds unexpected observations altogether about language and meaning that most of us express unselfconsciously in our mother tongues.
David Treuer divides his time between the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. His books include Native American Fiction: A User’s Manual, The Translation of Dr. Apelles, and most recently, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.