Those parting words didn’t come to fruition through no fault on either side, but my trip to Bemidji in the Minnesotan upland a quarter century ago endeared me to the people who had the courage and stamina to establish a school of music and the arts with my encouragement while I was still the Managing Director of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.
That opportunity also opened me up to the American Indians, the Ojibwe, pronounced O-jib-way (also known as Chippewa across the Canadian border), in whose language the following words still remain embedded in my memory ever since I first heard them back in July 1992 as I was about to return home to New Jersey:
“Ga wa ba min mee na wah”
I’ll see you again!
For years I have been fascinated by various indigenous and tribal cultures, starting with my years in India spent in industry (tea, coal, timber, industrial gases) spread over many states, particularly in the far Northeast. I followed that up by embarking upon exploratory travels in South and North America, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.
In the tea and timber industries, I came to know some members of the Abor and Gallong tribes over a period of three years in Assam and Arunachal.
They are believed to have come from southern China in the 16th century. They now reside in the far north-east state of Arunachal and have different sub-tribes, which differ from each other in many ways and in a variety of local customs. If you travel far inside the tribal settlement areas, you will find these tribes – 20 altogether! – but visiting all of them in one short visit might not be humanly possible.
Through my friends in Buenos Aires I met up with various members of the indigenous Guarani.
En route to Australia I visited Auckland and saw at first hand representatives of the Maori nation.
My longtime friends in Adelaide occasionally had Black aborigines from the hinterland over to their house for a get-together, so I had the opportunity of learning firsthand more about their mores and background.
References: Wikipedia; Indigenous Peoples (International Labor Office), Geneva.
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