During the ‘wearing us as costumes‘ discussion, one poster suggested to another that he ” kiyam-pi”. To me this word, kiyam, contains a glimpse into a world-view that is very much at the core of Cree-ness.
I have had this word explained to me and modelled for me many times. Each time I feel like I am seeing a new facet of it. Do not look for a simple translation of this term. If you have access to a Cree dictionary (as you should if you are on the internet) you will find a long entry. From Arok Wolvengrey’s dictionary we get this:
oh well, it’s okay, never mind, think nothing of it; so much for this; anyway, rather; let it be, let there be no further delay; please; let’s go then; do so; quietly
“Quietly” is very much a part of this word. kiyam is a root for various verbs meaning to be quiet, to move quietly, to sit quietly and so on. However the “quietness” of the word kiyam is not just in the action of avoiding making noise. It very much includes a quietness of the spirit, echoed in the body.
When someone tells you to “kiyam” they aren’t just telling you to let it be, to let it go, they are also letting it go themselves. The word often comes with a shrug of the shoulders. It comes with a letting go both mental and physical.
People have different opinions. That has always been and will always be true, regardless of what culture you come from. The Cree, the Métis, and many other aboriginal peoples can and do have very heated discussions where many different points of view are explained. Some people become very passionate, but there is a strong imperative to let everyone have their say, even if their words are rough, even if their words seem confused. There is wisdom in people’s strong words too, in their emotional reactions, in their seemingly confused explanations.
Sometimes these discussions can be maddening, if you are in a rush. It can be hard sometimes to understand what someone’s account of a childhood wrong has to do with a current issue. Except if you really listen, it becomes less difficult. People do not say these things for no reason.
Sometimes you do not want to hear. I did not want to hear and I would like to state that honestly. I gave my reasons. They may seem vague, but there can be no other way short of giving in to the discussion I refused to engage in. Yes, there is often wisdom in the words of others, but sometimes people just want to draw you into their anger. That is a draining, and dangerous place to get caught in.
kiyam. Let it be. Sometimes you have to just let it go and move on. Sometimes you don’t get to prove that you are “right”. Sometimes you don’t get to “win”. In much settler (or western or whatever you want to call it) discourse it seems that the goal is to wrest that verbal victory from your opponents. To smash her arguments to dust, to show them for fools. There is persuasion at play too of course, but the persuasion is often in the form of “who won that round”.
For many native peoples, the persuasion is everything. If you cannot convince others, then what good are your ideas? What good is a rhetorical victory anyway? You cannot “win”. Your opponent will come to agree with you, or she won’t. kiyam. You can’t let it get to you. Let it go, let it be.
This is not a dismissive or a rude word. It reminds you of the importance of not allowing your spirit to become sickened with anger or the need to win. It reminds the speaker as well as the person being spoken to.
So kinanâskomitin, Bruce. It was a good reminder.