I'm taking an excellent online course via Coursera, called Aboriginal Worldviews and Education. This was the assignment for Week 1 -
Week 1 Peer Assessment Assignment: Make the Familiar Strange
Much of how the western world has come to know Indigenous people has been through the lens of Ethnographers and Anthropologists who view what they are seeing as strange, exotic and alien. Many times researchers are projecting their own Eurocentric fears and biases onto the people they are observing.
Write a short (maximum 250 words) ethnographic description of your chosen place. Using the ethnographic voice, describe your familiar place as though you are seeing it as an outsider for the first time. Your description should insightfully illuminate the cultural worldview operating implicitly in your familiar place.
This was my essay -
Gathering at the Watering Hole
For years this has been a common gathering place for different groups in the community. After several visits, these people accept me now as a harmless observer, and have returned to their normal behaviour.
A group of elders meet here most afternoons, sitting together in the dim light. Men from the community, they have left their various roles in the past, and gather now to enjoy each other's company, to share opinions and stories. It's a tight group, with an obvious alpha member others defer to, and another that is teased, often to reduce tensions. The young women that serve them here are teased too, but in a fatherly way - the elders are quite protective of them.
Later on the youth from the community gather, sometimes after their work is done, often after they have competed together in some sporting event. They also watch other groups compete, on large display screens on the walls, cheering noisily for their favorites. Part of this ritual is sharing their traditional diet - large pitchers of a foamy beverage, baskets of what they call 'wings'.
These same youth, and some of the elders, are all part of a third kind of gathering here. Several evenings a week, groups will bring musical instruments, and lead the rest in a celebration of singing, dancing, drinking, eating - all part of an elaborate mating ritual.
This place plays an important role in uniting community groups. The Carleton Tavern is one of the last of its kind.