Paths of Diversity

Article excerpt

Diversity. . .is about diverse ways of viewing the world, diverse values, and diverse perspectives. Hopefully as we understand diverse issues, we also understand our common issues.

The following interviews with individuals representing diverse cultures, worldviews, and perspectives are rich in insights to their worlds. Each presents a vivid tapestry of his or her history, family and being in the larger community and society.

We hope you enjoy the insights they present to us. As you read, you will certainly "see" diversity; you will also see, however, commonalties. Each asked us to get to know them. . . their culture and their worlds. Each perceives that education is critical to the future of their people and this country. Each has issues about which they feel passionate.

We are deeply grateful to these individuals for sharing their time, stories, and wisdom. Ed.

George Hoyt Electrician

Union Labor President

Homer Laughlin China Company

Could you please provide us with a brief statement of who you are, what culture and racial heritage?

My name is George Hoyt. I am a Native American. My father was Native and my mother was Italian/German/Irish. My parents are both dead. My great grandmother's family name was WarPatch, and she lived on a reservation.

I think there are two kinds of Americans Native Americans, those descended from American Indians, and those Americans who are descendants of those ethnic groups from across the oceans that have come and settled on the land. There's only two types of people here - Native Americans and Americans. I consider myself a Native American. I live along the banks of the Ohio and the foothills of the mountains.

Could you tell us a little bit about your family heritage and your current family structure?

I have three children who are grown and married, and I have three grandchildren. I'm divorced and five alone. My family is a closeknit group. I have 11 aunts and uncles. My children and I are probably the only ones who carry on the Native American culture and heritage. I, especially, carry on a lot of the old ways.

How was your cultural heritage passed down to you in your family?

I have learned about my culture on my own. . .most by reading and studying.

What prompted you to do that?

Well, about 10 years ago, my children were becoming adults and going their own ways. Before that time, I was raising three kids as a single parent, and it took a lot of time! And for the first time, I had time to think about me. . .to reflect about who I was. So I began going back into my roots to see what was there for me. Doing that gave me a greater sense of self identity and meaning.

It is unusual for a man to raise three children alone. What were the big issues for you as a single parent?

My biggest fear was that my daughters would get pregnant in high school. I feared it because I thought everyone would blame the single father. We were economically strapped. . .I had custody of the children when they were 6, 8, and 10. A good month was when we would come home, and the utilities had not been turned off. So it was hard. . .but it brought us closer together. What sorts of things do you do to that are unique expressions of

your culture?

There is a ceremony of burning sweet grass that I practice daily. I burn sweet grass in the morning. Just to pray for a good day and that all will go well. If I have a friend or family member who is sick or who is having troubles in their life, I will burn sweet grass and ask that their health is restored to them or that their path or load is lightened and that life goes on for them.

If you could tell us a story that represents your heritage, what do you think that would be? Is there a story that could illustrate something about your culture?

I go to Pow-Wows all the time, which is a gathering of not just Native Americans - all ethnic groups attend these. …